Nicholas II and the end of autocracy


Nicholas II

Nicholas II was the last tsar of Russia. He was deposed during the Russian Revolution and executed by the Bolsheviks.

Nicholas II was born near St Petersburg on 18 May 1868, the eldest son of Tsar Alexander III. When he succeeded his father in 1894, he had very little experience of government. In the same year, Nicholas married Princess Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt (a duchy in Germany). They had four daughters and a son, Alexis, who suffered from the disease haemophilia.

Nicholas II received his education through a string of private tutors, including a high-ranking government official named Konstantin Pobedonostsev. While Nicholas II excelled in history and foreign languages, ironically, the future leader struggled to comprehend the subtleties of politics and economics. To make matters worse, his father failed to provide him with much training in affairs of state.

1 of 32

Why was there so much unrest in Russia, 1903/4?

Economic and Social Problems:

The urban population quadrupled from 7 to 28 million between 1867 and 1917. Most lived in apalling working and living conditions.Trade unions and strikes were officially banned before 1905 but still took place illegally. Women comprised almost a 5th of the urban population but had very poor pay.

Tsarist policies and personal qualities of Nicholas II:

Nicholas followed the same hard-line approach as his father but unlike his father he had no personality. 1900: Okhrana chief Pyotr Zubatov was allowed to legalise trade unions.

Political opposition:

Social Revolutionaries formed in 1901 - stirred up peasants and workers. Social Democratic Party formed in 1883 - most members were exiled. Zemstva demanded change. Liberals wanted unions and a Parliament.

Economic and Social problems in rural areas:

Agricultural improvements were neglected in the drive to industrialisation and many peasants lived at substinence level because of recurring famine. Peasants were driven hard to produce a surplus. Noble's and Peasants' Land Banks helped some but left others lawless.

2 of 32

Growth in Unrest 1903-1904: The Red Cockerel

- The Red Cockerel describes a repeated series of disturbances in urban areas from the period of 1903-4. They were worst in areas where peasants were still controlled by their landlords. Peasants would set fire to grain, destroy areas of land and vandalise their landlords' property.

There were 90,000 strikes in 1904. Strikes were then made illegal. Strikes were down to many things, in factories it was poor pay, long hours and poor living conditions.

In 1901 Sergei Zubatov (head of the Okhrana) set up the Mutual Assistance League using secret agents. His agents became the leaders of this union. In 1903, the union had to be disbanded because its members were partaking in strikes.

In 1904 Georgii Gapon created the Assembly of St.Petersburg Factory Workers union. Within a year it had nearly 9,000 members. It inspired Gapon to lead the 1905 Revolution at the Winter Palace. 

1904 was a very bad year for Russian workers. Prices of essential goods went up and wages decreased by 20%. 

Gapon decided to make a petition to the Tsar to improve working conditions and an end to the Russo-Japanese War. It recieved 150,000 people signatures. This lead to the 1905 Revolution.

3 of 32

The Social Impact of Industrial Change

Industrialisation brought about a number of changes to Russia. A new middle class and an urban working class emerged. The urban population quadrupled from 1867-1917. By 1900 the urban working class made up 3% of the population. They suffered terrible working and living conditions. There was limited regulation in the workplace, despite factory inspectors being appointed under Alexander III. There was some improvement in the provision of education and in social welfare before 1914 but every change led to demands for more: 

  • 1885 - Night time work for women and children was banned. 
  • 1886 - Contracts of employment had to be drawn up. 
  • 1892 - Female labour was banned in mines and employment of children under 12 was banned. 
  • 1897 - Working hours were reduced to 11.5 per day. 
  • 1903 - Factory inspectorate was expanded. 
  • 1912 - Health insurance was introduced. 

Agricultural improvments were neglected in the drive to industrialisation. and many peasants lived at substinence level subject to recurrent famine. Kulaks used the Peasant Land Banks to buy up all the good land. 

4 of 32

The Growth of Opposition

  • Liberal intelligentisa: The middle class seeking LIBERAL change. 
  • Zemstva: The professionals elected in the Zemstva were critical of autocracy. 
  • Other liberal critics: Liberal intellectuals such as Leo Tolstoy helped popularise the need for liberal change. Sergei Zubatov Head of the Okrahana, favoured liberalisation. He was given permission to legalise trade unions in 1900. His experiment was abandoned in 1903 when his own union went on strike. 
  • Radical opposition: Despite his repressive action Alexander III failed to eradicate radical opposition. The People's Will reformed after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. Many were executed. With the People's Will, Populist ideologies also made a reappearance. 
  • The Social Revolutionary Party (SRP): The SRP's were formed 1901. They combined Marxism with Populist beliefs about land ownership. 
  • The Social Democratic Party (SDP): The Emancipation of Labour Party was formed in 1883 and was the first party to follow Marxist ideologies created by a man called Plekhanov who was exiled to Siberiain 1900.
  • Social Democratic Workers' Party: This party was another Marxist party focusing on Communist ideologies. Lenin was a part of this group which later split in 1903 into the Mensheviks led by Martov and the Bolsheviks led by Lenin. 
5 of 32

Bloody Sunday

On the 22nd of January 1905 (a Sunday) Father Georgii Gapon lead a protest outside the Winter Palace. Imperial forces opened fire on the demonstrators, killing and wounding hundreds. Strikes and riots broke out throughout the country in outraged response to the massacre, to which Nicholas responded by promising the formation of a series of representative assemblies, or Dumas, to work toward reform.

The protest was purely to present to Nicholas the problems of the people. Many of these were down to long working hours, poor working conditions, poor living conditions and poor wages. The people wanted change and wished to show Nicholas their desires. He responded by opening fire into the crowd. Women and children were among the dead as well as many others. 

What started out as a mere desperate plea ended in turmoil and led to further opposition against Nicholas and his government. 

6 of 32

Russo-Japanese War

  • What? - The Russo-Japanese War was a war between the Japanese Empire and the Russian Empire. The Japanese won and the Russian's faced defeat. The war was developed out of rivalry between the empires for dominance in Korea and Manchuria. 
  • Where? - The war was mainly fought on the Liadong Peninsula, Mukden and seas around Korea such as the Yellow Sea. 
  • Why? (Causes/Reasons) - The war occurred because the Russian Empire and the Japanese Empire disagreed over who should gain ownership of parts of Manchuria and Korea. Both countries wanted land and economic benefits. Russia wanted more ports in the East to exapand her Empire. They wanted a warm water port that would not freeze over so that they could get imports all year round. Unfortunately for Russia - Japan wanted to expand into the same area. The war acted as a distraction against frequent strikes, peasant uprisings and famine. 
  • When? - 1904-1905
  • Why did Russia lose? Russia had a lack of transport for troops, the Transiberian railway was not complete which meant that troops had to travel halfway across the world to reach fighting ground. Japan's army was much better than the Russian army after its encounter with China shortly before. The 1905 Revolution was also a hindrance.
  • Consequences of Failure: The army improved a great deal. 
7 of 32

The 1905 Revolution

  • Jan: January of 1905 was a response to the events of Bloody Sunday which effecitvely catalysed the year of revolt. Peasants uprisings, and continual strikes etc.
  • Feb: The SR's assassinated the Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich. 
  • March: Georgia was declared an independent state and there were plans for a state Duma. 
  • April: Strikes in the Ural Mountains.
  • May: Baltic Fleet are sunk. The first Soviet Union is formed.
  • June/July: Army mutiny. Liberals form a Union of Unions, Union of Zemstva and Union of Liberation. They demanded a Duma.
  • Aug:  News arrives of Japan's defeat of Russia. In an attempt to stop strikes Nicholas promises a Duma but it excludes Jews and women. If the Tsar had offered this in Jan, there would not have been so much opposition. 
  • Sept: Printing workers went on strike. 
  • Oct: Railway workers went on strike. Russia was face with its first general strike. Continued strikes throughout this month caused disarray. 
  • Nov: Peasant redemption payments are finally halved. On the 8th of November Lenin arrives in St.Petersburg. 
  • Dec: The Government arrests 300 members of the St.Petersburg Soviet. 
8 of 32

The 1905 Revolution Cont.

The 1905 Revolution was a time of political and social unrest in Russia. 

  • First stage: events that contributed to Revolution: Bloody Sunday (22/1/1905), Russo-Japanese War. 
  • Second Stage: Jan-Aug 1905: 13 million workers went on strike, Liberals formed a Union of Unions and demanded a State Duma. 
  • Third Stage: September - October: Workers went on continual general strikes, they set up Soviets (workers' councils). The country was paralysed by strikes. 

What did Russians want from the Tsar, why was revolution necessary? 

  • Liberals: A State Duma, Law and order, relaxed censorship.
  • Workers: Shorter working hours, better pay and better living and working conditions. 
  • Soldiers: Better equipment and better leadership. 
  • Minorities: Equal rights in terms of education, language, religion. 
  • Nobility: Law and order. 
  • Peasants: No more grain requisitioning, no private property, less hold from their landlords. 
  • Revolutionaries: Socialist society, death to the Tsar, end to autocracy. 
9 of 32


The October Manifesto: The October Manifesto was a proposal created by Nicolas II under the influence of the Prime Minister of the Duma (Sergei Witte). The Manifesto promised basic civil rights and an elected assembly (Parliament) known as the Duma. The successes of the Manfiesto were immediate and short lived. Most strikes across the empire stopped the moment it was published. Successed were followed by failure, with the empire returning to a cycle of strikes and violence. Opposition arose and the Manifesto was intended to combat revolutionaries. 

Why was the October Manifesto such a ''sham''? 

  • Revolts continued to happen with the involvement of trade unions and growing political parties such as the Bolsheviks. 
  • Newspapers and unions were closed down contrary to the Manifesto. 
  • Workers were brutally supressed, life became worse for them. 
  • The Tsar selected half of the Duma's membership. Parliament characterised by nepotism. 

Why did the revolution fail? The Bolsheviks believed the middle class were responsible for the failed revolution. This stirred up conflict between the two groups. The Tsar was determined to retain power. 

10 of 32

The Work of the Dumas

In October 1905 the Tsar promised Russia a State Duma. The first Duma was not opened until May 1906 (more than 6 months later). Fundamental Laws passed in April 1906 gave the Tsar power to shut down the Duma whenever he wanted. 

In comparision to the Tsar the Duma ultimately had NO power. The Council of Ministers were at the top. State Councils (similar to our House of Lords) followed and then finally the Duma which was equivalent to the House of Commons. 

The peasants, despite making up a hefty 80% of the population, only recieved 42% of the vote which was unjust. 

Ways the Duma was democratic: 

  • State Council (House of Lords) are elected by the zemstva. 
  • 5 year terms. 

Ways the Duma was undemocratic: It was characterised by nepotism (the Tsar chose the Council of Ministers). The Tsar remained supreme and the nobility had far too much voting power. 

11 of 32

The Four Dumas

The First Duma: May 1906-July 1906 - In this Duma the peasants voted for more radical parties than the Tsar had expected. The first Duma was too radical for the Tsar so he had oppositon reduced in the second Duma. Sergei Witte (PM of the Duma) was replaced by a man called Goremykin who disgareed with the Duma's demands. 

The Second Duma: February 1907-June 1907 - This Duma laster slightly longer than the previous. Stolypin engineered the election to help the Octobrists (right-wing party). The Bolsheviks and the SR's stand in this election (they did not in the first). Not a very successful Duma. 

The Third Duma: "Duma of Lords and Lackeys": November 1907 - June 1912 - The 1907 Electoral Law reduced the votes of peasants and workers. Conservatives and Octobrists dominated. This Duma mostly agreed with the Tsar but was suspended twice. Pyotr Stolypin assassinated in 1911. 

The Fourth Duma: November 1912- 1917 (suspended in 1915) - The Duma was divided between right-wing and left-wing revolutionaries. There was a lack of cooperation between right-wing and left-wing parties. Duma was suspended in 1915 for demanding more say in WW1. 

12 of 32

Achievements of the Four Dumas

1st Duma - Achievements: Radical Duma, Kadets (left-wing) won over the majority, named ''Duma of National Hopes''. Failures: 120 Kadets were arrested, the assembly was too radical which is why it was shut down. Goremykin opposed of the Duma depite being its leading force. Bolsheviks and SR's refused to participate. The Duma was too radical and unrealisitc - it didn't lead to anything. 

2nd Duma - Achievements: Stolypin's government tried to manipulate the votes in the election. Bolshivks participated in this election. Lasted slightly longer than the first Duma. Failures: Recieved the nickname ''Duma of National Anger''. Neither left nor right many disagreements were made. Stolypin dissolved the Duma. 

3rd Duma: Achievements: Octobrists (ring-wing) won the majority. Important reforms in agriculture and education. Local government was improved. Served a full term. Failures: Not representative of the people compared to the 1st and 2nd Dumas. 

4th Duma: Achievements: Lasted a full five years (although was suspended in 1915). 1917, members formed the Provisional Government. Failures: Lack of cooperation between parties. Rise in strikes. 

13 of 32

Stolypin's Reforms

Who was Stolypin? 

  • Pyotr Stolypin built a reputation for ruthlessness when he was made a governor in Saratov. 
  • Nicholas II made him PM in 1906. 
  • He was a social conservative who believed in VIOLENT REPRESSION. 3,000 people were killed through his orders from 1906-1909. 
  • He was a radical thinker in terms of economics and agriculture. 
  • In 1911 he was shot whilst at the opera. His assassin was an Okhrana double agent!

''Wager on the Strong"

  • Peasants' Land Bank
  • Peasants were given the right to leave the mirs. 
  • Improvement in agriculture, new methods were introduced as farming techniques were poor. British farms were producing 4x as much as Russian ones. 
14 of 32

Stolypin's Land Reforms

Land Reforms - Benefitted the Peasants: 

  • 1906: More land up to buy.  Peasants granted equal rights in their local administration. Peasants given permission to leave the mirs. 
  • 1907: Redemption payments abolished. 
  • 1910: All mirs which had not redistrubuted land were dissolved. Third Duma approved of Stolpyin's reforms. 
  • 1911: Stolypin shot and killed whilst at the opera. 
  • 1914: WWI begins. 
  • 1915: 35 million peasants leave Russia for Siberia because of over populated areas. 

Peasant ownership of land grew thanks to Stolypin's reforms and the hereditary ownership of land increased from 20 percent in 1905 to nearly 50 percent in 1915. 

15 of 32

The Russian Economy 1906-1914

Did Nicholas II make the economy better or worse? 

Minister for Finance - Vladamir Kokovtsov. 


  • 2300 more factories built from 1906-1914. 
  • Savings account grew. 
  • Russia's main export which was grain which was in high demand. 


  • Import didn't increase from 1910-1913. 
  • Russia was much farther behind than the other world powers. 
  • Inefficient agriculture was a drag on the Russian economy. 
  • Bumper harvest between 1908-1913. 
16 of 32

Russia in 1914

''By 1914, Russia was on the verge of revolution'' Assess the validity of this view. 

The build up of radical opposition from The 1905 Revolution escalated rapidly until the February Revolution of 1917. Whether it was at an equal position in 1914 is difficult to determine considering the distraction of WWI. The October Manifesto of 1905 which promised a State Duma continually failed year after year. Right-wing and left-wing parties continually disagreed in a struggle for power. The Tsar had the Dumas suspended regularly which rendered him unpopular from 1906-1914. The Lena Goldfields Massacre of 1912 caused a multitude of further strikes in 1913 and 1914. The failure to include the peasantry in the drive for industrialisation exacerbated problems for the Tsar with peasants strikes in regular action. By 1914, Russia was corrupt and in ruins. Revolution was certain to happen. 

On the other hand, the Tsar was still a powerful ruler. He had the power to close the Dumas whenever he pleased and to pass laws preventing strikes and the formation of trade unions. The introduction of the Duma in 1906 improved the social state of Russia in terms of justice and democracy. 

17 of 32

Russia in WWI

Military disasters at the Masurian Lakes and Tannenburg greatly weakened the Russian Army in the initial phases of the war. The growing influence of Gregory Rasputin over the Romanov’s did a great deal to damage the royal family and by the end of the spring of 1917, the Romanovs, who had ruled Russia for just over 300 years, were no longer in charge of a Russia that had been taken over by Kerensky and the Provisional Government. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin had taken power in the major cities of Russia and introduced communist rule in those areas it controlled. The transition in Russia over the space of four years was remarkable – the fall of an autocracy and the establishment of the world’s first communist government.

18 of 32

February Revolution

1917 - Nicholas II abdicated. In April Lenin returned to Russia when the Provisional Government had gained power of Russia from the Tsae. 

By this point, prices in Russia had risen by 300%. Secret policie reports and propaganda newspapers predicted revolution. 


  • January 1917: 150,000 workers demonstrated on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. 
  • February: 14th: 100,000 workers strike in Petrograd. 23rd: International Womens Day. 24th: 240,000 on the streets in total. 

Anti-Tsarist speeches were made in the Duma. The tops ranks of the army were against him and while before the Tsar had managed to get people back on his side, he couldn't do this anymore. 

Turning point: 1917 Revolution: 

  • Feb 27th: Two garrisons of soldiers shoot their officers. 
  • March 1st: Britain and France recognise the PG as point of contact. 
19 of 32

February Revolution Causes

Build up and Causes of the February Revolution: 

Contributory Factors before 1914 (things that happened before the start of the war: 

  • Tsar: The Tsar was indecisive, weak and unwilling to end autocracy. 
  • The Political System: Still based on autocracy and agriculture at the expense of the peasantry. A large and corupt social divide separated the bourgeosie and the proletariat. 
  • Middle classes: The growing middle class of intellectuals wanted more of a say in the Duma. 
  • Urban workers: Alienated from society strikes began to increase. 
  • Peasants: Still mainly poor and hungry despite Stolypin's land reforms which were intended to help agriculture. 

Impact of War: 

  • Defeats by Germany hit morale of the army and soldiers became reluctant to fight. 
  • Tsar's decision to take control of the army in September 1915 was a major mistake as he was blamed for both strikes back in Russia and the weaknesses of the army. 
  • Peasants were it by the loss of their sons at war and also a loss of animals. So food production began to fail and the peasants went hungry. 
20 of 32

The Russian Social Democrat Party

The second Party Congress of the Social Democrat Party took place in 1903. Leaders Lenin and Martov continually disagreed on how it was best to run the party. Lenin believed in revolution whereas Martov believed in a party with a mass working class membership. 

The party split in 1904 into the Bolsheviks (the majority) run by Lenin and the Mensheviks (minority) run by Martov. 

The Bolsheviks still believed in a bloody and merciless revolution, however they believed in selective party membership so that the police would not become suspicious. 

The Mensheviks wanted the party to be mainly consisting of working class members but Lenin disagreed. 

Lenin said that a bourgeosie revolution and a proletariat revolution could occur simultaneously. 

21 of 32

Why did revolution occur in Russia in 1917?

Long term causes: 

  • Emancipation in 1861, caused trouble for the Russian economy. 
  • Endless grain requisitioning meant peasants were often hungry. 
  • Russification angered minorities. 
  • Russo-Japanese Wat.
  • Bloody Sunday. 
  • Failed Dumas. 
  • Lena Goldfields Massacre. 

Abdication of the Tsar: 

  • A provisional government was introduced because there was no one in charge after the Tsar abdicated. 
  • The provisional government was made up of members of the 4th Duma. 
  • Prince Georgii Lvov was appointed head of government. 

Prince Lvov: Conservative approach, he was unpopular because he didn't want to withdraw Russia from war. 

22 of 32

The Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Governmen

  • The Petrograd Soviet was more popular among the people. 
  • Created on the 27th of February 1917. 
  • An idea lead by the Mensheviks., 
  • Represented factory workers and soldiers. 

The Provisional Government never had the opportunity to rule Russia as it shared the majority of its power with the Petrograd Soviet. 

Because the Provisional Government was only temporary it didn't carry out any major reforms. What it did do was was abolish the Okhrana and press censorship and allowed political freedom. This gave opposing political parties such as the Bolsheviks power and freedom to attack the government for things they did not like. It was flawed before it even began. 

PG: Who were its members and how was it formed? 

  • Dominated by the Kadets (left-wing).
  • Alexander Kerensky replaced Prince Lvov. 
  • Formed from the 4th Duma excluding right-wing parties. 
23 of 32

Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government

Petrograd Soviet: who were its members and how was it formed? 

  • Mensheviks, intellectuals, workers and students. 
  • 1000 members and not very organised. 
  • Menshevik inspired. 
  • Based on the Soviets of 1905. 

What powers did the PG have? 

  • Recognised as official government by France and Britain. 

What powers did the Petrograd Soviet have? 

  • Controlled communications, the army and factories.
  • Support of the masses (working class, peasants etc.) 

The Honeymoon of the Revolution --> March - April of 1917 when the PG and PS agreed to cooperate. 

24 of 32

The Social Democratic Party Split

The Social Democratic Party split in 1903 into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The Mensheviks followed Marxism very closely whereas the Bolsheviks adapted Marxism to fit Russia. 

Lenin's Return to Russia: 

  • Lenin returned to Russia on the 3rd of April 1917. 
  • He'd been exiled to Switzerland so the Germans helped him get back to Russia. They expected him to make peace and end the war. 
  • His journey took three weeks during which time he wrote his April Theses. 

His demands were set out in his April Theses. Lenin believed that the bourgeosie were too weak in Russia to carry out democratic revolution. 

The Mensheviks didn't like Lenin's April Theses because they thought his ideas didn't follow Marxism closely enough. They were afraid that the Bolsheviks would seize power for the proletariat and the soviets. 

Lenin's slogan was ''peace, bread and land''. 

25 of 32

Lenin's April Theses

What did Lenin's April Theses outline?

  • Worldwide socialist revolution. 
  • Immediate end to the war. 
  • End to cooperation with the provisional government. 
  • Soviet to take power. 
  • Land given to the peasants. 
26 of 32

The Kornilov Affair

Alexander Kerensky PM of Russia faced many problems during his rule over Russia. 

Kerensky's solution was to unite the country by calling on them to defeat Germany. An end to the war would solve all other problems. He decided to appoint a new tough general called General Kornilov. 

The Kornilov Affair - Bolsheviks the the resuce: 

Kornilov was a harsh and terrible general. Kerensky released the Soviet members he'd put in prison and also the Bolsheviks because he needed them to help them defeat Kornilov. The Bolsheviks arrested Kornilov. 

26th-30th of August 1917 = The Kornilov Affair: 

Kornilov was well known for his toughness and he even re-introduced the death penalty into the army. He wanted to restore the army and the reserves. Kerensky originally believed that Kornilov would restore order but he was very strict and Kerensky was worried he'd seize power. 

The Kornilov Affair made the Bolsheviks stronger. Kerensky had been an idiot. 

27 of 32

The Kornilov Affair

Alexander Kerensky PM of Russia faced many problems during his rule over Russia. 

Kerensky's solution was to unite the country by calling on them to defeat Germany. An end to the war would solve all other problems. He decided to appoint a new tough general called General Kornilov. 

The Kornilov Affair - Bolsheviks the the resuce: 

Kornilov was a harsh and terrible general. Kerensky released the Soviet members he'd put in prison and also the Bolsheviks because he needed them to help them defeat Kornilov. The Bolsheviks arrested Kornilov. 

26th-30th of August 1917 = The Kornilov Affair: 

Kornilov was well known for his toughness and he even re-introduced the death penalty into the army. He wanted to restore the army and the reserves. Kerensky originally believed that Kornilov would restore order but he was very strict and Kerensky was worried he'd seize power. 

The Kornilov Affair made the Bolsheviks stronger. Kerensky had been an idiot. 

28 of 32

Why did the PG lose support?

- Rise in support for the Bolshevik Party. 

- Relaxation of censorship. 

- No Okhrana. 

- Lenin's return to Russia. 

- War effort was still not working. 

29 of 32

The July Days: 3rd, 4th and 5th of July 1917.

Uncontrolled rioting throughout the month of July 1917. 

Long Term Causes: 

  • Continuation of WWI. 
  • 100,000 workers lost their jobs because of shortages due to war. 
  • Harvest was poor and grain prices doubled from February to June. The Provisional Gvt. sent squads into rural areas to seize grain which rendered them very unpopular. 
  • It was revealed the the PG was just aiming to gain land from the war, not to defend their country. 
30 of 32

Storming of the Winter Palace

Lenin was now convinced that the time was ripe for the Bolsheviks to seize power in the name of the Soviets:

The Provisional Government had been seriously weakened by its inaction during the Kornilov Revolt and it had little control over the army.

The Bolsheviks were now in control of the Petrograd Soviet and in a much stronger position to realise their goal of bringing about the revolution they desired.

In November 1917, a Russian Congress of Soviets was due to meet in Petrograd. By seizing power before then, the Bolsheviks could claim to be acting in the name of the Soviets. Delay would be dangerous.

The actual takeover of Petrograd was organised by Trotsky. On 24 October, units of the Red Guards took control of the city. Key buildings, power stations, railway and tram stations, important bridges were in Bolshevik hands. A large warship that was sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, the "Aurora", steamed up the river Neva and trained its guns on the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government was located.

On the night of the 25th/26th October, the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the Provisional Government.

Lenin now proclaimed a new government of Russia, by the Soviets. The Congress of Soviets met and endorsed the action of the Bolsheviks. The Bolshevik Revolution was now a fact.

31 of 32

Bolshevik Position in October 1917

  • They had control of the Petrograd Soviet. 
  • They'd done very well in previous Soviet elections. 
  • The Provisional Government was useless and helpless. 
  • The liberals and the conservatives were demoralised after the Bolshevik success in the Kornilov Affair. 
  • The Germans were advancing and Kerensky was planning to arrest the Bolsheviks. 
32 of 32


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Russia - 19th and 20th century resources »