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Causes of February Revolution

Modern History (Year 12) - Internal Divisions and Crises

Ben Whitten

The Causes of the Revolution

Russia’s Political Failures

  • The monarchy was failing (political failures)

  • Tsar Nicholas II was incompetent; he failed to come to terms with Russia’s political reality

  • The current circumstances; while living and working conditions plummeted and the people called for political reform, Nicholas maintained his belief in the autocracy – refused to commit to anything that would reduce his power

  • As a consequence, the dragging on of WWI meant that Russia gave up on the Tsar

Homefront under Tsarina Alexandra

  • Quite unpopular from start, publicly awkward, german (War enemy)

  • Tsarina’s reputation worsened when she became close to Rasputin

  • Grigori Rasputin – a mystic healer from Siberia who supposedly cured their son from haemophilia

  • Alexandra placed an enormous amount of trust in Rasputin who Russians disliked for his antisocial behaviour and drunkenness – Rasputin accumulated vast political power

  • As a consequence, the monarchy became a joke; Rasputin symbolised everything that was wrong with the Royal Family

Russia’s Economic Crisis

  • Russian industry had almost entirely collapsed by February 1917 – due to ww1 raw materials that Russia needed to manufacture weapons, ammunition and other supplies couldn’t be imported – production came to a complete halt, mass shortages

  • Weak agricultural production – many peasants were conscripted, creating a labour shortage on peasant holdings – war affected the physical environment, destroying farmland in Poland and Lithuania

  • Failing transport infrastructure (already weak) – the majority of the railway system was diverted to the war effort – barely any food reaches the cities – in 1917, Petrograd only received enough food for half its inhabitants

  • Impact on people – these economic problems of industry, agriculture and transport made life almost impossible and created civil unrest

  • What was happening – peasants began to hoard grain, leading to food shortages in cities

  • Growth of urban populations exacerbated this problem and placed more pressure on housing and other essential services

  • As a consequence, the citizens of Russia became angrier and angrier

Impact of WWI

  • Russian inhabitants were sick of sacrificing land, people, money and time to a failing war

  • As commander-in-chief the tsar deserted the Homefront and failed to improve Russia’s war performance

  • Tsar became a target for Russian discontent

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