Why Did Tsarism Collapse in March 1917?

Topics: Russian Empire, Russian Provisional Government, Saint Petersburg Pages: 6 (1980 words) Published: April 29, 2013
H/WWhy did Tsarism collapse in March 1917?18/01/12

In March 1917 (Gregorian calendar) the Russian Tsarist government collapsed and was replaced by a provisional committee of 12 former duma members and a soviet (union) of workers and soldiers councils in a revolution ending over 300 years of Romanov rule, which was celebrated in 1913. This was due to a combination of events such as the Putilov factory strike; beliefs such as the views of the duma and what evidence suggests is the most important, the circumstances in Russia such as severe consumer shortages by the start of 1917.

The circumstances prevailing in Russia by the beginning of 1917 must be considered the most important reason behind the collapse of Tsarism. The direct effects of the war on Russia were a crucial circumstance that caused the collapse of Tsarism. Within months of Russia becoming involved in WW1, she was beginning to lose, with defeats at Tannenburg and the Masurian lakes morale began to weaken further compounded by the fact that Russia was now using its reserves as front line soldiers. By the beginning of 1917 however the situation was much worse, further defeats had eliminated remaining morale and many soldiers began to desert with at least 2 million having surrendered by the February revolution. This was a problem as these soldiers participated in the uprisings in Petrograd and other actions against the tsar in the revolution. Thus the effects of the war on the home front caused war weariness as people wanted an end to the huge casualties and deserter soldiers demonstrated for peace thus causing the collapse of Tsarism in March 1917. Another key circumstance that caused the collapse of Tsarism was the portrayal of the Tsarina and Rasputin. Since Nicholas took command of the front in August 1915, the Tsarina was in charge as regent, however her German family background and her appearances with outrageous ‘holy man’ Rasputin soon soured her image. Worse still her constant interference with the government caused government incompetence and chaos, as she replaced four prime ministers, five interior ministers, three foreign ministers, three war ministers, three transport ministers and four agricultural ministers; some of which were very competent and had the possibility to reduce government weakness for example Alexei Polivanov began to reform army training and supplies when appointed in June 1915, however he was sacked in March 1916 ending any positive effects on the war effort. This further caused government weakness and contributed to the negative actions the government took in responding to initial protests, thus contributing to the circumstances which caused the collapse of Tsarism.

Also the economic effects of the war were a key circumstance in causing the collapse of Tsarism. When war was declared in July Russia began to prioritise military production in favour of civilian goods, further more with hundreds of thousands of peasants conscripted and grain requisitioning for the army, food production began to fall compounded by the fact it was now becoming harder to transport food across the country due to the military’s dominance over the train network as well as the decreasing ability of transport as trains could only 200 miles a day and the number of trains declined by from 20,000 to 9000 by 1916. Also when war was declared the government lost most of its income as it lost access to most of her foreign trading partners as the German’s closed the Baltic and the Ottoman Turks closed the Dardanelle straights, with her only trading ports accessible through the arctic and hindered by ice; in order to maintain revenues the government began to borrow money from its allies and printed more money at the same time to meet the demands of the war, whilst in the short term this succeeded this caused serious inflation as the cost of food quadrupled whilst wages only increased by half of that. Inflation was important in causing the collapse of...
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