To What Extent Was the Russo-Japanese War a Cause of the 1905 Revolution?

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To what extent was the Russo-Japanese war a cause of the 1905 Revolution? By 1905 all the groups in Russia seemed to be demanding change and Tsar Nicholas II was forced to make concessions in the form of the October Manifesto. But what was it that prompted this change? Arguably one of the major factors in starting the 1905 revolution was the long-term discontent in Russia. This was because 80% of the population lived in poverty and although the serfs were emancipated in 1861 they were still forced to pay redemption payments up until 1905. An increasing population meant that rural disturbances were growing as 1905 approached as a shortage of food and land became worse as higher taxes were put on those who could barely afford them in order to pay for the industrialisation of Russia. There were also disturbances from minorities who wanted an end to Russification, like Georgia and Poland who wanted autonomy and independence. As well as this, the growing industry in Russia meant more and more workers were moving to towns and cities in order to find a better life when in reality there was only low wages, poor living conditions and long hours. Due to this discontent began to grow in more densely populated areas and from the later part of the 1890s more and more strikes were happening. As a result of this more workers joined soviets. The government were aware of the political danger of industrialisation caused but it was needed if Russia was to retain its status as a world superpower. More surprising was the middle-class discontent who were, before, usually on the side of the Tsar. However liberals now wanted a part in government, a more constitutional parliament. Although the middle-class could be seen as the natural leaders of a revolution it could be argued that there would have to be other factors involved in order to spark off a revolution. In addition the
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