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The February Revolution

1917

In 1917, a very sudden and unexpected revolution ended the Romanov dynasty. It was not planned, nor was it directed by any organized political group.

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On February 22 (March 7, New Style) a large metalworking plant in Putilov closed its doors, forcing many out of work due to a wage dispute. The next day numerous riots broke out due to anti-government sentiments, food shortages, and street demonstrations. Citizens were upset because of a shortage of bread that forced wives to stand in the cold street for hours, many times leaving without having received anything for their efforts. To add to the growing throngs of people, women went to the streets in celebration of Women's Day, which was celebrated by the Socialists. As days passed, more and more people joined the rioters and the government gave orders to the military to stop the dissenters. As the chaos grew, the orders called for more violent action to be taken and guns were used. However, some soldiers could not bring themselves to shoot the citizens. Instead, many soldiers decided to join the strikes and the military lost its control of the situation. As the deserters joined the throngs, the remaining soldiers had to go into hiding, in order to be out of the way of the angry strikers.

With no military backing, the last Romanov tsar, Nicholas II, abdicated the throne on March 2 (March 15, New Style) on behalf of himself and his son; his brother, Grand Duke Michael, in whose favor Nicholas had abdicated, followed suit. The Romanov dynasty, which had held power for over 300 years, was ended and a Provisional Government was set up in its place. This paved the way for the Bolsheviks to push themselves into power during another revolution only eight months later.

Sources:

Bunyan, James and H. H. Fisher. bolshevik revolution (Stanford University, California. Stanford University Press, 1934)

Grey, Ian. The First Fifty Years. (New York, New York. Coward-McCann, Inc., 1967)

Hosking, Geoffrey A. The First Socialist Society, (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1992 )

Matthews, Roy T. and F. DeWitt Platt. The Western Humanities, Third Edition. (Mountain View, CA. Mayfield Publishing Co., 1997)

McNeal, Robert H. The Bolshevik Tradition. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1975)

 


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