Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:56 AM
In 1905, Munch's native Norway won independence from Sweden. In the same year Russia suffered catastrophic defeats at the hands of Japan and was plunged into a revolutionary ferment. Meanwhile German blustering over French interests in North Africa provoked the first Moroccan crisis.
Although Norway and Sweden had been united by the same monarch since 1814, the former still retained their own parliament (the Storting) to govern internal affairs. A growing national consciousness echoed by an explosive literary revival at the end of the 19th century led to the Storting's demand for Norwegian political autonomy. An act was passed setting up a separate consular service which was repudiated by King Oscar II. In June 1905, the Storting declared 'the union with Sweden dissolved as a result of the King ceasing to function as Norwegian King', confirmed by a plebiscite in August. War seemed imminent for a time, but in October a formal separation was negotiated. In December, Prince Charles of Denmark became Norway's new king as Haakon VII.
Russia had been at war with Japan over the control of Manchuria and Korea since 1904. On 1 January the naval base of Port Arthur (leased from China by the Russians) fell to the Japanese after a ten-month siege. Three months later the Russian army was defeated in a hard-fought battle at Mukden.
The final blow was struck in May when the Russian Baltic fleet arrived in the straits of Tsushima, between Korea and Japan, after a journey halfway round the world, only to be utterly destroyed by the Japanese Imperial Navy led by Admiral Togo. Both victor and vanquished were exhausted by the war and ready for peace. The terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth in September 1905 were relatively moderate. Russia gave up Port Arthur and the southern half of Sakhalin Island and recognized Japan's predominant position in Korea. The two powers later agreed to exercise equal influence in Manchuria.
Defeat further discredited the already unpopular Tsarist regime. The ensuing '1905 Revolution' began on 22 January with 'Bloody Sunday', when a peaceful demonstration of 150,000 workers and their families was fired on outside the Winter Palace. About a thousand were killed and many more wounded. Strikes, demonstrations and peasant risings swept the land, culminating in October, when sailors of the battleship Potemkin mutinied and 200,000 urban workers organized their own representative body, the St Petersburg soviet, soon to be dominated by the fiery personality of 25-year-old Leon Trotsky. The new Prime Minister, Sergei Witte, persuaded the Tsar that the token consultative body (Duma) he had set up was insufficient and wider promises of reform were made.
The careful balance of European power threatened to be undermined during this year by Kaiser Wilhelm II's blustering attempts at world power status. His personal visit to Tangier was an attempt to block the Anglo-French entente cordiale whereby France recognized Britain's position in Egypt while Britain acknowledged French interests in Morocco. The Kaiser's tacit recognition of Moroccan independence only succeeded in strengthening the Anglo-French alliance. Another blow fell when the treaty agreed between Kaiser Wilhelm and the Tsar at Bjorko in Finland later that year was repudiated by ministers on both sides as it conflicted with the terms of the existing Franco-Russian alliance.
A variety of other events characterized 1905. It was the year the great actor-manager Sir Henry Irving, whose knighthood set the seal of respectability on the theatre, died and the Swedish film star Greta Garbo was born. The artists Schmidt-Rottluff and Kirchner founded the expressionist Die Brucke (The Bridge) Group. The British General Election was a land-slide victory for the Liberals, who were to remain in power, introducing a wide range of reforms, up to the First World War. In Dublin, a new militant organization, Sinn Fein, held its first national convention. Franz Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow began its world-wide triumph at Vienna while Richard Strauss's more decadently erotic Salome received its first performance at Dresden; and, not to be outdone, Dr Sigmund Freud published his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.
Writer – Marshall Cavendish