TN History Textbook: Russian Revolution of 1917 Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

UPSC: TN History Textbook: Russian Revolution of 1917 Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

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 Page 1


295
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a very important political
event of the 20
th
 Century. For the first time, Karl Marx’s idea of
socialism and Proletariat revolution became a reality.  Russia was a
big and powerful country. Even Napoleon Bonaparte could not
conquer Russia in 1812. However, during the beginning of the 20
th
Century Russia was no longer a powerful country. During this time
Russia was ruled by the Romanov dynasty.  Tsar Nicholas II ruled
Russia at the time of the Revolution. During his rule Russia faced
serious domestic and international problems. Eventually, a series of
political events led to the overthrow of the Tsarist rule by October
Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik Party headed by Lenin led the
revolution. Thus, Russia became USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics], which lasted until its disintegration in 1991.
Causes of the Russian Revolution
Political
Politically the Tsar’s rule was very weak. Russia fought a war
with Japan in 1904-05. Small Asian Country Japan defeated the mighty
European country Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. This lowered
the international and domestic prestige of Russia.
LESSON 28
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. Causes of the Russian Revolution.
2. The rise of Socialists in Russia.
3. The Course of the Russian Revolution.
4. The end of the revolution and its results.
Page 2


295
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a very important political
event of the 20
th
 Century. For the first time, Karl Marx’s idea of
socialism and Proletariat revolution became a reality.  Russia was a
big and powerful country. Even Napoleon Bonaparte could not
conquer Russia in 1812. However, during the beginning of the 20
th
Century Russia was no longer a powerful country. During this time
Russia was ruled by the Romanov dynasty.  Tsar Nicholas II ruled
Russia at the time of the Revolution. During his rule Russia faced
serious domestic and international problems. Eventually, a series of
political events led to the overthrow of the Tsarist rule by October
Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik Party headed by Lenin led the
revolution. Thus, Russia became USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics], which lasted until its disintegration in 1991.
Causes of the Russian Revolution
Political
Politically the Tsar’s rule was very weak. Russia fought a war
with Japan in 1904-05. Small Asian Country Japan defeated the mighty
European country Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. This lowered
the international and domestic prestige of Russia.
LESSON 28
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. Causes of the Russian Revolution.
2. The rise of Socialists in Russia.
3. The Course of the Russian Revolution.
4. The end of the revolution and its results.
297 296
average of sixteen people shared each apartment in St Petersburg,
with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles
of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. Hence,
the workers in general were in a discontented situation.
Rise of Socialist Party
One of the most important events in the history of socialist
movement was the formation in 1864 of the International Working
Men’s Association or the First International.
During the short period of its existence, the
International exercised a tremendous influence on
workers’ movements in Europe.
To unite the socialist parties in various
countries into an international organisation, a
Congress was held in Paris on 14
th
 July 1889, the
centenary of the French Revolution of 1789. The
result of this Congress was what has come to be
known as the Second International. The formation of the Second
International marked a new stage in the history of socialism.
On the first of May 1890, millions of workers all over Europe
and America struck work and held massive demonstrations. Since
then the first of May is observed as the international working
class day all over the world.
In Russia when the workers’
organizations were set up they were dominated
by Marx’s ideas on socialism. In 1883, the
Russian Social Democratic Party was formed
by George Plekhanov, a follower of Marx. This
party along with many other socialist groups
was united into the Russian Social Democratic
Labour Party in 1898. However, the party was
KARL MARX 
GEORGE PLEKHANOV 
The Tsars believed in the divine right theory
of kingship. Tsar Nicholas II was autocratic in
his administration. The people had many
grievances. The members of zemstoves and
Dumas wanted liberal reforms from the Tsar. But
Tsar was not prepared to sanction any reforms.
Meantime, the working class of St. Petersburg
went on strike. The striking workers went on a
procession to Tsar’s place to present a petition to
redress their grievances. They were led by father
Gapon. When the workers reached Tsar’s palace
the guards fired on the unarmed crowed. This event
is known as “Bloody Sunday” as it took place on
a Sunday, 22
nd
 January 1905. This is also known
as 1905 Revolution. This event was indeed a
prelude to the October Revolution of 1917.
The Tsarist court was under the evil influence of Rusputin.
The Tsarina was strongly  under his influence and at times the
administration was affected by his influence. Hence, the nobles
poisoned Rusputin to death.
Economic
The economic causes of the Russian Revolution largely
originated in Russia’s slightly outdated economy. Russia’s agriculture
was largely based on independent peasants. They did not own modern
machinery. Russian agriculture suffered from cold climate. Russia’s
agriculture season was only 4-6 months. The famine of 1891 had left
many peasants in poverty. The rapid industrialization of Russia also
resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial
workers. Between 1890 and 1910, the population of the capital of St
Petersburg increased from 1,033,600 to 1,905,600, with Moscow
experiencing similar growth. In one 1904 survey, it was found that an
TSAR NICHOLAS II 
RUSPUTIN 
Page 3


295
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a very important political
event of the 20
th
 Century. For the first time, Karl Marx’s idea of
socialism and Proletariat revolution became a reality.  Russia was a
big and powerful country. Even Napoleon Bonaparte could not
conquer Russia in 1812. However, during the beginning of the 20
th
Century Russia was no longer a powerful country. During this time
Russia was ruled by the Romanov dynasty.  Tsar Nicholas II ruled
Russia at the time of the Revolution. During his rule Russia faced
serious domestic and international problems. Eventually, a series of
political events led to the overthrow of the Tsarist rule by October
Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik Party headed by Lenin led the
revolution. Thus, Russia became USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics], which lasted until its disintegration in 1991.
Causes of the Russian Revolution
Political
Politically the Tsar’s rule was very weak. Russia fought a war
with Japan in 1904-05. Small Asian Country Japan defeated the mighty
European country Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. This lowered
the international and domestic prestige of Russia.
LESSON 28
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. Causes of the Russian Revolution.
2. The rise of Socialists in Russia.
3. The Course of the Russian Revolution.
4. The end of the revolution and its results.
297 296
average of sixteen people shared each apartment in St Petersburg,
with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles
of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. Hence,
the workers in general were in a discontented situation.
Rise of Socialist Party
One of the most important events in the history of socialist
movement was the formation in 1864 of the International Working
Men’s Association or the First International.
During the short period of its existence, the
International exercised a tremendous influence on
workers’ movements in Europe.
To unite the socialist parties in various
countries into an international organisation, a
Congress was held in Paris on 14
th
 July 1889, the
centenary of the French Revolution of 1789. The
result of this Congress was what has come to be
known as the Second International. The formation of the Second
International marked a new stage in the history of socialism.
On the first of May 1890, millions of workers all over Europe
and America struck work and held massive demonstrations. Since
then the first of May is observed as the international working
class day all over the world.
In Russia when the workers’
organizations were set up they were dominated
by Marx’s ideas on socialism. In 1883, the
Russian Social Democratic Party was formed
by George Plekhanov, a follower of Marx. This
party along with many other socialist groups
was united into the Russian Social Democratic
Labour Party in 1898. However, the party was
KARL MARX 
GEORGE PLEKHANOV 
The Tsars believed in the divine right theory
of kingship. Tsar Nicholas II was autocratic in
his administration. The people had many
grievances. The members of zemstoves and
Dumas wanted liberal reforms from the Tsar. But
Tsar was not prepared to sanction any reforms.
Meantime, the working class of St. Petersburg
went on strike. The striking workers went on a
procession to Tsar’s place to present a petition to
redress their grievances. They were led by father
Gapon. When the workers reached Tsar’s palace
the guards fired on the unarmed crowed. This event
is known as “Bloody Sunday” as it took place on
a Sunday, 22
nd
 January 1905. This is also known
as 1905 Revolution. This event was indeed a
prelude to the October Revolution of 1917.
The Tsarist court was under the evil influence of Rusputin.
The Tsarina was strongly  under his influence and at times the
administration was affected by his influence. Hence, the nobles
poisoned Rusputin to death.
Economic
The economic causes of the Russian Revolution largely
originated in Russia’s slightly outdated economy. Russia’s agriculture
was largely based on independent peasants. They did not own modern
machinery. Russian agriculture suffered from cold climate. Russia’s
agriculture season was only 4-6 months. The famine of 1891 had left
many peasants in poverty. The rapid industrialization of Russia also
resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial
workers. Between 1890 and 1910, the population of the capital of St
Petersburg increased from 1,033,600 to 1,905,600, with Moscow
experiencing similar growth. In one 1904 survey, it was found that an
TSAR NICHOLAS II 
RUSPUTIN 
299 298
In 1915, Nicholas had taken direct command of the army. The
superior German army - better led, better trained, better supplied -
was effective against the ill-equipped Russian forces. By the end of
October 1916, Russia had lost between 1.6 and 1.8 million soldiers,
with an additional two million prisoners of war and one million missing.
Thus, a total of nearly five million men lost. These were heavy losses.
Mutinies began to occur in the Russian army. Soldiers went hungry
and lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons.
Nicholas was blamed for all these crises. As this discontent
grew, the State Duma issued a warning to Nicholas to grant
constitutional form of government. Nicholas ignored them. As a result,
Russia’s Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the
February Revolution of 1917.
February Revolution
The February Revolution was the result of the political,
economic and social causes mentioned above. On the eve of the
February Revolution there was food shortage in the city. People
protested against war.
As the protests grew, various political reformists (both liberal
and radical left) joined together against the Tsar regime. In February
the protests in Petrograd turned violent as large numbers of city
residents rioted and clashed with police and soldiers. There was also
total strike. Eventually the bulk of the soldiers garrisoned in Petrograd
joined the protesters.
On 12
th
  March, 1917 the capital city of Petersburg (renamed
Petrograd and now Leningrad) fell into the hands of the revolutionaries.
Soon the revolutionaries took Moscow, the Tsar Nicholas II gave up
his throne and the first provisional Government was formed on 15
March.
soon split over questions of organization and policies. One group which
was in a minority called the Mensheviks [Russian it means minority].
The majority party was called as the Bolsheviks.
The leader of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir
Ilyich Ulyanov,  popularly known as Lenin. He is
regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the
socialist movement after Marx and Engels. He
devoted himself to the task of organizing the
Bolshevik Party as an instrument for bringing about
revolution. His name has become inseparable from
the revolution of 1917. The Russian socialists,
including Plekhanov and Lenin, had played an
important part in the Second International.
Besides the Menshevik and the Bolshevik parties, which were
the political parties of industrial workers, there was the Socialist
Revolutionary Party which voiced the demands of the peasantry.
World War I
Russia had a very adverse history of military failures. Even
before the outbreak of the First World War, Russia had lost a war
with Japan in 1904–05. Most of Russia’s fleet was sunk by the
Japanese in that war. While the Russian army enjoyed some initial
successes against Austria-Hungary in 1914, Russia’s deficiencies
— particularly regarding the equipment of its soldiers and the lack of
advanced technology (aeroplanes, telephones) proved the causes for
Russia’s failures.
Russia’s first major battle was a disaster. In the 1914 Battle
of Tannenberg, over 120,000 Russian troops were killed, wounded,
or captured, while Germany suffered only 20,000 casualties.
Whatever nationalistic or patriotic support the Russian government
had gained in the early stages of the war had been lost.
LENIN 
Page 4


295
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a very important political
event of the 20
th
 Century. For the first time, Karl Marx’s idea of
socialism and Proletariat revolution became a reality.  Russia was a
big and powerful country. Even Napoleon Bonaparte could not
conquer Russia in 1812. However, during the beginning of the 20
th
Century Russia was no longer a powerful country. During this time
Russia was ruled by the Romanov dynasty.  Tsar Nicholas II ruled
Russia at the time of the Revolution. During his rule Russia faced
serious domestic and international problems. Eventually, a series of
political events led to the overthrow of the Tsarist rule by October
Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik Party headed by Lenin led the
revolution. Thus, Russia became USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics], which lasted until its disintegration in 1991.
Causes of the Russian Revolution
Political
Politically the Tsar’s rule was very weak. Russia fought a war
with Japan in 1904-05. Small Asian Country Japan defeated the mighty
European country Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. This lowered
the international and domestic prestige of Russia.
LESSON 28
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. Causes of the Russian Revolution.
2. The rise of Socialists in Russia.
3. The Course of the Russian Revolution.
4. The end of the revolution and its results.
297 296
average of sixteen people shared each apartment in St Petersburg,
with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles
of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. Hence,
the workers in general were in a discontented situation.
Rise of Socialist Party
One of the most important events in the history of socialist
movement was the formation in 1864 of the International Working
Men’s Association or the First International.
During the short period of its existence, the
International exercised a tremendous influence on
workers’ movements in Europe.
To unite the socialist parties in various
countries into an international organisation, a
Congress was held in Paris on 14
th
 July 1889, the
centenary of the French Revolution of 1789. The
result of this Congress was what has come to be
known as the Second International. The formation of the Second
International marked a new stage in the history of socialism.
On the first of May 1890, millions of workers all over Europe
and America struck work and held massive demonstrations. Since
then the first of May is observed as the international working
class day all over the world.
In Russia when the workers’
organizations were set up they were dominated
by Marx’s ideas on socialism. In 1883, the
Russian Social Democratic Party was formed
by George Plekhanov, a follower of Marx. This
party along with many other socialist groups
was united into the Russian Social Democratic
Labour Party in 1898. However, the party was
KARL MARX 
GEORGE PLEKHANOV 
The Tsars believed in the divine right theory
of kingship. Tsar Nicholas II was autocratic in
his administration. The people had many
grievances. The members of zemstoves and
Dumas wanted liberal reforms from the Tsar. But
Tsar was not prepared to sanction any reforms.
Meantime, the working class of St. Petersburg
went on strike. The striking workers went on a
procession to Tsar’s place to present a petition to
redress their grievances. They were led by father
Gapon. When the workers reached Tsar’s palace
the guards fired on the unarmed crowed. This event
is known as “Bloody Sunday” as it took place on
a Sunday, 22
nd
 January 1905. This is also known
as 1905 Revolution. This event was indeed a
prelude to the October Revolution of 1917.
The Tsarist court was under the evil influence of Rusputin.
The Tsarina was strongly  under his influence and at times the
administration was affected by his influence. Hence, the nobles
poisoned Rusputin to death.
Economic
The economic causes of the Russian Revolution largely
originated in Russia’s slightly outdated economy. Russia’s agriculture
was largely based on independent peasants. They did not own modern
machinery. Russian agriculture suffered from cold climate. Russia’s
agriculture season was only 4-6 months. The famine of 1891 had left
many peasants in poverty. The rapid industrialization of Russia also
resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial
workers. Between 1890 and 1910, the population of the capital of St
Petersburg increased from 1,033,600 to 1,905,600, with Moscow
experiencing similar growth. In one 1904 survey, it was found that an
TSAR NICHOLAS II 
RUSPUTIN 
299 298
In 1915, Nicholas had taken direct command of the army. The
superior German army - better led, better trained, better supplied -
was effective against the ill-equipped Russian forces. By the end of
October 1916, Russia had lost between 1.6 and 1.8 million soldiers,
with an additional two million prisoners of war and one million missing.
Thus, a total of nearly five million men lost. These were heavy losses.
Mutinies began to occur in the Russian army. Soldiers went hungry
and lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons.
Nicholas was blamed for all these crises. As this discontent
grew, the State Duma issued a warning to Nicholas to grant
constitutional form of government. Nicholas ignored them. As a result,
Russia’s Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the
February Revolution of 1917.
February Revolution
The February Revolution was the result of the political,
economic and social causes mentioned above. On the eve of the
February Revolution there was food shortage in the city. People
protested against war.
As the protests grew, various political reformists (both liberal
and radical left) joined together against the Tsar regime. In February
the protests in Petrograd turned violent as large numbers of city
residents rioted and clashed with police and soldiers. There was also
total strike. Eventually the bulk of the soldiers garrisoned in Petrograd
joined the protesters.
On 12
th
  March, 1917 the capital city of Petersburg (renamed
Petrograd and now Leningrad) fell into the hands of the revolutionaries.
Soon the revolutionaries took Moscow, the Tsar Nicholas II gave up
his throne and the first provisional Government was formed on 15
March.
soon split over questions of organization and policies. One group which
was in a minority called the Mensheviks [Russian it means minority].
The majority party was called as the Bolsheviks.
The leader of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir
Ilyich Ulyanov,  popularly known as Lenin. He is
regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the
socialist movement after Marx and Engels. He
devoted himself to the task of organizing the
Bolshevik Party as an instrument for bringing about
revolution. His name has become inseparable from
the revolution of 1917. The Russian socialists,
including Plekhanov and Lenin, had played an
important part in the Second International.
Besides the Menshevik and the Bolshevik parties, which were
the political parties of industrial workers, there was the Socialist
Revolutionary Party which voiced the demands of the peasantry.
World War I
Russia had a very adverse history of military failures. Even
before the outbreak of the First World War, Russia had lost a war
with Japan in 1904–05. Most of Russia’s fleet was sunk by the
Japanese in that war. While the Russian army enjoyed some initial
successes against Austria-Hungary in 1914, Russia’s deficiencies
— particularly regarding the equipment of its soldiers and the lack of
advanced technology (aeroplanes, telephones) proved the causes for
Russia’s failures.
Russia’s first major battle was a disaster. In the 1914 Battle
of Tannenberg, over 120,000 Russian troops were killed, wounded,
or captured, while Germany suffered only 20,000 casualties.
Whatever nationalistic or patriotic support the Russian government
had gained in the early stages of the war had been lost.
LENIN 
301 300
Church and the Tsar were confiscated and transferred to peasants’
societies to be allotted to peasant families to be cultivated without
hired labour. The control of industries was transferred to committees
of workers. By the middle of 1918, banks and insurance companies,
large industries, mines, water transport and railways were nationalised.
Foreign debts were refused and foreign investments were confiscated.
A Declaration of the Rights of Peoples was issued conferring the
right of self-determination upon all nationalities. A new government,
called the Council of People’s Commissars, headed by Lenin was
founded. These first acts of the new government began the era of
socialism.
The first Soviet constitution was adoped on July 10, 1918.
It created the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Later,
on December 30, 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
came into being. However, soon the new Soviet state was involved
in a civil war. The officers of the army of the fallen Tsar organised
an armed rebellion against the Soviet state. Troops of foreign
powers—England, France, Japan, the United States and others—
joined them. War was fought till 1920. By this time the ‘Red Army’
of the new state was in control of almost all the lands of the old
Czarist empire. Indeed, a revolutionary wave lasted until 1923.
Learning Outcome
After learning this lesson the students will be to explain
1. The political, social and economic causes of the Russian
Revolution.
2. The role of the Socialist led by Lenin in the Russian
Revolution.
3. Course of the revolution and the end of Tsarist regime in
Russia.
4. The formation of USSR and the results of the Russian
Revolution.
The fall of the Tszar is known as the February Revolution
because, according to the old Russian calendar, it occurred on 27
February 1917.
Kerensky’s Provisional Government
The most important demands of the people were fourfold: peace,
land to the tiller, control of industry by workers,
and equal status for the non-Russian nationalities.
The Provisional Government under the leadership
of Kerensky did not implement any of these
demands and lost the support of the people. Lenin,
who was in exile in Switzerland at the time of the
February Revolution, returned to Russia in April.
Lenin gave his “April Theses”. This promised
people what they wanted.
Under his leadership the Bolshevik Party put forward clear
policies to end the war, transfer land to the peasants and advance
the slogan “All power to the Soviets”. Lenin and his trusted associate
Leon Trotsky led the October Revolution.
October Revolution of 1917
The unpopularity of the Kerensky’s government led to its
collapse on 7
th
 November 1917, when a group of soldiers occupied
the Winter Palace, the seat of the Kerensky Government. An All-
Russian Congress of Soviets met on the same day and assumed full
political power. This event which took place on 7 November is known
as the October Revolution because of the corresponding date of the
old Russian calendar, 25 October.
Results of the Revolution
Russia withdrew from the First World War. Later, formal peace
was signed with Germany later. The estates of the landlords, the
KERENSKY 
Page 5


295
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a very important political
event of the 20
th
 Century. For the first time, Karl Marx’s idea of
socialism and Proletariat revolution became a reality.  Russia was a
big and powerful country. Even Napoleon Bonaparte could not
conquer Russia in 1812. However, during the beginning of the 20
th
Century Russia was no longer a powerful country. During this time
Russia was ruled by the Romanov dynasty.  Tsar Nicholas II ruled
Russia at the time of the Revolution. During his rule Russia faced
serious domestic and international problems. Eventually, a series of
political events led to the overthrow of the Tsarist rule by October
Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik Party headed by Lenin led the
revolution. Thus, Russia became USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics], which lasted until its disintegration in 1991.
Causes of the Russian Revolution
Political
Politically the Tsar’s rule was very weak. Russia fought a war
with Japan in 1904-05. Small Asian Country Japan defeated the mighty
European country Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. This lowered
the international and domestic prestige of Russia.
LESSON 28
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. Causes of the Russian Revolution.
2. The rise of Socialists in Russia.
3. The Course of the Russian Revolution.
4. The end of the revolution and its results.
297 296
average of sixteen people shared each apartment in St Petersburg,
with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles
of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. Hence,
the workers in general were in a discontented situation.
Rise of Socialist Party
One of the most important events in the history of socialist
movement was the formation in 1864 of the International Working
Men’s Association or the First International.
During the short period of its existence, the
International exercised a tremendous influence on
workers’ movements in Europe.
To unite the socialist parties in various
countries into an international organisation, a
Congress was held in Paris on 14
th
 July 1889, the
centenary of the French Revolution of 1789. The
result of this Congress was what has come to be
known as the Second International. The formation of the Second
International marked a new stage in the history of socialism.
On the first of May 1890, millions of workers all over Europe
and America struck work and held massive demonstrations. Since
then the first of May is observed as the international working
class day all over the world.
In Russia when the workers’
organizations were set up they were dominated
by Marx’s ideas on socialism. In 1883, the
Russian Social Democratic Party was formed
by George Plekhanov, a follower of Marx. This
party along with many other socialist groups
was united into the Russian Social Democratic
Labour Party in 1898. However, the party was
KARL MARX 
GEORGE PLEKHANOV 
The Tsars believed in the divine right theory
of kingship. Tsar Nicholas II was autocratic in
his administration. The people had many
grievances. The members of zemstoves and
Dumas wanted liberal reforms from the Tsar. But
Tsar was not prepared to sanction any reforms.
Meantime, the working class of St. Petersburg
went on strike. The striking workers went on a
procession to Tsar’s place to present a petition to
redress their grievances. They were led by father
Gapon. When the workers reached Tsar’s palace
the guards fired on the unarmed crowed. This event
is known as “Bloody Sunday” as it took place on
a Sunday, 22
nd
 January 1905. This is also known
as 1905 Revolution. This event was indeed a
prelude to the October Revolution of 1917.
The Tsarist court was under the evil influence of Rusputin.
The Tsarina was strongly  under his influence and at times the
administration was affected by his influence. Hence, the nobles
poisoned Rusputin to death.
Economic
The economic causes of the Russian Revolution largely
originated in Russia’s slightly outdated economy. Russia’s agriculture
was largely based on independent peasants. They did not own modern
machinery. Russian agriculture suffered from cold climate. Russia’s
agriculture season was only 4-6 months. The famine of 1891 had left
many peasants in poverty. The rapid industrialization of Russia also
resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial
workers. Between 1890 and 1910, the population of the capital of St
Petersburg increased from 1,033,600 to 1,905,600, with Moscow
experiencing similar growth. In one 1904 survey, it was found that an
TSAR NICHOLAS II 
RUSPUTIN 
299 298
In 1915, Nicholas had taken direct command of the army. The
superior German army - better led, better trained, better supplied -
was effective against the ill-equipped Russian forces. By the end of
October 1916, Russia had lost between 1.6 and 1.8 million soldiers,
with an additional two million prisoners of war and one million missing.
Thus, a total of nearly five million men lost. These were heavy losses.
Mutinies began to occur in the Russian army. Soldiers went hungry
and lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons.
Nicholas was blamed for all these crises. As this discontent
grew, the State Duma issued a warning to Nicholas to grant
constitutional form of government. Nicholas ignored them. As a result,
Russia’s Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the
February Revolution of 1917.
February Revolution
The February Revolution was the result of the political,
economic and social causes mentioned above. On the eve of the
February Revolution there was food shortage in the city. People
protested against war.
As the protests grew, various political reformists (both liberal
and radical left) joined together against the Tsar regime. In February
the protests in Petrograd turned violent as large numbers of city
residents rioted and clashed with police and soldiers. There was also
total strike. Eventually the bulk of the soldiers garrisoned in Petrograd
joined the protesters.
On 12
th
  March, 1917 the capital city of Petersburg (renamed
Petrograd and now Leningrad) fell into the hands of the revolutionaries.
Soon the revolutionaries took Moscow, the Tsar Nicholas II gave up
his throne and the first provisional Government was formed on 15
March.
soon split over questions of organization and policies. One group which
was in a minority called the Mensheviks [Russian it means minority].
The majority party was called as the Bolsheviks.
The leader of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir
Ilyich Ulyanov,  popularly known as Lenin. He is
regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the
socialist movement after Marx and Engels. He
devoted himself to the task of organizing the
Bolshevik Party as an instrument for bringing about
revolution. His name has become inseparable from
the revolution of 1917. The Russian socialists,
including Plekhanov and Lenin, had played an
important part in the Second International.
Besides the Menshevik and the Bolshevik parties, which were
the political parties of industrial workers, there was the Socialist
Revolutionary Party which voiced the demands of the peasantry.
World War I
Russia had a very adverse history of military failures. Even
before the outbreak of the First World War, Russia had lost a war
with Japan in 1904–05. Most of Russia’s fleet was sunk by the
Japanese in that war. While the Russian army enjoyed some initial
successes against Austria-Hungary in 1914, Russia’s deficiencies
— particularly regarding the equipment of its soldiers and the lack of
advanced technology (aeroplanes, telephones) proved the causes for
Russia’s failures.
Russia’s first major battle was a disaster. In the 1914 Battle
of Tannenberg, over 120,000 Russian troops were killed, wounded,
or captured, while Germany suffered only 20,000 casualties.
Whatever nationalistic or patriotic support the Russian government
had gained in the early stages of the war had been lost.
LENIN 
301 300
Church and the Tsar were confiscated and transferred to peasants’
societies to be allotted to peasant families to be cultivated without
hired labour. The control of industries was transferred to committees
of workers. By the middle of 1918, banks and insurance companies,
large industries, mines, water transport and railways were nationalised.
Foreign debts were refused and foreign investments were confiscated.
A Declaration of the Rights of Peoples was issued conferring the
right of self-determination upon all nationalities. A new government,
called the Council of People’s Commissars, headed by Lenin was
founded. These first acts of the new government began the era of
socialism.
The first Soviet constitution was adoped on July 10, 1918.
It created the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Later,
on December 30, 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
came into being. However, soon the new Soviet state was involved
in a civil war. The officers of the army of the fallen Tsar organised
an armed rebellion against the Soviet state. Troops of foreign
powers—England, France, Japan, the United States and others—
joined them. War was fought till 1920. By this time the ‘Red Army’
of the new state was in control of almost all the lands of the old
Czarist empire. Indeed, a revolutionary wave lasted until 1923.
Learning Outcome
After learning this lesson the students will be to explain
1. The political, social and economic causes of the Russian
Revolution.
2. The role of the Socialist led by Lenin in the Russian
Revolution.
3. Course of the revolution and the end of Tsarist regime in
Russia.
4. The formation of USSR and the results of the Russian
Revolution.
The fall of the Tszar is known as the February Revolution
because, according to the old Russian calendar, it occurred on 27
February 1917.
Kerensky’s Provisional Government
The most important demands of the people were fourfold: peace,
land to the tiller, control of industry by workers,
and equal status for the non-Russian nationalities.
The Provisional Government under the leadership
of Kerensky did not implement any of these
demands and lost the support of the people. Lenin,
who was in exile in Switzerland at the time of the
February Revolution, returned to Russia in April.
Lenin gave his “April Theses”. This promised
people what they wanted.
Under his leadership the Bolshevik Party put forward clear
policies to end the war, transfer land to the peasants and advance
the slogan “All power to the Soviets”. Lenin and his trusted associate
Leon Trotsky led the October Revolution.
October Revolution of 1917
The unpopularity of the Kerensky’s government led to its
collapse on 7
th
 November 1917, when a group of soldiers occupied
the Winter Palace, the seat of the Kerensky Government. An All-
Russian Congress of Soviets met on the same day and assumed full
political power. This event which took place on 7 November is known
as the October Revolution because of the corresponding date of the
old Russian calendar, 25 October.
Results of the Revolution
Russia withdrew from the First World War. Later, formal peace
was signed with Germany later. The estates of the landlords, the
KERENSKY 
303 302
VI. Write short notes (Any three points).
1. Bloody Sunday
2. The Bolsheviks
3. October Revolution
VII. Answer briefly (100 words).
1. Discuss the role of Lenin in the Russian Revolution.
2. Write a note on the February Revolution.
VIII. Answer in detail (200 words).
1. Examine the causes for the Russian Revolution of 1917.
2. Discuss the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
MODEL QUESTIONS
I. Choose the correct answer.
1. The Bolshevik Party in Russia was headed by
(a) Karl Marx (b) Tsar Nicholas II
(c) Lenin (d) Engles
II. Fill in the blanks.
1. The Russian Socialist Democratic Party was formed by ……
2. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic came into existence in
the year …..
III. Match the following
1. Tsar Nicholas a. Provincial Government
2. Bloody Sunday b. Lenin
3. ‘April Thesis’ c. 1905
4. Krenskey d. Romanov Dynasty
IV. Find out the correct statement. One statement alone is
right.
a) The February revolution in Russia was led by Lenin.
b) The Menshevik government was led by Kerensky.
c) The Bolshevik party was a moderate political force.
d) Tsar Nicholas II supported the Mensheviks.
V. State whether the following statements are True or False.
1. Russian withdrew from the First World War in the middle.
2. The trusted associate of Lenin was Leon Trotsky.
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