Causes of 1905 Russian Revolution

Long term, short term & trigger for 1905 Revolution

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Long Term: Social

  • Almost 80% of Russia's population were peasants in early 20th century
  • Nobility made up 1% of the population but owned 25% of the land
  • 1891: Famine, 400 000 died
  • Disease common
  • Middle class liberals were alienated: no representation in politics, student protests
  • Backwards agriculture, high tax, increasing population put pressure on land
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Long Term: Nationalities

  • Tsar pursued Russification policy
  • Half of the population was non-Russian speaking
  • Russian officials ran governments in Poland, Latvia and Finland
  • Russian culture/language imposed
  • Minorities wanted independence, increase in revolts within empire
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Short Term: Tsar's Rule

  • Tsar Nicholas II weak and indecisive
  • No freedom in the press/to form political parties
  • Ruled through repression, used the Cossacks to put down revolts
  • No concessions made ot nationalities
  • No move towards constitutional government - liberals/Socialist Revolutionaries wanted a constitutional monarchy and to limit the Tsar's power
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Short Term: Economic

  • Population unhappy with Witte's economic policies
  • Wages remained low but taxes were high
  • Too much focus on industrial growth, taxed high and exported grain in order to pay interest on foreign loans
  • 1900 & 1902: Poor harvests, famine
  • 1902: Economic crisis - unemployment rose, strikes and violence repressed by force
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Immediate Term: Russo-Japanese War

  • February 1904: Russo-Japanese War began
  • Exacerbated economic and social problems within Russia - shortages of food and fuel, high prices and unemployment
  • Defeated and humiliated by a smaller country; January 1905 lost Port Arthur
  • Led to increased discontent
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Trigger: Bloody Sunday

  • 22nd January 1905
  • Tsar's troops fired on peaceful demonstrators in Petrograd
  • By the end of January, 400 000 workers were on strike - this then spread to other cities and to the countryside
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