By February 1917, discontent within the Tsarist society had risen to such a level that a revolution occurred. Originally, the revolution began as several protests about poverty, crime and the conditions in which Russians were forced to work and live in. These protests soon vilified Tsar Nicholas and turned into brutal and violent riots, although it can be argued that the Tsar acted villainous towards his people and thus deserved his status as an enemy of the people. There were many contributing factors that led to the Spring revolution, chiefly the growing vexation of the public that began many years before the war and the catalysis of the war in fuelling the fire of discontent. This essay will discuss the effects of these factors on the breakdown of the Tsarist society by February 1917 and form a supported conclusion on which factor had the largest impact and was, ultimately, the main reason for the breakdown of society and the subsequent revolutions.
The Condition of Russian Society and Government in the Years Immediately Before Revolution
Firstly, Russification was the Tsar’s way of creating a Russia that would be easier for him to control. One nationality, one language, one religion, and one Tsar to rule them all. Russification recognised only one category of person; the “Great Russian”. In the Tsar’s mind, Russification was to be popular, enormously so. The Tsar would face no opposition and the country would face no defeats; military, economy or otherwise. However, the public were not quite so keen on being stripped of their individuality. Followers of religions other than Catholicism, for example Protestantism or Judaism, were angry. Citizens who considered themselves to be another nationality, for example Kazak or Cossa...
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...er, hundreds of thousands of Russians died during the war. All of these factors were great sources of discontent within Russian society and so it would make sense that the war was the main reason for the breakdown of Tsarist society and the beginning of the revolutions. However, there had been largely increasing discontent for many years prior to the war and naturally this discontent would have led to an uprising eventually, although not as soon as it did. The First World War was a catalyst in the period before revolution and sped up the process. It increased the anger of the population and highlighted the discontent, but it certainly did not create the discontent in the first place and so is not the main reason for the breakdown of society. The war simply made the society worse and therefore was used as an excuse to revolt earlier than would have naturally occurred.
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