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The Russian Revolution

Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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What is the Russian Revolution?

The Russian Revolution plays a vital role in World history and had a huge impact not only on Russia but also in other regions as well. It led to the formation of the Soviet Union later which was the first socialist state of the world. Here, we will be covering the Russian Revolution in detail and it's related to all the concepts and events as well which will help you to understand this major event in world history. 


In this, we will cover the series of major events that led to this revolution, its causes, and the effects of this revolution, etc. We hope these notes will help you in your studies and will increase your knowledge about historical events as well.


Meaning of Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution took place in the year 1917 when raging workers and peasants raised their voices against the autocratic rule of Czars which ended with the formation of the new government headed by Vladimir Lenin. 


Series of Events

The various series of events that actually lead to the occurrence of this revolution are discussed below:

The Revolution of 1905

The industrial revolution came to Russia with a lot of changes such as social and political. The population was increasing in urban cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow. Such an increase in the population was becoming a problem for the country due to the limited food supply, economic crisis, mismanagement and damages caused by the wars. 


Due to the shortage of food supply, the people marched towards the Winter Palace of Nicholas II on Jan 22, 1905 as they wanted to deliver a petition to him. This petition included reforms like - providing better working conditions to all along with an eight-hour workday. But as soon as the crowd entered the palace, the troops started firing at them. This event is known as the Bloody Sunday Massacre. This massacre fueled the Russian revolution of 1905 to a great extent. 


The workers went on a number of strikes which were further deteriorating the Russian Economy. Nicolas agreed to bring reforms which were known as October Manifesto but later he dissolved the Russian Parliament. Nothing specific or significant was brought out of this revolution of 1905 but it sparked anger inside the people.

Effects of World War I

Russia did not have a modernised army at that time, and World War I was disastrous for Russia.

  • Germany seized the important regions of Russia which led to an increase in food shortage and economic problems.

  • Tsar Nicholas II himself took part in the war and left his wife to take care of the government. But the Russian population were against her for being of German heritage.

  • A lot of Russian people lost faith in the government which was seen as a revolution in the coming years.


The Revolution of 1917

The Revolution of 1917 can be divided into the following parts and events:

February Revolution

This revolution started on March 8, 1917. Russia used the Julian calendar at that time, according to which, the date of the revolution was February 23.


The raging protestors came to the streets of St. Petersburg due to severe food shortages and were joined by Industrial workers as well. They were clashing with the police and they failed to stop the uprising crowd even after the firing on March 11. A new provisional government was formed by the Parliament of Russia on March 12 and Nicholas II abdicated the throne. This new government was formed under Alexander Kerensky and he established the Statute of rights. But he continued the war, though the opposition was against it,  which eventually worsened the economic conditions of Russia and led to more scarcity of food supply. Food riots were being seen in the cities.


However, the February Revolution was a mass movement. It did not necessarily reflect the aspirations of the majority of Russians because it was confined to the metropolis of Petrograd. However, the majority of those who rose to power after the February Revolution, both in the Provisional Government (the temporary government that replaced the tsar) and the Petrograd Soviet (a powerful local council representing workers and soldiers in Petrograd), favoured a democratic form of government.


October Revolution

It occurred on November 6 or 7 of 1917. As per the Julian Calendar, it occurred on October 24 and 25, that's why it is known as the October Revolution.


The communist revolutionaries led a coup against the government of Kerensky which was led by Vladimir Lenin. The new government was established under Lenin which was formed of a council consisting of soldiers, workers, and peasants. In this way, the World's first communist state was established with Lenin as the head of Russia as a whole. It was basically the communist revolution in Russia. But the problems of Russia did not end there. It had to face the Civil War and the Cold War in the coming years.


After October, the Bolsheviks understood that they couldn't keep power in an election-based system without surrendering their beliefs and sharing power with other parties. As a result, in January 1918, they openly abandoned the democratic process and declared themselves representatives of a Proletariat Dictatorship. In response, in the summer of that year, the Russian Civil War erupted, lasting long into 1920.


Causes of the Russian Revolution

The situation in Russia at that time was the major cause of the Russian revolution. There were several reasons for these unbalanced situations which are mentioned below which help you to understand what caused the Russian revolution:

The shortage of food supply, the effects of the Blood Sunday Massacre, and World War I on Russia were some of the major reasons for this revolution.

  • Autocracy was one of the major reasons that led to this revolution. Czar Alexander II became famous in Russia when some reforms were brought by him. But the successors after him became very autocratic such as Czar Alexander III and Czar Nicholas II. During their ruling period, various political parties lost their powers such as Meer, Jemstvo, and Duma. There was already unrest in the society and their policies and these actions fueled the existing issues. Thus, the autocratic rule of the Czars became one of the major reasons.

  • Czar Alexander III and his son Czar Nicholas II followed the policy of Russification of all the systems. Nicholas II declared " One Czar, One Church, and One Russia ". Only the catholic religion and the Russian language were introduced as per this policy. Even the Russian language was introduced in non-Russian regions as well such as Poland, Lithuania, Finland, and others. This policy created big unrest in Russia.

  • The society of Russia was very unbalanced at that time. It consisted of two classes namely the rich and the poor. The rich included all the nobles, feudal lords, and wealthy people whereas the poor class consisted of labourers, peasants, serfs, etc. People from every stratum of Russian society were quite antagonised by the situation. For example, the feudal lords lost their lands, political parties lost their powers, and labourers were pissed off because of low salaries, etc. 

  • A suitable environment for the revolution was created by the rise and activities of Nihilism which influenced the Russian Revolution in 1917. Their main aim was only to destroy the rule of Czars. Their preachers came to destroy the existing system of Czars, the social and religious faith, and the creation of a new world. Their organisations were doing activities to influence the people against the Czars and their system.

  • The Industrial Revolution also influenced Russian Revolution. Various Russian workers were involved in the construction of the railways of Trans-Siberia and Trans-Caspain and the construction of these railways led to the development of various factories and Industries in Russia. The rise of consciousness among the labourers led to the dream of getting the country free from the autocratic rule of the Czars.


Consequences of Russian Revolution

The various consequences of the Russian Revolution are mentioned below:

  • The formation of the new government of the Bolshevik Party under Lenin, which was later known as the communist party.

  • The formation of the secret police which was known as Cheka by the Bolsheviks after the revolution helped Lenin to establish his powers in Russia.

  • Distribution of the farmland to the farmers and factories to the workers.

  • Nationalisation of the banks and formation of the council at a national level to run the economy.

  • Russia pulled itself out of World War I with the treaty of Brest - Litovsk.

  • The end of the rule of Czars with the execution of Nicholas II, his wife, and children.

  • Cruel methods were adopted by Lenin for both criminals and political prisoners.

  • A decrease in industrial production was seen and as a result, the majority of the skilled workers fled the country. 

  • The civil war from 1918 to 1920.


Did You Know?

  • The October Revolution is also known as the Bolshevik Revolution.

  • The names of main leaders of the Bolshevik Party were Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Joseph Stalin got power after consolidation and forcibly throwing out Leon Trotsky after the death of Lenin in 1924.


Additional Information

The Cheka which was also known as Vecheka was a security agency or sometimes called a secret police agency of the Bolsheviks which was formed after the October Revolution in 1917. It worked as a shield and sword for the new system and government and to fight against the other revolutionaries. It used to operate on its own and outside the law. It was the short name of the actual Russian name i.e Chrezvychainaia Komissiia means the Extraordinary commission and its first leader was Felix Dzerzhinsky. 



Thus, here we have covered the Russian Revolution and its related concepts in detail. The Russian Revolution took place in the year 1917. We have learned about the series of events that led to the occurrence of this revolution, such as what caused the Russian Revolution, what were its consequences, what was Cheka in Russia after the revolution, etc. 


These notes will be helpful for you to understand one of the major events of history, which substantially impacted world history during that time. It will also provide you with a brief idea of the international scenario with regard to world economics and politics during World War I, the Russian Civil War, the Cold War, and more.

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FAQs on The Russian Revolution

1. What Were the Causes of the Russian Revolution?

There were many reasons for the occurrence of the Russian revolution. The poor economy and food shortages were some of the major causes as well as the autocratic rule of the Czars. The policies and actions of the Czars affected society. The participation of Russia in World War I further deteriorated its conditions and shortage of food. Society was highly unbalanced at that time and the event of bloody Sunday sparked the unrest. Society was not happy and the economy of the country was deteriorating day by day.

2. Write a Short Note on the Russian Revolution

The Russian revolution occurred on November 6 or 7of 1917. As per the Julian Calendar, it occurred on October 24 and 25, that's why it is known as the October Revolution. The communist revolutionaries led a coup against the government of Kerensky which was led by Vladimir Lenin. The new government was established under Lenin which was formed of a council consisting of soldiers, workers, and peasants. Distribution of the farmland to the farmers and factories to the workers was being done. Nationalization of the banks and formation of the council at a national level to run the economy was also being done by the new government with a lot of other reforms but the problems did not end there and Russia had to face more troubles later.

3. What factors contributed to the Tsarist regime's demise in 1917?

Most labour unions and industry committees were ruled illegal after 1905. Political action was governed by a set of rules. Because he did not want his authority and abilities to be questioned, the Tsar immediately dismissed the first two Dumas. Conservative lawmakers dominated the third Duma. The monarch began making unilateral decisions without consulting the Duma during World War I. 

On the instructions of the Tsar, enormous swaths of agricultural areas were burned and structures destroyed when Russian forces were fleeing from the battle. The fight has also claimed the lives of millions of soldiers. The vast bulk of the population were peasants, and the land was controlled by a few wealthy individuals. All of these causes contributed to the development of the revolution and the fall of the Tsarist monarchy.

4. What were the most significant reforms made by the Bolsheviks following the October Revolution?

  • By November 1917, industries and banks had been nationalized, and the government had taken over ownership and administration.

  • The nobility's land was proclaimed communal property, and peasants were empowered to seize it.

  • Bolsheviks compelled the split of huge mansions according to family needs in the cities.

  • The use of aristocratic titles was outlawed.

  • The troops and authorities were given new uniforms.

  • The Russian Communist Party was renamed after the Bolshevik Party (Bolshevik)

  • The Bolsheviks held elections for the constituent assembly, but they did not win a majority, and the legislature rejected the Bolshevik plans, prompting Lenin to disband the parliament.

  • The Russian Congress of Soviets became the country's Parliament. Russia has devolved into a one-party state.