Tsarist autocracy (Russian: tsarskoe samoderzhavie, transcr. tsarskoye samoderzhaviye), often known as Tsarism, is a type of autocracy (later absolute monarchy) unique to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which subsequently became the Russian Tsardom and the Russian Empire. It existed from 1462, when Ivan III was crowned Tsar, until 1721, when Peter the Great abolished it.
It is difficult to define exactly what made Russia's government autocratic in nature during this period. Certainly, its rulers exercised immense power over their subjects, but there were no written laws governing behavior at that time so there was nothing to limit their authority.
In practice, Russia during this period was a dictatorship ruled by a monarch who had many advisors, some of whom were appointed by the ruler and others who were elected by popular vote. The ruler could remove anyone from office, even his/her own children if they came to mindowndrugs or taxes, and replace them with others who would do his bidding.
Furthermore, there was no such thing as freedom of speech or press so anything said against the ruler or his family was considered treasonous and punished by death. Opposition groups were banned so there was no place for them to go except into hiding which was impossible since the government could kill its critics if it wanted to keep its secrets.
Tsarism (sometimes spelled Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire) is a type of autocracy (later absolute monarchy) unique to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which subsequently became the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire. The Tsar wields (and distributes) all power and money. There are no laws except those he creates at will.
The system was designed by Michael Romanov, who wanted to create a country where there would be no conflict between king and people because there would be no need for one. Under his rule, the only laws were ones that he created at will. He also controlled both the Church and the State, thereby eliminating any opposition to his rule.
When Mikhail Romanov died without children in 1613, his brother Ivan IV (the Terrible) succeeded him as tsar. Fearful that his young son might not survive him, he had no intention of creating a law-based system like Russia's long history of monarchs before him. Instead, he decided to rule absolutely. If anyone dared to oppose him, they would be killed immediately.
Ivan's reign was marked by enormous bloodshed. He married his sister to her husband's son so that she would bear him a child who could succeed him. However, when the baby died, she went mad and committed suicide. Her nephew, who had been told that he was going to be crowned, tried to kill himself too but failed.
The Tsars, particularly the later ones, established an autocracy. Formally, they possessed full authority as a divinely bestowed prerogative. Tsarist autocracy, in my opinion, is only a "flavor" of a dictatorship. Similarly, democracy is a catch-all phrase for several types of democracies. There is pure democracy, which can also be called "tyranny." Mixed systems are also possible; for example, a republic can be considered a mixture of democracy and monarchy.
An autocracy is a government where the leader is responsible for making all major decisions alone. Although there may be a parliament or other legislative body, it has no real power to influence government policy. In order to pass laws and ordinances, an autocratic government needs an absolute ruler who can decide what role, if any, Parliament will play in their administration.
In Russia, the title of "Tsar" was originally used to refer to both a monarch and the head of state. Nowadays, only the term "tsar" is used to describe the head of state, while the word "monarch" is reserved for the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarch. However, during the Time of Troubles (1605-1613), when many different rulers were involved, both terms were used interchangeably.
As for a dictatorship, this is a form of government where one person or group of people have total control over the government.
These are referred to as the "Pillars of Autocracy." A succession of tsars presided over this enormous and diverse realm. They ruled the country like autocrats. This meant that Russia was ruled by the Tsar, and only the Tsar: no parliament, no government officials below the level of Minister or Prime Minister.
In practice, the title "Autocrat of All the Russias" was usually given to Ivan the Terrible (1431-1505). However, it was also used for several other rulers before him and even after his death. The title is therefore more a matter of tradition than of fact. The same ruler might be called something else entirely different parts of their reign. For example, he was called "Autocrat of Moscow" during his lifetime, but once he had moved his court to St. Petersburg, he was called "Autocrat of all the Russias" instead.
Ivan the Terrible was an extremely brutal man who committed many atrocities during his rule. But he was also one of the most powerful leaders in Europe at the time so they say any way you look at it, he was an autocrat.
Russia under Ivan the Terrible was a country with almost no free institutions whatsoever. There were regional governors who became very rich but they didn't control anything beyond their region.
Russia remained an autocracy, which meant that the Tsar wielded absolute authority and that his rules and ideas could not be disputed. The autocratic system was becoming outdated. Russians want westernization and democracy. Nicholas II, on the other hand, was adamantly opposed to these ideas.
He believed that a strong state was necessary for the survival of Russia and that only he could lead it. Also, the Orthodox Church is very important in Russia and the Tsar is the head of this church. No one else can act as leader of the church. Finally, Nicholas II wanted to expand Russia's empire by adding new territories but the people did not want this. In fact, many opposed even talking about such a thing because they knew it would change their country.
Nicholas II was determined to rule as an autocrat and ignored all calls for reform from within his own court and outside sources. When soldiers demanded democratic reforms, he had them executed. When members of the nobility protested, they were banished to remote regions of the empire. There was no way for ordinary people to affect government policy or bring the monarch down except through violence.
In February 1917, a group of revolutionaries led by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky launched a coup d'état against the Tsar. They took control of the army and navy and placed themselves at the top of the government. The aim was to create a communist state.