The Russo-Japanese war took place in 1904 to 1905 and began because of both Russia and Japans desire to expand their borders into places such as Korea. During this war, Russia was humiliated and had many defeats from a country which were considered to be inferior. The defeat of this war humiliated the people of Russia and therefore lost confidence in Nicholas II. Russia’s defeat in the war also caused problems in the Military, economic and political problems. This then means that the Russo-Japanese war was partly responsible for the 1905 revolution. The Russo-Japanese war created many huge military defeats which showed the Russian people how weak the military were which therefore caused national humiliation. With the people of Russia humiliated, they began the 1905 Revolution. An example of one of the most humiliating Russian defeats during the war was the Battle of Tsushima in May of 1905.
The Russians sent 35 battleships from northern Europe to Japan. As the north of Russia was frozen over, the Russian fleet was forced to go past Africa and of an 8 month journey. When the Russian fleet finally arrived, they were overwhelmed and lost 25 of their initial 35 ships. The decisions made during this period lead to the military losing loyalty in the Tsar, for example, the strikes in Odessa. All of these problems and the fact the huge empire of Russia lose to a country that many had never heard of made Russians very humiliated. However, many argue that this did not cause the outbreak of the revolution, but only adding to the opposition of the autocratic Tsar and prolonging the revolution. The Russo-Japanese war also brought great economic problems for Russia. This meant there was a huge lack of money to try to solve the other problems which Russia was faced with which makes the Russo-Japanese war partly responsible for the 1905 revolution.
The price of the war was huge due to the transport issues as Russia is a huge country, and with the war resulting in failure, nothing was gained from the territories. Russia was already had a huge economic problem as they had to borrow lots of from other empires like Great Britain and France. As Russia could not invest in her economy, and that Russia was borrowing from other great powers, it also made the Russians feel humiliated. The lack of funds also means that Russia could not improve working and living conditions in both rural and urban areas. This reduced the Russians national pride. The economic problems meant that Russia could not sort out all of the other problems that the Russians faced in this period all because of the Russo-Japanese war which means that it was a huge factor in the 1905 Revolution.
There were also many political reasons why the Russo-Japanese war may have been responsible for the 1905 revolution and what many people believe to be the most important. The war was fought on the eastern side of Russia near Japan, as the Russians wanted to capture Port Arthur, and was far away from where the majority of the population lived which is why many Russians felt left out of it as the news of the Russians progress was so slow to travel which lead to a lack of interest and enthusiasm for the war. This left people out of the issue which made public opinion turn against the war as they could see little justification for it. Even more important was the fact that the Russian military had a lack of resources due to the lack of transport and were not very equipped for the war. If this was the situation in any case, it would show weakness within the leadership and make people turn away from them. This is what happened between the Russians and the Tsar as they thought that he had failed his army. If the Russian people were to turn away, they would have to look somewhere else.
Many looked towards political groups who were prepared to take action. The political implications of the Russo-Japanese war was a major cause of the 1905 Revolution as support left the Tsar and went to political groups which many believed could take his place. However, many people believe that the Russo-Japanese was not the only cause for the outbreak of the 1905 revolution. During this period, there were many growing political groups which many believed would be better than the Tsar because of their more radical thinking. The Russians mainly supported the Populists the Social Revolutionaries, the Social Democrats and the Liberals. Throughout the years the groups were slowly providing more opposition to the Tsar and each other. The most radical, and in some ways successful, group was the Social Revolutionaries (SR). The SR was heavily against the Tsar and his regimes. They opposed by assassinating many members of the government including the Minister of the Interior, Plehve in 1904 and Sergei.
The SR became hugely popular due to their radicalism and the fact they are getting closer to their goal than many other political groups which lead to the public supporting them as opposed to the Tsar causing the 1905 revolution. Another big reason why the 1905 revolution was cause was Russia’s lack of Political reform and the doubts in Russia’s Tsar. As Russia lacked a ‘democratic parliament’, it was only through extreme actions that the public’s voice could be heard. The lack of a nation parliament was due to Alexander II passing the Zemstva Act and the Statute of State Security Act. The people of Russia were also against Nicholas II as a character and leader. It was believed that Nicholas Ii did not have the personal attributes necessary to help get Russia out of their various problems. He was often described as “shy and quiet”. This may be because he was in power unexpectedly after the premature death of his father. Nether the less, these problems caused the public to lose faith in both Nicholas and the policies which is a strong cause for the 1905 revolution.
Finally, one of the most important causes of the 1905 revolution was the economic troubles in the rural areas of the country. It was not only the peasants but the landowners too who were in deep economic problems. Russia used to have an agricultural side to it, however, during this period, agriculture was very behind that of other countries. Nothing had been done about this under Witte’s system. As the situation was never treated, the land became infertile and famines became quite regular, the worst case of this was in 1891. There were also more in 1902 and 1905 which may have triggered the peasants for revolution. In 1861, the Emancipation of the Serfs Act set the peasants free. However, they were tied to village communities and were not allowed to leave without permission. This inflated the peasant’s anger over the next few decades.
The Landowners were also in huge debt after selling their land to the government. This strained the relationship between the Tsar and the peasants as Nicholas II has no funds to help any of them. This is a huge cause for the 1905 revolution. In conclusion, the Russo-Japanese war was a huge factor for revolution in 1905 as it leads to military, political and economic problems in Russian. However, there were also many problems in Russia before the War. However, many of the problems in the Russo-Japanese happened after the revolution had started, therefore either delaying the end or worsening the current situation. In my opinion, the Russo-Japanese war made the problems already which were existent in Russia worst, such as the economic problems, leading to the 1905 revolution.
Courtney from Study Moose
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