It could be argued that the First World War, which began in 1914 was the main reason for the fall of Tsarism in February 1917. However, there is more evidence to suggest that it was not in fact the war that lead to the downfall of the Tsar, but other factors such as the lack of effective leadership by the Tsar and the fact that the Duma, his appointed government, had little power to make change.
One important reason why it could be seen that the First World War was the reason for the fall of Tsarism is the fact that in 1915 Nicholas left the Winter Palace and took direct command of the army. This meant he was blamed solely for Russia's failings in the war. Also, in doing this he left his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra, who was German and a monk, Rasputin in charge. This made Nicholas very unpopular with the Russian people, who believed that even though she had tried to 'become' Russian, by converting to the Russian Orthodox Church and adopting Russian customs, she was a spy. Rasputin was seen by the Russian people as a 'mad monk' and not to be trusted.
Another way in which the fall of Tsarism could be seen as because of the First World War is the failings in the war, due to the lack of effective leadership and equipment. For example a duma report into the conditions in the army found that soldiers were often fighting barefoot, communications and transport had broken down therefore supplies could not be delivered to the front line and was hospitals were disorganised. These failings are very important reasons as to why the popularity of the Tsar decreased greatly during the war. After he took direct command of the army he became solely responsible for these failings. However, if the army had perhaps been better equipped and the Tsar had appointed better leaders, these failings may have been successes, for which the Tsar would be celebrated, rather than blamed. The failings in the war also lowered morale amongst the Russian people who, in 1914, had cheered when Nicholas announced Russia was at war but by 1917 had become angry at defeatist at the news of casualties from the front line.
Another important reason for why the war damaged Tsarism was the fact that it caused inflation in Russia, which lead to extreme poverty and high food prices. In 1914, Russia's economy had been strong but between 1914-1917 government spending rose from 4 million to 30 millions roubles, causing severe inflation by 1916. The government tried to stop this by increasing taxation and borrowing heavily from other countries, but these were not successful in raising the money it needed. This inflation made trading unprofitable meaning in 1916, Russia's grain yield began to fall, so peasants were choosing to hoard their grain, rather than sell it. Also, the army had priority of the food produced, as well as the transport, which made it difficult to transport food across Russia. This lead to food shortages, which lead to hunger and famine across Russia, especially in cities such as Petrograd, which had a large population but was far from the food-producing regions of Russia. By 1917, people in Petrograd were receiving less than a quarter of the amount of food that had been available in 1917.
However, there is more evidence to suggest that the war was not the main cause of the fall of Tsarism in 1917 but simply made worse the existing problems in Russia. Perhaps the most important of these problems is the problem of the Tsar's ineffective leadership, which had been a problem since he took power. In 1905 Russia experienced what is often referred to as the 1905 revolution, strikes in the cities because of a lack of food lead to the Tsar being forced to make concessions in order to retain power. In October 1905 he published the October Manifesto, accepting the creation of a legislative parliament or duma, which pleased the liberals. However, then in...