Why did the rule of the Tsar collapse in Feb/Mar 1917?


The February/March 1917 Revolution


  • The Tsar made unpopular decisions regarding the First World War: he made himself Commander in Chief of the Army in September 1915.
  • This meant that the Tsarina was left in charge of Russia.  People were concerned because she appeared to be heavily influenced by Rasputin, a 'holy man'.  She dismissed many members of the Duma and replaced them with Rasputin's friends.  She was also thought to be a spy, due to her German background.
  • Throughout the winter of 1916, prices rose dramatically due to the bad weather.  Living conditions became much worse and the death rate increased,
  • On 7th March 1917, workers went on strike.  The day after, people joined in for International Women's Day.  Soldiers in Petrograd refused to fire, and joined in on 12th March 1917.  The Tsar was prevented from coming back to Petrograd, and abdicated from his train on 15th March 1917.
  • Soldiers joined the Revolutionaries and some even shot their officers, proving their disloyalty to the crown.
  • Oil and coal shortages as a result of the First World War left people starving and freezing.  Living conditions were cramped, unhealthy and people were desperate for change.


  • Some felt less patriotic about the war now that there was no national figure to lead them, and nobody to worship.
  • A Provisional Government was set up by the remaining members of the Duma.  A Soviet was also set up by workers, soldiers and naval officers.  They ruled Russia as a Dual Power from 12th March 1917.
  • The new government freed political prisoners, and introduced freedom of speech and press.
  • The Soviet issued Order No.1 which gave it power over all the Armed Forces in Petrograd.  This meant that the Provisional Government could not make decisions which contradicted the Soviet, so actually, they didn't have any power.
  • Alexander Kerensky was appointed Prime Minister in July 1917.

Overall summary

The February/March revolution was spontaneous.  People became frustrated at their poor living conditions, the war and the way in which Russia was governed.


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