Russian Revolution


Russian Revolution
(1905)
   The Russian Revolution of 1905 was the first act in the collapse of tsarist rule in Russia. The main reason for the outbreak of the first Russian Revolution of 1905 was the slowness of social and cultural reforms in response to the disparity of accelerated economic modernization that began much later than in Western Europe and the United States than in Russia.
   The peasant liberation of 1861 resulted in a massive migration, from the countryside into the cities of the Russian Empire, of unskilled and uneducated workers who were not able to adapt to a modern urban life and therefore provided a breeding ground for social unrest in the cities. After the Napoleonic Wars and the Crimean War, Russian intellectuals were discontented with reforms in education and resented the rigid control and censorship imposed since Alexander III. Although willing to modernize the empire, Russia’s bureaucratic and military elite were ultraconservative and sought to keep their privileges intact.
   An adventurist foreign policy in Asia, the disaster of the Crimean War, and finally the humiliation of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 also revealed the incompetence and corruption of the tsarist regime. The Russian revolution of 1905 began in the Russian capital, in St Petersburg on January 22, 1905, when troops fired on a defenseless crowd of workers. This “bloody Sunday” was followed by a series of riots and strikes that encompassed all regions of the Russian Empire, all social classes, and all nationalities from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. A general strike forced Tsar Nicholas II to issue the October Manifesto, granting civil liberties and a parliament, the Duma, to be elected democratically. The limited power of the Duma, however, did not satisfy the rebelling workers, peasants, and nationalities. As the revolution of 1905 spread to non-Russian provinces of the empire, it stimulated national movements in the Baltic region, in Poland, Finland, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. In many regions, revolts were put down by antirevolutionary, ultra-extremist Black Hundreds who massacred socialists, Jews, and Muslims. In 1905, revolution in Russia failed, although the tsarist autocracy changed to a constitutional monarchy, and 1905 became the prelude to the revolution of 1917. Social discontent and nationalism went hand in hand and created an explosive mixture that burst forth with World War I.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Ascher, Abraham. The Revolution of 1905: A Short History. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004;
    Weinberg, Robert. The Revolution of 1905 in Odessa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
   EVA-MARIA STOLBERG

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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