First World War placed an unbearable strain on Russia's weak
government and economy, resulting in mass shortages and
In the meantime, the mismanagement and failures of the war
turned the people - and importantly the soldiers - against the
Tsar, whose decision to take personal command of the army
seemed to make him personally responsible for the defeats.
In March 1917, the Tsar lost control first of the streets,
then of the soldiers, and finally of the Duma, resulting in
his forced abdication on 15 March 1917.
In March 1917 crowds rioted on the
members of the Duma joined the rebellion; they forced the Tsar to
everything (see weaknesses 1–7)
was the key factor.
The army was badly led and poorly equipped.
Russian defeats at Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes – the
Russians lost 200,000 men – lost the government the support of the
The war took 15 million men from the farms and
trains had to be used for the war (so they could not bring food to the
cities) so there were food shortages and food prices rose, all of
which created anger and unrest in Petrograd
The winter of 1916–17 was severe.
Food shortages got worse – there was a famine in the cities.
The Tsar took personal command of the army
– which did not help the war effort and meant he was blamed
for the defeats.
He left the Tsarina in charge. She was incompetent (she let
Rasputin run the
government), and (because she was a German) rumours circulated that
she was trying to help Germany to win.
By February 1917 the government was in chaos.
Finally, in the crisis, Nicholas went to pieces
and failed to do anything (see Source A).
abandoned the Tsar
On 8 March 1917, there were riots in Petrograd
about the food shortages and the war.
On 12 March the Army abandoned the Tsar – the
soldiers mutinied and refused to put down the riots.
The government lost control of the country.
abandoned the Tsar
On 13 March members of the Duma went to Nicholas
to tell him to abdicate.
On 12 March 1917 Rodzianko, the President of the Duma, telegraphed the
The situation is getting worse.
Something has to be done immediately. Tomorrow is too late.
The last hour has struck.
The future of the country and the royal family is being decided.
The Tsar read it and said:
Again, that fat-bellied Rodzianko has written me a load of nonsense,
which I won’t even bother to answer.
On 13 March the Duma forced Nicholas to abdicate.
the Causes cause revolution? - important matching game
Larkin, Revolution in Russia (1965)
Moss, History Alive (1967)
Brett, European History (1967)
Chris Culpin, Making
(1984) - recommended reading; analyses the cause into
long-term and short term
Lowe, Mastering Modern World History (1988) - a
difficult text which looks at the impact of WWI
questgarden - interesting general information
Think Quest - simple and chatty
BBC Bitesize -
summary of causes
Wikipedia - harder; analyses the causes into economic,
social and political
WWI caused the Revolution - Open University text
ppt from Redruth school - big file, takes a while to download.
BBC debate-podcast on the Causes of the Russian Revolution of March
Kirsten's Thesis - good
E Smitha - narrative account of the February Revolution -
Collapse of the Tsarist Monarchy
1917, the Russian calendar had not yet been reformed, so it was 13 days
behind other countries.
This is why we call 8–15 March:
the Bolshevik coup d’état of
6–8 November: The October Revolution.
of the Revolution
Steelworkers go on strike.
International Women’s Day – demonstrations/ bread riots.
More demonstrations/strikes – Tsarina calls in the army.
Troops fire on crowds.
The Duma urges action – Tsar dissolves the Duma.
Soldiers mutiny and join riots.
Soldiers and workers set up the ‘Petrograd Soviet’ of 2,500
the Tsar’s government had fallen/ Russia had 2 governments)
Duma sets up a ‘Provisional Government’, led by Kerensky.
The Tsar gets on the train to Petrograd, but (on
is arrested on the way and (on 15 March) abdicates.
To what extent was the Tsar responsible for his own fall from power?
Which was more important
as a cause of the revolution – the underlying weaknesses of the monarchy
or the First World War?