MIA: History: USSR: 1905 Revolution

Russian Revolution of 1905

Red Army marching

General Overview: The Russian Revolution of 1905, also known as the First Russian Revolution, was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. It included labor strikes, peasant unrest, military mutinies, and the formation of grassroots councils (soviets) of people's power. It is widely felt that the 1905 revolution set the stage for the 1917 Russian Revolutions, and for Bolshevism to emerge as a distinct political movement. Lenin later called it "The Great Dress Rehearsal", without which the "victory of the October Revolution in 1917 would have been impossible".

The 1905 revolution was spurred by the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, which ended in the same year, but also by the growing realization by a variety of sectors of society of the need for reform in the face of agrarian crisis, economic stagnation, and political repression. However, it is generally felt that the detonator of the insurrection were the events of “Bloody Sunday”, in which a mass demonstration -led by priest and police agent, Georgy Gapon- which had sought to petition the Tsar for relief, was fired upon by the troops, killing hundreds of marchers.

There followed clashes in St. Petersburg, and spreading unrest throughout the rest of the Russian Empire.  Strikes spread in three great waves: January, October, and November.  In June the crew of the battleship Potemkin famously mutinied against their officers. There were further clashes in St. Petersburg in December.  

The rebellion did not overthrow the autocracy, but by late 1905 the Tsar felt obligated by events to agree to constitutional reforms, including the establishment of the State Duma, a multi-party political system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906. 


Who's Who

Differences Among the Russian Socialists, by Karl Kautsky (1905)

Eight Hours and a Gun: Revolutionary Russia, 1904-1905, by Dave Harker (2020)


Overviews of the 1905 Revolution

The Russian Revolution of 1905, by Albert Weisbord (1927)

1905, by Tony Cliff (1985)

The 1905 Revolution, from Trotsky: Towards October (1879-1917), by Tony Cliff (1989)

The 1905 Revolution, The Muzhik in Rebellion, and The Great Dress Rehearsal, from Lenin 1: Building the Party (1893-1914), by Tony Cliff (1975)

A Hidden Story of the 1905 Russian Revolution: The Unemployed Soviet, by Nikolai Preobrazhenskii (2005)

1905: The Consciousness Factor, by Pete Glatter (2005)


Contemporaneous Documents and Participants' Accounts

1905, by Leon Trotsky (1907)

The St. Petersburg Workingmen's Petition to Tsar Nicholas II (22 January 1905)

The Story of My Life, by Georgy Gapon (1906)

The Beginning of the Revolution in Russia, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

Two Clashes (Concerning January 9), by J. V. Stalin (1906)

Russia in Revolution, by G. H. Perris (1905)

The Revolution in Russia, by Rosa Luxemburg (1905)

A Militant Agreement for the Uprising, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

Gapon and Socialist Unity by Karl Kautsky (1905)

Revolutionary Days, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

The Events in Petersburg, by Leon Trotsky (1905)

The Armed Forces and the Revolution, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

The Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Government, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

To Citizens: Long Live the Red Flag!, by J. V. Stalin (1905)

Manifesto on the Improvement of State Order, by Tsar Nicholas II (1905)

The First Victory of the Revolution, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

The Truth About the War (Manifesto of Russian Democracy)

Manifesto of the Petrograd Soviet (November 1905)

The Soviet and the Revolution (Fifty Days), by L. Trotsky (1907)

Lessons of the Revolution, by V. I. Lenin (1910)

The December Uprising, 1905, by V. I. Lenin (1919)

Lecture on the 1905 Revolution, by V. I. Lenin (1925)

Twenty Years After 1905, by Leon Trotsky (1925)

The Year 1905, from My Life, by Leon Trotsky (1930)

The Year 1905, from Reminiscences of Lenin, by Nadezhda Krupskaya (1933)

Back in St. Petersburg,  from Reminiscences of Lenin, by Nadezhda Krupskaya (1933)


The Mutiny of the Battleship Potemkin

The Origins of the Potemkin Mutiny, by Christian Rakovsky (1907)

The Latest News Reports, by V. I. Lenin (1905)

The Russian Tsar Seeks the Protection of the Turkish Sultan Against His People, by V. I. Lenin (1905)



Last updated on 17 March 2024