The Beginning of the End: The Russo-Japanese War

In the picture below there are stacks and stacks of swords in the Zlatoust Armory in Zlatoust, Russia.  This picture was taken in 1910, after the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War.  These two topics are only slightly related as I found this picture and then embarked on a quest to learn about the Imperial Russian Army around the turn of the century.  I ended up learning more than I ever had before about the Russo-Japanese War and what it caused.

Stacks of swords in the Zlatoust Armory. Taken by the Tsar's photographer.
Stacks of swords in the Zlatoust Armory. Taken by the Tsar’s photographer. Prokudin-Gorskii Collection, LOC. Permanent record can be found here:

The Russo-Japanese War was a coming out party for one empire and the beginning of the end for another.  At the start of the conflict Japanese victory would have seemed somewhat ridiculous, but by the end it was the Imperial Russian Military that embarrassed itself.

The war began in 1905 and pitted two imperial powers bent on expansion against each other.  The outcome of this war changed the fate of both nations, which in turn changed the fabric of the international community.

For the Japanese Empire, victory in this conflict proved that they could be successful on the world stage and maybe, one day, join the ranks of world powers.  For the Russians this war was quite a different story. There were many significant battles (political, military, and diplomatic) that were fought in this war, but the most important thing this war did was further weaken the Russian monarchy.  Losing to the upstart Japan helped cause the Russian Revolution of 1905. This revolution highlighted the labor and class issues in Russian society which continued to be prevalent until the overthrow of the monarchy by the Bolsheviks.

In the context of this class the Russo-Japanese War is important because it was one of the triggers of the Russian revolutionary period.  A good resource for understanding this war in a global context can be found here.

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6 Responses to The Beginning of the End: The Russo-Japanese War

  1. Drew Snell says:

    Great job providing context to the armory full of words! It is interesting that these international wars always brought out the internal problems in Russia like labor and class, however, they kept repeating through history.

  2. Your explanation of the picture really puts everything into context. I wrote my post about laborers who were cutting down birch tree to create fuel for the smelting of iron ore. One of the main reasons Russia insisted on smelting iron ore was to be prepared for more wars against their country. The increase of factories could be directly related to the lose Russia suffered in the Russo-Japanese war. The war may have been a trigger to create a stronger military. In order to make the swords pictured above, iron would have been needed. You have proved even more background knowledge for me about the picture I chose to analyze.

  3. A. Nelson says:

    The image itself is pretty cool! As is the reminder that swords might have played a key role in “World War 0.” Thanks for following your curiosity with this first post. You’ve blazed a trail we’ll be on next week when we talk about the 1905 revolution (for which the Russo-Japanese war is definitely a proximate cause), so I hope you’ll be game to tell us more about it then. You’ll have to tell me how you find the Steinberg article as well. Good job!

  4. Courtney Howell says:

    Really cool photo! It’s a bit reminiscent of the Iron Throne, huh? I am interested to see how you explore the impacts of military and diplomatic shortcomings in the following weeks.

  5. Grayson Lewis says:

    Wars abroad are a way to bolster support for a government at home, as well as a way to undermine its credibility. The Russo-Japanese war is perhaps tied for the most famous example from the industrial era of a nation gaining consolidation and position at the expanse of another nations integrity (the other of course being the infamous Franco-Prussian War.) In addition, do you think that this Japanese success might have contributed to the wariness of the Soviet Union to enter the Pacific Theater of WW2?

  6. Melissa Jacob says:

    This is a very informative post because not only do you discuss the main topic of the Russo-Japanese War, but you also go into the effects that the war caused and the fact that this could have sparked the revolution in Russia. The fact that Russia lost this war made Japan think that they would have the same success in expansion all around the world. This is an interesting point that you make. It puts things into perspective about the significance of the war and for someone who was not an expert on the subject, it shows the boosted ego and planning that Japan went through after the end of the conflict.

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