Nicholas II


What was he like and what problems did he face?

He was unprepared and had no desire to be Tsar.

Indecisive, didn't care about politics, had little organisational skills, weak.

Modernising Russia was essential but he was unwilling to consider a constitution as he thought he was Tsar by God's will.

Family man and kind but could be merciless and ruthless.


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January 1905 - January 1906

Jan 3rd - Strikes in the Putilov iron works.

Jan 9th - Bloody Sunday Unemployed workers in St.Petersburg led by Father Gapon went marched towards the Tsar's Winter Palace - this was a planned demonstration. They had absolute faith the 'little father' wuld help them and approached the palace holding patriotic banners and pictures of the Tsar's family. BUT the Cossacks were waiting for them and opened fire on the demonstrators leaving 150 dead and wounded.

Feb 4th - The Tsar's uncle was blown up by an SR bomb.

Feb - Trotsky returned to Russia.

May - The Russian Baltic Fleet was sunk in Japanese waters.

June - Force was used against innocent strikers in Finland, the Blatic States and the Caucasus.

July 11th - Shuvalov the military governor was blown up.

July 24th - Bulygin published plans for a constitutional reforms.

August - The Russo-Japanese war ended.

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January 1905 - January 1906 (2)

September 12th to 15th - Zemstva conference rejected the ideas for constitutional reform.

September - Strikers were confident and well organised

October 6th - Railway strikes.

October 10th - General strike in Moscow.

October 17th - The October Manifesto (see attached sheet)/Witte becomes Prime Minister.

November 26th - Trotsky took over the St. Petersburg Soviet.

November - Lenin returned.

December 3rd - Trotsky was arrested by the government.

December 7th - General strike in Moscow.

Decemeber 11th - Army ruthlessly suppressed peasant unrest.

December 19th - Last remnants of Moscow revolt crushed.

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The October Manifesto 1905

What were the advantages?

  • Council of ministers established under Witte and later Stolypin, like a cabinet under a prime minister.
  • Council of State (Duma upper house) = half the memebers were elected by local government (the zemstva), the church, nobility and universities.
  • The lower house was fully elected with a five year term - it could question ministers and make laws.
  • Civil rights were introduced.
  • Trade Unions were legalised.

What were the disadvantages?

  • The non-elected part of the council was appointed by the Tsar - they had the power of veto. They were entirely dependant on the Tsar for appointment and continuation in office.
  • Duma elections were weighted in the favour of the rich.
  • The Okhrana was still in operation and therefore in reality civil rights were limited.
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The Fundamental Laws, April 1906

They were not drawn up in consultation with the Duma.

Stated that:

  • Article 87 said that the Tsar had the right to rule by decree.
  • The Tsar could dissolve the Duma at any time.
  • The Duma had no control over expenditure or ministers.
  • The Tsar must approve all laws as he had 'supreme autocratic power'.
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The New Liberal Parties

The Octobrists

  • Moderate Liberals from the zemstva tradition.
  • Accepted the Tsar's promises and wanted to work with him to make the Duma a success.

Led by Alexander Guchkov

The Kadets 

  • Left-wing Liberals.
  • Unconvinced by the Tsar's promises but thought his concessions were a step in the right direcytion.
  • Demanded a constituant assembly to draw up a new Russian Constitution.
  • Supported government action to end radical revolution.

Led by Pavel Milyukov.

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The First Duma, April-June 1906 (composition/deman

'Duma of national hope'

  • Radical-Liberal composition - Kadets were the largest group.
  • More than a third of deputies were peasants - peasant farmers were the biggest professinal group.
  • Groups further left than the Kadets were highly critical of the Tsar.
  • When the Tsar entered Parliament he was not acknowledged by the poor and the elected = a public relations disaster.

What demands were made of the Tsar?

  • Wanted political amnesty - 'address to the throne'.
  • The State Council should be abolished.
  • Universal male suffrage.
  • Abondonment of the emergency laws e.g. secret police/censorship.
  • Abolition of the death penalty.
  • Ministerial responsibility given to them.
  • Civil service reform.

These demands were unresolved for 6 weeks and so the Duma passed a vote of no confidence.

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The First Duma, April-June 1906 (consequences)

The Duma was dissolved and the prime minister was replaced by Stolypin who could rule by decree.

The Kadets and Trudoviks reacted badly and staged the Vyborg Appeal - marched to Finnish Vyborg and demanded that they should stop paying taxes and do military service.

The Vyborg Appeal recieved no popular response and its leaders were jailed for three months.

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The Second Duma, Feb-June 1907

'Duma of national anger' - Much more oppositional than the First.

  • Octobrists doubled representation.
  • Moderate-Liberal centre was reduced.
  • Extreme left-wing increase because of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and SRs.

Neither right or left wanted the Duma to succeed, everyone was voting against Stolypin.

How was this handled?

  • There was a showdown on June 3rd between the Government and the Duma.
  • The Tsar and Stolypin dissolved the Duma.
  • Changes made to the Fundamental Laws - electoral reform.

Giving peasants influence was a mistake because they elected too many radicals.

This was removed in the new system and lower class influence was severely reduced. However influence of the wealthy greatly increased as they were likely to be Conservative and support the Tsar.

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The Third Duma, November-June 1912

'Duma of Lords and Lackeys'

  • Made up of Government favouring groups - Octobrists and Rightests won seat majority.
  • The Socialists and Kadets were reduced in size and split in principle.

2200/2500 government proposals were agrees including Stolypin's agricultural reforms.

The Tsar's unpopularity was highlighted and this was often a confrontational Duma. There were disputes over Naval staff, length of primary education and local government reforms.

1911 - 

  • Octobrists opposed the Government.
  • The Duma was suspended twice.
  • Legislation was forced though using emergency powers.

1912 -

  • The Duma was not working as it had no control over the Tsar or Government's actions.
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The Fourth Duma, November 1912-17

Groupings similar to that of the previous Duma but with less Octobrists.

What happened to the Duma?

  • The new PM Kokovstov disregarded them and their influence declined.
  • They were  too divided to fight back but workers dd revive direct action and strikes because of the war outbreak.
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Were the Dumas democratic?


  • Had Stolypin's co-operation to try and produce reform.
  • Exercised their right to criticise and quesion ministers.
  • Discussed state matters, results were produced in the areas of education and insurance.


  • Tsar held supreme autocratic power and thus the Duma couldn't do anything that he didn't approve of.
  • The Tsar and State Council held the power of veto so could reverse the work of the Duma at any point.


Some good reforming decisions but due to the Tsar's power the whole system stayed undemocratic and seemed like a pretence.

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Stolypin (background and aims)

What was his background?

  • Aristocratic Russian background.
  • Studied at St.Petersburg University.
  • He was the youngest ever governor in 1902.
  • He was the first governor to command police to dispell disturbances and gained a reputation for law enforcement.
  • PM from 1906-11.

What were his aims?

  • Develop Russia which based on a properous peasantry.
  • Wanted to produce political and economic reforms.
  • To muzzle the Duma's (co-responsible changed electoral laws after the Second Duma).

He said that he needed 20 years for his reforms to be successful but this was interrupted by the start of the First World War.

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Stolypin (actions and reforms)

Nov 1906 - Peasants were given the right to leave the commune. Land banks were established.

Jan 1st 1907 - Redemption payments were officially abolished.

June 1910 - Government subisidies were introduced for Siberian migration and settlement. Communes not redistributed after emancipation were dissolved. Development of larger farms was increased.

1914 - Peasant land ownership had grown.

1915 - From 1905 to this point, 3.5 million peasants moved from the south and west to Siberia. Siberia therefore became a major agricultural region for dairy farming, eggs, butter and cereal in particular.

There was a run of good harvests that increased the population and peasant prosperity. Larger farms started to use machinery and agricultural fertilisers. 

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Stolypin (limitations and successes)

What were the limitations?

  • Only 10% of Russia had moved on from ***** farming by 1914.
  • Land remained noble's private property.
  • There was a large group of alienated, landless pesants drifting to cities for work.

What were the successes?

  • Migration helped Siberia to become an agricultural centre.
  • Peasants were much happier, this lessened the likelihood of revolution and revolts.
  • Migration to cities = increased literacy levels, BUT this meant an increased ability to rebel.

Why did he fail?

  • The war came which did not give enough time for his reforms to work (he needed 20 years).
  • After his assassination in 1911, no one pushed for reform to continue.
  • Peasants clung to the Mir for security.
  • Tsar felt intimidated by him and planned to sack him.
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The Impact of WW1 (military failures/living condit

Military failures

  • Heavy defeats and huge numbers of Russians killed.
  • There was disillusionment from the people about the state of the war and there was anger about the way in which it was being conducted.
  • September 1915 - the Tsar went to the front and therefore after this point was personally blamed fro war failures.

Living conditions

  • Foods, goods and raw materials were in short supply.
  • Factories were closing causing people to be out of work.
  • Prices and inflation rocketted.
  • There was a lack of fuel.
  • Workers were very hostile to the Tsarist government.
  • Anger was increasing at the high death rtaes.
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The Impact of WW1 (The Tsarina/Lack of political r

The Tsarina and Rasputin

  • Made a mess of running the country.
  • Dismissed able ministers in favour of friends.
  • The government had a lack of stability and continuity.
  • The Tsar left them in charge and so recieved all of the blame for their poor decisions.

Failure to make political reforms

  • The Tsar refuesd the idea of a Duma or a 'Progressive Bloc'.
  • The Tsar refused the chance to be part of a constitutional monarchy.
  • The Tsar opted to retain his autocracy.
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The Build up to the February Revolution

Factors contributing before 1914

  • The Tsar - He was weak and indecisive, wanted his autocracy, refused to make concessions to a representative government.
  • The Political System - It was largely autocratic - it was outdated, repressive and corrupt.
  • The Middle Class - Growing professional middle class who wanted a greater role in national government.
  • The Urban Workers - They were alienated and strikes were increasing.
  • The Peasants - They were poor, in need of land, a class of landless hostile labourers was developing.

The Impact of War

  • The soldeirs had low morale and didn't want to fight due to previous defeats.
  • In September 1915, the Tsar took personal control of the army so he was wholly accountable for defeats and the Tsarina's poor running of the country.
  • The middle class thought that the government was incompetant.
  • Due to war there was inflation, unemployment and food shortages - peasant production was failing.
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Key Players after 1917 - LIBERALS

Who? Kadets, Octobrists and Progressive Bloc

Beliefs? Parliamentary democracy, civil rights, free elections where all men could vote.

Methods? Non-violent political channels e.g the zemstva, the Duma, meetings.


  • No large popular base
  • Few active supporters outside of Petrograd
  • Kadets tried to create local provincial part bases.
  • Mainly supported by the middle class e.g. academics.
  • Octobrists recieved support from industrialists, businessmen and large landowners.

The Progressive Bloc was set up by progressive Liberals during the War to push for a constitutional monarchy but this was rejected.

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Key Players after 1917 - SOCIAL REVOLUTIONARIES


  • Land should be taken from the landlords and shared between peasants - they placed hope in the peasants that theyw ould support a popular rising to overthrow the government for a democratic republic.
  • Accepted the development of capitalism - promotion of growth of the Proleteriat.
  • Represented the labouring people.

Methods? Agitation and terrorism.


  • Peasant base - they felt well represented.
  • 1905 membership - 50% were workers.
  • Land and liberty.
  • Intellectuals who wanted more contact with the mass population.
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Key Players after 1917 - SOCIAL DEMOCRATS

Bolsheviks beliefs? (Marxism but were divided over what they thought the role of the party was.)

  • Highly disciplined professional revolutionaries.
  • System of small cells so that the police would find it hard to infiltrate.
  • Thought the party should bring socialist conciousness to the people and lead them.

Mensheviks beliefs? (Marxism but were divided over what they thought the role of the party was.)

  • Broadly based and accepted anyone who wanted to be a member.
  • Democratic - members had a say in policy making.
  • Encouraged trade unions to improve conditions for the working class.


  • Working class.
  • Bolsheviks attracted militant young peasants - liked discipline and firm leadership.
  • Mensheviks attracted workers, members of the inteligentisa and a broad range of Russians.
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The February Revolution - spontaneous and popular?

People collecting bread rations lead to rioting.

International Womens Day took on a different mood - began to strike and decided to march.

It wasn't lead by a political party as all party leaders were in exile.

The Petrograd joined the revolution (losing their support meant that the Tsar had to abdicate).

Mass support and demands lead to a general strike.

The Tsar will have regarded it as popular as he will not have expected to lose the support of his people and army.

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The February Revolution - organised and coup d'eta

The International Womens Day march was a planned event.

The Tsar caused the soldier mutiny as he told them to fire on innocent people.

The abdication was  expected and planned by those around him.

There was a planned workers march on March 23rd.

Bolsheviks helped to spread the protests.

The Winter Palace and Okhrana HQ were occupied.

The Duma committee.

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The events of the 1917 Revolution

18th Feb - Strike in the Putilov Iron Works

23rd Feb - International Womens Day - women lead strikes and encouraged men to join them.

23rd - 25th Feb - Demends were made for the end of the war and the Tsar's reign. No specific party was leading the discontent. Virtually  general strike in Moscow.

25th Feb - The Tsar ordered the soldiers to stop the strike action but most of them had joined.

26th Feb - Regiments opened fire on strikers killing many. There was fighting between soldiers but they eventually all chose the side of the people. The Duma was dissolved.

27th Feb - Prisoners were released. Minister of Internal Affairs was sacked. The Winter Palace became occupied. The Special Duma committee was formed and the tsar was no onger able to become a part of the government. The Tsar had lost the General's support.

2nd March - The Tsar abdicated. His brother Michael also refused the throne so the Romanov rule was brought to an end. The Duma set about forming a new government.

3rd March - Revolution was declared.

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The Collapse - Revolutionary elements at work


  • The SDs were stirring up worker discontent in towns by distributing banners and pamphlets - they wanted to overthrow the Tsar.
  • The SRs stirred up worker discontent - they wanted an end to the war.
  • The People's Will were violent and performed many assassinations.
  • The Black Partition wanted the land to be shared out.


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The Collapse - Economic problems


  • Men under 55 were all conscripted causing a loss of incomes for their families.
  • Production of war materials and supplies drained the economy.
  • There was little focus on agriculture.

THIS WAS A SHORT TERM FACTOR (the pre-war years)

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The Collapse - The Government

The government collapsed from within.


  • The progressive Bloc demanded representative ministry.
  • The Generals refused to follow the Tsar's orders.


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The Collapse - Loss of traditional support


  • The Generals couldn't justify sending their men to war and so refused their orders.
  • The Army mutinied and went against the Police.
  • The Aristocracy were discontented about the German Tsarina and peasant Rasputin being left in charge instead of them.


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The Collapse - Nicholas' many mistakes


  • He made limited promises in the October Manifesto.
  • He became Army commander making him personally responsible for army defeats.
  • The Fundamental Laws reinforced his powers causing discontent.
  • He left the Tsarina and rasputin in charge..
  • He was weak and indecisive.
  • He refused a constitutional monarchy.


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The Collapse - The War worsened everything


  • National debt rose by four times between 1914-17.
  • There was low morale.
  • Inflation quadrupled between 1914-17.
  • There was famine.
  • Money was concentrated on industry which soared.
  • Living standards fell.


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Who held the most power? PG or the Soviet?

The Provisional Government


  • Leaders of the Liberal parties.
  • Kadets and their leader Milyukov.
  • Alexander Kerensky the Socialist Minister.
  • The Prime Minister, Prince Lvov.
  • The middle/upper class.

How was it formed? The Progressive Bloc of the Duma took it upon themselves to form a body that could have control befpre democratic elections could take place.

What powers did it have? 

  • Couldn't send messages or move around without Soviet knowledge.
  • They couldn't pass laws.
  • They couldn't upset the Soviet.
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Who held the most power? PG or the Soviet?

The Soviet


  • Menshevik intellectuals.
  • Factory delegates.
  • Non-party socialist intellectuals.
  • Chairman and leading Menshevik, Ckheidze.
  • Soldiers' delegates.

How was it formed? The Duma were meeting in the Tauride Palace and Menshvik intellectuals created the Soviet on February 27th.

What powers did it have?

  • Deterined which factories are services were to be open/provided.
  • It watched over the PG to protct the interests of the working class.
  • It had weapon and army control - 'Order Number 1'.
  • Controlled railways, power supplies and telegraph stations.
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Why did the Soviet not take control?

They believed in the road to Communism.

They were waiting for a later social revolution.

They were fearful of giving the masses power so quickly.

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The Issues facing the PG - war and land


Liberal policies? Committed to continuing to fight with GB and France as they wanted Western help after the war to support the democracy and wanted territorial gains if they won.

Socialist policies? Wanted to fight a defensive war to prevent defeat to the Germans but didn't care about territorial gains.


Liberal policies? Wanted a Constituent Assembly to deal with the land reistribution.

Socialist policies? Wanted it left to a Constituent Assembly - they wanted it to be carried out ASAP but were willing to wait.

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The Issues facing the PG - national minorites


Liberal policies?

  • They didn't want the old empire to be broken up.
  • They wanted to maintain the integrity of the state.

Socialist policies?

  • Wanted to let the non-Russians have their national aspirationswith self-goverent and local control.
  • Wanted Ukraine to have its own Goverment.
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The Issues facing the PG - political system


Government  had no mandate and so had to ask the Soviet before making any decisions.

Liberal policies? Wanted to hold a government election.

Socialist policies? Wanted an electionbut eventually more to a more socialist society.

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Lenin: his life

Life events?

1895 - Invoved in strike propaganda and so was jailed for four years and exiled to Siberia.

1900 - Moved to London

1902 - Published 'What is to be done?'

1903 - Put forward his ideas to the Congress of the Social Democrats and helped split the party into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

1905 - Returned to St.Petersburg in October.

1906-17 - The Bolshevik party collapsed.

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Lenin's return in April 1917/The April Theses

  • The February Revolution.
  • He could legally return as the Tsar had abdicated.
  • There was an oppurtunity to return and seize power.
  • The Germans gave him the oppurtunity to return.
  • Anxious to reassert his leadership over the Bolsheviks.
  • To exploit the situation before the Provisional Government or the Soviet took control.
  • Return before the general election.
  • A Bolshevik Revolution with him as leader and with his policies.

Why was it significant?

He feared arrest but the Germans aided him by providing him with a sealed railway cart to pass over the Russian border.

The April Theses 1917

A set of demands from Lenin which included a socialist revoltuion, an immediate end to the war, an end to co-operation with the PG, the Soviet to take control of the country and the land to be given to the peasants

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The events leading up to the October Revolution 1

1)The War - The PG continued Russia's involvement in the War as Milyukov, Minister for War, wanted to continue to make territorial gains, paticularly Constantinople. This negatively affected the Mensheviks as they became highly associated with war and any losses/mistakes.

The June Offensive - Middle class civillians volunteered to fight to raise the army's morale. But Kerensky ws not a success with soldeirs who didn't want to fight and committees said there was no need to fight when peace was wanted by all. The soldiers then mutinied and killed their officers. Hundred of thousands of soldiers were killed and territory was lost, this caused the July Days.

The soldiers couldn't be controlled and the socialist government lost their credibility with soldiers and workers. BUT the PG did survive.

2) The Land Question - Central authority collapsed and so there was no one to distribute land. The PG wanted it to be handled by a Constituent Assembly and for there to be a framework of law and land owners to be compensated. BUT there was nothing to stop peasants just taking land, although they did not do this the peasant soldiers did not know this and so some deserted to ensure they didn't miss out on gaining land.

The SRS joined the PG in May and Chernov became Minister for Agricuture - they played a huge part in organising peasant Soviets.

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The events leading up to the October Revolution 2

3) The Minorities - Finns and Poles wanted outright independance. Areas in old Russia wanted more autonomy. BUT The Liberals believed that Russia needed to be kept together under central government if it wanted to remain a great power.

4) Deteriorating economic situation - There were food shortages, inflation was 400%, high prices, unemployment, shortages of fuel and raw materials. There was also a poor harvest in 1917.

This would continue for as ong as the war did and the government couldn't stop this. 

Social Reform was expected after the February Revolution and this did not occur, leading to strikes and workers committees taking over factories, turning on the government. Liberals in the government were under pressure from industrialists not to interfere and wouldn't act against their wishes.

The Socialists in the PG and the Soviet found that they were increasingly unable to meet the needs of their traditional support, the workers.

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The events leading up to the October Revolution 3

5) The July Days - There was an eruption of mounting frustrations from workers and soldiers sparked by the June Offensive, the economic plight and the fear of the Petrograd Garrison that they would be sent to the front.

Day 1 - civillians, soldeirs and armed groups were marching in the streets. Day 2 - the Kronstadt soldiers came to Petrograd, marched to the Tauride and demanded that the Soviet take power, capturing the SR leader Chernov.

This showed the people's discontent with the PG and the economic situation - the Bolsheviks seemed as if they were failing the people by not bringing about a full scale revolution. Middle-ranking Bolsheviks encouraged the rising and Bolshevik lieutenants were in armed groups.

6) The Kornilov Affair - Kornilov was brought in by Kerensky to be the Supreme Commander of the Russian force, this was done to restore law and order after the July Days. He saw this as an oppurtunity to seizi power, crush the radical socialists and to restore order and order to the Petrograd. He and Kerensky planned this to restore order.

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The events leading up to the October Revolution 4

Kerensky called upon the Soviet to defend Petrograd from a counter revolution and supplied the Bolshevik Red Group with weapons to stop Kornilov. The railway workers halted the trains carrying Kornilov's troops and Bolshevik officers persuaded troops to desert their officers.

What did this cause?

  • Kerensky's reputation was irretrievably damaged as he was initially seen to be acting against the people and they feared other generals like Kornilov.
  • Mensheviks and SRs were discreditted by their association to Kerensky.
  • Soldiers murdered officers and generals couldn't trust them to carry out any orders.
  • The Bolsheviks were seen as the defenders of the city and the revolution and therefore were elected in large numbrs to the Soviets.
  • Trotsky was elected president on 25th September.
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The October Revolution

Lenin was worried that events would turn against the Bolsheviks and that this was their last oppurtunity to seize power. ZInoviev feared that they lacked support from peasants and soldiers - they worried that there would be civil was and the Bolsheviks would be defeated and isolated.

The Military Revolutionary Committee was set up by the Soviet incase there was going to be a right wing coup, it was Bolshevik dominated and under Trotsky's control. This allowed them to have control over soldiers in the capital and to seize great quantities of arms and ammunition.

Did Kerenksy act effectively to prevent a revolution?

  • He tried to close Bolshevik newspapers, restricted the MRC and raised bridges linking working class districts to Petrograd
  • He allowed the Bolsheviks to act as they said the PG was acting against the Soviet and the revolution.
  • He left for the front to find loyal troops and never returned.
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