Russian Revolution
October Manifesto
Demonstration 17 October 1905 by Ilya Repin(Russian Museum. St. Petersburg)
1905 Oct 30

October Manifesto


In response to the public pressure, Tsar Nicholas II enacted some constitutional reform (namely the October Manifesto). The October Manifesto is a document that served as a precursor to the Russian Empire's first Constitution, which was adopted the following year in 1906. The Manifesto was issued by Tsar Nicholas II, under the influence of Sergei Witte, on 30 October 1905 as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905. Nicholas strenuously resisted these ideas, but gave in after his first choice to head a military dictatorship, Grand Duke Nicholas, threatened to shoot himself in the head if the Tsar did not accept Witte's suggestion. Nicholas reluctantly agreed, and issued what became known as the October Manifesto, promising basic civil rights and an elected parliament called the Duma, without whose approval no laws were to be enacted in Russia in the future. According to his memoirs, Witte did not force the Tsar to sign the October Manifesto, which was proclaimed in all the churches.

Despite popular participation in the Duma, the parliament was unable to issue laws of its own, and frequently came into conflict with Nicholas. Its power was limited and Nicholas continued to hold the ruling authority. Furthermore, he could dissolve the Duma, which he often did.