Bloody Sunday (1905)
Overview
 
Bloody Sunday was a massacre on in St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not occur in the Palace Square. Bloody Sunday was an event with grave consequences for the Tsarist regime, as the disregard for ordinary people shown by the massacre undermined support for the state.
Encyclopedia
Bloody Sunday was a massacre on in St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not occur in the Palace Square. Bloody Sunday was an event with grave consequences for the Tsarist regime, as the disregard for ordinary people shown by the massacre undermined support for the state. The events which occurred on this Sunday were assessed by historians, including Lionel Kochan
Lionel Kochan
Lionel Edmond Kochan was a British historian, who before coming to academia worked in journalism and publishing. He was a doctoral student of Sir Charles Webster. His first post in 1959 was at Edinburgh University; he became Bearsted Reader in Jewish History at University of Warwick in 1969.He was...

 in his book Russia in Revolution 1890-1918 to be one of the key events which led to the eventual Russian Revolution of 1917.

Preludes

The previous December (1904), a strike occurred at the Putilov plant, which made military orders during Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

. Sympathy strikes in other parts of the city raised the number of strikers above 80,000. By January 8 1905, the city had no electricity and no newspapers. All public areas were declared closed. Father Gapon, a Russian priest who was concerned about the conditions experienced by the working and lower classes, organized a peaceful "workers' procession" to the Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

 to deliver a petition to the Tsar that Sunday stating reforms they had desperately wanted. The petition, written by Gapon, made clear the problems and opinions of the workers and called for improved working conditions, fairer wages, and a reduction in the working day to eight hours. Other demands included an end to the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 and the introduction of universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

.

However, the Tsar was in no condition to meet the demands of the workers due to the depression sweeping Russia. The procession was well stewarded by followers of Gapon and any terrorists and hot-heads were removed and all the participants checked for weapons. Chairman of the Council of Ministers Sergei Witte
Sergei Witte
Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte , also known as Sergius Witte, was a highly influential policy-maker who presided over extensive industrialization within the Russian Empire. He served under the last two emperors of Russia...

 was implored not to act against the marchers. Troops had been deployed around the Winter Palace and at other key points. The Tsar had left the city on January 8 for Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

.

Bloody Sunday

On the Sunday, January 9, striking workers and their families gathered at six points in the city of St. Petersburg in Russia. They were organised and led by Father Gapon. Holding religious icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s and singing hymns and patriotic songs (particularly "God Save the Tsar!
God Save the Tsar!
"God Save the Tsar!" was the national anthem of the late Russian Empire. The song was chosen from a competition held in 1833. The composer was violinist Alexei Lvov, and the lyrics were by the court poet Vasily Zhukovsky...

"), a crowd of "more than 300,000" proceeded without police interference towards the Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

, the Tsar's official residence. The army pickets near the palace released warning shots, and then fired directly into the crowds to disperse them. Gapon was fired upon near the Narva Gate. Around forty people surrounding him were killed, but he was not injured. Although the Tsar was not at the Winter Palace, he received the blame for the deaths, resulting in a surge of bitterness towards himself and his autocratic rule from the Russian people.

The number killed is uncertain but the Tsar's officials recorded 96 dead and 333 injured; anti-government sources claimed more than 4,000 dead; moderate estimates still average around 1,000 killed or wounded, both from shots and trampled during the panic. Nicholas II described the day as "painful and sad". As reports spread across the city, disorder and looting
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

 broke out. Gapon's Assembly was closed down that day, and Gapon quickly left Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. According to one version, returning in October, he was assassinated by the order of the Combat Organization of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

 after he revealed to his friend Pinhas Rutenberg
Pinhas Rutenberg
Pinhas Rutenberg was a prominent engineer and a businessman, a Russian socialist and a Zionist leader. He played an active role in two Russian revolutions, in 1905 and 1917. During World War I, he was among the founders of the Jewish Legion and of the American Jewish Congress...

 that he was working for the Okhrana or Secret Police.

This event was seen by the British ambassador to inflame revolutionary activities in Russia and contributed to the Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

. The writer Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

was also emotionally affected by the incident.
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