History of the Russian Revolution

The word revolution is often defined as ‘a rebellion, revolt or uprising’. Throughout history several uprisings against ruling authorities have taken place in an effort to force equality or reduce oppression. The Russian Revolution of 1917 is often seen, not as one massive event, but rather as several social and political upheavals which took place in Russia. The most notable and well known of these was the first one, which brought about the final downfall of Imperial Russia.

It all started on 23 February 1917 in Petrograd when several groups of people left work in an effort to protest against the shortage of bread. As these mobs marched the streets over the next few days, their numbers swelled until virtually every shop and factory in the city had been shut down. By February 25, students, teachers and white-collar workers had joined in and liberal and socialist deputies started to recognize the severity of the problem. These authorities denounced the current government and then strongly encouraged the then ruling Tsar, Nicholas II, to abdicate his throne. However Nicholas II, with his mind on Russia’s current involvement in World War I, did not recognize the seriousness of the threat. Instead of doing as suggested, he commanded that an end be put to an already out-of-control mob. By the following morning, the mob had not only grown to include numerous soldiers, but many of the civilians had become armed. They fired on police who, recognizing that their efforts were hopeless, joined in the rampage. By the night of the 27th of February, effective civil authority in Russia had collapsed. The cabinet resigned and Nicholas II – who not only feared for his own life but also for that of his family – abdicated the throne in an effort to unify his country. Thus the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty collapsed. The crown was offered to the Tsar’s brother who refused to take it unless the people elected that it should be so. This never happened.

Instead several small political parties fought for power until October. During this month, Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik party against the Provisional Government in what came to be known as the October Revolution. With the Provisional Government, which had been established in the wake of Nicholas II’s abdication, overthrown, the entire social structure of Russia underwent a dramatic change. This eventually led to the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922. The Soviet Union was instrumental in overthrowing the autocratic rule of the Tsars and in building up the socialism of the USSR. It was also the final stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.


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