The Two Russian Revolutions
There were two Russian revolutions that actually occurred in 1917. The first one, referred to as “The February Revolution” (also known as the February bourgeois-democratic revolution) – initiated the events in Petrograd, which resulted in the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II. These events span from the end of February to early March of 1917 (according to the Julian calendar then used in Russia).
The February revolution began as a spontaneous impulse of the masses, based on strong dissatisfaction with the liberal-bourgeois circles and with the (perceived) autocratic politics of the Tsar. Bread riots, anti-war rallies, demonstrations, and strikes superimposed on this discontent and contributed to the unrest of the revolutionary masses. On February 27, 1917 (March 12 on the Gregorian calendar), a major general strike grew into an armed uprising; the troops sided with the rebels, and took over the most important points of the city – the government buildings. Under these circumstances, the tsarist government was unable to come to a quick and decisive action which may have saved the Romanov dynasty rule.
As mentioned above, the immediate result of the February Revolution was the abdication of Nicholas II, ending the 300 year old Romanov dynasty, and the formation of the first Provisional Government under the chairmanship of Prince Georgi Lvov and Alexander Kerensky as the Minister of Justice.
The former Tsar and his family were placed under house arrest at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo for several months.
This new Provisional Government replaced the Tsar, State Council, State Duma and the Council of Ministers and subjugated higher institutions (Senate and Synod). It immediately announced amnesty for political prisoners, instated new civil liberties and the reforms of local self-government.
The year 1917 culminated in the broadest social revolution in Russia, which coincided with a coup – the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the seizure of political power by the Bolshevik Party – which became known as the October Revolution.
The two Russian revolutions ushered an era of dramatic changes in the nation’s state system: The February Revolution led to the overthrow of the autocracy, The October Revolution – to the establishment of the Soviet regime – a completely new form of government under the leadership of Vladimir Ulyanov -Lenin.
Lenin giving a speech to the Bolshevik revolutionaries