Russian Revolution of 1905 was a political event in Russia which included strikes from workers, soldiers’ mutiny and general unrest among the common people. The main purpose of this revolution was the demand by peasants and factory workers for reduction of their working hours and increase of wages. This revolution led Russia to became a constitutional monarchy by replacing absolute monarchy. The Russian Revolution of 1905 is also known as the rehearsal for the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The condition of peasants and factory workers was quite miserable due to difficult conditions at their farms and factories respectively. The peasants were getting deeper and deeper inside the debt due to two main reasons. They were given insufficient land and they were unable to even earn according to their basic necessities while it was also not possible for them to sell or mortgage their piece of land. On the other hand, the factory workers were paid very little as compared to their working hours.
Russia’s humiliating defeat against Japan in the Russo-JapaneseWar (1904-05) worsened not only the economic condition of the country but even it embarrassed the Russian monarchy and military.
Russian Empire was in control of vast area with people from several nationalities apart from Russians while people of minority religions were also present along with the majority Christian religion. Russian regime was trying to suppress the culture and language of other nationalities through the process of Russification. The Polish and German people were especially facing problems with the nationalistic policy of Russia. The treatment of government with minority religions, especially Jews, was also very harsh. Anti-Jewish Pogroms (1903-06), allegedly supported by the regime, was an example of mistreatment of other religions by the state.
Due to these reasons, many people were turning against the monarchy while the support for socialists was increasing day by day.
Events During the Revolution
The revolution was initiated by factory workers of St. Petersburg in December 1904 with a strike of 150,000 workers in 382 factories. But the active period of the revolution started on Sunday 22nd January 1905 when thousands of workers, led by priest Georgy Gapon, marched towards the winter palace of Tsar in order to present a petition. The soldiers guarding the palace opened fire at the unarmed workers and killed hundreds of them. This event is known as Bloody Sunday which sparked the factory workers and other dissatisfy people in the whole empire.
Soon after Bloody Sunday, massive strikes started in all the industrial areas of the empire. Within months, the strike spreads to many parts of Russian Empire including Russian Poland, Finland, Baltic areas, Caucasus, European parts of Russia and Urals. The communists and socialists were leading this revolution. The government responded with force and killed thousands of strikers during the revolution.
The peasants also joined the revolution in June-July 1905 when they seized lands from the landlords. The government controlled the situation by force.
The disastrous Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) also added fuel to fire. Mutinies emerged in several naval fleets in 1905 and it took the lives of few thousands soldiers to crush these mutinies.
People of other nationalities and minority religions also actively took part in the revolution against the Tsar. The Polls, Finns and people of Baltic areas demanded autonomy and freedom to use their own language and culture. In August 1905, the First Congress of Muslim Union took place. During the revolution, around 3,000 Jews were also killed by Russian nationalists who consider them the main force behind problems of Russia.
Steps Taken By Monarchy
The government used force from the beginning to crush the revolution but it was evident that steps have to be taken to satisfy people. On 18th February 1905, the Tsar promised to form an assembly (Duma) of people’s representatives with consultative role. But the decision was rejected by the revolutionaries. Later on 30th October 1905, Tsar signed the October Manifesto in which he accepted the demands of Duma as the main legislative body, formation of political parties and giving basic civil rights to all the citizens of empire. After October Manifesto, major strikes ended while the regime suppressed the remaining chaos within few months.
Later, the First Duma was formed in 1906. Representation of peasants was 48.1% as compared to 36.7% representation of nobles. The First Duma passed the Russian Constitution of 1906 on 23rd April 1906.
Russian Revolution of 1905 paved the way for Russia to become a constitutional monarchy replacing absolute monarchy while it also highlighted the fact that communists and socialists are getting more and more power and public support due to economic and military instability of the state. Later when the situation deteriorated again during World War 1 (1914-18), it was much easier for them to overthrow the government in 1917 due to their previous experience of this revolution. Due to this reason, 1905 Russian Revolution is known as the rehearsal for Russian Revolution of 1917.