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Events of February Revolution

Modern History (Year 12) - Internal Divisions and Crises

Ben Whitten

The Events of the Revolution


Early Stages


  • On the 22nd of February 1917, metal workers in Petrograd went on strike to protest the failures of government and Russia’s continuing involvement in WWI

  • They were joined the next day by women who looted bakeries to protest bread rationing and food shortages (this was a part of an International Women’s Day demonstration)

  • The revolution, despite being a spontaneous event, grew and grew

  • The royal family initially dismissed the strikes as a ‘hooligan movement’ and did little to stop it

  • 1500 dead, several thousand wounded

  • 28th of February 1917, capitol is out of control – there is a significant growth in crime and increase of violence


The Tsar Responds


  • After a few weeks of strikes and protests, the Tsar (who was still away at war) ordered the soldiers in Petrograd to attack protestors and restore order

  • Soldiers refused to fire on the crowds – many of them broke ranks and joined the protests, sometimes shooting their commanding officers

  • The Petrograd Soviet was formed to represent the protestors

  • Realising the situation was quickly spiralling out of control, the Tsar tried to return to Petrograd, but his train was deliberately diverted to Pskov


The End of Tsardom


  • Unable to save his regime, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated on the 15th of March 1917

  • He passed the role of Tsar to his brother Michael who refused the position, and 300 years of Tsardom was over

  • Tsar Nicholas II were deeply out of touch with the needs and wants of the majority of the Russian population – many of the Tsar’s reforms introduced after the 1905 Revolution still served the interests of Russia’s wealthy – the outbreak of WWI put more pressure than ever on Russia’s poor, most of whom were struggling to survive

  • His abdication was inevitable according to some historians

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