Why did the rule of the tsar collapse Feb/March 1917?

Reasons for the rule of the tsar collapse in 1917.

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The affect of WW1 on Russian society 1

The Army

  • There were a huge number of conscripts who were enthusiastic at first and fought bravely, but stood little chance against the German army.
  • Badly led and treated appallingly by their aristocrat officers.
  • Poorly supported by industries at home - rifle, ammunition, artillery & shell shortages. (Some didn't even have boots).
  • September 1915, Tsar Nicholas took personal control of the army - made no difference - defeats & huge losses continued through 1916. Unsurprisingly, by 1917: much discontent & many soldiers started to support the Bolsheviks.
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Peasants, workers and ethnic minorities

  • War left many widows and orphans needing state war pensions which were not always received.
  • Food production remained high until 1916, but the government could not always be relied upon to pay for the food produced.
  • War contracts created an extra 3.5 million industrial jobs between 1914 and 1916 - workers got little extra wages.

Food shortages

  • there was enough food, but it could not be transported to the cities as the rail network could not cope with the needs of the army, industry and population.
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The Middle Class

  • Unhappy with the Tsar, although they did not suffer the same as the peasants and workers.
  • 1916;industrialists complaining they couldn't fulfill war contracts because of raw materials & fuel shortages.

The aris


  • The situation was so bad in 1916 that most of the population was calling for the Tsar to step-down.
  • Junior officers in the army had suffered devastating losses in the war - they were the future of the aristocratic class.
  • Conscription of 13 million peasants threatened the aristocrats' livelihoods as they had no workers for their estates.
  • Aristocrats: appalled by the influence of Rasputin over the government of Russia.
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Why was the March 1917 revolution successful?

Food shortages

  • The transport system in inadequate, particularly at a time of conflict when an army needs supplying, therefore cities are not supplied with food.


  • There are demands for better pay and working conditions which are focused in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Formation of the Soviets

  • These were organisations set up by the Bolsheviks to be the focus for the workers' resistance, therefore, rebellion was more likely.
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Discontent in the countryside

  • To add to the food shortages, there was great poverty, general repression of the peasantry and an unreliable income.

Tsarina + Rasputin

  • The German Tsarina was never that popular, but now even worse because of the war. She was further hated because of rumours of an affair with Rasputin.

Failures in the War

  • Unprecedented death toll in World War I (nine million casualties) and repeated failed offensives.

Mutiny in the army

  • Mutiny meant that the army didn't follow orders, so nothing could be done and the Tsar was not obeyed

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Duma setting up an alternative government

· They took power from the Tsar, therefore made all critical decisions.

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