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“What role did Russia’s performance in the First World War play on the origins of the February Revolution?”. Free essay! Download now

Home > A Level > History > “What role did Russia’s performance in the First World War play on the origins of the February Revolution?”.

“What role did Russia’s performance in the First World War play on the origins of the February Revolution?”.

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1850 | Submitted: 12-May-2009
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“What role did Russia’s performance in the First World War play on the origins of the February Revolution?”.


In order to understand events from 1914-1917, it is first important to understand Russia’s background. Russia’s reputation has to be said to be an odd one. Towards its European brethren, Russia portrays itself as one of the Great powers, eager to show achievements and greatness. However its vast territory is its greatest weapon and weakness.
The shear size of Russia makes it is hard to govern, meaning that poor communications, transport was the result. Although industrialisation had started in Europe in the first part of the 19th century, Russia was half a decade behind.
Russian lacked identity, its territorial span which stretched from Europe to Asia, was made of different religions, nationalities and languages. Its only unity was then by default was the Romanov dynasty, which was neither a strong nor decisive.

The quality of the Russian government before 1905 was non-existent. The “Duma” had no power, whilst the Tsar Nicholas II remained in sole control of the empire and the Tsar had little interest in sharing power. He was not a strong or charismatic leader.
This meant that the masses were unrepresented and not enough political reform had taken place to improve life for the Russian people.
The population was made up of urban workers but mostly peasants, both whom were poor and illiterate and whose standard of living was low. Peasants worked and lived in villages using out of date farming methods, whilst the workers dealt with poor factory conditions as well. The middle class where small in number and increasingly wanted a say in the government. Fewer in number were the landowners, the autocracy whom were in favour of then notable unfair distribution of wealth as most of the land was owned by the nobility. The approximate population of Russia by the turn of the 20th century was approximately 126 million, and considering that over 90 percent of that was made up out of the oppressed masses, it becomes clear for most of the Russian population does not have a high standard of living.

In 1904, Japan declared war on Russia, as both empires tried to expand into Eastern Asia. The Tsar was extremely confident. Its army was the largest of the entire world, but suffered from poor leadership, as the generals tried to out-perform each other as well as hinder each other.
The portion of the army that fought in the Russo-Japanese war was a conscript army, low in morale. Although the Trans-Siberian Railway had been constructed between 1891-1904, the army was crippled by poor transport facilities and was re-enforced slowly. A limited number of troops and supplies were crushingly defeated by the Japanese. The Tsar humbly signed the treaty of Portsmouth he end the war in 1905.
The Tsar was humiliated, and a rift begun to tare between himself and the people, it was the beginning of social unrest. Asuccessful war would divert the discontent of the Russians from his despotic rule, instead its highlighted its industrial and agricultural and corrupt inefficient government.

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