Image depicting Bloody Sunday

Image depicting Bloody Sunday

         On January 22nd, 1905 an event occurred that dramatically influenced the Russian revolution. This event is known as Bloody Sunday. It is known by that name because of the massacre that took place outside of the Winter Palace on that fateful Sunday. When protesters, led in part by Father Gapon, marched in St. Petersburg to present Tsar Nicholas II with a petition calling for economic and political reform (including an eight hour work day and a constitution, among other things), his military units opened fire on them.

          This event proved significant to the downfall of Tsar Nicholas II because it drastically diminished his popularity in public opinion. In chapter eight of Russia: A History, Gregory L. Freeze writes of this change in opinion after Bloody Sunday. He states,

“Since the procession—which included women and children—not only was unarmed but carried
Orthodox crosses and icons…the order to shoot to kill proved particularly repulsive. Indeed, it
turned public opinion against the tsar almost as soon as word got out that well over a hundred
were dead and many more were wounded on this ‘Bloody Sunday’.” (Freeze 252)

The Tsar’s  actions on Bloody Sunday contributed to revolutionary zeal in 1905 because it gave those who were already dissatisfied with the regime more reason to revolt.

          Bloody Sunday also influenced the Russian revolution by creating an atmosphere with a propensity for violence. In a New York Times article from January of that year entitled TROOPS OVERAWE ST. PETERSBURG: Sullen Crowds Kept Moving — Some Violence. LIGHT PLANTS DESERTED Panic When Part of City Was Darkened. MARKET MAY BE STORMED Fear of Use of Bombs by Strikers — No Knowledge of Happenings in Industrial Quarter, the author speaks of Bloody Sunday as a turning point in the minds of the protesters. The article states, “Any expectation that the wholesale massacre of Sunday would quiet the uprising of the people against the despotism of the bureaucracy has not been realized. The people have not been cowed, but are said to be as determined as ever to obtain their rights, and no longer peacefully disposed, but apparently bent on fighting violence with violence.” This statement shows how, because the Tsar’s forces resolved to using force against peaceful petitioners, revolutionaries were moved to react the same way. Bloody Sunday set the tone for the rest of the Russian revolution in the fact that it increased the likelihood of violence occurring.

Link to Times Article: