The Road to Revolution: Unrest and Upheaval in Tsarist Russia

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Factors Leading to the 1905 Russian Revolution

  • The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

    The war for control of Manchuria was deeply unpopular in Russia. New taxes were imposed to finance the conflict, and Russia's defeat led to increased public hostility towards Tsar Nicholas II.

  • The Emergence of Political Parties

    Despite being forbidden, various political parties emerged, all opposed to the Tsar's autocratic rule. This burgeoning opposition signaled the growing desire for political reform.

  • Bloody Sunday and the 1905 Revolution

    In January 1905, industrial workers in St. Petersburg marched peacefully on the Winter Palace to petition the Tsar for improved working conditions and political reforms. The Tsar's troops fired upon the unarmed protesters, an event that became known as "Bloody Sunday." This massacre sparked widespread strikes and protests across Russia.

    In response, Tsar Nicholas II reluctantly agreed to some political concessions, including the formation of a Duma (parliament) with representatives elected from different classes. However, the Tsar soon dissolved the Duma and reasserted his autocratic rule, further fueling public discontent.

  • Russia's Involvement in World War I

    In 1914, Russia entered World War I as an ally of Great Britain and France. Despite being ill-prepared for a major war, with inadequate food and weapons, Russia mobilized millions of soldiers. The continuous defeats suffered by the Russian army under the Tsar's leadership further eroded public morale and intensified calls for change.

Key Terms in the Russian Revolution

  • USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)

    Established in 1922, the USSR was the world's first communist state.

  • CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union)

    As the sole legal political party in the USSR, the CPSU represented the interests of the workers and held absolute power.

  • Soviet

    Councils composed of workers, soldiers, and peasants that emerged during the revolution to make decisions and assume control.

  • Bolsheviks

    The majority faction within the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Led by Vladimir Lenin, the Bolsheviks advocated for the immediate overthrow of the Tsarist regime and the establishment of a proletariat dictatorship through a socialist revolution.

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