Russia: Causes of the 1905 Revolution

  • Created by: philet17
  • Created on: 19-05-17 17:03


  • Living conditions poor: cramped, no privacy, rooms divided by curtains
  • High unemployment after 1900 due to economic depression
  • Had to work long hours 12+
  • Working conditions dangerous, no health and safety - many died from incidents at work
  • No social insurance scheme
  • Strikes illegal and trade unions unsupported - no change to conditions

St Petersburg

  • 40% of buildings timber
  • 40,000 prostitutes
  • 7700 had typhus in 1908
  • 7.4 people per apartment on average


  • 2/3 buildings wooden
  • 16% unskilled   8% unemployed
  • Illiterate 75% men, 50% women
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  • 77% peasants
  • Stripe farming inefficient - less food, less money
  • Lack of machinery - less food, less money
  • Bad harvests led to starvation - 400,000 deaths in 1891
  • Not enough land per peasant
  • Debt, squalor, drunkness, STDs
  • Disease widespread - typhus , diphtheria
  • Poor, illiterate, uneducated
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  • Over 100 different ethnic groups - religions and languages
  • Russification deeply resented
  • Judaephobia - pogrom 1903 - loots, assaults, ropes, murders of large local jewish populations by mobs
  • Inter-ethnic rivalries - Armenians v Turkic Azeris in Baku
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  • No political influence
  • No sign of reform from Nicholas II
  • University students banned from holding political meetings
  • Over 70,000 involved in zemstva of 1905 - they wanted influence
  • Zemstva's work held back by government officials
  • 1901 Student demonstration in St P. Cossacks charged at the crowds- 13 killed, 100s injured, 1500 arrested and imprisoned with no trial.
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  • Russification
  • Pogroms against Jews
  • Zemstvas has no influence
  • 1900 - officials criticising government purged
  • Middle class unhappy they had no say
  • Increased industrialisation and urbanisation led to economic and social for peasants and workers
  • Bad leader who made poor decisions, easily influenced
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  • Deliberately picked quarrel with Far-Eastern neighbour Japan
  • Russia wanted to expand her influence in Far East - Korea, Manchuria
  • 1904 - Japan attacked Port Arthur
  • Japanese defeated Russia in every major confrontation
  • Main Russian Army defeated in Mukden - forced to seek peace
  • Treaty of Portsmouth gave Korea and Port Arthur to the Japanese, Russian forces left manchuria
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  • Worker Strike - 7th January 1905, 105,000 workers
  • 9th January - demonstration by Father Gapon, march on Winter Palace peacefully
  • Armed troops tried to disperse them peacefully
  • Then shot into the crowds (women and children at the front)
  • 200 died, 800 wounded
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  • Liberals - elected government to end tsar - Milyukov leads 'Union of Unions'
  • Russian political parties emerged from the shadows after censorship laws were relaxed in 1905.
  • The SRs sought land reform and changes to agrarian policy, a position that made them popular with peasants.
  • The large size of their party, however, invited differences of opinion, divisions and factionalism.
  • Social Democrats led by Lenin wanted an end to tsarism and equality - split to Mensheviks and Bolsheviks  (uber-revolutionary) 1903 all Marxists.
  • The Kadets were the largest liberal-democratic party, favouring a British-style constitutional system.
  • The Octobrists were moderates and conservatives who were loyal to tsarism and supportive of the changes outlined in the October Manifesto.
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  • Russian chief minister in the govt 1881 – 1905.
  • Had a strong influence over Alexander III and Nicholas II.
  • Held the position of Director General of the Synod which controlled the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • Very conservative and believed that autocratic monarchy was the only way forward for Tsarist Russia.
  • Known as the ‘Grand Inquisitor’ and blocked social reform.
  • Was the person most associated with the anti-Jewish policies. 
  • Many people disliked him because he personified the obstructions in the way of Russia’s necessary political and social reform.
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  • Finance Minister between 1893 – 1903 and wanted to modernise using state capitalism.
  • What did Witte do?
  • Invited foreign experts such as engineers into Russia to offer advice.
  • 1894 – Interest rates on peasant loans were cut and payments were extended to 1896.
  • He encouraged foreign countries to invest in Russian Industry = large loans from abroad
  • He paid the government’s loans with indirect taxes on the urban poor and the peasants.
  • He imposed high import taxes on foreign goods
  • Taxes on the poor and Russian grain to invest back into industry
  • How successful were Witte’s policies?
  • Russian railways doubled and the Transiberian Railway (1891 – 1904) was built.
  • Economic growth was false and hard to keep up.
  • Industry grew by 8% annually from the 1890s but mainly in areas such as iron and coal.
  • Witte ignored agriculture which led to him being dismissed after the 1905 Revolution.
  • He only took taxes from the poor which made their lives worse and taxes on Russian grain caused peasant lives to worsen.
  • He was working in isolation and without the support of much of the rest of the govt.
  • He was limited by the Tsar and Russia didn't have many entrepreneur.
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