The 1905 Revolution

Tsar Nicholas II had a weak personality and a bad habit of not listening to his people - as demonstrated in 1905 when he ordered his Cossacks [Cossacks: Peasants from southern Russia who were renowned for their military skill - they were later employed by the Tsar. ] to open fire on a peaceful demonstration. The events that occurred afterwards in response to the attack became known as the 1905 Revolution.


In 1904, Nicholas lost a war with Japan, which undermined his authority. In 1905, a peaceful demonstration of workers led by the priest Father Gapon was attacked by the Cossacks, in a bid to assert the Tsar's authority. The atrocity led to strikes and riots - sailors on the battleship 'Potemkin' mutinied. Workers and soldiers got together and set up committees called Soviets to represent them.

Nicholas survived - just! He published the 'October Manifesto', which promised to create a Duma (parliament). This caused many middle-class people, called the Octobrists, to support him. He also lowered taxes on the poor and brought in Peter Stolypin as his prime minister. The Okhrana [Okhrana: The Tsar of Russia's security police 1881-1917. ] tracked down and arrested many revolutionaries.

However, as soon as he felt powerful enough, Nicholas stopped listening to the Duma, but the Soviets survived.

Revision tip and answer preparation

Revision tip

Write out the story of the 1905 revolution and its long term after effects in your own words.

Answer preparation

As part of your revision, think about the arguments and facts you would use to explain:

  1. Why there was a revolution in 1905 - remember both long-term and immediate causes.
  2. How Nicholas survived the 1905 revolution.
  3. How the 1905 revolution weakened the tsar and helped the 1917 revolution.

Back to Revision Bite