Examine the short term causes of Russia's 1917 Revolution.

The February revolution in Russia toppled the Romanov dynasty that had been ruling for 300 years. The revolution thereby was an extremely important event in Russia's history. This revolution, which happened in 1917, was caused by a combination of short and long term factors. The long term factors include how backwards Russia was economically, the lack of a unifying culture, and the gradual rise of the relatively new threats of the middle class, the proletariat and marxism. However, the short term factors I believe are more important in explaining why the Revolution happened in 1917. The first factor is Russia's hopeless war with Japan in 1904. This resulted in a peaceful protest in 1905: however, Tsar Nicholas responded with violence from the cossacks. He barely hung on to his autocracy and had to declare and October Manifesto stating he would instate a parliament, the Duma. Once Nicholas felt he had regained enough power, he stopped listening to the Duma; this factor is significant because it showed how unstable Nicholas was as a leader, and how unable he was to adapt to the needs of Russia. He was completely out of touch with the desires of his people, and underestimated their power.

The main short term cause of the 1917 Revolution I believe to be Russia's involvement with the First World War. This is for several reasons; firstly, the war caused huge casualties with nine million men dead or injured by 1917. The war also crippled Russia economically. The lack of men to work on farms ruined agriculture and the strain on the railways meant that food couldn't get into towns and cities. Because of this, by 1917 the people of Russia were freezing and starving. They started a protest that eventually became rioting. Another factor was Tsar Nicholas's choice to go to the front, leaving the Tsarina in control. Her closeness to the monk Rasputin and her German heritage meant many Russians were suspicious of her. When she called in the troops to deal with the rioters, within a few days the soldiers had joined the riots. The Tsar was unable to return in time, and when the Duma realised the government was collapsing, they forced Nicholas II to abdicate on the 15th March 1917. Of these factors, I believe the devastating economic effect of WWI is the most significant, as the riot orignially started as a prostest calling for 'Bread and Peace'.

Answered by Sasha G. History tutor


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