What was to blame?

The February Revolution of 1917 brought the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty to an end. What caused the uprising?

Why did the monarchy collapse?

In 1917, the Russian monarchy collapsed.

There are three main theories as to why:

  1. Russia was old-fashioned and weak - it collapsed because it was unsuitable.
  2. The First World War - its huge problems and disasters overturned a monarchy that had, so far, managed to survive.
  3. The stupidity of the tsar - his decisions and actions cost him his throne.

Writing for an academic website, the historian Philip Mosley suggested:

The immediate cause of the February Revolution of 1917 was the collapse of the Tsarist regime under the gigantic strain of World War I. The underlying cause was the backward economic condition of the country, which made it unable to sustain the war effort against powerful, industrialized Germany.

Philip E Mosley, late Professor of International Relations, Columbia University

Notice how he doesn't choose one of the three factors as being the cause of the Revolution. Instead, he suggests that the revolution was caused by a mixture of all three factors working together - the underlying weaknesses of the government meant that, when he was faced by problems during the First World War, the tsar could not cope with them and fell from power. You may wish to take this as your overview conclusion of the causes of the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Revision tip and answer preparation

Revision tip

Look back through this section (Russia - Revolutions). Review the importance of long-term weaknesses, the First World War, and the role of the tsar and decide which you think was the most important factor in causing the February Revolution.

Answer preparation

As part of your revision, think about the arguments and facts you would use to explain:

  1. How much the Russian Revolution of February 1917 was the tsar's fault.
  2. Which was the most significant factor in bringing about a revolution.

Back to Revision Bite