The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution occurred in two stages. During the first stage, liberal movements challenged the monarchy and the Russian tsar following Russia's humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). Major revolutionary fever followed, with a series of uncoordinated worker uprisings in the major urban centers and peasant uprisings in 1905. While Tsar Nicholas II (1868–1918) created a Duma (Russian legislature) in 1906, the government was essentially an authoritarian constitutional monarchy since the Duma had little control or influence.

As you read this text, note the major causes of the 1905 uprisings, the key events, failures, and results.

The Russian Revolution of 1905

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, which included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies.

Key Points

  • In January 1905, an incident known as "Bloody Sunday" occurred when Father Gapon led an enormous crowd to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to present a petition to the tsar.
  • When the procession reached the palace, Cossacks opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds.
  • The Russian masses were so aroused over the massacre that a general strike was declared demanding a democratic republic, which marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1905.
  • Soviets (councils of workers) appeared in most cities to direct revolutionary activity.
  • In October 1905, Tsar Nicholas reluctantly issued the famous October Manifesto, which conceded the creation of a national Duma (legislature), as well as the right to vote, and affirmed that no law was to go into force without confirmation by the Duma.
  • The moderate groups were satisfied, but the socialists rejected the concessions as insufficient and tried to organize new strikes.
  • By the end of 1905, there was disunity among the reformers, and the tsar's position was strengthened for the time being.

Key Terms


A form of cultural assimilation during which non-Russian communities, voluntarily or not, give up their culture and language in favor of the Russian one. In a historical sense, the term refers to both official and unofficial policies of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union with respect to their national constituents and to national minorities in Russia, aimed at Russian domination.

State Duma

The Lower House of the legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which held its meetings in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It convened four times between April 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in February 1917. It was founded during the Russian Revolution of 1905 as the Tsar's response to rebellion.

Russian Constitution of 1906

A major revision of the 1832 Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, which transformed the formerly absolutist state into one in which the emperor agreed for the first time to share his autocratic power with a parliament. It was enacted on May 6, 1906, on the eve of the opening of the first State Duma.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies and led to constitutional reform, including the establishment of the State Duma, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906.

Source: Boundless,
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.