February Revolution

What caused the February Revolution?

The 1917 February Revolution was caused by a range of different long and short-term factors on top of influence and pressure from revolutionary leaders, ideas and groups. The period between 1914 and 1917 brought challengers to the Russian autocracy from almost every element of society and eventually resulted in the collapse of the Tsarist regime. Long term problems, which had previously sparked discontent among the Russian people, continued to exist, such as detest for “Nicholas the bloody”. Short-term factors, such as WW1, were also pivotal in the lead up to the 1917 February Revolution. Revolutionary ideas, leaders and groups also played a key role in consolidating public discontent towards the tsarist system and promoting revolutionary ideology. In essence, Tsarism collapsed under its own weight of internal contradictions and external pressures of a costly war, but it also needed a good hard push, from many smaller contributors simultaneously, to bring about the fall of autocracy in Russia. The February revolution was not inevitable as historian Bernard Pares argues that, “…those essential changes which were required in Russia could come without convulsions, and they very nearly did.” The decisions and actions from Tsar Nicholas, the Petrograd protesting masses, the revolutionary leaders, the crisis of modernisation, the remembered grievances from Bloody Sunday and the resulted aftermath, the 1905 revolution, all played their part in the growth and result of the “Glorious February.”

Many short-term factors contributed to the February revolution and consequently to the collapse of the Tsarist regime in 1917. Firstly, Friedrich Engels said, “War is the mid-wife of every old society pregnant with a new one”. When Russia became involved in WW1, it helped to deliverer the February revolution and the country quickly became plagued with economic problems. Historian David Longley asserted that “the collapse of 1917 was...