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How Significant Were the Effects of 1905 Revolution on Russian Government and Society at the Time?

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How significant were the effects of 1905 Revolution on Russian government and society at the time?

The 1905 Revolution was significant to Russian government in long run but not in short run. After investigating into the contemporary sources which focus on different people's opinions towards the Revolution and changes brought about by it, I found that there were general agreements on the following views. Firstly, the 1905 Revolution did brought changes to the practice of Russian government; however, as it did not bring an end to the autocratic regime in Russia, the short term the effects of the Revolution was not significant. In long run, the Revolution significantly aroused people's anger towards the Tsar, and we can even argue that it provoked the 1917 Revolution, and arguably, it changed the whole system of government and political structure of Russia, so the long term significance of the revolution to Russian government was more remarkable. Secondly, we could doubt the effects of the Revolution on Russian society. It brought freedom to the people through the October Manifesto, but it is questionable whether it changed the Russians' life significantly.

Politically, the short term significance of the effects of the 1905 Revolution was not remarkable. The 1905 Revolution brought changes to the political structure of Russia; however, its significance was usually over exaggerated by historians. The Revolution brought about was the first broad based challenge to Tsardom. It exposed people's hidden anger to the Tsar and organized into an armed revolution which aimed to overthrown the Tsarist government. Alan Wood suggested that the events of the 1905 Revolution such as the Bloody Sunday was the first revolutionary disturbance which forced the Tsar to authorize the holding of elections for a consultative and legislative national assembly. Peter Waldron shared similar views and suggested that the Revolution was significant in reminding the Tsar the existence of ordinary citizens in society and lead to the establishment of the October Manifesto which brought political power to ordinary citizens in an elitist autocratic tsarist regime.

The October Manifesto established on 17th October, 1905 stated clearly that an elected legislative body (Duma) would be established, under which no legislations could become law without the approval of Duma. These illustrated the short term significance of the effects of the 1905 Revolution to Russian's government, because election was introduced for the first time in history, Russia was moving towards a modern constitutional government. People in Russia were finally being given some political power. Another effect brought by the 1905 Revolution was the wide spread of disorder, it posed significance to Russian government, because arguably it could be considered as an attempt to put an end to the autocratic regime. An extract from the workers' petition presented to the Tsar on 22nd January, 1905, stated the workers' demand for 'any right to speak, to think, to assemble, to discuss our needs, or to take measures to improve our conditions' and they would 'left their work...would not resume work until they meet their demands and showed that there were many workers involved in the Revolution; they would strike until the government granted them basic human rights, the rights to choose their own representative and reasonable wages. This implied that people were resistance to autocratic rule, and demanded for representation in the system of government.

However, the workers' petition only showed people's demand in improving their living conditions and rights, the workers may not have any intentions to overthrow Tsardom. Historian Michael Lynch supported this view; he highlighted that fact that the workers had planned a peaceful march to Winter Palace. Their intention was to present a loyal petition to the tsar, begging him to relieve their desperate condition. The fact that the presentation of the workers petition turned into Bloody Sunday, was caused by the inability of the police force to deal with such numerous unarmed petitioners, thus we doubt the short term significance of the Revolution to Russian government. However, historian Han Rogger argued that the fact that a peaceful petition of the workers was turned into a massacre had destroyed the traditional image of the Tsar as their "Little Father", thus provoked resistance towards Tsardom. So from this aspect, in long term, the 1905 Revolution was significant to Russian government at the time.

Furthermore, Nicholas II wrote, "There have been serious disorders in St. Petersburg because workmen wanted to come up to the Winter Palace. Troops had to open fire in several places in the city" once again implied the political and social instability brought by the 1905 Revolution and its attempts to put an end to autocracy. Thus, the Revolution was significant as an attempt to overthrow Tsardom. However, in the later part of his diary, he wrote "Mama arrived from town, straight to church. I lunched with all others", showed that Nicholas II did not understand the needs of the Russians. He went to have a walk and have lunch, after such a painful massacre demonstrated that the Revolution did not pose any threat to the Tsar. However, the fact that the diary entry showed "there were many killed and wounded" by the troops during the petition, damaged Nicholas II's reputation, and formed a political force against the regime, and the fact that many people went to protest in St. Petersburg showed that Russians were generally becoming more critical to the regime in long run.

Sergei Witte's letter to Nicholas II backed up the above evidence and showed us clearly that "The government must be ready to proceed along constitutional lines", as it was the only solution to ease people's anger brought about by the 1905 Revolution, so arguably, the establishment of the Russian Constitution, which was a very significant step of political modernization, was a direct outcome of the Revolution. However, the secondary work of Orlando Figes pointed that Witte had a very liberal political view, which he personally in favour of a democratic political system. The Witte's letter could only present subjective and liberal views.

A diary entry written by Nicholas II on 19th October, 1905, about the October manifesto, he wrote 'There was no other way out but to cross oneself and give what everyone was asking for' once again backed up the above ideas, and showed us clearly that there was no choice for Nicholas II to install stability to Russia after the 1905 Revolution, but to established a constitution and a State Duma. These illustrated that the short term significance of the Revolution to Russian government.



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