February Revolution

first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917

The February Revolution (Russian: Февральская Революция, Fevralskaya Revolyuziya) of 1917 was a revolution that ended the monarchy in the Russian Empire. A provisional government replaced the Tsar, Nicholas II. This event began the Russian Revolution. The February Revolution was caused by problems left over from World War I. These included economic and other hardships that caused tension among the people.


Industrialisation and workersEdit

Industrialisation had already spread from Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg) and other cities in August of 1917. When Russia lost the Crimean War in 1856 against England and France, it became obvious that complete economic and social changes of the empire were necessary. Large reforms followed, including the abolition of serfdom in 1861, judicial reform in 1864 and the establishment of national government groups, called Semstwos, in 1864. Also, this strategy aimed to encourage industrial growth.

Economic crisis and cultural changeEdit

Russia went through an economic crisis during the Crimean War. The country lacked new weapons and machines. After the war, the Tsar, Russia's emperor, tried to change this and increased the industrial capacity of Russia. This cost the Russian people a lot of money.

Economic, social and cultural change was mostly in cities with a modern way of living. To get ready to develop more modern industry, new laws were made to increase the powers of regional leaders. Cultural modernization included developments of new styles in literature and art. A new intelligentsia sought further reforms.

Agriculture in Tsarist RussiaEdit

The Russian national economy was still mostly agricultural and most people were peasants. Population growth was faster than production growth, resulting in chronic food shortages.

Agrarian social protest was usually spontaneous and short-lived. The farmers returned again to their hut. This happened in the hot autumn of the yearly 1905, and again in the late summer of 1917. Rural areas remained calm after the beginning of war in 1914. Since the large majority of the recruits came from villages, few were left to fight against the authorities.

With all that the question remained, why farmers revolted against their direct gentlemen, but this never together with intelligence, had done. Only this new connection, between the farmers in the rural regions and the inhabitants of the cities, lent revolutionary quality to the agrarian social protest. To all appearances the outbreak of the revolution with long-term changes has to do.

Defeats in the First World WarEdit

The war brought Russia losses of more than a million dead. The war had begun, as in all European states, with a high national morale. However, defeat in the Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive in 1915 led to other defeats. The legitimacy of the autocratic Romanovs was weakened further by the fact that Nicholas II had personally taken command of the armed forces and thus each further retreat and defeat would damage the reputation of the regime.

The workers and farmers, like other Russians, were unhappy. They no longer supported the Tsar. In September of 1915, the Tsar sent the parliament home. Tensions increased, and endangered the internal peace of the realm.

Authority loss of the TsarEdit

In 1915 Tsar Nicholas II took over command of the troops during the First World War. The army soon faced disgraceful defeats. Nicholas II did not get along well with the elected Duma. Nicholas II ignored the advice of his former Minister of Finance Sergei Juljewitsch Witte, who recommended comprehensive reforms. The beginning of the First World War represented the beginning of the end. The frequent defeats, hunger emergencies and the catastrophic supply situation of the population led in the long run to the revolution. The increasing anger of the population shows up in the Duma, which were dominated by representatives of the middle class and the aristocracy. In the Duma of 1915 the progressive block was the strongest parliamentary opposition.

In February 1917 army units stopped fighting revolutionaries in the capital and soon joined them. They took control of the capital and prevented the Tsar from returning. He abdicated.

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