The Russian Revolution of 1917 is a significant period in human history and was a catalyst in destroying many imperialistic empires across Europe and lead to the emergence of numerous independent nation-states in the region. The outbreak of the First World War and its subsequent effects was instrumental in giving rise to this popular uprising in Russia. By the end of 1916, all the nations taking part in the conflict were under tremendous political, economic and social strain but the effect of this was even more severe in the case 0f Russia. The country had made great strides in the field of industrialization in the two decades prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 but it was still under-developed when the war broke out.
Orlando Figes,a prominent Cambridge University academician and history writer, who specializes on the causes and repercussions of the Russian Revolution of 1917, explains that at the time the Czarist autocracy dominated the Russian government. This monarchy laid claims that its political power in the country was because of divine intervention rather than on popular consent. However, the people of Russia especially the intellectuals, peasants and labor classes were becoming increasing dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the country. They were seeking a change in the political system especially when the promises of reforms of the previous Monarch remained unfulfilled.
He goes on to state that at the centre of this volatile political turmoil was Nicholas II, the last Czar of Russia. Most prominent members of the academia in Russia and abroad along with many historians agree that he did not have the political wisdom or the charisma of his grandfather, Czar Alexander II to rule the country. Moreover, this monarch was resolute in holding on to the oppressive, corrupt and autocratic power of his father, Czar Alexander III, which not only created more problems but also posed a threat to his throne. While this ruler outwardly expressed his love for the Russian people but left no stone unturned when it came to crushing political dissent in the country. He looked the other way when thousand of hungry industrial workers were shot in 1905 and personally order the massacre of an equal number of striking miners in Siberia in 1912.
On the war front, Russia rapid decline caught the monarch unaware since he had inherited a military force that had a history of incompetence and unaccountability. Nicholas II also made a number of series of military blunders starting with the appointment of his cousin, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, as the commander-in-chief of the army. However, after a year of fierce fighting and series of numerous defeats, the Nicholas II took personal command of the army. Unfortunately, this move went a long way in dispelling the myth of divine infallibility of the monarchy among the Russian people at the time because he was also unsuccessful in winning battles against a superior adversary.
Orlando Figes clarifies that dismal performance of the Russian military during the First World War, incompetent leadership of the last Czar along with its political, social and economic repercussions lead to Russian Revolution of 1917.