What is an Octoberist?

For this week’s blog post, one of the options was to talk about something that interested us about The Revolution of 1905. After reading Chapter 8, I decided to explore into what the October Manifesto is and who the Octoberists are, as well as look into a few things that are associated with those terms like Duma, Alexander Guchkov, and the Union of October 17.

Demonstration 17 October 1905 by Ilya Repin

According to the textbook, Emperor Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto on The 17th of October. This manifesto was a sort of promise to have an elected legislative body, civil & religious liberties, and (for the first time in Russian history) the right to organize unions and political parties (Page 255). This manifesto served as a forerunner to their first constitution. While this document was a response to the Revolution of 1905, it did not actually put a stop to the revolution according to the textbook.

As mentioned above, one of the terms was to have an elected legislative body. This legislative body was known as the Duma. The whole purpose of this body of government was to limit the power of the Tsar, when in fact the Duma still allowed the Tsar to veto anything he wanted. Nicholas still wanted to maintain power so he simply created laws that would allow him to continue to control everything.

Shortly after the October Manifesto was issued, a new political party was created. The Union of October 17, or the Octoberist Party was a right wing or far-right political party led by Alexander Guchkov (who according to the textbook was at some point a chairman of the Duma). This party, while all for a constitutional monarchy and Tsarist government, would only cooperate with the government as long as they fulfilled the manifesto. This party was also closely tied with Sergei Witte, who influenced Nicholas over the October Manifesto. The Octoberists wanted a stronger parliament and government, as well as quicker reforms.

Alexander Guchkov

I’m interested to see what this party goes on to do after the Revolution of 1905.


This post earned a “comrades’ corner” award from the editorial team!


4 thoughts on “What is an Octoberist?

  1. I love the title of this post, and really appreciate how you describe the process you used to settle on this topic. Your post draws important and clear connections between the October Manifesto, Guchkov’s Party and the Duma. I think it’s important to note that the Octobrists not only wanted to hold the regime to the promise of the October Manifesto, they also insisted that the October Manifesto was sufficient in the way of political reform. Thus they become a kind of “loyal opposition” to the government — eager to support the autocracy and not ask for more in the way of political concessions and reform. You are right to think that the Octobrists will be key to what happens next!


  2. I really enjoyed reading this post it was not overwhelmingly filled with a bunch of facts and laid out explanations to a few things. I found the part about the Duma very interesting. I did not know that it still gave the Tsar the power to veto anything.Which makes me wonder how do you think the citizens that wanted reform felt about the Tsar still having as much power as he had before?


  3. This was a great post in describing key parts of the Russian government. This really cleared up some of the terms I came across while reading as well. Your post goes to show that things are always easier said than done, especially when mentioning that the Tsar wanted to keep his power even after the October Manifesto claimed he would do otherwise. It seems as from what I read that the Duma could be set up similar to our Congress, with it being elected and having a chairman. With all the new found ideas of revolutionaries it seems as though the Tsar and people under the Tsar are having a harder and harder working together. From your post you can see that the pieces are starting to crumble for Russia.


  4. The October Manifesto was of interest to me as well! I wrote about the change from autocracy to a constitutional monarchy in my post for this week and read about the October Manifesto. That change from autocracy to a constitutional monarchy was essential in allowing the monarchy to remain in power for a longer period of time. Eventually, the public became so fed up with the system that the Romanov family was overthrown. But, it all started with the October Manifesto.


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