What caused the February Revolution?

  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 15-05-19 10:50
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  • What caused the February Revolution?
    • Tsar and his personality
      • Educated from a young age that autocracy was moral.
        • Dismissed a zemstvo petition for an elected National Assembly as a 'senseless dream'.
        • When he was threatened into setting up a Duma in 1906 after Bloody Sunday, he did all he could to limit its power.
        • When finally offered to share power with the Duma on 28 February 1917, was too late
      • Shy and awkward, ill-suited to the position of Tsar. Found political affairs boring, was over-cautious and struggled to make clear political decisions
      • He had weakened political authority in Russia by early 1917.
        • Combination of reluctance to introduce new methods, poor state finances and organisation - led to overlapping institutions of Tsarist government.
      • Responsibility for the war
        • Refused to cooperate with the ZEMGOR, chaired by Prince Lvov, claiming the right to help Tsar's government in the war effort.
        • 'Progressive Bloc' demanded Tsar create a 'government of public confidence' in  August 1915
        • Decided to take role of Commander-in-Chief of the Russia army and navy after defeats in Galicia, 1915.
          • Not enough military experience to revive war effort, and was held responsible for failure.
      • By February 1917 the loss of confidence in the Tsarist regime was clear in all levels of society.
        • January 1917: Prince Lvov asked Grand Duke Nicholas (Tsar's uncle) if he was prepared to take over the throne
    • Economic and Social Problems
      • Massive inflation
        • Increased taxes, huge loans, damage to industrial and grain exports
        • 300% increase in price of living
      • Food shortages
        • Conscription meant shortage of men in the countryside, so less food in towns
          • Thousands living on the brink of starvation
        • Railway systems collapsed as taken over to transport men and goods to the front
          • Foot rotting on tracks whilst there were long queues to buy bread in Petrograd
      • Unemployment
        • In urban centres (Petrograd and Moscow) unemployment soared as non-military factories were forced to shut down.
        • Lock-outs and strikes financially crippled what little industry survived
          • January 1917: 30,000 workers on strike in Moscow, 145,000 in Petrograd
    • Strains of WW1
      • Failure of the army in battle
        • The Battle of Tannenburg (August 1914)
          • 300,000 dead or wounded, thousands taken prisoner, demoralised Russians
        • Defeat at Masurian Lakes (September 1914)
          • Forced into a temporary retreat from East Prussia
        • Brusilov Offensive (June 1916)
          • Fall in morale, 1.5 million deserters by end of year
      • Economic demands of war
        • Lack of supplies for soldiers
          • Mobilised 12 million men between 1914-17, but could not provide suitable clothing/weaponry
            • 1914: 2/3 had rifles, 1915: limited to 2-3 shells per day
            • BUT: tied down Germans on Eastern Front for 3 years, 1916 manufactured more shells than Germany.
              • Military breakdown should not be overemphasised as the reason for the February Revolution
      • Loss of morale
        • Outbursts of anger and desertion in the army, operating conditions appalling and harsh winters of 1916 and 1917
  • Whilst radical socialist agitators stirred up discontent, it must be remembered that Lenin only had 10,000 followers in Russia at the time


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