1905 Russian Revolution

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The 1905 Russian Revolution is the name attributed to Russian events that occurred in (unsurprisingly) 1905, a year of discontent aimed primarily at the Tsarist government under Tsar Nicholas II of the Romanov Dynasty.

Bloody Sunday[edit]

On 22 January 1905, a peaceful protest led by one Father Gapon, an Orthodox priest and secret informant for the Okhrana (Tsarist secret police), marched through the city of St. Petersburg with the intention of presenting a petition to Tsar Nicholas II asking for changes to desperate living conditions. Troublesome protesters and those wielding weaponry were thrown from the march while the crowd walked through the Russian capital carrying the Tsar's portraits and singing patriotic songs such as God Save the Tsar.[note 1] Once the protesters reached the Winter Palace, the St Petersburg residence of the Tsar; however, they were fired upon by the Russian Imperial Guard.


The events of Bloody Sunday triggered widespread outcry and discontent across Russia. Strikes occurred across all the major cities and towns, with terrorism against government officials spreading throughout the rural areas of Russia. A new rift between the Tsarists and the peasants, who had previously remained loyal to the Tsar's sanctified position in their Russian Orthodox faith, was a major political setback for the Tsar that they never fully recovered from.

The remaining year[edit]

As the year progressed, the protests became more organized. The Russo-Japanese war that began in February 1904 ended in September 1905, seeing Russia suffer an embarrassing defeat from a war that it was expected to win. This did little to improve the situation, and government officials feared the returning troops would aid the protesters.


By autumn, the government was left issuing concessions to the dissenting groups. The October Manifesto, issued in... anyone?... yes, October, permitted the creation of a legislative Duma, a lower house of Parliament for the Russian people. With the October Manifesto came the promise of civil rights, freedom of speech, assembly and worship, and the right to form trade unions. This placated the middle-class reformers. The peasants were bought off in November with an announcement that mortgage repayments (the peasants' main grievance) were to be progressively reduced and eventually abolished. The industrial working class rebels could not be bought off, but instead were repressed. Rebellions in St. Petersburg and Moscow were crushed by December, and the revolution had ended.


The October Manifesto did not result in real reform as such, as the Fundamental Laws issued by Nicholas II in 1906 affirmed Nicholas' position of absolute control as head of Russia, as well as the Duma being subject to his will; he would suspend it repeatedly. Political repression of labor and socialist organizers increased to an even greater extent than it had in the pre-revolutionary period. Leaders of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, including Lenin and Trotsky, were sent into exile. The rift between the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of the party was intensified, with the Mensheviks moving towards a reformist line and the Bolsheviks hardening their revolutionary line.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Reactions and Revolutions: Russia 1881 - 1924, Michael Lynch, ISBN 0-340-53336-6


  1. Not affiliated with the British national anthem "God Save the Queen" or the Sex Pistols song of the same name.