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The Russian Revolution

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The Russian Revolution is significant in world history because it had a significant impact not only on Russia but also on other regions. It later resulted in the formation of the Soviet Union, the world’s first socialist state. During Russia’s October Revolution of 1917, socialists took control of the government. The Russian Revolution was named after the fall of the monarchy in February 1917 and the events of October 1917.

Economy and Society

The vast majority of Russians were agriculturists at the turn of the twentieth century. Agriculture provided a living for approximately 85 per cent of the Russian empire’s population. This figure was higher than in the majority of European countries. In France and Germany, for example, the proportion was between 40% and 50%. Cultivators in the empire produced for the market as well as for their own consumption, and Russia was a major grain exporter. Pockets of industry were discovered. St. Petersburg and Moscow were important industrial areas. Craftsmen did the majority of the work, but large factories coexisted with craft workshops.

In the 1890s, when Russia’s railway network was expanded and foreign investment in industry increased, many factories were built. Workers were a socially divided group. They were also divided by their level of ability. Despite their differences, workers banded together to strike when they disagreed with their employers about dismissals or working conditions. By 1914, women made up 31% of the factory labour force, but they were paid less than men (half to three-quarters of a man’s wage). Workplace divisions were visible in dress and manners. Some workers formed associations to assist members during times of unemployment or financial hardship, but such organisations were few and far between. The majority of the land was farmed by peasants, but large estates were owned by the nobility, the crown, and the Orthodox Church. Nobles gained power and position by serving the Tsar. Peasants in Russia desired the nobles’ land.

Events Leading to the Revolution

Revolution of 1905

The Tsar was not subject to Parliament in the nineteenth century. Russia, along with the Social Democrats and Socialist Revolutionaries, worked with peasants and workers to demand a constitution during the 1905 Revolution. For Russian workers, the bad times began in 1904, when the prices of essential goods rose and their real wages fell by 20%. Workers went on strike, demanding that the working day be reduced to eight hours, that wages be raised, and that working conditions be improved.

The procession was attacked by police and Cossacks as it approached the Winter Palace. The incident, known as Bloody Sunday, triggered a chain of events that culminated in the 1905 Revolution. During the 1905 Revolution, the Tsar permitted the establishment of an elected consultative Parliament, known as the Duma. During the revolution, there were a large number of trade unions and factory committees comprised of factory workers. Since most committees and unions were declared illegal after 1905, they operated on an unofficial basis. Political activity has been severely restricted. The Tsar deposed the first Duma in 75 days and re-elected the second Duma in three months. He did not want his authority called into question or his power diminished. He changed the voting laws and crammed the third Duma with conservative lawmakers. Liberals and revolutionaries have barred entry.

World War I and Russian Revolution

In 1914, war broke out between two European alliances: Germany, Austria, and Turkey (the Central Powers) and France, Britain, and Russia (the Allied Powers) (later Italy and Romania). Each country had a global empire, and the war was fought both inside and outside of Europe.  People in Russia initially supported Tsar Nicholas II during the war. However, as the war progressed, the Tsar refused to consult with the major parties in the Duma. Support had worn thin.

Anti-German sentiments were strong, as evidenced by the renaming of St Petersburg, a German name, as Petrograd. The autocracy was unpopular due to Tsarina Alexandra’s German ancestry and inept advisers, particularly a monk named Rasputin. The ‘eastern front’ of the First World War differed from the ‘western front.’ Armies fought from trenches that stretched across eastern France in the west.

Armies moved quickly in the east, fighting battles that resulted in heavy casualties. Losses were both shocking and demoralising. Between 1914 and 1916, Russia’s armies suffered crushing defeats in Germany and Austria. By 1917, there had been over 7 million casualties. The Russian army destroyed crops and buildings as they retreated to prevent the enemy from living off the land. The destruction of crops and buildings, which resulted in over 3 million refugees in Russia, tainted the government and the Tsar. Soldiers desire to fight in such a war. The war had a significant impact on the industry as well. Russia’s own industries were few, and German control of the Baltic Sea cut the country off from other suppliers of industrial goods.

In Russia, industrial equipment disintegrated faster than in the rest of Europe. Men who could fight were called up. As a result, there were labour shortages, and small workshops producing necessities were forced to close. Grain supplies were sent in large quantities to feed the army. Bread and flour became scarce among city dwellers. Bread shop riots were common by the winter of 1916.

Socialism in Russia

Prior to 1914, political parties were legalized in Russia. In 1898, socialists who admired Marx’s ideas founded the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party. Some Russian socialists believed that the Russian peasant tradition of dividing land on a regular basis made them natural socialists. Socialists were active in the countryside throughout the nineteenth century, and the Socialist Revolutionary Party was founded in 1900. The party fought for peasants’ rights and demanded that land owned by nobles be transferred to peasants.

The party was divided on organisational strategy. In a repressive society like Tsarist Russia, the party, according to Vladimir Lenin, should be disciplined and control the number and quality of its members. The Mensheviks believed that the party should be open to everyone.

Causes for Russian Revolution

  • Some of the major reasons for this revolution were a lack of food supply, the effects of Blood Sunday, and World War I on Russia and its economy and society. One of the major causes of the revolution was an autocracy.
  • Czar Alexander II became well-known in Russia after instituting some reforms. However, his successors, such as Czar Alexander III and Czar Nicholas II, became extremely autocratic.
  • Various political parties, including Meer, Jemstvo, and Duma, lost power during their reign. There was already unrest in society, and their policies and actions exacerbated it. As a result, one of the major reasons was the Czars’ autocratic rule.
  • Russianization of all systems was a policy that Czar Alexander III and his son Czar Nicholas II upheld.
  • According to this policy, only the Catholic religion and the Russian language were introduced. Even non-Russian regions like Poland, Lithuania, Finland, and others have adopted the Russian language. A major uproar was sparked by this strategy in Russia.
  • This Russian revolution was affected by the industrial revolution as well. The construction of the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Caspian trains, which engaged numerous Russian labourers, sparked the growth of several Russian enterprises and industries.
  • The dream to liberate the nation from the Czars’ authoritarian control emerged as labourers’ consciousness increased.

FAQs on Russian Revolution

Question 1: How did Russian society become socialised? 


  • Bank and industry nationalisation
  • Access to low-cost public health care In the factories, creches were established.
  • Model worker living quarters
  • A more extensive educational system was established, and plans were made for factory workers and peasants to attend universities.

Question 2: What is known as Bloody Sunday in the 1905 revolution? 


When the police attacked the workers’ procession near the Winter Palace, over 100 were killed and 300 were injured. This is referred to as Bloody Sunday. It triggered a chain of events known as the 1905 Revolution.

Question 3: What are some of the key events of the Russian Revolution? 


  • They rapidly expanded their power in 1917, making Moscow their capital. They designed a new flag with a hammer and sickle.
  • The Mensheviks were the Social Democratic Workers Party’s moderate wing. They were anti-Bolsheviks and were defeated in 1917.
  • The October Revolution was the revolution’s final major phase. The Bolshevik party took power, establishing the Soviet Union.
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Last Updated : 09 Sep, 2022
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