The French revolution is thought of as the most influential event of it’s era, leading to the rise of Napoleon, and therefore a unified Germany, and therefore Nazi Germany, and therefore the Cold War. A revolution can change everything, overthrow a stable government and it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a successful revolution that didn’t change the course of history. There are dozens of failed revolutions from history that just didn’t have enough momentum to achieve their demands. These revolutions would have changed history in ways we can’t even guess to. In this list I will go into how different our history might look if these 10 failed revolutions that almost changed anything were successful.


Revolution Of 1905

The revolution of 1905 was the biggest in a series of failed revolutions against the Imperial Russian government. It lasted for over 2 years and genuinely posed a major threat to the Russian Tsar. The Tsar was forced to appease the rebelling peasants by announcing the adoption of some of their demands. He agreed to introduce a new parliament, implying Russia would slide into democracy.
How it could have changed history:
If the revolution was successful in overthrowing the Tsar, it is unlikely Russia would have entered the first world war. The first world war was a disaster and clearly paved the way for Soviet control of Russia. It is thought that the Soviet Union never would have existed if the revolution of 1905 didn’t fail.


Peasants’ Revolt

Failed Revolutions
The Peasants’ Revolt was a huge revolution in the late 14th century. As the name would suggest, the lower classes of England were revolting against their feudal overlords. The revolution was caused by several things: the black death had driven people desperate, the hundred years war required higher taxes on ordinary peasants, and it just sucks to be a feudal subject. Most of the English army were either in France or Northern-England so there wasn’t much standing in the way of the peasants. They simply took control of several major cities, including London! The King was forced to flee London for safety. He met with rebel leaders and ordered those leaders immediately killed. Killing the leaders gave the royals enough time to gather soldiers and retake London. They then got to work executing anyone involved.
How it could have changed history:
The peasants wanted an end to the feudal system in England. The king didn’t change it in the end. If they were successful in changing the system, it would have changed the course of English history. And England is one of the world’s most influential countries historically.


Roman Slave Rebellion

The Roman slave rebellion is a string of failed revolutions driven by escaped slaves against Roman officials. The third revolt is the most well known as it was led by Spartacus. Incredibly, Spartacus was a former slave himself who led a massive army of 120 thousand other escaped slaves in the quest for their freedom. They also wanted to capture some Roman territory and live there free. But they were defeated after being on the run for 2 years.
How it could have changed history:
Some think their goal was to end slavery, but this is unclear. If they were successful, they would have embarrassed the Roman people and weakened their diplomatic position. The Roman public would certainly have demanded some kind of big action to resurrect the glory of Rome.


Satsuma Rebellion

The Satsuma Rebellion was when a group of Samurai warriors decided to abandon their posts and revolt against the Japanese government. It was named after the area of Satsuma, which was traditionally a place where disgraced Samurai would go to live when they couldn’t find work. The rebellion lasted almost the whole year of 1877, and commanded an army of around 20 thousand. They were rebelling against the controversial new emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji. He took Japan from being a backwards feudal society to being a strong empire under his full control. The Satsuma was just one in a series of failed revolutions waged against him.
How it could have changed history:
If successful, Emperor Meiji wouldn’t be able to continue the progress that he later did. This included expanding the Japanese overseas territories. Japan probably wouldn’t have got involved in either the first or second world wars. That’s a significant change.


Jacobite Risings

The Jacobite were a group who believed the English monarch should be a catholic. More specifically, they believed the English monarch should be either James II or one of his many descendants. He was England’s last ruler to be catholic and during his lifetime there were several failed revolutions aiming to regain power for him. But even after he died, the Jacobite didn’t stop struggling for his descendants to return to the thrown. The Jacobite were strong in numbers for several hundred years after. All their attempts, both armed and peaceful, ultimately failed. Some still believe they operate today in secret planning the return of a catholic king.
How it could have changed history:
Well the British switch away from Catholicism did change history. The Church of England thrived and influenced the whole country. The line of kings had direct impact on the way British society developed, how the empire spread. So much would be different.


Boxer Rebellion

Failed Revolutions
The Boxer rebellion was a huge Chinese uprising in 1899. The rebels, known as the Boxers, wanted less of a Christian and western presence in their country and were extremely nationalist. It was deemed as a threat to the diplomatic relations between China and the world powers. This prompted a grand allience of 8 major powers to join forces and suppress the revolution. Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, America, Italy, and Austria-Hungary were the alliance. So obviously the rebels didn’t last very long.
How it could have changed history:
If the Boxers had been successful, Chinese history would be quite different. Perhaps the Imperial Chinese rulers wouldn’t have been overthrown in the early 20th century. This would have made the rise of the Chinese communist party even more unlikely. Maybe China wouldn’t be the economic superpower it is today if the Boxer rebellion had been a success.


Great Jewish Revolt

The great Jewish revolt was one of many failed revolutions attempting to attain independence Jewish independence from the Roman empire. The Jews wanted their freedom, but the Romans valued their middle-eastern land greatly. So they weren’t just going to give it up without a fight. The Jewish rebels were tough, forcing Roman officials to flee from Jerusalem and defeating a strong Syrian military force brought in to suppress them. The rebels then started massacring Romans. This caused to Empire to get desperate and call in the big guns. Five experienced legions were sent in to suppress the rebellion. They did so, and then destroyed most of Jerusalem.
How it could have changed history:
Jerusalem was an important city in the middle-east at the time. And the middle-east was seen as Rome’s soft underbelly. If Rome had lost control of Jewish land, it would have weakened them in the whole region. It’s possible they would have lost their already struggling grip on Syria, which was a great source of wealth for the Empire.


California Republic

The California Republic was a defacto independent nation that existed in 1846 for just a couple of weeks. In itself, it was a revolution. This was immediately after California was taken from Mexico by American settlers. So they decided to just make it their own country. The republic of California was born. They had a tiny military of under 300 soldiers. So the United States decided it would be an easy defeat. The republic surrendered as soon as the US soldiers arrived, and California was absorbed into America.
How it could have changed history:
If successful, the who knows what the world would be like today. Imagine if California had never joined the union, and simply remained independent. California is the most wealthy and populous American state, more than able to survive independently. Californian oil help fuel America’s rise during it’s industrialization too.


Rebellion Of 1857

Failed revolutions don’t get much closer to success than this one. The Rebellion of 1857 was a huge uprising in India against the British Empire. Lasting for 13 long months, it all started when the British wanted Indian army recruits to use a new type of gun lubrication containing animal grease. This went against both the Hindu and Muslim religion’s teachings. As India’s two biggest religions were Hinduism and Islam, this was never going to go down well. Widespread fighting broke out and the British were forced to call in foreign legions. The east-India company was weakened to the point where it was dissolved and the British government imposed direct control in India. That’s how the revolt was crushed.
How it could have changed history:
Well, if the British lost power in India… that would have been a big deal. India was one of the most valuable lands in the British empire. Without it, who knows where we would be today.


Revolutions Of 1848

The revolutions of 1848 was a massive wave of failed revolutions across all of Europe. Revolts broke out everywhere from Italy and Hungary to Germany and Denmark. All of which failed within a year. The revolutionaries aimed at liberating themselves from serfdom at the least and overthrowing their ruling monarchs at most. The revolutionary groups really didn’t work together and coordinate their attacks. The European monarchs did work together to maintain power. The events were triggered by the revolution in France. But their outcomes were quite different, resulting in almost no political change at all.
How it could have changed history:
The failed revolutions were active in 50 countries. Can you imagine 50 successful government overthrows at the same time? It would have really broken the history of Europe, and therefore the world.


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