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The collapse of the autocracy in February 1917 signified the end product of the interaction of multiple factors relating to both domestic and foreign issues. Discuss.

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Introduction

The collapse of the autocracy in February 1917 signified the end product of the interaction of multiple factors relating to both domestic and foreign issues. The traditional historiographical view of a rapid insurrection catching the autocracy by surprise is increasingly called into question - Hasegawa sees the abdication of Nicholas II as the product of disillusionment with the war being translated into popular protest1. The experience of 1905 left workers and soldiers more prepared for rebellion and the long - term factor of war accentuated the domestic problems in Russia. The pressure created by the war rendered the autocracy vulnerable, hence the unrest from the 23rd of February onwards had such an impact. It was ultimately however the loss of military discipline and loyalty in Petrograd, coupled with liberals' decisions and autocratic choice, which caused the regime to fall, not as a result of previous unrest, but a fear of what rebellion may be still to come. This fear was what dictated the nature of the revolution. It was this combination of long and short - term factors that caused the Russian autocracy to fall. It is pertinent to tackle this issue in a chronological form, beginning in 1915 / '16. One must however bear in mind that unrest in Petrograd, almost irrespective of the rest of Russia, was enough to cause the collapse of autocracy. ...read more.

Middle

Nicholas often did not have the full picture, and this made shrewd responses near impossible. There was however a good deal of blame to be directed at Nicholas, who failed to appreciate the domestic situation, or the folly of his taking symbolic control of what was already a sinking ship of a war effort10. It is in this context that the growing urban unrest must be seen. Russia was trapped in a war it could not afford to leave, as allied loans were staving off economic collapse. Russia could not socially afford to continue, however, as peasants became opposed to a regime requisitioning grain, and the industrial sphere became increasingly frustrated by the lack of regular food deliveries or industrial war materials. Russia was not equipped economically, industrially or socially to compete in a military capacity with the industrial powerhouses it fought with, and against. The war thus provides the backdrop to the unrest, a general climate in which being opposed to the war, and increasingly the Tsar and his government, was seen as acceptable. The war, accordingly, has to be seen as a key reason in the fall of the autocracy. Without the domestic unrest that increasingly accompanied it however, it would not have been enough to topple the regime. ...read more.

Conclusion

While the problems of war, and the February strike movement provided the context in which a drive for abdication was viable, it was the actions of the Tsar and his family which ultimately signalled the end of the autocracy. 1 Hasegawa, T, 'The Problem of Power in the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia' in Canadian Slavonic Papers, 1972; 14ii p.611 2 Burdzhalov, KN, Russia's Second Revolution: The February 1917 Uprising in Petrograd, 1987, USA, p.18 3 ibid., p.19 4 ibid., p.21 5 Read, C, From Tsar to Soviets, the Russian People and Their Revolution, 1996, London, p.38 - 39 6 Westwood, JN, Endurance and Endeavour: Russian History 1812 - 1992, 4th ed., 1993, Oxford, p.226 - 227 7 Burzhalov, Russia's Second Revolution, p.72 - 73 8 Read, C, From Tsar to Soviets, the Russian People and Their Revolution, 1996, London, p.35 9 Diakin, VS, 'The Leadership Crisis in Russia on the Eve of the February Revolution', in Soviet Studies in History, 1984;23, (1), p.13 10 ibid., p.12 11 Hasegawa, p.613 12 Smith, SA, 'Petersburg in 1917: The View from Below, in Kaiser, DH (ed.), revolution in russia, 1917 The View from Below, 1987, Cambridge p.62 13Longley, DA, 'The Mezhraionka, The Bolsheviks and International Women's Day. In Response to Michael Melancon', in Soviet Studies 1989; 41 p.632 - 633 14Hasegawa, p.613 15 Kerensky, A, 'Why the Russian Monarchy Fell', in Slavonic and East European Review, 1930; 8 (24) p.497 ...read more.

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