The collapse of the Tsarist regime in Russia continues to be debated by historians who want to understand the causes of revolution in this country, its course, and major implications. There are many works about the events that contributed to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty and the authors of these books may not necessarily agree with one another.
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Overall, it is possible to argue that the downfall of monarchy in Russia can be attributed to various political and social tensions within the country as well as its international relations. Moreover, one should not forget about the decisions and policies of Tsar Nicholas II whose competency can be questioned.
When speaking about the key events, many researchers focus on the impact that military conflicts produced on the Russian society. First of all, it is important to mention the Russo-Japanese War that began in 1904 and ended a year later with the defeat of the Russian Army (Lee, 2003, p. 76; Lacey, 2002, p. 103).
This defeat undermined people’s trust in the effectiveness of the Tsarist regime as a system of government. Moreover, it put extra strain on the economy of the country. Public discontent eventually culminated in many protests and the subsequent Revolution of 1905.
The outbreak of World War I had produced very similar effect on the country. The significant losses that the Russian Army sustained, the shortage of food supplies, and the increasing desertion of soldiers intensified the tension within the society. The Tsarist regime managed to overcome the consequences of the Russo-Japanese War, but the effects of World War I proved to be fatal for the country (Home, 2012, p. 26). Thus, the role of military conflicts should not be overlooked.
Many historians attach importance to the influence of personality on the course of history, and some of them focus on the personality of Tsar Nicholas II. The start of his reign in 1894 is one of the events that led to the eventual collapse of the Tsarist regime. It is believed that he was unsuitable for the role of the leader (Frankel, 2005, p. 233).
Researchers often use the adjective “inept” when describing his administrative and leadership skills (Pahomov, 2008, p. 111). Certainly, he was significantly vilified by the government, but many of his actions proved to be disastrous, for instance, the decision to enter the war with Japan.
There were other events that might have contributed to the collapse of the Tsarist regime. For instance, one can mention the so-called Bloody Sunday or the massacre of the demonstration in front of the Winter Palace. This event took place in 1905 and it showed that the regime could act violently against its own people even when they do not intend to act violently (Moss, 2005, p. 94).
It is possible to say that the monarchy never regained the trust of the Russian people. Additionally, one should speak about numerous Jewish pogroms that took place within the period between 1903 and 1906 (Weinberg, 1993, p. 138). The main issue is that these atrocities were unpunished by the state. This is why many intellectuals came to the belief that the monarchy had not even tried to pursue justice.
Overall, the events that have been discussed are related to the political life of Russia, the international relations of the country, and the political decisions of Nicolas II. It is difficult to determine whether the downfall of the Romanov dynasty could be avoided or not. However, the Tsar might have avoided some of the pitfalls such as the war with Japan.
Frankel, B. (2005). History in Dispute: Revolutionary Russia, 1890-1930. London: St. James Press.
Home, J. (2012). A Companion to World War I. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Lacey, G. (2002). Revise Modern World History for OCR Specification 1937. Boston: Heinemann.
Lee, S. (2003). Europe, 1890-1945. London: Routledge.
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Moss, W. (2005). A History of Russia: Since 1855. Boston: Anthem Press.
Pahomov, G. (2008). The Russian Century: A Hundred Years of Russian Lives. Washington: University Press of America.
Weinberg, R. (1993). The Revolution of 1905 in Odessa: Blood on the Steps. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.