Russia's First Revolution

John Morison shows how an accumulation of grievances resulted in a spontaneous revolution in Russia in 1905.

Russia remained quiescent during 1848, Europe’s turbulent year of revolutions.  Yet this was as much a tribute to its backwardness as to the repressive capacity of its regime. It was very different by the end of the century. Russia’s humiliation in the Crimean War (1853-56) threatened its great power status. Whereas Peter the Great had an absolutist model to follow in the ruthless centralisation that made Russia into a great power, Alexander II (Tsar in 1855-81) was reluctant to embrace a democratic model for his post-Crimean reform process. He hoped to combine the retention of political absolutism in its Russian autocratic form with economic and social modernisation. This reformed autocratic model was surprisingly successful if judged in such terms as economic growth, educational expansion and public health improvements. However, it was accompanied by a changing and underlying pattern of social tensions.

The towns: growth and unrest

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.