Archive for September 8th, 2013

The fall of the once great Russian Empire in the early 1900’s was not a silent and peaceful crumble from its once great stature as world economic and military power. Nicholas II, known as the last of the tsars, inherited an empire on a spiraling decline and the fact that Russia was defeated during the Russo-Japanese war didn’t help his favor either.

The road to the massacre on bloody Sunday began almost a year before the actual event. In 1904 an Orthodox priest named Georgii Gapon was able to mobilize thousands of members of workers into the “Assembly of Russian Factory Workers.” (Freeze p. 250) Soon this assembly began to spread and take a life of its own; the assembly swelled its ranks, which members soon consisted of former Marxists revolutionaries. On December of 1904 workers at a factory in St. Petersburg, whom were also members of the Gapon Assembly, were laid off with little to know justification. Thus, in order to maintain its credibility the assembly had to rise up in defense of the affected workers.

What ensued was a city wide strike in early January 1905 leading to the organization of a mass march on the Winter Palace with a petition, demanding higher wages and shorter hours, for Nicholas II. However, Nicholas II decided to send a direct message to the presentation to the petitioners by failing to appear at the Winter Palace in order to receive the petition. Nicholas II didn’t stop there; he authorized the authorization for military units to fire on any advancing petitioners. This authorized the massacre of hundreds of petitioners, which included women and children, all of the members of the mob were unarmed many even holding Orthodox crosses and icons. This massacre turned almost all public opinion against the tsar almost as soon as word started to spread.

Bloody Sunday saw over a hundred peaceful protestors killed in and many more wounded. This massacre signaled the beginning of the 1905 revolution and the end for Nicholas II and the reign of the Russian tsars.


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Resources: Gregory Freeze, Russia A History, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 250.

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