The Petrograd Soviet meeting in the Duma, February 1917 - Teachoo.png

  • In the winter of 1917 , conditions in the capital, Petrograd , were grim .
  • The way the city was laid out seems to highlight the differences among its residents .
  • On the right bank of the River Neva were the dormitories and factories for the workers .
  • The elegant districts , the Winter Palace, and government buildings , notably the palace where the Duma convened, were located on the left bank.
  • In February 1917 , food shortages were deeply felt in the workers’ quarters
  • There had been a particularly hard frost and an extremely frigid winter .
  • Parliamentarians wishing to preserve the elected government opposed the Tsar’s desire to dissolve the Duma.
  • A factory on the right bank experienced a lockout on February 22.
  • The following day, fifty factory employees declared a sympathy strike.
  • Women took the lead in several factory strikes . This came to be called International Women’s Day
  • Workers on strike crossed the Nevskii Prospekt , the main thoroughfare in the capital , from the factory quarters .
  • No political party was actively organising the movement at this point .
  • The government enacted a curfew as workers encircled the upscale neighbourhoods and government structures .
  • Demonstrators dispersed by the evening , but they came back on the 24th and 25th.  
  • In order to keep an eye on them , the government dispatched the cavalry and police .
  • On Sunday , 25 February , the government suspended the Duma .
  • Politicians spoke out against the measure
  • On 26th February, demonstrators returned in force to the streets of the left bank.
  • On the 27th , the Police Headquarters was ransacked (looted).
  • The streets thronged with people raising slogans about bread, wages, better hours and democracy.
  • The government called out the cavalry to try to control the situation but the cavalry refused to fire on the demonstrators .
  • An officer was shot at the barracks of a regiment and three other regiments mutinied (rebelled), voting to join the striking workers
  • By that evening, soldiers and striking workers had gathered to form a soviet’ or ‘council in the same building where the Duma met. This was the Petrograd Soviet
  • The very next day, a delegation went to see the Tsar .
  • Tsar abdicated ( quit ) on the advice of his military general on 2nd March.
  • A Provisional Government was established by Soviet and Duma leaders to govern the nation.
  • Russia’s future would be decided by a constituent assembly , elected based on universal adult suffrage
  • Petrograd led the February Revolution which brought down the monarchy in February 1917 .

Women in the February Revolution - Teachoo.png

After February

A Bolshevik image of Lenin addressing workers in April 1917 - Teachoo.png

  • Landowners , manufacturers , and army officers had sway in the Provisional Government .
  • However, the socialists and liberals among them fought for an elected administration.
  • Restrictions on public meetings and associations were removed
  • Soviets , like the Petrograd Soviet, were set up everywhere, though no common system of election was followed.
  • Vladimir Lenin , the founder of the Bolshevik movement , returned to Russia from exile in April 1917 .
  • He believed that the soviets should now seize control of the country . He declared that the war is brought to a close, the land was transferred to the peasants , and banks are nationalised.
  • These three demands were Lenin’s April Theses .
  • He also argued that the Bolshevik Party rename itself the Communist Party to indicate its new radical aims .
  • Most members of the Bolshevik Party were initially surprised by the April Theses . They believed that the Provisional Government needed to be supported and that the timing was not yet right for a socialist revolution
  • However, the events of the ensuing months altered their perspective .
  • Through the summer the workers’ movement spread .
  • Factory committees started to criticise how industrialists operated their factories after being founded in industrial districts .
  • Trade unions grew in number.
  • Soldiers’ committees were formed in the army
  • A total of 500 Soviets sent delegates to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets in June .
  • Seeing its power diminish and Bolshevik influence growing , the Provisional Government decided to take stern action against the spreading of dissatisfaction .
  • Workers' attempts to govern factories were met with resistance , and leaders started being detained .
  • The Bolsheviks violently suppressed the populist demonstrations they organised in July 1917 . Many Bolshevik leaders had to go into hiding or flee .

The July Days - Teachoo.png

  • Meanwhile, peasants and their Socialist Revolutionary leaders pressed for a redistribution of land in the countryside.
  • Land committees were formed to handle this.
  • Peasants seized land between July and September 1917 with the support of the Socialist Revolutionaries .

The Revolution of October 1917

Fun Fact:

  • Russia followed the Julian calendar until 1 February 1918
  • The country then changed to the Gregorian calendar , which is followed everywhere today. The Gregorian dates are 13 days ahead of the Julian dates
  • So by our calendar, the ‘February’ Revolution took place on 12th March and the ‘October’ Revolution took place on 7th November.

Lenin (left) and Trotskii (right) with workers at Petrograd - Teachoo.png

  • Lenin feared the Provisional Government would set up a dictatorship because of the increasing conflict between the Provisional Government and the Bolsheviks .
  • He started planning an uprising against the government in September .
  • In the military , soviets , and workplaces , Bolshevik supporters were gathered .
  • Lenin convinced the Petrograd Soviet and the Bolshevik Party to approve a socialist takeover of power on October 16, 1917 .
  • Soviets appointed a Military Revolutionary Committee under Leon Trotskii to organise the seizure .
  • The occasion's day was kept a mystery .
  • On 24 October , the uprising began.  
  • Prime Minister Kerenskii had left the city to send for reinforcements after spotting problems.
  • At dawn, military men loyal to the government seized the buildings of two Bolshevik newspapers
  • To take over the phone and telegraph offices and guard the Winter Palace , pro-government troops were dispatched .
  • In a swift response, the Military Revolutionary Committee ordered its supporters to seize government offices and arrest ministers
  • The ship Aurora shelled the Winter Palace in the afternoon. As they went down the Neva , other ships occupied other military outposts .
  • By dusk , the committee had taken control of the city , and the ministers had given up.
  • The majority of attendees at a gathering of the All Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd supported the Bolshevik move.
  • Uprisings took place in other cities .
  • Although there was fierce combat , particularly in Moscow , the Bolsheviks had taken control of the Moscow-Petrograd region by December .



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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.