On this day amid the Russian Revolution of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to sign the Abdication Manifesto and renounce to the throne of the Russian Empire in favour of his brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. However, the latter refused to accept it and the power was then passed to the Russian Provisional Government.
Causes of the Russian Revolution
By 1917, the majority of the Russian population, especially the peasants and the new working class, were discontent with the tsarist regime due to its corruption and inefficiency. On one hand, peasants resented having to pay the Government for the lands they worked. Moreover, the influence of the modern industrialized city culture increased their dissatisfaction. On the other, the unsafe working conditions caused by the changes brought during the Industrial Revolution made the proletariat rise in anger.
However, the Tsar was unable to notice the population’s discontentment and kept on restricting their liberties. After the massacre of Bloody Sunday in January 1905, he was forced to guarantee civil rights and establish the first Russian Parliament, the Duma. Nevertheless, he kept dissolving it because it didn’t support his authority.
The outbreak of the Revolution was Russia’s involvement in World War I against Germany, which had disastrous consequences for the country's economy. As the inflation reduced incomes and caused food shortages, the number of strikes, protests and the crime rate increased rapidly.
The Revolution and the Abdication
Despite the Duma’s warnings that the state would collapse if a constitutional government was not formed, the Tsar refused to listen. A few months later, on March the 8th, 90,000 citizens protested in the streets of St. Petersburg and created working committees known as Soviets. On March 11, the army was ordered to hold the uprising and Nicholas dissolved the Duma. The following day, the regiments decided not to remain loyal to the regime and instead support the demonstrators, marking the victory of the Revolution. The government was then forced to dissolve and a provisional one was formed to take control of the uprising.
On March 15, the Tsar signed the Abdication Manifesto and renounced to the throne in favour of his brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. However, the Duke’s refusal to accept the crown put an end to the tsarist regime. In the meanwhile, Vladimir Lenin came back from exile in Switzerland and took control of the Revolution.
The new Communist Government followed a Marxist-Leninist ideology, which advocated for a socialist government established by a dictatorship of the proletariat. On November 21, 1917, they issued the Declaration of the Rights of the People of Russia. This document granted equality and sovereignty to all citizens, the right of self-determination for all nations and the elimination of all privileges due to nationality or religion. Nevertheless, the reality was different, as the Government was hesitant to apply these principles. In this sense, only a few countries that had coexisted with tsarist Russia were granted independence: Poland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Still, the last three were occupied by the Soviets in 1940.
- russian empire
- nicholas ii
- russian revolution
- abdication manifesto