Russia in Revolution 1904-1906

Russo-Japenese war and impact of 1905 Revolution

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Liberal threat to Nicholas II


  • Pressure to introduce democracy
  • End to corporal punishment
  • Recognised military, economic and political problems
  • Formed unions and 'Union of Unions' (May 1905)

No threat-

  • Did not want to overthrow tsar, just wanted a constitution/reform
  • Accepted October manifesto and promise of Duma easily allowing Nicholas II to impose Fundamental Laws (1906)
  • Nicholas still able to appoint hard-line ministers - Bulygin & Trepov
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Revolutionary threat to Nicholas II


  • Leon Trotsky was chair of St Petersburg Soviet- attempt to mobalise workers & spread ideas
  • Assassinated Grand Duke Sergei and Shuvalov

No threat-

  • Troops crushed soviet
  • Trotsky appeared -Feb. (Didn't plan this revolution)
  • Lenin appeared- Nov. (Limited leadership)
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Potemkin Mutiny


  • Began as a mutiny on one ship but support & sympathy grew after massacre of over 2,000
  • Some link to social revolutionaries

No Threat-

  • Did not spread throughout armed forces
  • Localised dispute rather than attempt to overthrow Nicholas II
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Bloody Sunday

  • 22 January 1905
  • Father Gapon and proccesion of unemployed and disgruntled workers marched to the tsars Winter palace
  • Armed with a potition asking for their 'little father's' help and supportive patriotic banners with pictures of Nicholas II
  • As they approached the palace they were met by armed tsarist soldiers who opened fire upon the peaceful civillians
  • This is thought to be the 'spark' for the 1905 revolution
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Significance of Russo-Japenese War

  • Balance of military power- assumption that Russia=European + Japan=Asian = Russian Victory: underestimation of modernisation in Japan
  • The establishment of Japanese naval supremacy- Russia failed to defeat Japanese navy, who were supplying the Japanese army with resources: 25-35 ships lost to Japan in one afternoon because of failure to modernize naval fleet
  • The loss of Port Arthur January 2nd 1904- inability to get troops to the theatre of war - Battle of Mukden
  • Russian people angry and ashamed of defeat 
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Why revolution broke out in 1905

Long term grievances-

  • Urban population quadrupled from 7 to 28 million and living conditions in cities were extremely poor
  • 16 people per apartment average and 14% of houses had no water supply
  • Talk of provision of trade unions or fair judicial system gave the "impetus" for revolution

Peasant grievances

  • Neglected by Witte's economic policy
  • Insufficient farming systems
  • Government debt on top of redemption payments
  • Started violent protests (1905), joined by Nationalists angered by continued use of Russification

Russo Japenese War - mistrust of Nicholas & ministers, strain on workers & peasants

Trigger - Bloody Sunday

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