Friday, March 18, 2016

The Russian Revolution of 1905 (Part 7)

Drawing of Workers in Narva Gate during Bloody Sunday
With the events of Bloody Sunday, the people rose up in support of the victims of the massacre. Reformist sentiments roared loudly as a result. Revolutionaries shouted for the ousting of the Tsar. Explore the events on the aftermath of Bloody Revolution that formed the Revolution of 1905.

Aftermath of Bloody Sunday

Riots, uprisings, protest, and strikes followed as news of the killings in Bloody Sunday spread far and wide within the Empire. As a result of the disaster, Minister Mirsky resigned from his position by the end of January. Alexander Trepov assumed the position of governor-general of St. Petersburg to quell the violence in the city. To ease tensions, he orchestrated an event between the Tsar and the workers. Trepov choose workers who had been cleared from any anti-Tsarist movements for a meeting in Tsarkoye Selo. Sergei Witte recollected the news he received about the event that transpired:

"The ‘delegates' expressed their loyal feelings to the Emperor, and His Majesty delivered before them a speech, written out beforehand, assuring them that he had their needs at heart and would do for them everything within his power."

After the exchange of words, Nicholas had dinner with them and the event ended. The whole event flopped. It went unnoticed, not even major news outlets published any article about the event. Unluckily for the so-called workers’ delegates, those who participated in the meeting got harassed, which prevented them from going back to work.

Following Bloody Sunday, millions of workers across the Russian empire went on strike in sympathy towards their fellow workers in St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg alone, 400,000 went on strike. They demanded justice and reform of the autocratic system of government. The strikes hurt the Russian economy. Revolutionaries orchestrated violence and clashed with the police. On February 4 (Old Style), 1905, an assassin succeeded in bringing down Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov. The Tsar feared the conditions leading up to a violent revolution with him deposed. Nicholas then appointed Trepov to the position of Associate Minister to assist the new Interior Minister Alexander Bulygin. The pair had their disagreements with one being slightly open for reforms while the other showed a strong reactionary stand. Witte described the two as "a dummy minister and a veritable dictator."

As petitions for reforms and justice flooded government offices, Nicholas remained steadfast to maintain the established order. On February 5 (Old Style), 1905, a manifesto by the Tsar went public where he maintained his autocratic power. The manifesto shocked many ministers for the sudden and brash manifesto. Officials knew that the manifesto would further worsen the already shaky and chaotic situation. Many officials suspected the head of the Holy Synod Konstantin Podiedonostsev, a well-known conservative and anti-liberal, edited and perhaps even composed the published manifesto. Bulygin with the support of other ministers edited the manifesto. On the edited version that became known as the Bulygin Rescript, it promised a body of people’s representatives to convene as a prelude for the establishment of a Duma. From that point, Bulygin worked for the establishment of a Duma.

In Russia’s Peripheries

Elsewhere in the peripheries of the Russian Empire, news of the January 9 killings caused serious repercussions for the government, especially in areas that had been for years filled with extreme tensions either inter-racial or national. It added to the already tremendous challenges for St. Petersburg. With their resources limited due to the war in the east and chaos at home, Russian authorities had little power to maintain order in other domains.  

In the Caucasus, strikes and massacres broke out. In January strikes began in major industrial cities in the region – Baku, Tiflis, Batumi. However, in February of 1905, an Armenian police killed a Tatar or Azeri, worsened the conditions. The news of the killing sparked revenge riots in Baku between Azeris and Armenians. Years of ethnic tensions erupted, devouring several major cities. On February 20 – 21, 1905 massacres had been reported in Yerevan, followed by another in Nakhichevan in May. Administration fell apart with the assassination of the governor of Transcaucasia in the same month.  Massacres continued in June in Shusha and in the countryside. In September, Azeris attacked Armenian owned oil wells in Baku leaving 1,500 Armenians killed and 1,026 of 1,609 wells destroyed. In addition to ruined oil wells, the ethnic killings between the Armenians and Azeris left 128 Armenian and 158 Azeri villages decimated.

In the Baltics, violence and instability also mounted. Growing disturbances in Finland by nationalist worsened. Native Baltics attacked landowning Germans. Fight for autonomy also arose in 1905.

In Finland, local riots and terrorist acts continued further. In 1904, Finns revolted when Russians began conscripting Finnish men for war in the east and when St. Petersburg disregarded their constitution. In June 17, 1904, a Finnish nationalist assassinated the Governor-General Nikolay Bobrikov. Months after the assassination, mobs incited by nationalist attacked government offices and factories. It even intensified when news of Bloody Sunday reached Finland. Strikes in major cities began. Some turned violent exacerbating the already troubling situation.

In Lithuania, workers launched strikes while political parties demanded civil liberties. On January 11, 1905, Lithuanian workers in Vilna and Kovno went on strike in support of those slayed in St. Petersburg. The Lithuanian Social Democrats, the Polish Socialist Party, and the Social Democrats of Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania provided the leadership and organizational structure for these strikes. On the following month, the workers and political parties demand expansion of civil rights, such as freedom of worship, assembly, among others. They also wanted relaxation of Russification policies of the government. Lastly, they also demanded autonomy for Lithuania. But some of the extremist in Lithuania even extended their demands to complete independence. Strikes continued but violence remained isolated. In May 1905, peasants numbering to 1,500 to 2,000 protested and demanded swift and complete agrarian reforms, which included lands and free from tenant farming from Baltic Germans.

In Estonia, workers and students protested against Russian authorities. In January 1905, in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, workers in major cities of Talinn, Narva, and Parnu began. In addition to workers, students from the University of Tartu demonstrated demanding social justice and liberal reforms. Strikes remained endemic and in October 16, 1905, a demonstration went violent when Russian troops fired onto a crowd taking the lives of 90 while wounding 200.

Latvia on the other hand saw the worst of attacks on Baltic Germans. The Latvian peasants attacked manors and estates of their abusive Baltic German overlords.  In the end, 183 estates and 72 manors laid in ruin in Livland while 229 estates and 42 manors ruined in Courland. Meanwhile, workers also went on strike in protest of Russian government’s action against the workers in January.

Poland’s situation also spiraled out of control, resulting into a virtual state of martial law for most parts of the country. A general strike across Poland began following Bloody Sunday. Violent clashes between Russian forces and strikers reported in Lodz and Warsaw. Many believed the Russian military acted heavy handedly against the strikers, which fueled dissent further. The Government in reaction to the general strike and violence started to declare a state of alert in Warsaw. The authorities then expanded its inclusion between January and February in most part of Poland. Under state of alert, it gave police and military the right to arrest anyone suspected as hooligans and terrorist. Poland was virtually under martial law. Interest groups and political parties exploited the situation to address their demands. In March 1905, the National League or Liga Narodowa demanded the re-instatement of Polish in education and administration. Students joined the call for reform, such as the call for reintroduction of Polish language, relaxation of Russification policies, and enactment of civil liberties, by boycotting their classes, which lasted until 1908. In May 3, 1905 the Polish Peasants’ Union or the PZL demanded agrarian reforms and protection against abuses of Russian landlords. Violence erupted on June 22 up to June 24 when the city of Lodz went ablaze. An insurrection supported by the Polish Socialist led by Jozef Pilsudski began. The insurrection, however, was futile and the Russians defeated the rebels.

As the conditions in the margins of the Russian Empire ravaged, back in the heartland, situations continued to unstable as new strikes, riots, and mutinies began. And the Tsarist government considered their options.

Explore also:


Balkelis, Tomas. The Making of Modern Lithuania. New York, New York: Routledge, 2009.

Bolukbasi, Suha. Azerbaijan: A Political History. New York, New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2011.

Croissant, Michael. The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Euchensehr, Kristen and Michael Reisman (Eds.). Stopping Wars and Making Peace: Studies in International Intervention. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill, 2009.

Kassow, Samuel. Students, Professors, and the State in Tsarist Russia. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1989.

Kasekamp, Andres. A History of the Baltic States. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Kokovtsov, Vladimir. H.H. Fisher (Ed.). Laura Matveev (Trans.). Out of My Past: The Memoirs of Count Kokovtsov. Standford University, California: Stanford University Press, 1935.

Leslie, R.F. (ed.). The History of Poland since 1863. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

O'Connor, Kevin. The History of the Baltic States. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003.

Papazian, K.S. Patriotism Perverted: A Discussion of the Deeds and the Misdeeds of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the So-called Dashnagtzoutune. Boston, Massachusetts: Baikar Press, 1934.

Pipes, Richard. A Concise History of the Russian Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1995.

___________. Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917 - 1923. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Palmer, Robert. A History of the Modern World. Boston, Massachusettes: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Plakans, Andrejs. The Latvians: A Short History. Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 1995.

Prazmowska, Anita. Poland: A Modern History. New York, New York: IB Tauris, 2010.

Raun, Toivo. Estonia and the Estonians. Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 1995.

Witte, Sergei. Abraham Yarmolinsky (Trans.). The Memoirs of Count Sergei Witte. Garden City, New York: Dobleday, Page & Company, 1921.

General References:

"Jadidism," Historical Dictionary of Kazakhstan. Edited by Didar Kassymova et. al. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012.

"Revolution of 1905-1906." In the Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966 - 1945. Edited by Jerzy Jan Lerski. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996.

"Russian Revolution (1905)." In the Historical Dictionary of Marxism. Edited by Elliott Johnson et. al. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

Corfield, Justin. "Russian Revolution (1905)." In The Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in World History. Edited by Kenneth E. Hendrikson, III. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Frame, Arthur. Russia, "Revolution of 1905." In The Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2005.

Gough, Jana trans. History of Civilizations of Central Asia V. 6. Paris: UNESCO, 2005.

Mikaberidze, Alexander. Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Suny, Ronald Grigor. "Russian Revolution of 1905." in The Encyclopedia of Political Revolutions. Edited by Jack A. Goldstone. New York, New York: Routledge, 1998.

Suziedelis, Saulius. Historical Dictionary of Lithuania. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2011.

Online Newspaper Articles:

A Russian Correspondent of The New York Times. "Russian Tells Story of Sunday's Massacre." New York Times (January 25 1905). URL:

"Troops Overawe St. Petersburg." New York Times (January 24, 1905). URL:

"Iron Ruler for St. Petersburg." New York Times (January 25, 1905). URL:


Ascher, Abraham. "Revolution of 1905." Encyclopedia of Russian History. 2004. 1 Feb. 2016.

Trotsky, Leon. “1905.” Marxist Internet Archives. March 12, 2016.

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