On the 22nd of January 1905, 200 died and 800 were wounded after a peaceful protest at the Winter Palace was misinterpreted by Tsar Nicholas II.
The protesters were led by Georgy Gapon, a radical priest who drew up a petition that asked for universal suffrage, a constituent assembly and civil liberties. It also called for an 8 hour day, the right to strike and better wages. Some extracts of the petition include:
“We are suffocating in despotism and lawfulness”
“We have reached the frightful moment when death is better than the prolongation of our unbearable suffering”
Most Russians believed in the Tsar as a father figure and believed that he did not see their suffering because he was so close to heaven.
However at these peaceful protests, the groups of protests began to grow. Some soldiers fired warning shots to try and contain these crowds. Amongst these trained soldiers were untrained soldiers who thought they were meant to shoot at the protesters. This started the bloodshed.
“There is no God anymore, there is no Tsar”
Cossacks attacked protesters.
…men, women and children dropping to the earth like logs of wood
Bloody Sunday shattered any support for the Tsar. Overseas the Western image of Russian worsened. The clumsy actions seemed like premeditated cruelty.
This led to the revolution of 1905.