How far do you agree that the Russo Japanese war was the biggest cause of the 1905 Revolution in Russia?

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How far do you agree that the Russo Japanese war was the biggest cause of the 1905 Revolution in Russia?

Tsar Nicholas II had always desired imperial expansion to the Far East; so naturally Russia clashed with Japan over shared interests in China and Korea. This resulted in the Russo Japanese war to break out. The 1905 Revolution was a different matter; however, they are both connected to each other. The 1905 Revolution was initiated from a peaceful protest by the Surfs but soon transformed into something much bigger. Although the Russo Japanese war played a significant part there was also a variety of other contributing factors; including the great famine, Nicholas II and Bloody Sunday.

Firstly, how significant was the Russo Japanese war? In August 1904 Tsar Nicholas II declared war over the Japanese as they refused to let him have Korea under the soviet sphere of influence. Russia was naturally seen as the superior military power of the two but they failed to utilise this. Russia needed Port Arthur as a war water port for military and maritime trade all year round. Vladivostok was only operational in the summer months so the Russians relied heavily on Port Arthur. Yet, in January 1905 the Russians were forced to surrender Port Arthur to the Japanese. However, the greatest humiliation came at the battle of Tsushima in May 1905. Russia lost 25-35 warships in this clash. Many mistakes were key to the loss of this war. To begin with the Japanese were far better prepared to tackle disease with medical water testing devices. As well as this the Trans-Siberian railway was still unfinished and this meant that Russia struggled to move its troops and supplies form west to east. At the end of the war Russia lost the southern half of Sakhalin and Port Arthur. The Russian people were humiliated and ultimately blamed Nicholas II for their loss of pride as well as territory. Even the Tsars most supportive biographer concluded that this ‘disastrous and unnecessary war with Japan was more Nicholas’ fault than anybody else’s.’ This horrendous defeat gave the public a welcomed opportunity to openly criticise autocracy. Autocracy had caused Nicholas to blunder into the war. The country was ill-equipped to fight and so Russian soldiers were ultimately the victims of political incompetence. The loss also gave Russian newspapers an opportunity to stir up criticism of the Tsars ruling methods. They heightened tensions with fevered coverage of the besieged population in Port Arthur; terrorised by repeated artillery bombings. When the Russian population found out about this there was outrage at how the Tsar could do this to his own people, and consequently many people began to doubt how effective autocracy was for the empire.

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‘What is going to happen to me? I am not prepared to be Tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling; I have no idea of even how to talk to ministers.’ This was a quote from Nicholas II when he was in private discussing his recent coronation. One of the most significant causes of the Russian revolution was Nicholas II. As proven by the quote it was clear that Nicholas was reluctant to become Tsar. He was not a strong character and was ignorant of the nature and extent of the opposition. ...

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