When Was the Russian Revolution?
In 1917, two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting into motion political and social changes that would lead to the eventual formation of the Soviet Union.
However, while the two revolutionary events took place within a few short months of 1917, social unrest in Russia had been brewing for many years prior to the events of that year.
In the early 1900s, Russia was one of the most impoverished countries in Europe with an enormous peasantry and a growing minority of poor industrial workers. Much of Western Europe viewed Russia as an undeveloped, backwards society.
The Russian Empire practiced serfdom—a form of feudalism in which landless peasants were forced to serve the land-owning nobility—well into the nineteenth century. In contrast, the practice had disappeared in most of Western Europe by the end of the Middle Ages.
In 1861, the Russian Empire finally abolished serfdom. The emancipation of serfs would influence the events leading up to the Russian Revolution by giving peasants more freedom to organize.
Called treacherous, deluded and insane, Lenin might have been a historical footnote but for the Russian Revolution, which launched him into the headlines of the 20th century.
What Caused the Russian Revolution?
The Industrial Revolution gained a foothold in Russia much later than in Western Europe and the United States. When it finally did, around the turn of the 20th century, it brought with it immense social and political changes.
Between 1890 and 1910, for example, the population of major Russian cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow nearly doubled, resulting in overcrowding and destitute living conditions for a new class of Russian industrial workers.
A population boom at the end of the 19th century, a harsh growing season due to Russia’s northern climate, and a series of costly wars—starting with the Crimean War—created frequent food shortages across the vast empire. Moreover, a famine in 1891-1892 is estimated to have killed up to 400,000 Russians.
The devastating Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 further weakened Russia and the position of ruler Czar Nicholas II. Russia suffered heavy losses of soldiers, ships, money and international prestige in the war, which it ultimately lost.
Many educated Russians, looking at social progress and scientific advancement in Western Europe and North America, saw how growth in Russia was being hampered by the monarchical rule of the czars and the czar’s supporters in the aristocratic class.
Russian Revolution of 1905
Soon, large protests by Russian workers against the monarchy led to the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1905. Hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed or wounded by the czar’s troops.
The Bloody Sunday massacre sparked the Russian Revolution of 1905, during which angry workers responded with a series of crippling strikes throughout the country. Farm laborers and soldiers joined the cause, leading to the creation of worker-dominated councils called “soviets.”
In one famous incident, the crew of the battleship Potemkin staged a successful mutiny against their overbearing officers. Historians would later refer to the 1905 Russian Revolution as ‘the Great Dress Rehearsal,” as it set the stage for the upheavals to come.
Nicholas II and World War I
After the bloodshed of 1905 and Russia’s humiliating loss in the Russo-Japanese War, Nicholas II promised greater freedom of speech and the formation of a representative assembly, or Duma, to work toward reform.
Russia entered into World War I in August 1914 in support of the Serbs and their French and British allies. Their involvement in the war would soon prove disastrous for the Russian Empire.
Militarily, imperial Russia was no match for industrialized Germany, and Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any nation in any previous war. Food and fuel shortages plagued Russia as inflation mounted. The already weak economy was hopelessly disrupted by the costly war effort.
Czar Nicholas left the Russian capital of Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in 1915 to take command of the Russian Army front. (The Russians had renamed the imperial city in 1914, because “St. Petersburg” sounded too German.)
Rasputin and the Czarina
In her husband’s absence, Czarina Alexandra—an unpopular woman of German ancestry—began firing elected officials. During this time, her controversial advisor, Grigory Rasputin, increased his influence over Russian politics and the royal Romanov family.
Russian nobles eager to end Rasputin’s influence murdered him on December 30, 1916. By then, most Russians had lost faith in the failed leadership of the czar. Government corruption was rampant, the Russian economy remained backward and Nicholas repeatedly dissolved the Duma, the toothless Russian parliament established after the 1905 revolution, when it opposed his will.
Moderates soon joined Russian radical elements in calling for an overthrow of the hapless czar.
The February Revolution (known as such because of Russia’s use of the Julian calendar until February 1918) began on March 8, 1917 (February 23 on the Julian calendar).
Demonstrators clamoring for bread took to the streets of Petrograd. Supported by huge crowds of striking industrial workers, the protesters clashed with police but refused to leave the streets.
On March 11, the troops of the Petrograd army garrison were called out to quell the uprising. In some encounters, the regiments opened fire, killing demonstrators, but the protesters kept to the streets and the troops began to waver.
The Duma formed a provisional government on March 12. A few days later, Czar Nicholas abdicated the throne, ending centuries of Russian Romanov rule.
The leaders of the provisional government, including young Russian lawyer Alexander Kerensky, established a liberal program of rights such as freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the right of unions to organize and strike. They opposed violent social revolution.
As minister of war, Kerensky continued the Russian war effort, even though Russian involvement in World War I was enormously unpopular. This further exacerbated Russia’s food supply problems. Unrest continued to grow as peasants looted farms and food riots erupted in the cities.
On November 6 and 7, 1917 (or October 24 and 25 on the Julian calendar, which is why the event is often referred to as the October Revolution), leftist revolutionaries led by Bolshevik Party leader Vladimir Lenin launched a nearly bloodless coup d’état against the Duma’s provisional government.
The provisional government had been assembled by a group of leaders from Russia’s bourgeois capitalist class. Lenin instead called for a Soviet government that would be ruled directly by councils of soldiers, peasants and workers.
The Bolsheviks and their allies occupied government buildings and other strategic locations in Petrograd, and soon formed a new government with Lenin as its head. Lenin became the dictator of the world’s first communist state.
Russian Civil War
Civil War broke out in Russia in late 1917 after the Bolshevik Revolution. The warring factions included the Red and White Armies.
The Red Army fought for the Lenin’s Bolshevik government. The White Army represented a large group of loosely allied forces, including monarchists, capitalists and supporters of democratic socialism.
On July 16, 1918, the Romanovs were executed by the Bolsheviks. The Russian Civil War ended in 1923 with Lenin’s Red Army claiming victory and establishing the Soviet Union.
After many years of violence and political unrest, the Russian Revolution paved the way for the rise of communism as an influential political belief system around the world. It set the stage for the rise of the Soviet Union as a world power that would go head-to-head with the United States during the Cold War.
1 / 16: Getty Images
The Russian Revolutions of 1917. Anna M. Cienciala, University of Kansas.
The Russian Revolution of 1917. Daniel J. Meissner, Marquette University.
Russian Revolution of 1917. McGill University.
Russian Revolution of 1905. Marxists.org.
The Russian Revolution of 1905: What Were the Major Causes? Northeastern University.
Timeline of the Russian Revolution. British Library.
Economic hardship, food shortages and government corruption all contributed to disillusionment with Czar Nicholas II. During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks, led by leftist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, seized power and destroyed the tradition of czarist rule.What were the causes of the Russian and Bolshevik revolutions? ›
Economic hardship, food shortages and government corruption all contributed to disillusionment with Czar Nicholas II. During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks, led by leftist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, seized power and destroyed the tradition of czarist rule.What was the timeline of Russian Revolution? ›
October Revolution: 7–8 November (25–26 October) 1917
7 November (25) 1917: The Bolsheviks seize control of Petrograd. 8 November (26 October) 1917: The Bolsheviks take control of the Winter Palace, the last remaining holdout of the Provisional Government.
Petersburg, killing more than 100 people. The event, which came to be known as the Bloody Sunday, sparked a wave of workers' strikes, peasant uprisings, student riots, military mutinies and political assassinations that soon spread over much of the Empire.
- Autocratic rule of Tsars: In 1914, the Russian emperor was Tsar Nicholas II. ...
- Conditions of Peasants: Majority of the Russians were agriculturalists. ...
- Status of Industries: Industry was found in pockets. ...
- Conditions of workers in the Industries: Most industries were owned by private industrialists.
The causes of the Civil war between the Bolsheviks and the Russian army of the Non-Bolsheviks socialists were redistribution of land ordered by Bolsheviks the Bolshevik uprising was condemned by liberals supporters of autocracy and leaders moved to South Russia to fight Bolsheviks were civil war was fought.How did the Bolsheviks take power in Russia? ›
After forming their own party in 1912, the Bolsheviks took power during the October Revolution in the Russian Republic in November 1917, overthrowing the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky, and became the only ruling party in the subsequent Soviet Russia and later the Soviet Union.What 5 major events caused the Russian Revolution to happen? ›
Primary causes of the Russian Revolution included widespread corruption and inefficiency within the czarist imperial government, growing dissatisfaction among peasants, workers, and soldiers, the monarchy's level of control over the Russian Orthodox Church, and the disintegration of the Imperial Russian Army during ...What is the chronology of Russian history? ›
The chronology has been divided into four arbitrary periods: Kievan-Appanage (860-1689), Imperial (1689-1916), Soviet (1917-1991) and Post-Soviet (1991 to the present). A fifth page displays related chronologies on specialized subjects.What happened during the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
The Bolshevik Revolution
On October 24–25, 1917, Bolshevik (left-wing socialist) forces under Vladimir Lenin seized key government buildings and stormed the Winter Palace, then the seat of the new government in Russia's capital, Petrograd (now St. Petersburg).
On Nov. 7, 1917, Russia's Bolshevik Revolution took place as forces led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin overthrew the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky. The provisional government came to power after the February Revolution resulted in the Russian monarchy being overthrown in March 1917.Who won the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
On November 7, 1917, members of the Bolshevik political party seized power in the capital of Russia, Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). This conflict, ultimately, led to a Bolshevik victory in the Russian civil war that followed, and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922.What was the Bolshevik Revolution for dummies? ›
They were led by Vladimir Lenin and believed that the new Russian government should be a Marxist (communist) government. In October of 1917, Lenin took full control of the government in what is called the Bolshevik Revolution. Russia was now the first communist country in the world.
Regarded as one of the greatest revolutionary leaders in history, Vladimir Lenin was the founder of the Russian Communist Party, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the first head of the Soviet State.What was the most important causes of Russian Revolution 1905? ›
The events of 1905 came after progressive and academic agitation for more political democracy and limits to Tsarist rule in Russia, and an increase in strikes by workers against employers for radical economic demands and union recognition, (especially in southern Russia).How did the United States respond to the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
The United States responded to the Russian Revolution of 1917 by participating in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War with the Allies of World War I in support of the White movement, in seeking to overthrow the Bolsheviks. The United States withheld diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union until 1933.Why were the Bolsheviks unhappy with the government? ›
The main reasons for dissatisfaction with the Provisional Government concerned its failure to tackle three main issues: continuation of the War. demands for land. economic and social problems facing the population.Who was the Bolsheviks main enemy during the Civil War? ›
The two largest combatants were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of totalitarian socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which functioned as a political big tent for right- and left-wing opposition to Bolshevik rule.What three key factors helped the Bolsheviks win the Civil War? ›
- There were SIX reasons why the Bolsheviks won the Civil War.
- Firstly, the Whites were disunited. ...
- The second reason was Trotsky, who was a brilliant war leader and strategist.
- Thirdly, the Bolshevik soldiers were enthusiastic. ...
- War Communism helped the Bolsheviks. ...
- Fifthly, the Cheka murdered more than 7000 Whites.
The Soviet leaders not only wanted to liberate Russia from a dependence on the outside world which, in their opinion, threatened to make Russia a colony of advanced industrial powers. They also wanted to make the country safe from attack by one or more “capitalist” states.
Aschberg was a leftist sympathizer and helped finance the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution.What did the Bolsheviks want to achieve? ›
They believed that the working classes would, at some point, liberate themselves from the economic and political control of the ruling classes. Once they had achieved this, a genuine socialist society based on equality, could be established.What were the 3 main effects of the Russian Revolution? ›
Consequences of Russian Revolution
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.
|February 27, 1917||The Tsar orders the use of violence to quell civil unrest|
|February 28, 1917||Soldiers mutiny against the government and the Petrograd Soviet is formed|
|March 2, 1917||Tsar Nicholas II abdicates the throne|
Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Russia is a land of superlatives.Where did the Russian race come from? ›
The Russians were formed from East Slavic tribes, and their cultural ancestry is based in Kievan Rus'. Genetically, the majority of Russians are identical to their East and West Slavic counterparts, unlike Northern Russians, who belong to the Northern European Baltic gene pool.What was Russia called before the Revolution? ›
The U.S.S.R. was the successor to the Russian Empire of the tsars. Following the 1917 Revolution, four socialist republics were established on the territory of the former empire: the Russian and Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republics and the Ukrainian and Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republics.What did the Bolsheviks promise the peasants? ›
Lenin gained the support of the Russian peasants and factory workers by promising them peace, land, and bread and preaching the ideas of Karl Marx's communism. Lenin's slogan gave the proletariat (poor peasants and factory workers) hope for a better future under communism.What is a fact about Bolshevik Revolution? ›
Did You Know? The tsar and other Romanovs were executed by the Bolsheviks after the revolution. Bloody Sunday in 1905 and the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War both helped lead to the 1917 revolution. After taking over, the Bolsheviks promised 'peace, land, and bread' to the Russian people.What is a Bolshevik and what do they believe in? ›
Bolshevism (derived from Bolshevik) is a revolutionary socialist current of Soviet Leninist and later Marxist–Leninist political thought and political regime associated with the formation of a rigidly centralized, cohesive and disciplined party of social revolution, focused on overthrowing the existing capitalist state ...
At the time of the executions, about a dozen Romanov relatives were known to have escaped the Bolsheviks, including Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Czar Nicholas II, her daughters Xenia and Olga, and their husbands. Of the 53 Romanovs who were alive in 1917, it's estimated that only 35 remained alive by 1920.Why did the Bolsheviks lose power? ›
The Bolsheviks were threatened by armies of supporters of the Provisional Government, Tsarists and troops from other European countries who were opposed to the Bolshevik regime.Who was the last Bolshevik? ›
Following an unsuccessful coup attempt against Nikita Khrushchev in 1957, Kaganovich was forced to retire from the Presidium and the Central Committee. In 1961 he was expelled from the party, and lived out his life as a pensioner in Moscow. At his death in 1991, he was the last surviving Old Bolshevik.How many died in the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
Scholars figure that Communism killed between 8 and 61 million Soviets; 15 to 20 million seems most accurate. Estimates of the total number of dead due to Communism — not counting from wars — run from 85 million to upwards of 200 million.Who sent troops to defeat the Bolsheviks? ›
The landings began the intervention in southern Russia (later Ukraine) which was to aid and supply General Denikin's White Army forces, the Volunteer Army, fighting the Bolsheviks there. The campaign involved mainly French, Greek and Polish troops.Who took over the Bolsheviks after Lenin? ›
At the 11th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in 1922, the leaders decided to expand the party's Central Committee. This decision led to the creation of the office of the General Secretary which Stalin assumed on 3 April.What was Russia before the Bolsheviks? ›
What was Pre-Revolutionary Russia Like? Before the Russian revolutions in 1917, the country was ruled by a monarchy. The leader of the country was a tsar who controlled the whole country, the majority of the land and property, the religious buildings, the armies, and the produce of the country.Did Rasputin cause the Russian Revolution? ›
Historians often suggest that Rasputin's scandalous and sinister reputation helped discredit the Tsarist government, thus precipitating the overthrow of the House of Romanov shortly after his assassination.What did Bolshevik mean? ›
Bolshevik, (Russian: “One of the Majority”) , plural Bolsheviks, or Bolsheviki, member of a wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party, which, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized control of the government in Russia (October 1917) and became the dominant political power.What was the religion of the Bolsheviks? ›
Bolshevism was also “evangelistic” in its godlessness, attempting to spread atheism worldwide through the doctrines and propaganda of the international Communist Party. The Bolsheviks weren't merely atheists but militant atheists, who created a state that was actively anti-religious in all of its policies.
The rise of the Bolshevik party was buoyed by the support they generated among many of the proletariat, who supported them for political, economic, and social reasons.What changes did the Bolsheviks make in Russia? ›
The main changes which were brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution: Banks and Industries were nationalized. Land was declared social property, thereby allowing peasants to seize it from the nobility. In urban areas, houses were partitioned according to family requirements.What was overthrown by the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks, led by leftist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, seized power and destroyed the tradition of czarist rule.Why were the Russian people unhappy in 1914? ›
In August 1914, the Russian army invaded Germany's province of East Prussia and occupied a significant portion of Austrian-controlled Galicia in support of the Serbs and their allies – the French and British. Military reversals and shortages among the civilian population, however, soon soured much of the population.Why did Germany want Lenin to return to Russia in 1917? ›
Hopeful that their return would undermine the Russian war effort, the Germans allowed Lenin and other Bolsheviks to return to Russia from exile in Switzerland.Did the US help the Bolsheviks? ›
Around 5,000 American soldiers were part of an allied expedition to intervene in the ongoing Russian civil war against the "Red" Bolshevik forces. For a little over a year, the American Expeditionary Force in North Russia fought to give the anti-Bolshevik "White" Russians the upper hand.Why was the Bolshevik Revolution a turning point in history? ›
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was a major turning point in history because Russia became the first nation with a communist economic system.What are two reasons why the Soviets resented America? ›
Postwar Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe fueled many Americans' fears of a Russian plan to control the world. Meanwhile, the USSR came to resent what they perceived as American officials' bellicose rhetoric, arms buildup, and interventionist approach to international relations.What were the causes of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution and what impact did it have on World War I? ›
The Russian Revolution was caused by the consequences of World War I: economic crises, and demotivated soldiers. In both cases, governments – the Romanov Dynasty and the Provisional Government that first seized power from the Tsar – were unable to resolve these problems.What impact did the Bolshevik Revolution have on Russia and the world? ›
It removed Russia from the war and brought about the transformation of the Russian Empire into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), replacing Russia's traditional monarchy with the world's first Communist state.
The events of 1905 came after progressive and academic agitation for more political democracy and limits to Tsarist rule in Russia, and an increase in strikes by workers against employers for radical economic demands and union recognition, (especially in southern Russia).What were the results of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia? ›
Answer and Explanation: The result of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia was the end of the provisional government and the establishment of a new socialist government ruled by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.What major impact did the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia have on the US? ›
After the Russian Revolution, the American government began to fear that the U.S. was in danger of its own communist revolution and cracked down on political and labor organizations.How did the US respond to the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
The United States responded to the Russian Revolution of 1917 by participating in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War with the Allies of World War I in support of the White movement, in seeking to overthrow the Bolsheviks. The United States withheld diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union until 1933.What was the most significant cause of the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
Primary causes of the Revolution included peasant, worker, and military dissatisfaction with corruption and inefficiency within the czarist regime, and government control of the Russian Orthodox Church.What happened after the Bolsheviks began to rule Russia? ›
On November 7, 1917, members of the Bolshevik political party seized power in the capital of Russia, Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). This conflict, ultimately, led to a Bolshevik victory in the Russian civil war that followed, and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922.What are the two stages of the Russian Revolution How did it affect Russia? ›
They were: (i) The February Revolution or political stage when Tsar abdicated his throne and the Mensheviks under Kerenskii came to power. (ii) The October Revolution or economic and social stage, when the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin overthrew Kerenskii's government and seized control.What was the most significant cause of the Russian Revolution of 1905? ›
The main causes of the Russian revolution were the transition from serfdom, defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, and the unwillingness of the Russian Tsar to accept restrictions on his power.What ended the Bolshevik Revolution? ›
Historians generally consider the end of the revolutionary period to be in 1923 when the Russian Civil War concluded with the defeat of the White Army and all rival socialist factions.