The Russian Revolution 1917 The Russian revolution of 1917 is no doubt one event that changed the course of history for the Russian people. This essay will examine its causes particularly focusing on the root causes which the Russian people endured for many years and the consequences they faced. It will also evaluate the differences in views of historians and their interpretations to help understand the historical events. The causes of the Russian revolution back dates to its defeat in the Russo Japanese war. The war was never popular in Russia and the public was not prepared for it. The war was very sudden and was fought in the very far east of the country; even the new political parties were against it and did not see any justification to the war. The Russian’s naval ‘might’ was destroyed at Tsushima Bay and Port Arthur, Russia’s only all year naval base in the Far East was captured in January 1905 (History learning site 2006).
The bloody Sunday was another event that caused unrest on the public when Father George Gapon, an orthodox priest, head of the Assembly of Russian Factory and Mill Workers. Gapon, however, was influenced by the Union of Liberation, an organisation of middle-class liberal intellectuals campaigning for democracy of parliament. When four of his members were dismissed from their jobs, he started a strike which spread rapidly until 120,000 workers were out. Their petition was inspired by the Union of Liberation to ask for the working day to be cut to eight hours and the right to strike, but their march was blocked by armed troops who were positioned and at key points, while some of the soldiers fired warning shots into the air, some panicked and fired straight into the crowds. Forty people were shot dead. The day’s total death toll is put at about 200 with some 800 more wounded (Cavendish 2005)
In the growing conflict in World War I in 1914, Russia could not sustain itself and the army suffered great loss in casualties and also loss in artillery supplies. Russia lacked mobilisation skills to counter its losses, but more importantly it lacked good leadership. Nicholas II refused to share his power and the public questioned his leadership. He had complete control over the army and also over bureaucracy. In 1915, the Duma (parliament), demanded a democratic government which valued the people’s needs, but Nicholas II dissolved parliament and went to the war front leaving his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna and her unique counterpart, Grigori Rasputin in control. Alexandra opposed parliaments and firmly believed in monocracy. She tried to rule in her husband’s absence by firing, choosing and electing officials at any time as she wished. Rasputin was her favourite official, a Siberian preacher who had healing powers and influence on her, advising her on appointments to the government and interfering in important decisions. Rasputin was murdered in December 1916 after rumours spread of him having an affair with Alexandra and it was also suspected the two were German spies who caused the defeat on Germany (Fernholz, no date, Phillips 2000)
Wilde (2014) stated one of the other major causes of the 1917 Russian Revolution was the living conditions of the peasants and the urban workers. From 1916, three quarters of the Russian population were peasants in small villages. Agriculture in central Russia was very poor and Most of the peasants were illiterate and had no capital to invest, they were also using out of date farming techniques. Land became scarce as the population grew and about half of the peasant population had family members who had left the villages to find other work in towns while 20% of the land in large estates being owned by the Russian upper class, the peasants were increasingly getting angry