Nicholas decided upon war with Japan to create a distraction from the current problems facing his Tsarist regime. The population greeted the idea with great passion, yet a humiliating defeat simply dismantled any remaining respect for the Tsar causing his unpopularity to continue even further on a downward spiral. Not only did Russian pride among the people disintegrate, but the defeat also made Russia considerably weaker and more vulnerable to other countries. The Russian population felt let down and insecure as a nation. The final factor that contributed towards the 1905 revolution was “Bloody Sunday”.
On 22nd January 1905, 200,000 people led by Father Gapon, set off for the Winter Palace to present their petition to the Tsar. The marchers were completely peaceful in their protests and showed this by carrying icons of the Tsar, whilst marching. The marchers simply wanted the Tsar to meet their requests of: Reducing a working day to eight hours Minimum wage of a rouble a day The abolishment of overtime A constitutional reform put into power. The peaceful procession soon turned violent when armed guards and mounted Cossacks were sent out in a massive, yet unnecessary force.
It was called “Bloody Sunday” because of the hundreds of unarmed men, women and children that were wounded and killed. The Tsar didn’t even come to receive the petition. Instead, alarmed by warnings, he fled to the town of Tsarkoe in Selo, fifteen miles away. This cowardly act not only rendered the bloody procession pointless, but it also led to a series of countless strikes and problems for the Tsar. For example, 400,000 workers went on strike in February and by the end of the year, the figure had rocketed to 2. 7 million. Peasants were unhappier than ever before and a peasant revolt would cause a huge collapse in economy.
In one year, 29 million roubles of damage was inflicted upon Russian landowners. On 4th February, the Tsar’s uncle, the governor general of Moscow was assassinated. Lastly, several mutinies were taking place as a result of Bloody Sunday. The most famous being the June mutiny on the battleship “Potemkin” in the Black Sea. All of the above factors contributed to the Revolution of 1905, however some had more impact that others. I believe the most important causes of the revolution were the dissatisfaction towards the policy of emancipation and “Bloody Sunday”.
Alexander II introducing emancipation simply caused general unhappiness throughout the nation, in a variety of classes. Peasants weren’t happy as they lost money buying infertile land, nobles were dissatisfied as they had to sell their land to peasants and the middle class had the chance to become more educated resulting in them turning against the Tsar. The whole nation were given more rights and opportunities. For example, the Zemstra and Dumo being set up made people much more politically aware. They were awoken, in a sense, to how a county should be fairy ran and the power and freedom in which it involved.
Emancipation gave the serfs (eighty percent of the population) a taste of freedom that they’d never before experienced and just as people were becoming more aware, it was taken from them. This great tease meant it was inevitable that people were going to search for freedom again in the near future. I believe Bloody Sunday played a huge role in triggering the revolution because it was the first, united political stand that the people of Russia had taken and the Tsar responded to it by fleeing to another town.
This cowardice showed the people just how scared the Tsar was of political change and that strikes and protests were indeed his weakness. We know this is true because of the great amount of further strikes and mutinies that took place after Bloody Sunday. I believe that the 1905 revolution failed to overthrow the Tsarist regime because it was extremely unplanned and people were only just beginning to see the possibilities of political power.
None of the protestors were working simultaneously and had decided upon no set aims. Despite naval mutinies taking place, the army was still completely loyal to Nicholas. I believe the 1905 revolution acted as a rehearsal for the 1917 revolution that was yet to follow. I believe it enabled the protestors to experiment in forms of protest and therefore protest, just as “Bloody Sunday” had helped them realise that political protests were what the Tsar feared most.