1905 Russian Revolution

Tsarist troops wait outside the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg
Tsarist troops wait outside the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg

Historical Context

By 1905, the ageing Russian autocracy was a system in terminal decline. Strikes, unrest and mutiny sprang up across the vast Russian landscape where, for centuries, the bulk of the peasant population had been told that the Tsar was a saintly father figure; inviolable, all-powerful and divinely appointed.

Demonstrations in St. Petersburg on 22 January 1905 helped to shatter this illusion. Tsarist soldiers opened fire on protesters, killing 140-240 people. The crowd had been pro-Tsar, carrying pictures and banners of Tsar Nicholas II, and only wished to present a petition to him. This event, Bloody Sunday, sparked the revolution and helped turn the tide against the autocracy.

By its conclusion the revolution had succeeded only partially in dismantling the complete absolutist system that ruled over Russia. The October Manifesto and the constitution of 1906 established a State Duma and a multi-party system, but the Tsar retained great power for himself.

The reforms quelled the immediate protests, but the House of Romanov would last scarcely another decade before it collapsed in the 1917 revolution.

Photo Info

Photographer: Unknown
Location taken: St. Petersburg, Russia

Source: German Federal Archives

Related Events

  • 1905-01-22 In St Petersburg, Russia, a large demonstration of workers led by Father Gapon, march to the Winter Palace with a petition to the Tsar; troops fire on protesters in what becomes known as 'Bloody Sunday'

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