Rural Unrest during the First Russian Revolution

Kursk Province, 1905–1906
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Publication date: 
410 pages

The narrative of peasant unrest in Russia during 1905–1906 combines a chronology of incidents drawn from official documents, with close analysis of the villages associated with the disorders based upon detailed census materials compiled by local specialists. The analysis concentrates on a single province: Kursk Oblast, bordering the now independent Ukraine. In place of the general surveys of the revolution that dominate the literature, Miller focuses on local events and the rural populations that participated in them.

Documents the degree to which the peasant community had been pushed onto the path of change by the end of the nineteenth century, how much the “peasantry” itself had become increasingly heterogeneous in outlook and occupation, and the rapidity with which these processes had begun to corrode the legitimacy of the older order. Miller concludes that unrest was concentrated mostly among peasant communities for whom the benefits the vital interactions between social unequals that had maintained a fragile social peace in the countryside had been radically eroded; he furthermore identifies the prominent role played by that spectrum of persons that retained their ties to their villages, but stood toward the margins of rural life.

Preface and acknowledgments 


I – Kursk Province on the Eve of the Revolution

II – 1905 in the Rural Districts of Kursk Province 

III – Rural Disorders in Spring-Summer 1906 

IV – Typology, Chronology and Geographical
Distributions of Rural Disorders, 1905-1906 

V – The Villages That Revolted 


Appendix A: Correlation tables to Chapter V 

Appendix B: Village listing 


"This meticulous and detailed microhistory of peasant unrest in one southern province of late imperial Russia during the Russian Revolution of 1905 is a good example of the post-Cold War collaboration between the last generation of Soviet historians and American experts in Russian/Soviet history. As a graduate student of Leopold Henri Haimson, Burton Richard Miller began his archival research for this book in the Soviet Union as early as 1988–1989. Miller's research in Moscow was supervised by Ivan D. Koval'chenko and Leonid I. Borodkin. Haimson and his Soviet colleagues exposed Miller to the intellectual influences that would shape his doctoral dissertation (1992) as well as this book, which has grown out of that earlier research. Miller selected Kursk province as the most typical agricultural region of the Russian empire because it 'provided a good sample of incidents of agrarian revolt'. Using various statistical approaches, he emphasizes his theoretical... more
"The first attempt since Robert Edelman’s 1987 Proletarian Peasants to examine the 1905 Revolution in the countryside. Set within the central agricultural region of Kursk province, it joins other studies that provide an important regional dimension to the study of agrarian protests in the broader revolutionary period of the early twentieth century and those that focus on provincial distinctions within imperial Russia. Clearly a labor of love. Using official state documents from the State Historical Archive of the Kursk Region, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice, many of which appear to be abstracts of police reports, as well as published statistical materials, Miller reconstructs the diverse economic situation of a heterogeneous peasantry on the eve of the 1905 Revolution, the frequency and ebbs and flows of revolutionary activity in 1905 and 1906, the changing nature of the collective actions, and regional variations in the disturbances within the... more
"This work represents a monumental, scrupulously detailed, analysis of peasant revolution in 1905-1905 and the peasant economy of Kursk province in general. Central European University Press is to be congratulated for allowing the published version of the manuscript to retain a high level of detail, including many extended quotes and nearly thirty pages of appended correlation tables. At times, the reader might find him- or herself immersed in the jungle of detail. Nonetheless, it has done much to aid our understanding of peasant violence in 1905-1906 and laid a solid basis for examining similar activities in other provinces."