Russia in 1900 summary and notes



Russia in 1900 summary and notes


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Russia in 1900 summary and notes




Russia in 1900

-Economically backward – main income, agriculture.

-Overpopulation in cities and v.poor working conditions in factories

-Autocracy – v.weak

-Russian society consisted of 80% peasants and 80% illiteracy, big gap between rich and poor


Tsar Nicholas II

-Weak and easily influenced

-Reluctant to give any power to others, an autocrat

-Politically naïve, he relied on repression and violence


Who opposed the Tsar?

-Socialist Revolutionaries (peasants)

-Social Democrats (Support from cities/workers) – Lenin, Trotsky

-Liberals (middle class)


Causes of the 1905 revolution

Long term-

Economic problems = Russia economically backward, agriculture. Gvt needs money for industry therefore increases taxes. Peasants can’t pay taxes

Short term-

Russo-Japanese war = fought 1904-05 in Manchuria, thought it was going to be quick victory. BUT the Japanese won. They got Port Arthur from Russia and economic problems worsened as a result.

Bloody Sunday = Jan 1905, a peaceful march led by father Gapon to present a petition to Nicholas at the winter palace in StP. It was broken up violently by the Cossacks and the Tsar and his government got blamed.


The Revolution

-Jan - 400 000 workers out on strike.

-February – Strikes spread to other cities. 100s gvt officials executed inc. Tsars uncle.

-March and May - defeats of Russian army + navy.

-June – sailors of the Potemkin mutinied bc of maggoty food

-June and July – Peasant riots become widespread landowner’s houses looted and burned.

-September – Peace treaty between Russia and Japan, Japan gets Port Arthur. Troops were paid and promised better conditions if they stayed loyal to the Tsar.

-October – General strike spreads by telegram – all opposition united.

-St P soviet of workers deputies formed. Reps from factories met to strike actions, chairman Trotsky

-30th Oct – Tsar gives in and offers October manifesto: A parliament elected by the people, civil rights and uncensored newspapers and the right to form political parties.

-December – All troops in Russia, the Tsar felt strong enough to take back control. He closed down St. Petersburg soviet and sent out troops to take revenge on workers and peasants.


How did Tsar survive?

  • The army remained loyal
  • October manifesto
  • RJ war had ended in September
  • He used brutal force
  • Middle classes, workers, peasants and nationalists didn’t unite together against the Tsar.


Order and Control

-Violence continued in countryside into 1906

-Tsar appointed Peter Stolypin as PM, who was v.tough, had many people executed and exiled.

-The secret police (okhrana) still active – ppls freedom limited.

-freedom of press guaranteed but they were still censored.


Changes in the countryside

  • Stolypin introduced reforms:
  • Peasants could buy strips of land from neighbours and make one land holding. Banks were set up to provide loans for this. He created a new class of peasants called ‘Kulaks’ who would be loyal to gvt.
  • 15% of peasants took up offer – improvements for them.
  • Record harvest in 1913 – but then war interrupted reforms
  • Many poorer peasants (85%) were forced to sell land and become labourers.

Changes in cities

  • 1906 – 1914 = Industrial boom.
  • Workers didn’t benefit, conditions didn’t improve much and wages didn’t increase with food prices
  • 1912 – strike in Lena goldfields took place over bad working conditions and low wages.
  • Clashes with troops, over 170 workers killed and opened floodgates for workers protests -> further dissatisfaction with government.


The Dumas

  • In October manifesto, Tsar gave way to demands for parliament.
  • April 1906 – first met, could not pass laws, appoint ministers, control finance and Tsar could dissolve it at anytime.
  • 1st 2 Dumas (06 +07) v.radical, wanted more power and rights for ordinary people
  • Both Dumas dissolved after a few weeks.
  • For 3rd Stolypin changed how members were elected to favour the gentry and the urban rich who were conservative. It lasted from 07 to 12 and often criticised gvt, but some good measures were passed,
  • Fourth Duma (12 to 14) achieved little but the Tsar was beginning to work with them.


Steps of revolution 1914 – 17

Step 1 – effects of war on soldiers

-poor living conditions, high rate of desertion; poorly equipped; poorly led

-soldiers treated like animals – low moral

Step 2 – effects of war on Russians at home

-food shortages, no coal, no fuel,  unemployment increase in prices.

Step 3 – (Turning point) Nicholas takes charge

-Nicholas decides to go to war, therefore he is blamed for defeats. He handed rule over to Tsarina and she makes a mess of it. She was german -> ppl mistrusted her, she didn’t work with Duma. Railway systems chaos

Step 4 – Losing support

-War going badly -> sit in cities desperate, Support for Tsar goes down in mid and upper class. People don’t like Rasputin. 1916 winter bad -> no food or fuel increase in prices.

-Shame for losing war – ppl starving and freezing v.angry at Tsar.

Step 5 – revolution begins

-March 1917 – Situation desperate 7th – 40 000 workers on strike 8th – feminists joined. Thousands more joined in the next 2 days. Tsar ordered it to be taken down, Duma told him it was uncontrollable but he wasn’t in Petrograd so took no notice,

Step 6 – The army takes sides

-12th march – Soldiers refused to fire on crowds and some joined demonstrations. Everyone marched to Duma to demand it takes control of gvt

-Nicholas has no one without the army

Step 7 – The Tsar abdicates

-Nicholas tries to get back to Petrograd but its too late

-Rail workers refused to let his train back into the city.

-15th march – on the train he abdicates and says he is ‘too ill’. Ppl have had enough of the royal family.


Rival Claims to power

The provisional government-

Set up in March 1917, made up of 12 members of the 4th Duma.

Planned to rule until the people elected a constituent assembly to work out a new system of government.

The Petrograd soviet-

Set up in march 1917. A council of 2500 deputies elected by workers and soldiers whose interests it aimed to protect.

Dominated by Mensheviks eho aimed for a workers revolution

Recognised the prov gvt but was determined to influence it and eventually share power.


Problems faced by the prov gvt

  1. The war – they still hadn’t defeated the Germans and they knew the Germans would make them pay a heavy price of they tried to make peace and they wanted to keep their allies, they would get the blame. The war continued to go badly, soldiers deserted, food and fuel remained short and the war drained resources. People desperately wanted it to end.
  2. Workers – They needed to get the workers on their side or they would stroke, but workers supported Soviets.
  3. Low morale in country – Unemployment, food + fuel shortages
  4. Peasants land – Land hunger, they had to distribute more land to peasants.


Lenin Returns

  • Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks had been in Switzerland during the march revolution, and could not get back to Russia. But the Germans decided to help Lenin return to Russia. He arrived in Peetrograd in April.
  • He made a speech outlining his views (April theses)
  • There should be no co operation with prov gvt
  • The war should end immediately
  • The land should be given to the peasants
  • The soviets should take power
  • They turned Lenin’s ideas into slogans such as “Bread, peace, land” and “all power to the Soviets”. V.effective and grows. However they were still outnumbered by Mensheviks.
  • May – Trotsky returns and joins Bolsheviks.


The July Days

-16th July – spontaneous demonstrations broke out in Petrograd, started by soldiers, they marched under the slogan “all power to the soviets”. Workers joined. The demonstration was forbade by the Mensheviks and SRs.

-The Bolsheviks provided leadership to give it an organized and peaceful character.

-17th July – a demonstration of 500 000 workers, soldiers and sailors was held. Antigovernment demonstrations were also held inother parts of Russia

-Military authorities sent troops and 700 people were killed and wounded.

-18th 19th july –The hq of the Bolshevik central committee destroyed. Prov gvt issued order for the kidnapping of Lenin, who fled.


The Kornilov Revolt

-General Kornilov – Supreme commander of the Russian army. He didn’t agree with Kerensky about military policy.

-On 7th September, Kornilov demanded resignation of the cabinet and the surrende of all military and civil authority to the Commander in chief. Kerensky dismissed Kornilov from office.

-Kornilov then sent troops to take control of Petrograd -> Kerensky now in danger so he called on the soviets and red guards to protect Petrograd. The Bolsheviks agreed to the request but made it clear that they were fighting against Kornilov rather than for Kerensky. Within a few days the Bolsheviks has enlisted 25 000 armed recruits to defend Petrograd. While they  fortified the city, delegationsof soldiers were sent out to talk to advancing troops who decided to reduse to attack. Kornilov was arrested.


The lead up to the seizure of power

  • Bolsheviks are now the ‘saviours’ of Petrograd; their support was very high.
  • They won a majority in elections to the Petrograd soviet and Trotsky was elected chairman.
  • The situation in Russia was fast deteriorating. In the country side, peasants were seizing land, any attempt by the gvt to stop them, only made people hate them more. Soldiers were deserting the army in 1000s to try and get a share of the land.
  • Food was rationed in the cities and prices were rising fast and it was getting very cold as winter approached.
  • From hiding in Finland, Lenin sent messages to the Bolsheviks telling them to seize power, but leading Bolsheviks refused to carry out his instructions. So Lenin returned to Petrograd in disguise.


The Bolsheviks seize power

  • The takeover was planned for the 7th November, and it was no secret. Newspapers carried articles about it and the Bolsheviks distributed leaflets saying it was going to happen. Kerensky rushed round the city trying to find troops.
  • In the early hours of 7th November, small groups of Red guards moved in. They took control of bridges, main telegraph office, the railway stations and power stations. Kerensky’s troops mostly just melted away.
  • The next day, Bolsheviks continued to seize key places such as the state bank. People thought that the Bolsheviks would soon be defeated when Kerensky arrived with troops. But Kerensky had left and did not return.
  • The Bolsheviks then moved to the winter palace, where the prov gvt was. There was low morale among defenders and most of the Cossacks had left the palace. The Red Guards entered and made their way along the miles of corridors, any military cadets gave up, as did the prov gvt when they were found. The Bolsheviks had control of Petrograd.


Keeping Power after 1917

A few days after Lenin had seized power, Kerensky sent troops to the city to try and restore prov gvt. But they were easily defeated. Across Russia, other cities came out in favour of the Bolsheviks, but they controlled only a small area of Russia. In 1918, Bolsheviks renamed as the Communists.

  • Sovnakon- Lenin’s gvt. ‘Council of People’s Commissars’. Lenin = Chairman Trotsky  = Commissar for war, Stalin = Commissar for Nationalities. It made several decrees in the first months eg a maximum 8 hour day and 48 hour week for industrial workers.
  • Land decree – November, all land taken away from Tsar and old landlords. It was given to peasants who formed committees to divide it fairly.
  • Food – L put a priority on getting food to cities. When peasants wouldn’t sell produce, the police and Cheka were sent out to take it.
  • Cheka – A secret police force set up by L. Leader = Dzerzhinski. He set up the ‘Lubyanka’ which became a feared name bc of torture. They arrested people who were considered dangerous. After an attempted assassination of L, F launched the Red Terror; anyone who spoke out against the gvt was arrested.
  • Constituent Assembly – L was forced to hold an election to choose an assembly, which would work pout how Russia was to be governed in the future. SRs got most seats, but when it met L sent soldiers to shut it down.
  • Peace – L sent T to meet the Germans to negotiate a peace treaty. T walked out because the Germans demanded so much territory. He said ‘No peace, no war!’ However L sent him back, bc he was sure that Bs would stay in power if it could end the war quickly. The result was the treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Russia lost 62 million people (1/6 of population), 27% of farmland, 26% of railways and 74% of iron ore and coal.


Civil War

By summer 1918, the communists found themselves under attack. They only controlled a small part of Russia and their enemies were determined that theu should not remain in power for long.

Reds Strengths (communists)

  • They used v.successful propaganda.
  • They had control of the central area of w.Russia which contained large industrial centres where munitions + war supplies could be produced.
  • They had control of railway lines, so could transport soldiers and supplies quickly.
  • Only one aim – stay in power.
  • Trotsky was a fantastic leader. He introduced conscription and brought in 500 000 experienced officers (former Tsarists)
  • He appointed new political commissars and kept everything in order, he was v.brave and fought the hardest fights.

White weaknesses

  • They were scattered and often armies were 100’s of miles apart
  • Communication was difficult, but generals often didn’t want to
  • They were made up of different groups and they all had different aims – they didn’t agree much.
  • They had no good leaders. Commanders were cruel and set a bad example.


War Communism

A policy to ensure workers and red army get enough food

As industry was collapsing and the army needed food. L took control of factories and industry. Strict discipline was imposed on workers they couldn’t leave the cities. Food was rationed, and you could only get a ration card if you were working. Peasants in the countryside were forced to give up their grain, animals etc. L used Cheka.

-Very unsuccessful, middle class had nothing and fled to Europe

-Money was worth nothing

-Lenin had to use violence and peasants started to turn against him

-By 1921 (year of crisis) Russia’s economy was in ruins. Industrial production fell disastrously, cities in chaos. Burglary was common. Agriculture collapsed – high shortage of food – food prices increase.

-Diseases are widespread – Typhus and cholera

-BUT – the red army was looked after, and the communists won in the end



Workers –

A group called the worker’s opposition was formed; demanding higher wages, better conditions, more food and workers control of industry. One of the leaders was Alexandra Kollontai, the Bolshevik. They objected to the Cheka and Red Terror. They were called the ‘soviets without communists’.

Sailors –

March 1921 – Kronstadt naval base staged an uprising. Used to be strong supporters of the Bolsheviks. 20 000 killed or executed by troops sent by Trotsky. L said it was the “flash that lit up reality”.


The New Economic Policy 1921 – 1924

-Launched by L to ensure political survival and get Russia back on its feet.

-He said it was “temporary deviation”.

-Main features:

  • Peasants allowed to sell grain for profit
  • Smaller factories returned to owners.
  • Traders allowed to buy and sell goods

-Many Russian homes and factories got electricity,

-Other countries began to trade with Russia again.


  • Russia becomes more prosperous, improves economic situation.
  • By 1926 – economy had reached pre 1914 levels. Some peasants became quite rich buying up land and animals. Industrial workers get higher wages + better conditions.


  • Manufactured goods v.expensive, peasants reluctant to sell grain they couldn’t buy much.
  • Most peasants remained poor
  • Unemployment still high
  • Crime and prostitution levels increase
  • Unpopular among communists
  • Much industrial machinery outdated + became over used.


Lenin died on Jan 23rd 1924 – it wasn’t clear who would succeed him. There was a power struggle but Stalin was victorious in 1928 and he made himself indispensable.


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Russia in 1900 summary and notes


1905 Revolution


Before 1905

-Problems for the tsar-Political; autocracy-no parties allowed, meant many extremist groups formed and people turned to them; most European countries had a democracy, Russia looked very backward; Russia expected to have large army so spent 45% of government’s expenditure on it.

-Socio-economic; loads of different nationalities-made hard to please people and communicate (different languages); between 1815-1914 population increases by 4x means more unemployment, housing problems and lack of food and very unpopular increase in tax; lack of economic growth in 19th century; very unbalanced social classes (1897-82% in Russia peasants while 0.5% ruling class); due to lack of farming land many peasants moved to cities-meant cities very over populated

-Geographical; transport links between one side to other side of Russia very weak (Russia is 5000m by 2000m, 1/6 of world’s earth surface); not enough land for farmers/peasants.


Discontent in Russia

-Jews: lack of religious tolerance and Russification.

-Poles: not allowed to use Polish in schools.

-Ukrainians: not allowed to use Ukrainian in schools and Russification.

-Peasants: large debts, lack of land, no rights, low pay.

-Working class: low pay, no rights, extremely bad working conditions. No trade unions

-Industrial Middle class: growing group-but have no power.

-Intelligentsia and students: influenced by West’s democratic government.



-Peasants: resistance to change meant economic/social/political backwardness, had to take out huge loans to buy land-meant paying back forever, mostly illiterate.



-Russia NEEDED reform-but it threatened the autocracy.

-If tsar reformed he was likely to lose power, scared of modernisation.

-Russia’s economy was very backward and compared to other European countries’ democracies it was obvious Russia needed reform.

-Acknowledged by Nicholas’s predecessors; Alexander II promoted reforms in 1860s and 1870s (introduced zemstvo, emancipation of serfs).

-Weighted voting in zemstvo (1 peasants vote worth FAR LESS than an upper class/noble vote) therefore nobles in zemstvo. Zemstvo not allowed to meet-could lead to try and overthrow the tsar.

-Upper class did not want reform-might lose some of their wealth.

Tsar’s choices (“Reform from above to prevent revolution from below”)

-Introduce council of middle class advisers.

-Introduce parliament-he would have to be able to veto their decisions.

-Repress? Don’t change anything, he is in control!


Main political parties opposing the tsar


Liberals-kadets, octobrists and progressive bloc.

-active in zemstvo, wanted to political/social change through reform, support from professional middle classes, wanted modernisation, national minorities joined liberal movement as they thought they would provide them with independence form Imperial Russia.

-Oktobrists-loyal to tsar, from commercial/landowning industries.

-Kadets (the constitutional democrats)-wanted constitutional monarchy with democratically elected parliament that could restrict powers of tsar, largest liberal party, wanted equality, end of censorship and free education


Socialist revolutionaries (SR)

-Mix of support, never well coordinated or controlled.

Marxists, Russian Social Democrat Labour Party-Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

-Original leader George Plekhanov (translated Marx’s writings), many SDs got annoyed with Plekhanov’s theoretical approach and wanted REVOLUTION (like Lenin)

-Bolsheviks-main support from professional revolutionaries.

-Mensheviks-supported trade unions, decisions made through votes.


Immediate causes of the 1905 Revolution


-Agricultural crisis: peasants had huge debts; not enough land for everyone; famine.

-Rapid industrialisation: over populated cities; workers living in slums; wages low; hours long.

-Political repression; compared with other countries democracies; Tsar was VERY WEAK and easily influenced.



-Opposition groups.


-Russia Japanese War: Russia wanted to obtain ice free port and so lead an expansionist policy in far east; war made Russia focus on patriotism and drew attention away from social/economic problems; Japan was seen as very weak; February 1905-Battle of Murkden-Russia defeated; Reasons for Russia’s defest: misjudged the Japanese and on racist assumed them weak; Russia’s weapons outdated; people in high position in Russia’s army friend of tsar rather than being best for the job; boring strategy; getting from west to east Russia was big job. In 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth gave Japan Port Arthur, Manchuria and Korea (Russia got NOTHING)-caused huge domestic unrest.

-Sharp trade depression; 1902+; happened across the world; Russia’s lack of industrialisation meant it could not handle it; factory owners fired workers; big unrest.

-Bloody Sunday; 22 January 1905; Father Gapon led peaceful march to Winter Palace; 150,000 signed petition asking for reforms (like higher wages, shorter working hours and free elections); panicked police and so they attacked; big SHOCK and disgust at what had happed à revolution.


-Bloody Sunday set off reactions around Russia.

-Strikes took place all over the country. Workers set up local soviets to coordinate strikes

-Students walked out of universities à universities closed down.

-Intelligentsia walked out.

-February 1905-Grand Duke Sergei (Nicholas’s uncle) assassinated.

-May- Kadets persuaded Liberal groups to work together to form “Union of Unions” and demanded constituent assembly.

-June 1905-sailors on battleship Potemkin mutinyàsome other military units followed.

-October-general strike all over Russia.

-Mensheviks (led by Trotsky) set up St Petersburg Sovietà50 more soviets set up.

-Minority uprising in Lodz (Poland), Riga (Latvia) and the Pale Settlement (Jews).

-December-army put down Moscow Uprising.



Actions of Russians in 1905

-Peasants-burn landlords houses (illuminations). Wanted land to be common property of everyone, but did not want to overthrow the government.

-Workers-held strikes and established soviets, wanted a democratic republic, constituent assembly and better pay/houses/conditions.

-Middle class-union of unions, boycott, demands from zemstvo, wanted constituent assembly.

-Troops-majority stayed loyal to tsar.


Tsarist reaction

-Reform and Brutal repression

-Odessa massacre, Moscow uprising (December 1905). Thousands of people killed and arrested. (workers and peasants)

-Redemption payments abolished and cheap loans available. (Peasants).

-November 1906-Duma introduced.

-October Manifesto-introduced by Sergei Witter-said; fundamental civil freedoms including freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association; participation in Duma for everyone; no law could come into pass without permission of duma;male suffrage. The tsar could still veto the duma. (middle class).


Sergei Witte

-Improved Russian economy.

-Made chairman of Council of Ministers (like PM) after Bloody Sunday.

-Recommended Tsar introduce duma and October Manifesto.

-Resigned after first duma as it was so left wing.

-Before he died in 1915 predicted Russia would go through another revolution.



-July 1906 becomes President of Council of Ministers (takes over from Witte).

-Thought reform could only be used to strengthen tsarism (“first repression, and then, and only then, reform”).

-Between 1906 and 1911 introduced martial law which led to 2500 hangings (hangman’s noose nicknamed “Stolypin’s necktie”).

-Worked with duma but wanted to limit its power; 1907 Electoral Law limited who could vote.

-1907-1911: Land reforms: Aims; improve production and efficiency, 2. create strong conservative peasantry who are loyal to tsar.

-Cancelled mortgage repayments on money borrowed to buy land; land bank encouraged peasants to go independent and leave commune/strip system.

-Where these reforms bound to fail because of backward pesantry? Or was it der-railed by WW1?


Constitutional Affairs

1906 Constitution:

-December 1905 and February 1906-details of electoral system promised in October.

-Power of duma reduced: two chambers (duma and state council); half state council chosen by tsar.

-Complicated voting rules-half urban workers had no vote.

-March 1906-duma only get 1/3 of government income-not enough to reform.

-April 1906-Fundamental Laws; Russian language must be used in army and public institutions (schools); supreme autocratic powers belong to tsar; no law can come into power with out tsar’s permission.

-Tsar could dismiss ministers from duma.

-Loophole meant Tsar could make laws without permission of duma.

-Duma could not be dissolved but tsar could call another.




1st Duma

-April 1906-June 1906.

-Mainly liberals-reformist parties.

-Lots of anger at fundamental laws called “duma of public anger”.

-Vyborg Appeal-200 MPs tried to get people to protest by not paying taxes and through civil disobedience. Failed! Not many Russians paid attention and led to most of the MPs being banned from future dumas (mainly Kadets).

-Dissolved quickly.


2nd Duma

-February 1907-June 1907

-Mix of LW revolutionaries and extreme RW.

-Threatened the tsar so he dissolved almost immediately.


-PM Stolypin changed electoral laws to give more value to nobles.

-Tsar had to keep duma for international image and to keep Russian people happy.


3rd Duma

-November 1907-1912.

-Octobrist dominated.

-Stolypin reforms.

-Proposed army modernisation and education reform.

-Lasted full 5 years.


4th Duma

-November 1912-August 1914.

-Similar to duma 3-mostly RW conservative parties.

-Dissolved itself because of war.


Tsardom’s security in 1914





-Death rate fallen

-Good harvest

-Decline in peasant riots (1913-108 riots)

-Farming still very under modernised.

-Peasants still in mir resented independent farmers.



-Factories over crowded and under paid

-Small amount of trade unions (114 in 1913)

Middle Classes

-Pleased with reforms

-Economy improving

-Duma becoming less important in government.


Events of WW1

-28 June 1914- Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand (heir to Austro-Hungarian throne) assassinated.

-28 July-Austro-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

-Russia defends Serbia. War would unite Russians in patriotism whereas reluctance to go to war would make Tsar (and Russia) look weak.

-Tsar appoints his friends as generals in army à not war minded meant FAILURE.

-1915-Tsar (unwisely) appoints himself Supreme Command of the army à has no military training and any failure will now look bad on him.

-Low levels of technology meant FAILURE.

-Tsar ignores Ministry of National Confidence, Progressive Bloc and Zemstva.

-Tsar leaves Tsarina Alexandra in charge. She is German à seen as un-patriotic.

-Rasputin advised Alexandra. Rasputin was very disrespectable (womaniser, alcoholic etcc). Was assassinated in 1916.


Impact of the First World War


-Patriotism- everyone supporting troops.

-Duma dissolves

-Bolsheviks go into hiding as they are seen as un-patriotic. They are anti-war as they feel all the proletariat should rise up against there superiors rather than fighting other workers in war.

-Inadequate equipment and weapons.

Long term

-Total war to much strain on weak Russian economy.

-Lots of food shortages à bad transport and losing farming land to Germans à food prices increased but wages did not.

-More money printed à inflation.

-Peasants stop selling grain as money is becoming worthless.

-Transport being used by army so food cannot be transported.

-Transport very ineffective. Trains constantly being held up as if there was a blockage on one part of track they all trains would be affected.

-1916-Petrograd and Moscow only receiving 1/3 of food and fuel requirements.


Political Opposition to Tsar set up 1914-1917

Progressive Bloc

-236 of 422 duma deputies.

-Kadets, Nationalists, Octobrists and Party of Progressive Industrialists (LIBERALS).

-Originally not meant to challenge tsar but as it became apparent he was incapable of running war became political resistance.

-Wanted reform and more control over ministers.

-Becomes Provisional Government.


-Non-government organisation.

-Wanted to work with government in war effort, tsar refused.

-Joint with other unions to form Zemgor.

-Provided help to wounded.

Ministry of National Confidence

-Idea of replacing Tsar’s cabinet.

-Tsar rejected it.

-Was last chance of tsar retaining support from politically progressive parties.


The February Revolution


-9 January 1917-150,000 workers demonstrate to commemorate Bloody Sunday.

-18 February-strikes in Putilov works (biggest factory in Petrograd).

-19 February-Bread rationing introduced. People start to believe food is about to run out.

-23 February-International Women’s Day Demonstrators join with Putilov strikers.

-Tsar orders order to be restored immediately.

-25 February-general strikers spread through Petrograd. Troops fire on crowd.

-26 February-Tsar orders duma disband, they refuse. Troops join strikers.

-27 February-Provisional Duma committee set up.

-28 February-Tsar returns to Petrograd.

-2 March-Tsar abdicates. Had no support left; abandoned by chief ministers and aristocracy; workers striking; no support from army.

-Nicholas’s children could not take his place on throne and his brother did not want to and so the 300 year Romanov rule ended and autocracy was over.


Causes of February revolution

Length of War

Shortage of Food

-Caused huge discontent.

-Peasants hoarded food due to inflation.

-Refugees moved to cities which created even more demand for food.

Economy and inflation

-Food prices quadruple.

-Government raises taxes.

Amount of troops dying

-Long drawn out struggle.

Morale of army

-Badly equipped and over worked.

-Much of army working class and peasants and so felt little sympathy for tsar.

Other causes

Elite abandoning tsar

-In 1905 support of elite kept tsar in power.

Tsarina and Rasputin

-Rasputin left to elite turning back on tsar à allowed to govern country even though he never earned the right.

-Though they were German spies.

Tsar brought it on himself

-Making himself commander of army made all failures look bad on him.


Provisional Government

Aftermath of February 1917 revolution

-27 February 1917-Petrograd Soviet formed.

-Represented workers.

-Led by Socialist intellectuals (mainly Mensheviks).

-1 March 1917-Order No1

-Soldiers marched into Soviet and demanded representation.

-Order No 1 meant generals etc in army no longer completely in charge of soldiers.

-Soviet now represents workers and soldiers

-2 March 1917-Provisional Government declared. Set up in Tauride Palace in Petrograd. Is dominated by the Kadets.

-Prince Lvov head, was popular despite his aristocratic status as he was head of zemgor.

-P.G only meant to be temporary.



Dual Authority

-Provisional Government and Soviet co-operate between March and April.

  -PG and Soviet disagreed  on areas of war; PG wanted to continue to fight with Western Allies to ensure help after war; Soviet wanted to fight only a defensive war to not be beaten by the Germans.

-Progressive reforms; amnesty for political prisoners; recognition for trade unions; 8 hour day for industrial workers; okhrana replaced with “people’s militia”; full civil and religious freedom; plans for constituent assembly.

-Issues of war, land and freedom ignored as they do not agree.


Soviet was formed by the people and so had better reputation than the PG. Soviet had control other all workers and soldiers and so it was very difficult for the PG to make ANY decisions without the help the Soviet.


-March: Keresnky was 2nd deputy in Soviet and Minister for Justice in PG. GO BETWEEN BOTH but also meant he couldn’t commit to either.


-April 1917-Minister for War Milyukov sends note to Britain saying that Russia will continue its obligation to WW1 and would continue for as long as necessary.

-May 2-soldiers and citizens of Petrograd demand Milyukovs resignation, he resigns.

-Kerensky then becomes war minister.


How PG dealt with issues…

-War: April minister of war wanted to make territorial gains à angered soviet and so therefore he was fired; PG decided to launch major offensive attack on Germans à begins 16 June; low moral in troops led to many soldiers deserting and some even killing generals; 100,000 soldiers killed and territory was lost.

-Land: PG did not want to just give land to peasants as this would cause much hysteria with “free-for-all” so decided to let the constituent assembly deal with land issues; landlords hindered modernisation; peasants continued to seize land (July 1917 237 cases) à did not care about permission from PG. Bolsheviks adjusted tactics to try and get peasants on side.

-Economic difficulties: introduce punishment brigades to requisition grain from peasants hoarding; inflation continues; still strikes; unemployment rises due to factories closing down (July 1917 100,000 jobs lost).


PG always planned to give Constituent assembly, but they perhaps put it off for to long.


April Thesis

-4 April 1917

-Mentioned in speech made by Lenin on his return to Petrograd.

-Main points; February was not a revolution, just palace coup but bourgeoisie; soviet had right to govern; provisional government was just the old duma; Bolsheviks should not work with PG, they should overthrow it!


May 1917: Kerensky becomes Minister of War.


June Offensive

-16 June 1917.

-Started by Kerensky, was a big failure à Russian moral got very bad.


July Days

-Threat from left.

-3 to 6 July

-Spontaneous demonstration that turned into direct challenge to PG.

-Sailors march into Petrograd à joined by soldiers and workers.               

-In response to failure of June offensive and disagreement as to whether Ukraine should have independence or not.

-Divisions in Bolsheviks à some thought should support but Lenin thought they should wait and see how effective it would be.

-Support from SR and Mensheviks à easy for PG to crush.

-Showed; opposition parties disunited; Bolsheviks not dominate revolutionary part; PG still had power to put down armed insurrection.

-After Kerensky successfully put down July days, he became PM.

-Kerensky blames Bolsheviks for rising and so closes down Bolshevik newspapers and arrests some leading Bolsheviks (Trotsky and Kamenev). Lenin flees. Discredits the Bolsheviks.


Kerensky’s Problems

-Liberals in PG were RW and so wanted: no land reform; defence of property; military discipline restored; law and order re-established.

-Army was completely disintegrating. After failure of June offensive whole regiments were deserting.

-Violence in the countryside from peasants was increasing.

-Support for Bolsheviks were increasing.

-Increasing lawlessness in cities.

-Peasants hoarding food meant grain was not getting into cities. Shortages of raw materials meant factories were closing down (and so workers losing jobs à radicalisation). The price of goods and food was rising.

-Soviet was becoming increasingly out of touch with workers and so workers turn to Bolsheviks.


Kornilov Revolt

-Threat from right.

-After July Days, Kerensky appoints Kornilov (very right wing) as Commander in Chief. Left were angry, right for he was hero.

-26-30 August 1917

-General Kornilov felt Russia was descending into anarchy.

-Felt Soviets should be stopped Bolsheviks hanged and Provisional Government should have limits on their power.

-9 September: Kerensky dismisses Kornilov.

-Kornilov calls on army to help him save “dying land” of Russia. Was un-sure of how many soldiers would be on his side and so called on the help of Bolsheviks as well.

-Kerensky releases and arms Bolsheviks to help resist Kornilov.

-7000 marchers and Kornilov arrested. His coup failed.

-View that Kerensky was on Kornilovs side until he realised plans to overthrow provisional government.

-Both right and left started to lose faith in Kerensky.

-Bolsheviks looks like saviours of Russia. Kerensky lost support from both left and right.


Bolsheviks in 1917

-February to March: Bolshevik leaders in Petrograd decide to work with PG as it is “struggling against remnants of old regime”. Lenin disagrees with this action and orders Bolsheviks to withdraw support from PG, but remain working in Soviet.

-April: Lenin accepts Germany’s invite to give transport back to Russia.

-April: when Lenin returns to Petrograd he demands end to the war.

-July: July days, Lenin waits to see outcome before he and Bolsheviks become directly involved.

-August: Bolsheviks accept weapons from PG to help them fight against Kornilov.

-August: Bolsheviks start to give support to peasants and say it is time to give land back to the peasants.

-October: it is decided it is the right time to take power.


September 1917

-12: Lenin believes time for revolution. Says “history will not forgive us if we do not assume power”

-25: Bolsheviks got majority in Soviet. Trotsky becomes Chairman of Soviet. MRC created to protect Petrograd (Trotsky in charge of army).

-People started to lose enthusiasm for Soviet.


October 1917

-7: Lenin returns and calls for revolution.

-10: Central Committee meeting, Bolsheviks agree on revolution but not on a date.

-Kamenev and Zinonviev publish article saying time is not right for revolution.

-23: Kerensky believes a date has been set and so tries to pre-empt attack by shutting down Bolshevik trade unions and by arresting them.

-Kerensky underestimates Bolsheviks strengths à revolution triggered.

-25-27: Bolsheviks seize power. Only 5 casualties.

-27: Lenin named head of Soviet. Mensheviks and other RW groups walk out.


January 1918 elections: Bolsheviks only take ¼ of seats, SRs take majority.


Kerensky’s fault PG failed?


-Kerensky raised hopes that Russia could win war (even though all evidence said they couldn’t).

-Kerensky not military man so taking charge of war MISTAKE.

-Kerensky thought no point in solving Russia’s problems with war going on SO everything relied on outcome of war.

-Kerensky underestimated Bolsheviks strength and so triggered revolution.

-Kerensky released and armed Bolsheviks.

-Reforms not introduced à peasants seized land à prices rose à more strikes à workers turn to Bolshevism.


-Scale or Russia’s economic and political problems meant PG would inevitably fail.

-Kerensky was most popular choice for PM.

-When PG started there was still revolutionary feeling in Russia.

-Kerensky did his best with what he had.

-PG had problem that it lacked power (Soviets controlled army) and authority (as it was not elected).


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