1870 (17th February)
Father Georgy Gapon was born Georgy Apollonovich Gapon at Bilyky, Poltava, Russia (modern-day Ukraine) to Apollon Fedorovich Gapon and his wife. His father was educated and served as a village elder and clerk (Cossack). His mother was illiterate but a religious devotee of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Gapon began his education at the local primary school. He was a good student and his educational ability was noted.
Gapon attended the Lower Ecclesiastical School in Poltava. While there he was introduced to the writings of Leo Tolstoy. He was particularly influenced by Tolstoy’s writing on working with the poor people and his criticism of the church.
Georgy Gapon began working for the Zemstvo in Poltava as a statistician. He also worked as a private tutor.
Georgy Gapon married Vera, the daughter of a family where he was working as a tutor. The couple had two children.
Gapon’s wife, Vera, died soon after the birth of their second child.
Gapon decided to move to St Petersburg where he became a student at Saint Petersburg Theological Academy.
Gapon suffered with depression and left University. He travelled to the Crimea and spent time in a monastery near Sevastapol.
Georgy Gapon returned to St Petersburg and his studies at the Theological Academy.
Having completed his studies, Gapon became a missionary at the St Olga Children’s Orphanage. While there he became aware of the poverty of the factory workers and their families.
Father Georgy Gapon formed the Assembly of Russian Workers Union with a view to improving workers’ rights while at the same time leading them to a more religious life.
Gapon’s work brought him to the attention of the police He was approached by Sergei Zubatov, a police administrator who believed in Socialism. Zubatov persuaded Gapon to work with him. Gapon knew that Zubatov’s stance would make him an enemy of state officials and at the same time make the factory workers distrust him for working with the police. Nevertheless he agreed to join him because it would help the Assembly to grow.
Prices of essential goods had risen so much that workers were effectively 20% worse off than they had been a year ago.
Gapon’s Assembly of Russian Workers had 9,000 members. Factory owners were very concerned about the growth of the movement and feared the militancy of Assembly members. They threatened to dismiss members of the Assembly.
Workers at the Putilov Iron Works in St Petersburg came out on strike after four members of the Assembly of Russian Workers were dismissed.
1905 (9th January)
Father Gapon called for his Union members to strike in protest at the dismissal of four iron workers for being members of the union.
1905 (19th January)
Georgy Gapon made the decision to organise a march to the Winter Palace to present a petition, signed by 150,000 people asking for fairer treatment, to Tsar Nicholas II
. He sent a copy of the petition and notice of the march to the Minister of the Interior.
1905 (21st January)
150,000 workers in 382 factories were now on strike in support of the four dismissed ironworks workers. St Petersburg was without power and all public areas had been closed.
1905 (22nd January)
Father Georgy Gapon led the peaceful march to present the petition to the Tsar. The marchers included men, women and children carrying banners of the Tsar singing religious hymns. However, when the marchers reached the Winter Palace they were met by a line of armed Cossacks who opened fire on the demonstrators. Gapon was taken to safety by Pinhas Rutenberg. More than 200 demonstrators were killed and more than 500 injured. The event, known as Bloody Sunday sparked a series of revolts known as the 1905 Revolution
1905 (late January)
Gapon and Rutenberg were given shelter by the writer Maxim Gorky before leaving Russia and spending time with other opponents of the Tsarist regime in Geneva and also in London. Gapon had lost all faith in the Tsarist Regime and fully supported the ideals of the revolutionaries.
1905 (late January)
The events of Bloody Sunday had sparked a wave of protests, demonstrations, strikes and unrest across the Russian Empire.
1905 (17th October)
This was issued and agreed by Tsar Nicholas II to try to appease the people. It promised: Freedom of speech, Freedom to hold meetings, No laws to be introduced without the agreement of the Duma. Political parties were no longer banned, elections to the Duma were agreed.
Georgy Gapon returned to Russia, hoping to revive his Assembly of Workers. He made contact with his former police comrades and tried to persuade Rutenberg to join him.
1905 (5th – 7th December)
There was a general strike across Russia.
1905 (7th December)
Troops were sent to break the general strike.
1905 (14th December)
Troops fired on demonstrators and shelled areas where they lived to force workers back to work.
Gapon had resumed working with his police contacts. He tried to persuade Rutenberg to join him arguing that working with both the authorities and the revolutionaries could be beneficial for the people.
1906 (10th April)
Father Gapon was found hanged in a cottage outside St Petersburg. He was almost certainly murdered by revolutionaries who thought he was likely to betray them to the authorities.