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Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: Pre-1905


The Mid Nineteenth Century
• 1848-70: Alexander Herzen's ideas begin to blend Western Socialism with the traditional peasant communes of Russia.
• 1861: The emancipation of the serfs: peasants are freed from feudal controls and tied closely to their village communes.
• 1861 - 64: Disappointment at the emancipation leads to small amounts of physical rebellion and a surge in intellectual unrest; the Zemyla i volya (land and liberty) party is formed.
• 1864: The zemstvo, local councils, are created to replace feudal courts and government; the nobility are generally in charge.
• 1866: Karakozov tries to kill Tsar Alexander II, prompting The White Terror.
• 1866 - 70: The White Terror, a period of intense anti-rebellious activity by the government.
• 1867- 1870's: The ideas of Revolutionary Populism (narodnichestvo) develop, based on an idealistic look at rural communes as collective, land sharing, power sharing groups. Believers are called narodniki.

The Late Nineteenth Century
• 1874: The Mad Summer, where thousands of young intellectuals flock unorganised to the countryside in order to teach socialism; peasant disinterest causes it to fail dismally and the socialists begin a turn to underground activity.
• 1876: A second Zemyla i volya group forms, but they split in 1879 over the issue of terror: the Cherny peredel denounce it, while the Narodnaya volya, want to use it to achieve their aims.
• 1881: Tsar Alexander II is killed by members of Narodnaya volya; the new tsar, Alexander III, begins a repressive, racist and xenophobic crackdown on the Russian people.
• 1883: The first Russian Marxist group is formed (in Switzerland): The Group for the Liberty of Labour.
• 1880-1900: Russia begins a period of swift industrialisation under Witte, creating a densely packed factory workforce living in poor conditions and doing dangerous jobs; this new population looks remarkably like Marx's proletariat and Russian Marxism grows around them. The new workers are politically aware, organising and striking.
• 1894: Death of Alexander III; Nicholas II succeeds as Tsar.
• 1897: A young radical is given a three year exile in Siberia for illegal workers activities; his name is Lenin.
• 1898: The First Congress of the Russian Socialist Democratic Labour Party (RSDRP) meets, an attempt to unite the many small Russian socialist/marxist groups. It takes place outside Russia and isn't very successful.

The Early Twentieh Century
• 1900: Socialist Revolutionary (SR) parties form, reflecting the aims of the Narodniki and the methods of the Narodnaya volya; Lenin is amongst a group that publishes Iskra (The Spark).
• 1901-5: An economic downturn creates discontent; the zemstvos begin to organise and form a coherent agenda; workers develop a strong strikers movement.
• 1902 - 7: The 'Years of the Red Cockerel', a period of rural unrest caused by anger at the injustices of the 1861 emancipation.
• 1902: The campaign for a national zemstov assembly begins; Lenin publishes What is to be Done?, a work with very strong views on party organisation.
• 1903: The Second RSDRP Congress meets abroad; this achieves little, but Lenin and a friend argue over organisation, creating a divide that forms two new sub groups: the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
• 1904: The Russo-Japanese war begins.
• 1904: 13 zemstovs organise a medical brigade for the war led by Prince Lvov, who persuades the Tsar to allow it; this is the first time zemstovs are allowed to unite nationally; Lvov becomes a hero.
• July 1904: Plehve, Minister of Interior and hardliner against reform, killed by SR's; public either indifferent or celebratory. Other opposition groups join campaign for national zemstov assembly.
• November 6-9 1904: The Zemstov Assembly: 103 representatives meeting with permission from the Minister of Interior; produces resolution on assembly and reforms, which is rejected by the Tsar.
• December 12 1904: Decrees expand the rights of zemstovs and ease censorship, but there is no assembly.

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