Why do you think the Tsar’s power crumbled so swiftly in March 1917?
Nicholas II ruled Russia from 1894-1917 and was to be its final tsar. He ascended the throne under the impression that he would rule his whole life as it’s undisputed leader. Accompanied by his wife, Alexandra, they lived a comfortable life of luxury while the country suffered around them. Nicholas was determined to rule as harshly as his father; however, he was a very weak and incompetent character who did not posses the qualities capable of guiding Russia through its time of turmoil.
It was a time of great upheaval. Peasants were demanding that the land of the great estate owners be turned over to them because there was not enough land to provide food for all the villages. This caused the migration of many peasants to the factories.
Russia’s industries were beginning to develop and the number of people living in towns was increasing. These people were the urban working class of Russia and they were not as eager to accept the poor wages and conditions as the peasants were.
For centuries, autocratic and repressive tsarist regimes ruled the country and population under sever economic and social conditions; consequently, during the late 19th century and early 20th century, various movements were staging demonstrations to overthrow the oppressive government. Poor involvement in WWI also added to the rising discontent against Nicholas as Russian armies suffered terrible casualties and defeats because of a lack of food and equipment; in addition, the country was industrially backward compared to countries such as Britain, France, Germany, and the USA. It had failed to modernize, this was to do with the tsars lack of effort for reforms. The country was undergoing tremendous hardships as industrial and agricultural output dropped. Famine and poor morale could be found in all aspects of Russian life. Furthermore, the tsar committed a fatal mistake when he appointed himself supreme commander of the armed forces because he was responsible for the armies constant string of defeats.
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While the tsar was off defending the country, a strange ‘monk’ named Rasputin made his way into governmental affairs. Because of his ability to ease the pain of the tsar’s sick young prince, Alexandra gave him great political control in the affairs of state. Rasputin had dismissed twenty-one ministers and replaced them with men of great incompetence. He was eventually murdered but the damage to the tsar’s image had already been done.
Russian society was under a great stress and it demanded a more democratic and efficient system of government to handle the problems of the war. The Duma was the country’s parliament; however, it had no law making power. In March 1917 there were a great deal of strikes and riots in Petrograd. When the tsar ordered that the demonstrations be put down, the soldiers mutinied and shot their own officers. The Duma, aware that a revolution was at hand, broke off and formed a Provisional government which demanded that Nicholas II abdicate.
Nicholas II had been overthrown because of the country’s great political and economic turmoil at the time. The citizens of Russia demanded changes that the tsar would never conform to; consequently, he was overthrown in March 1917. The major underlying cause was the backward economic conditions of the country, which made it unable to maintain the war against the highly industrialized Germany.