The Downfall of the Romanovs

The March Revolution of 1917 saw the demise of the 300-year-old Romanov Dynasty. The collapse of the Romanov Dynasty transpired as a result of numerous short-term and long-term factors, which gradually escalated to a widespread dissatisfaction in twentieth century Russian society. The most significant of these contributing factors proved to be Russia’s calamitous involvement in World War One.
At the turn of the twentieth century virtually all sectors of Russian society had a multitude of economic, social and political grievances against the government. Peasant poverty had been a longstanding problem and much of their discontentment originated from the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 when the lease and mortgage systems put in place by the Tsar resulted in bankruptcy and impoverishment for many peasant families. The peasants deeply resented the necessity of paying redemption payments for “their” land, which was owned collectively by the village community. Russia’s archaic farming methods and cold climate were the causes of a number of failed harvests, inducing high inflation, which in turn resulted in an economic depression. Peasants and workers alike were payed poor wages, barely enough to sustain a family, and they demanded economic reform. However in the book Retrospective, Maureen Anderson and her co-authors argue that Tsar Nicholas II was reluctant to grant economic reform because he felt it would threaten his autocrative power.
The Economic grievances, especially the famine and recession of the 1890’s augmented the social unrest at the time. The government’s encouragement of industrial growth from the 1880s onwards, led the population to rapidly migrate to urban areas in the hope of an improved lifestyle in Russian towns and cities. This sudden trend of urbanization resulted in poor living conditions for the majority of the working class. Factory dormitories were overcrowded and provided unsanitary living spaces for the workers and their families. Working...