Evaluate the causes of the 1905 revolution
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Evaluate the causes of the 1905 revolution The disagreement between historians concerning the occurrence of an actual revolution in 1905 is arguably because of their different definitions of what can be classified as a revolution. A revolution can be defined as 1'a fundamental change or a reversal of conditions', and this I consider is very much the case in Russia 1905. The dispute surrounding the dates however is understandably ambiguous as peasant revolts punctuated the years between 1904-1907. I consider however, that the political unrest peaked in this period in 1905, resulting from both short and long term origins. The latter can be traced back as far as the reign of 'Peter the Great' and his attempts to Westernise Russia, or more recently the 2'Great reforms of the 1860's', concerning the judiciary, and the military but perhaps most importantly the educational system. These reforms were surprisingly successful, however they were accompanied by a changing and underlying pattern of social tensions. The short-term origins include three catalysts, Bloody Sunday, the Russo-Japanese war and finally the economic recession that gripped Russia in the early 20th century.
The emancipation of the serfs was the tsar's only option, however they were by no means integrated as part of society, the segregation remained clear and this division made the peasants open to outside influences of rebellion. The high state of tension in the regime was further worsened by the demoralising economic recession at the beginning of the new century. The poor harvests and the subsequent international trade recession brought the great spurt of industrialisation to a halt in 1902 and spelled unemployment as the regime turned their attentions to military needs. The unemployed 'wandering the streets of St. Petersburg' became perfect targets for local activists as the liberals began to spread the word. The moderate Octobrists called for a national congress of the Zemstva, whereas the radical Kadets called for a constitutional monarchy and the creation of a legislative assembly. 5'Social modernisation had bred these new social groups whose aspirations for rights and opportunities were enjoyed by their peers in Europe clashed with the political immobility of the regime'. The Tsar was aware of the growing threat to Russia's autocracy and considered the need to direct attention away from domestic troubles by engaging in a foreign war, 6'A short victorious war that would stem the tide of revolution'.
I do consider that the link between educational reforms and revolution is the most important explanation for the revolution in 1905. Certainly Russia's desire to industrialise meant these reforms were necessary however the social structure of Russia was ill prepared for these changes. Her backwardness allowed for social and therefore political unrest. The effect of Bloody Sunday was certainly disastrous as it worsened the high tensions of revolution already brewing among the masses deep in the economic recession of 1902. Russia's failure in the Russo-Japanease exacerbated revolutionary crisis at home and brought them to a head. The subsequent concessions made by the Tsar changed Russia fundamentally and although diluted by all manner of restrictions on popular sovereignty and democratic rights, the social unrest had prompted them to set in motion a wave of 8'Clandestine revolutionary activity' that was to culminate in the overthrow of the imperial regime twelve years later. 1 Oxford Concise English dictionary 2 A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes 3 Endurance and Endeavour by J.N.Westwood 4 Peasant institutions' motto 5 Russia's 1st revolution article by John Morison 6 Von Plehve, minister of interior 7 Russia's 1st revolution article by John Morison 8 The Twentieth Century World by William R.Keylor
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