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Russia: The Revolution of 1905

2. The Peasantry

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In this module, we consider the role of the peasantry in the events of 1905, thinking in particular about the sheer size of the Russian peasant population, peasants' disappointment with the results of the Emancipation Manifesto of 1861 (e.g. the imposition of redemption payments), the tensions created by the massive growth in population between 1850-1900 and the consequent land hunger, the increased exposure of the Russian peasantry to the world economy and the pressures created by the global economic downturn at the turn of the century, and the lack of care shown by the regime (e.g. the muted response to the famine of 1891-92).


In this course, Dr Jonathan Smele (Queen Mary, University of London) explores the (so-called) Revolution of 1905. We begin in the first module by considering whether this was a revolution at all and – if so – whether we should see events as being confined to 1905. After that, we consider the immediate background to the events of 1905, focusing in particular on the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, as well as its immediate consequences. In the second module, we consider the extent to which dissatisfaction among the peasantry contributed to the events of the period, before turning in the third module to the impact of Russia's rapid industrialisation – especially in the last decade of the nineteenth century In the fourth module, we think about the political opposition to the regime – especially that of the liberals and the socialists (and the various 'parties' within each of these groups), before turning in the fifth and final module to the longer-term consequences of the events of 1905. Were the reforms made in the aftermath of the 1905 Revolution doomed to failure, or was there potential for Russia's development into a modern, industrial, democratic state?


Dr Jonathan Smele is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at Queen Mary University of London. He is a specialist in the history of Russian revolutions and civil wars. His recent publications include (as editor) The Russian Revolution of 1905: Centenary Perspectives (2005) and The Russian Civil Wars, 1916-26: Ten Years that Shook the World (2016).

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APA style

Smele, J. (2019, January 16). Russia: The Revolution of 1905 - The Peasantry [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Smele, J. "Russia: The Revolution of 1905 – The Peasantry." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Jan 2019,

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