top of page
Outcomes of February Revolution

Modern History (Year 12) - Internal Divisions and Crises

Ben Whitten

The Outcomes of the Revolution


The Petrograd Soviet


  • The first of two political bodies to fill the vacuum left by the Tsar’s abdication

  • It was a workers’ and soldiers’ council made up of elected representatives who served the interests of Petrograd’s soldiers and workers – this was Russia’s first soviet, but it proved to be a popular form of political organisation – Soviets soon popped up all over the country

  • Several revolutionary groups, such as the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, were actively involved in the Petrograd Soviet – meetings were rowdy, but the process was far more democratic than anything Russia had experienced before

  • The Petrograd Soviet issued Order No. 1, which effectively placed the city’s armed forces under its control – Article 4 states that…




  • 1905 revolution to 1917 revolution – the army is on the people’s side following the revolution

  • 14 million men mobilised in the war, approximately half of them killed, wounded or prisoners of war

  • Peasant and lower-class men (who were liberalists and socialists) were replacing aristocratic officers

  • Soldiers were enscripted sympathetic to the people and desperate not to be sent to the Front lines

  • Generals considered Tsar Nicholas II a liability and played a crucial role to not intervene to save the monarch – ‘inaction causes the biggest reaction’


February Revolution (Summary of Events)


  • In 1917, a wave of popular unrest swept Nicholas II from office and the Romanov dynasty to oblivion

  • By the time he abdicated it was clear that support for him had almost universally collapsed and that there were few people left who wanted to see him continuing to run the country

  • The final push came from the workers in Petrograd, who came out of the winter with little prospect of any improvement on the horizon

  • Strikes and lockouts had created high levels of tension

  • The Tsarina ignored warnings from the Okhrana, condemning strikers as hooligans and fulminating against leading members of the Duma for undermining the government

  • Workers who had been laid off wandered the streets – some women spent almost 24 hours in queues for food and other goods

  • When the news of the introduction of bread rationing hit the streets towards the end of February 1917, the flood gates opened

  • Queues and scuffles over remaining bread stocks turned into riots

  • Anti-government feelings in Petrograd were running high

  • On Thursday 23rd of February, International Women’s Day, (under the Julian calendar – Russia had not yet converted to the Gregorian calendar) the discontent became more focused – what started off as a good-humoured march in the morning – ‘ladies from society; lots of peasant women; student girls’ – took on a different mood in the afternoon

  • Women (many textile workers) on strike took the lead in politicising the march – they went to the factories in the Vyborg district of Petrograd and taunted the men, calling them cowards if they would not support

  • Women tram drivers went on strike and overturned trams, blocking streets – women took the initiative while men were more cautious

  • Local Bolshevik leaders actually told the women to go home because they were planning a big demonstration for May Day, but the women took no notice

  • By the afternoon, the women had persuaded men from the highly politicised Putilov engineering works and other factors to join them

  • A huge crowd began to make its way towards the centre of the city -- they crossed the ice of the frozen River Neva and burst onto Nevsky Prospekt, the main street in Petrograd – the protest started to gather momentum

  • Over the next three days, the demonstrations grew and took on a more political nature – demands for bread were accompanied by demands for an end to the war and an end to the Tsar

  • Observers reported that there was almost a holiday atmosphere in the city as all classes of people – students, teachers, shopkeepers, even well-dressed ladies – joined the ranks of the workers marching towards the centre of the city

bottom of page