Long Term Causes
The living and working conditions for peasants and workers was very bad. But the government (Duma) made things worse with its own policies. Russia needed to develop its industries, and remain and important military power, so the government invested enormous amount of money in improving Russia's industries. Although money was borrowed from other countries, the main source was the Russian people. The peasants had to pay heavy taxes on grain. Prices increased for ordinary goods. However, wages did not. At first, things went well, as industry grew rapidly. However, in 1902 there was an industrial slump, and thousands of workers lost their jobs. Strikes and demonstrations broke out. As well as this, there were poor harvests between 1900 and 1902, and the peasants could barely survive. There were outbreaks of violence and landlord's houses were burned. The government used force to crush the disturbances, but this only made things worse!
Russia went to war with Japan in 1904. The Tsar wanted to gain support of the Russian people. However, instead it caused food shortages, poorer conditions, rising prices, and shortages of goods. Even worse, the Japanese defeated the Russians, which was humiliating.
At the beginning of 1905 conditions were very poor in St Petersburg. A priest named Father Gapon organised a march to deliver a petition to the Tsar asking for help. On 22nd of January 1905, 200,000 people marched towards the Winter Palace. As they approached they were met by troops. The protesters did not turn give in when the Cossacks tried to turn them around, and this meant that the Russian soldiers fired on them, leading to many casualties. There was an outcry from the Russian people, and the Tsar lost a huge amount of respect.
The 1905 Revolution
January: 400,000 workers on strike Febuary: Strikes spread to other cities. On the 4th of Febuary, the Tsar's uncle was assassinated. March: Shameful defeats of the Russian army against Japan led to demands for a change in government. May: Further defeats of the Russian Army. Middle Class liberals demanded an elected parliment, freedom of speech, and the right to form political parties. National groups demanded independance. Jews demanded equal civil rights. June: Sailors of a battleship mutinied, which was worrying for the government as it may encourage other groups to do so. July: Peasant riots became widespread. September: A peace treaty was signed between the Russians and Japanese. The Duma paid all of the Russian troops and promised better conditions of service so that they would remain loyal. October: General strike spread from Moscow. Barricades in the streets. St Petersburg Soviet of Worker's Deputies was formed. Workers representatives met to co-ordinate strike action. On the 30th of October, the Tsar issued the October Manifesto, which promised: A parliment elected by the Russian people, Civil Rights, and The right to form Political Parties. December: Tsar used force to crush the uprisings and the St Petersburg Soviet. He sent out troops to get peasants and workers who had protested back under control.