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Why was there a revolution in Russia in 1905?

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Why was there a revolution in Russia in 1905? Imperial Russia was a vast land, divided geographically but also riven politically, socially, ethnically, religiously and economically. Russia was an autocratic state. The political and constitutional power was centralised in the Tsar. In 1832 Tsar Nicholas I published a compilation, the Collected Laws of the Russian Empire which summarised the political system of Imperial Russia. It stated: 'The Emperor of all the Russians is an autocratic and unlimited monarch; God himself ordains that all must bow to his supreme power, not only out of fear but also out of conscience.' It is not surprising then that Russia was governed ruthlessly by successive Tsars and that Russia was a deeply divided society and each of the frustrated elements within it - the peasants, the industrial working class, the minorities and political extremists - all had different aspirations. The great bulk of the Russian people were peasants. By the Edict of Emancipation of 1861, Alexander II had ended the system by which peasants were owned by landlords and had no land of their own. The Edict freed them from serfdom and provided them with some land, but this land was generally poor and overcrowded. ...read more.


While this caused few problems in the 'home' provinces, in the more distant and outlying provinces, some of which were relatively recent additions to the Empire, these attempts led to opposition and discontent. Russification in Poland, for example, caused a huge outbreak of nationalism. This Polish nationalism proved to be a great rallying force that cut through political barriers in Poland. Groups like the 'Proletariat' and the 'National League' were determined to oppose Russian domination. Workers and peasants were the main reason for political opposition, as they were demanding rights and representation. The 'Social Revolutionaries' appointed themselves as aids to the vast peasantry of the Russian Empire. They were established in 1901, a follow on from 'The Populist movement' and concentrated on advocating terrorism as a means of achieving their objectives. The 'Social Democrats' were few in number and in 1903 split in two (the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks). They aided the working class and based their arguments on the principles of Marx. The Liberals also posed a political threat to the Tsar, they were made up of intellectuals and had a chain of business and family links. They expressed the need for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly etc. They managed to deliver their opinions through the Union of Unions in May 1905. ...read more.


This event caused a nationwide outbreak of disorder and with what followed many acts of terrorism and violence along with numerous strikes. These incidents were made worse by Russia's humiliating defeat against Japan. Further peasant dissatisfaction was caused by the governments attempt to seize their property due to failure to pay off mortgages, thus leading to thousands of peasant petitions and calls for reform. Many heard these calls and groups like the 'Union of Unions' (set up in May 1905) organised an alliance between themselves, workers and peasants. Non-Russians started to lift their heads and realised that the time was ripe for them to live their dreams and desires. They longed for the destruction of the Tsarist system. In conclusion there were various reasons as to why a revolution occurred in 1905: long term dissatisfaction by many classes: the peasants, industrial working class, minorities and political extremists; they all added to the build up of negative views and attitudes to the Tsarist regime. It was inevitable there would be a revolution, but it specifically occurred in 1905 due to factors such as the assassination of Plehve, 'Bloody Sunday' and political rivalry (e.g. 'Union of Unions' and the 'Paris Bloc'). Robert McEwan ...read more.

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