Edexcel AS History Russia 1881-1950 Exam question answer plan


D3. January 2012

Q. How accurate is it to say that the growth of reformist groups in the years from 1881 was the main cause of the 1905 Revolution?


1905 revolution was a spontaneous leaderless revolution. The harsh working and living conditions fuelled further discontent within the Russian people. Additionally events such as bloody Sunday  created distrust in the tsar hence leading to the 1905 revolution. It can be arguably stated that reformist helped to pave the way for the presence of an enforcing opposition. Never the less, reformist groups cannot be held as the main cause of the 1905 revolution due its leaderless anonymity and the great contribution of the great industrialisation which lead to harsh working conditions spurring on demand for change in the 1905 revolution.

What makes it accurate? Argument for growth of reformist groups causing the revolution:

·         The assassination of Alexander II in 1881 persuaded Alexander III and Nicholas II to pursue a policy of repression of all reformist groups.

·         It became a criminal offence to oppose the Tsar or his government, and Okhrana spies infiltrated and broke up reformist cells.

·         This policy weakened the main reformist groups, the Populists, Socialist Revolutionaries and Social Democrats, but also forced them underground to continue their activities.

·         Linked to this repression was Tsarism’s refusal to change the system of government in any way, a further incentive to the reformists to gain greater support.


Argument against reformist groups causing the 1905 revolution:


·         Impact of Witte’s economic policies in the towns, where poor living and working conditions encouraged the growth of opposition and trade unionism, and encouraged the disastrous demonstration that turned into Bloody Sunday in January 1905.

·         Countryside there were growing protests over a succession of failed

harvests and famines.


The Russo-Japanese war saw a series of humiliating

defeats for Russia, notably the loss of Port Arthur and military defeats in



Conclusion:  Growth of reformist groups undeniably added to the pressure of an effective revolution in 1905. However it cannot be called the main cause because the unrest in the newly industrialised cities such as St.Petersburg where 1000s of Russian worked meant


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