Pre-Revolutionary Russia

  • Up until 1905, Czar Nicolas II had managed to contain the forces of change
  • The failure of Russia in the Russo-Japanese war increased the general desire for reform
  • Bloody Saturday in 1905 only led to more protests in both the cities and the countryside
  • With the army tied up fighting the Japanese, the state simply did not have the sources to suppress the protests
  • Nicolas II did not know how to respond- did not want to grant concessions nor constitutional monarchy
  • October Manifesto- a period of constitutional rule in Russia and the basis for the 1906 Constitution
  • As Revolutionary agitation died from the October Manifesto and Constitution, the Czar began to reconsider his position on reform.
  • He limited votes to only Land Owners


  • Socialism was the major ideological attraction for many Russians
  • Lenin (1870-1924) became the leader of the second generation of Marxist
  • He came from a middle class home
  • Brother was killed by the Czarist authorities in 1887 for being a member of the Social Revolutionary terrorist group
  • Lenin devoted himself to radical change and was convinced that the existing system was backwards
  • Graduated St. Petersburg University and in 1885 joined the Marxist group
  • After living outside Russia, he returned and was arrested and exiled to Siberia (1897-1900)
  • Life was not difficult, lived in comfort, studied and wrote
  • Upon his release he left Russia and joined fellow members of the Social Democratic Party abroad
  • Realized that a revolution could only be completed by a careful organization
  • Insisted that a tight well disciplined group of people was needed to lead the revolution on behalf of the proletariat
  • A revolution could be made by “vanguard of the proletariat” acting in the name of the whole
  • Supporters of Lenin were called “Bolsheviks”
  • During the war, Lenin was in exile in Switzerland—-things looked hopeless and they had little support nor money.
  • The war went bad for Russia—little support from Britain and France because of geographical restrictions
  • 20th century of warfare-mechanized, supplies, weapons and food had to be moved over great distances quickly
  • Czar failed to do this….mobilization of troops was slow, food shortages were present and soldiers were badly supplied
  • Ravages of war brought home the weaknesses of the Czar
  • Nicolas II in 1915 moved to the front to take control of the army leaving his wife Alexandria in charge
Squealer's Propaganda in Animal Farm


  • Monk who was able to care for their hemophilia son
  • Along with Alexandria they controlled the government
  • December 1916, he was assassinated by a group of Nobles— however, nothing changed after his death
  • In 1917, Czar Nicolas II was fighting for his survival unable to govern the court that was corrupt and isolated
  • His Generals did not have the means to carry out a successful campaign
  • By now the troops on the front were tired of fighting and lacking supplies began to defect


  • March 1917, riots broke out in Petrograd because of food shortages but it quickly spread to the factories and army
  • Questioned whether the Czar could keep order
  • Finding himself with little support (after the Duma asked him to abdicate the throne) he vacated assuming his brother Michael would replace him but he refused
  • Provisional government was set up by the Duma led by Kerensky (1881-1970)
  • Lenin learned of the Revolution and returned to Petrograd
  • Initially the Bolsheviks were supporting Kerensky’s government but Lenin regarded this as a mistake (war should not be continued)
Tsar Nicholas II and his effects on the Russian Revolution of 1917


  • Military and internal situation deteriorated
  • Kerensky weathered the storm but only with the help of the Soviets
  • Trotsky and Lenin were gaining favour with the people
  • Bolsheviks carried out a successful coup and thereby gained control of Russia
  • Provisional government collapsed and Kerensky fled into exile
  • It was not a very bloody revolution


  • Held a democratic election in which the Bolsheviks were the minority to the Social Revolutionaries Party—represented the needs of the peasants
  • Lenin would not tolerate another center of power and when the assembly tried to meet, troops under the orders of the Bolsheviks dissolved the meeting
  • Trotsky was sent to negotiate with the Germans
  • March 15, 1917 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed
  • Russia gave up 20 % of its territory, 75% of Coal mines and the Ukraine
  • Lenin moved to Moscow
  • Civil war broke out between the Reds (Bolsheviks) and the Whites (mixed group that hated Lenin)
  • Trotsky organized the army and at one point held off their enemies at 16 different points (BR, CAN, US, JAPAN)
  • Bolsheviks changed to the Communist Party in 1918
  • Main task was to change the lifestyle of the Russian people
  • In 1924, Russia became known as the UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALISTS REPUBLIC
  • Hence the state recognized the language and cultural differences
  • Hoped to maintain Russia by unity by giving each group some autonomy while retaining central control

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