The year 1905 was the year of violence, murders, killings, and bloody in Russia. The year 1905 was also the year of the ‘revolution’ to some extent. The Tsar did not only face the ‘revolution’ that took place in Russia, but also the great defeat and shame of the Russo-Japanese War. The three major groups of people in Russia, the liberals, proletariat, and peasants were opposing the tsardom and trying to revolt. However, throughout 1905, the tsardom came out alive and strong enough regardless the turmoil that was caused by the revolution and the great defeat in the Russo-Japanese War.
By the 20th Century, the Russian people were seeking for radical change. Knowing about this, the government looked for a distraction from its internal problem and also to gain pride and fame by expanding its nation to Asia. They believed that no one could take them in a war and with a victory; they hoped the people of Russia would give back the government their support. Russia declared war with Japan in 1904 to take control of Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula. This was later known as the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. Expecting a short victorious, Russia was defeated by the Japanese on land and at sea.
Russia was in a great shame and many military forces looked back at themselves, thinking that Russia is so weak. Therefore, some turmoil happened in the military force itself. For example, the battleship Potemkin experienced a mutiny among their members. This great defeat in the Russo-Japanese War brought Russia to a worse condition and endangered the autocracy even more. Even more people started to revolt and became more radical. However with this problem, the tsardom was still maintained in Russia even after facing a great defeat in the Russo-Japanese War.
Basically, there were 3 major groups that were opposing the tsardom: the working class, the peasants, and the liberals. Each of them had different purposes to revolt which signified the sense of disunity and made them weaker in any attempt to revolt. The working class people basically wanted to have a better working condition and higher wages. Eventually, the working class created a trade-union called the Soviet. The peasants wanted for less tax and more land. The working class and peasants were lacked of education and experience to run a political party which again, made them so weak in any attempt to revolt against the tsardom. Moreover, the liberals split into 2 groups, which were The Kadets and The Octobrists. The Kadets was the radical party where they want Russia to be a constitutional monarchy.
The Octobrists however, was the conservatives among the liberals because they were mainly drawn from the large profit. Even though these 3 groups: the liberals, proletariat, and peasants were trying to make changes, they all have distinct purposes, which made them, disunited and weakened themselves in the revolution. The Tsar took this opportunity where different groups of people had different purposes to revolt by creating some concessions. The October Manifesto was created to placate the liberals through the creation of the legislative duma and the fundamental civil liberties. The duma was basically a constitution that the liberals had been hoping for. The fundamental civil liberties allowed people to have freedom of speech, legalized any political parties, and also the freedom to worship.
However, the liberals were unaware of the fundamental law that was created later on in 1906, which contradicted the purpose of having a duma. Through this, the Tsar was still the main power of the country and the duma means completely nothing because the Tsar can easily veto the duma. It affirmed that the “supreme autocratic power” belong to the tsar. Next, the duma would have two chambers, one elected, and one appointed by the tsar. The one who was appointed by the tsar have the power of legislative veto. Lastly, the fundamental law declared that the Tsar would have exclusive control over foreign affairs. Therefore, the tsardom was basically still in power despite the October Manifesto that was created to placate the liberals by the creation of duma.
In order to appease the peasants, the government created the Peasants’ Manifesto where it abolished mirs, cancelled all pre-existing tax debts, and also cancelled all redemption payments. However, this manifesto did not bring any disadvantages to the Tsar at all because they have been paying the redemption fees for 40 years plus. Through abolishing the mirs, the Tsar did not lose anything as well because he still maintained his autocratic power. And many said that the mirs were actually hindering Russia from developing. All these seemed that it was promising and joyful to the peasants because they were so uneducated. Even though the Tsar imposed some concessions to the liberals and peasants, his autocratic power was not harmed at all.
Two out of the three opposing groups were satisfied. And now it is only the proletariat left to worry, the government changed its position of concession to suppression. The military troops that returned from the Russo-Japanese war were all in anger since they lost. Therefore, the Tsar used them to destroy the Soviets that were run by the working class people. Because of this, there was no more danger against the tsardom since the Tsar had already eliminated the threats through concessions and suppression. Through this, the Tsar still have the most power in Russia, even over the duma, since the fundamental law has been enacted. Even though any political parties are legal, their actions must go through the duma which is now put under the Tsar’s order. Also the laws that the duma suggests can be easily rejected by the Tsar or by the chamber that is appointed by the Tsar.
Even though the year 1905 may seem to be chaotic and violent, the tsardom came out alive and strong. Through the distinct purposes from the revolutionaries, the Tsar took an advantage from it by giving them concessions that did not harm the tsardom to placate them. The creation of the duma did not harm the tsardom at all since the fundamental law was created in 1906 with the liberals unaware of it. Also the Tsar proved himself that he was still in power by terminating the Soviets. The military troops were still on the Tsar’s side. Nonetheless, the tsardom came out of the 1905 revolution alive despite with a few broken ribs.