Russian Revolution: Summary, Causes, Russian Revolution UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Russian Revolution was one of many uprisings that occurred in the early 20th century. In 1905, the first revolution occurred. The 1917 Russian revolution came after it. In reality, there were two revolutions in 1917. The imperial authority was overthrown in February during the first revolution. The Bolsheviks came to power during the second revolution in October. The First World War marked the beginning of a period of political and social transformation in the former Russian Empire. One of the most important historical events of the 20th century brought an end to Russia’s centuries-long monarchy and gave birth to the world’s only constitutional communist state.

The Russian Revolution UPSC is part of the world history of the IAS exam syllabus. World geography and world history are equally important as that of Indian geography and Indian history for the UPSC exam. Aspirants can also download the Russian revolution notes PDF from the direct link provided below.

History of Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most important occasions of the 12th century. It was a time of social and political turmoil during this revolution. 1917 saw two revolutions in Russia that fundamentally altered the nation. Following two revolutions, a civil war, and the abolition of the monarchy, Russia switched to a socialist system of governance.

Russian Revolution Notes PDF

  • With a sizable population of farmers and an increasing number of industrial employees, Russia in the 1900s was one of the most extremely impoverished and least advanced industrial countries in Europe.
  • Serfdom, one of the final remnants of feudalism, was still in use there. Landless farmers were compelled to work for the landowner nobles under the serfdom system.
  • Although the majority of Europe had abandoned the practice by the Reformation in the late 16th century, it persisted in Russia long into the 19th.
  • Serfdom wasn’t officially abolished until 1861. Serfs’ liberation would trigger a series of circumstances that, in the following years, would result in the Russian Revolution.

What is Russian Revolution?

The Russian Revolution was a crucial event in world history that happened in 1917 when World War I was in its final phase. The Russian Revolution was a major movement that pulled out Russia from the World War and resulted in its transition into the USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The revolution was majorly driven by the working class people of Russia due to the oppression they had to face for a long time.

With the Russian Revolution, Russia became the first-ever Communist country in the world. The entire process occurred in two stages- February and October. It was a period of extensive revolution both socially and politically. Russia adopted a socialist government after the Russian Revolution. The revolution started with the first stage of the February Revolution in 1917 followed by the October Revolution.

Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution

Socialism is an ideology where the focus is on society and its benefit as a whole. Europe adopted the socialist philosophy around the mid-19th century. Socialists believed that no one should own private property and all property should be owned by the whole community. The whole ideology behind socialism spread fast in Europe during the 1870s and the working class started revolting against poor working conditions.

  • Socialism soon stepped foot in Russia as well through the Russian Revolution. The Russian Socialist Democratic Labour Party was set up in 1900.
  • Even after the party’s formation, Russia could not provide peasants with their rights.
  • The party was later broken into two parts – the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks.]
  • The peasant class and the noble class were opposed to each other. Gradually the workers lead several strikes which eventually led to the Russian Revolution during the first World War.
  • The revolution resulted in complete chaos all over the country including the incident of Bloody Sunday.

Causes of Russian Revolution

The czarist imperial government’s pervasive malfeasance and ineffectiveness, rising discontent among peasant farmers, workers, and troops, the monarchy’s level of control over the Russian Orthodox Church, and the collapse of the Imperial Russian Army during World War I were the main causes of the Russian Revolution. Let’s learn in detail about the causes of the Russian Revolution here.

Political Causes:

  • The idea of the Russian revolution was born among the common people when their dreams for democracy were dashed.
  • In terms of politics, the Russian people despised the autocracy of the then-ruling Tsar Nicholas II and his dishonest and antiquated policies.
  • Additionally, the January 1905 Bloody Sunday slaughter increased the populace’s desire to topple the Tsarist regime. The nation experienced a number of strikes in retaliation for the massacre.

Social Causes of Russian Revolution:

  • Russians were mainly working-class peasants. Only 1.5% of the population in Russia possessed a quarter of the land.
  • The rural agricultural peasants were freed from serfdom in 1861, but they still had to pay the state for their redemption.
  • Many peasants sometimes revolted to regain control of their estates, but they were unsuccessful. These accumulated resentments served as fuel for the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Financial Causes:

  • The Russian Revolution is thought to have been economically triggered by the country’s out-of-date economy.
  • Rarely did the rural poor own modern equipment and tools. Due to the country’s typically chilly temperature, the growing season in Russia was just four to six months long.
  • In Western Europe, where it normally lasted eight to nine months, the growing season was shorter.

Father of Russian Revolution

The father of the Russian Revolution was Vladimir Lenin. He was also known by the name Vladimir Ilich Lenin. However, his original name was Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov. The Russian Communist Party was founded by Lenin. It was also called the Bolsheviks. Vladimir Lenin also led the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Vladimir Lenin played a significant role in the Russian Revolution. He also founded another organization called the Comintern which actually referred to Communist International. The revolution that occurred in October was also given the name Bolshevik Revolution after the name of Lenin’s party. He provided guidance & direction to a great extent in the Russian Revolution.

Events of the Russian Revolution

Let us look at the events of the Russian revolution here. The war was terrible for Russia because its army had not been upgraded at the same rate as Germany. It suffered far more wartime casualties than any other country. Key Russian lands had been taken by Germany, which led to increased food scarcity and economic disruption.

  • In August 1914, Russia joined its allies, the Serbians, French, and British, in starting a war on the Central Powers of Austria, Germany, and Ottoman Turkey.
  • Tsar Nicholas II personally travelled to take control of the army, leaving his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, in control of the government, in an effort to unite the Russian troops and people in the aftermath of the battle front’s worsening state.
  • The Tsarina was despised by the Russian people because of her German ancestry. Her decision to fire elected officials based on the supposed counsel of Rasputin, a contentious mystic and preacher, did not make matters any better. During the period, his power and influence over the Russian royal house were well recognised.
  • On December 30, 1916, Rasputin was assassinated by nobility jealous of his power at the imperial court, but the harm had already been done. The Tsarist regime was no longer trusted by the majority of Russians. In the ensuing years, this anger would quickly develop into a full-fledged revolution.

Aftermath of Russian Revolution

Russia saw a number of political transformations as a result of the Russian revolution. It overturned the liberal Provisional Government and put an end to the nation’s dictatorial regime. The Soviet Union eventually emerged until its collapse in 1991. But this battle also had a number of aftereffects.

  • The Russian Revolution put an end to the Tsars’ reign.
  • In July 1918, the Bolsheviks put Nicholas II, his wife, children, and four servants to death.
  • Under Lenin, the Communist Party was established.
  • The intelligence services, or Cheka, were founded by the Bolshevik Party.
  • To oversee the Russian economy, a National Council was established.
  • Additionally, during the Russian Revolution, banks were nationalised.
  • When Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, World War I was over.
  • Farmers and factory workers were all given their own farms and factories.
  • From 1918 through 1920, the Russian Civil War raged on.

Russian Revolution Summary

The Russian Revolution was a major turning point in the history of Russia as a country as well as the world. It removed the old monarchy in Russia and replaced it with a socialist or communist government. The Russian Revolution gave power to the Bolsheviks. There was complete unrest and chaos in the country as the working class was mainly behind the revolutionary activities & they were still not satisfied with the provisions.

February Revolution

The February Revolution was one of the two parts of the Russian Revolution. The revolutionary movement started with the February Revolution in 1917. Tsar Nicholas II was the monarch of Russia at the time and the country was very backward in its approach. After Russia participated in World War 1, the situation got even worse. The country was not able to match up to the requirements & was struggling hard to even feed its people.

Due to the ongoing chaos and struggling conditions, the people started losing their faith in the monarch and soon came onto the roads for protest. This initiated the February Revolution which also included women on strikes.

October Revolution

The October Revolution was the second part of the Russian Revolution. As the February Revolution gained momentum and several workers stormed the streets of Russia, a need for a new government arose. An interim government was formed which was self-appointed and was headed by Prince George Lvov. A few reforms were introduced but in vain.

The new government also did not work in favour of the peasants & working class. As the government was unsuccessful in addressing the root cause behind the earlier evolution, it gave birth to the October Revolution in October 1917.

  • The temporary government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks after the heavy protests that were initiated on 24th October.
  • There was no revolt against the Bolsheviks and thus it lead to a new movement leading to a successful October Revolution.

Russian Revolution UPSC

The Russian Revolution UPSC has been one of the most important revolutions in the history of the world. As a UPSC aspirant, the candidate must know the entire history of important revolutions and movements happening throughout the globe. The aspirants can visit the NCERT books for UPSC and other study materials to prepare effectively for the Russian Revolution.

Russian Revolution UPSC Questions

The Russian Revolution UPSC topic is important in world history. Keeping this aspect in mind, below are two reference questions for the aspirants to study the Russian Revolution.

Q1. Bloody Sunday is related to which revolution in Russia?

Select the correct answer from the options given below

  1. The Russian revolution of 1905
  2. Great October Socialist Revolution 1917
  3. Bolotnikov Rebellion
  4. Bourgeois democratic Revolution 1917

Answer: Option A

Q2. What was the reason behind the formation of the Soviet Union from the Russian Empire?

Select the correct answer from the options given below

  1. Russian revolution of 1917
  2. Bolshevik Party
  3. Both a and b
  4. Neither a nor b

Answer: Option C

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