1917 February Revolution

Causes - Social & Economic Problems

  • Towns were overcrowded and had poor living conditions
  • Famine was common as food supplies was unreliable 
  • Poor sanitation and water supplies
  • Men and women worked long hours for little pay 
  • Health and education systems were poor which created social inequalities 
  • Worker strikes and lock-outs created high levels of tension 
  • War meant disruption of supplies and essentials were in short supply 
  • Factories closed down leaving thousands out of work 
  • Prices and inflation rocketed
  • 82% of the population were peasants
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Causes - Politics and Tsarism

  • The Tsar was reluctant to give the Duma more responsibility or make any major political reforms 
  • The Duma had the potential to develop into a powerful force 
  • Russia had a lot of chances during the war to slip into constitutional monarchy; 'Progressive bloc' suggested to the Tsar that he established a Government of Public Confidence, he rejected this
  • The Tsar made the mistake of leaving the Tsarina & advisor Rasputin in charge of the government while he was away at the eastern front
  • The Tsarina & Rasputin dismissed able ministers in preference of those they favoured, as a result ministers changed frequently and as a result the situation in cities detoriorated 
  • The Tsarina & Rasputin became discredited and this tainted the Tsar
  • Nicholas' personal qualities: he cared about his family but was indifferent to the world around him, fiercly autocratic 
  • The Tsarist regime was repressive; this alienated the educated and middle-class
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Causes - WWII

  • Heavy defeats and huge losses led to anger about the way the Tsar was conducting the War
  • August 1915, the Tsar assumed personal command of the army from then on he was personally blamed for all defeats
  • Russia suffered particuarly heavy losses at the Battle of Tannenburg and the battle at Masurian Lakes
  • The Tsarina & Rasputin were left in charge in the absence of the Tsar 
  • Peasants were increasingly angry at the conscription of their men, most of whom were not returning
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by January 1917...

  • Over 1 million troops dead & 4 million were wounded
  • Workers in cities were suffering - many on the verge of starvation 
  • The Okhrana warned the government of unrest and indicated that a revolution could happen at any moment 
  • The Duma warned the Tsar that Russia was reaching a crisis point, he ignored this 
  • The anniversary of Bloody Sunday was commemorated by large demonstrations in the city 
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Revolution - Events

  1. News of the introduction of bread rationing hit the streets in Petrograd, queues over remaining bread stocks turned into riots 
  2. 23rd Feb - International Women's Day - marked with demonstrations and meetings demanding bread and fuel 
  3. By the afternoon men from the highly politicised Putilov engineering works and other factories joined them 
  4. 25th Feb - Petrograd was paralysed by a general strike 
  5. 27th Feb - the strikes and demonstrations turned into a revolution: the Tsar had ordered the Petrograd troops to suppress unrest, there was widespread mutiny among the troops, the Tsar then ordered the Duma to shut down they refused and set up a Provisional Commitee and the army's High Command ordered troops to obey the Provisional Commitee
  6. 28th Feb - Nicholas travelled towards Petrograd on a train, which was stopped by mutinous troops, he met with representative of the High Command of the Army, Duma & some Ministers who told him to abdicate in favour of his son but Alexei wasn't strong enough to rule 
  7. 2nd March - the Tsar abdicated & asked his brother Grand Duke Micheal to become Tsar, Micheal refused and the Romanov rule ended
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Who was involved?


  • They were the ones rioting over bread rationing 
  • They took to politicising the International Women's Day march
  • Women persuaded the men to join in by calling the cowards 


  • Persuaded by the women to join the march, they helped it gather momentum 

The Army 

  • The Tsar ordered troops to put down the disorders 
  • Some regiments did open fire on the crowd who turned hostile
  • One by one regiments moved over to the side of the people 
  • They rooted out the police and threw them off the roofs
  • The Russian Army High Command put a stop to loyal troops who were moving to Petrograd 
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Revolution & Opposition Groups

  • The revolution took the opposition groups by suprise, they failed to seize control of it 
  • Most of the leading Bolsheviks were abroad, Lenin was in Switzerland, Trotsky in USA and Stalin in exile 
  • Bolsheviks actually told the marching women to go home 
  • The only influence over events the revolutionaries had was the establishement of the Petrograd Soviet 
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1905 Revolution vs. 1917 Feb. Revolution


  • Short-term cause of war (Russo-Japanese/WWII) 
  • Started as a somewhat peaceful protest & workers were fired upon 
  • Cause - AUTOCRACY 
  • Strikes 
  • Similar social & economic causes
  • Similar discontent at the lack of political reform 


  • In the 1905 rev. there was high involvement of revolutionary groups, the only armed forces to mutiny were those of the Battleship Potemkin, it lasted most of the year, there was a use of terror to keep control, resulted in the October Manifesto & NICHOLAS II STAYED IN POWER
  • In the Feb. 1917 rev. the leaders of opposition groups were exiled/inprisoned, it only lasted over a week, ARMY DISLOYALTY, Ended the Romanov dynasty 
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