On this day — 30th (O.S. 17th) October 1905 — the «Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order» was issued in St. Petersburg.
The Manifesto was 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 Nicholas II, under the influence of Russia’s first prime minister Sergei Witte (1849–1915), as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905.
Although Russia was at a major standstill with violent revolts terrorizing the nation, Nicholas II still opposed any reforms that involved limiting the autocracy. He strenuously resisted these ideas, but gave in after his first choice to head a military dictatorship. Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1856-1929), 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.