How Far Was WW1 the Main Cause of the Fall of the Romanovs in February 1917

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Tsar Nicholas II was the head of the Romanov family who had ruled Russia for five generations from 1613 to 1762. When Nicholas had inherited the throne he married Alexandra Fyodorovna of Hesse, who was from Germany. They had five children together, but their popularity was starting to fall by 1914. When there was the outbreak of the war, the Russian people criticised Alexandra’s German heritage and Nicholas’s failure to treat Russia’s social, political and economic problems caused further discontent among the Russian people.In 1905, Nicholas made himself Commander of the Russian Military and left Petrograd for his new military headquarters on the war front. Because he had left, the Tsarina Alexandra was left to rule. Her most trusted advisor was a faith healer called Grigori Rasputin. Because of him, Alexandra became very paranoid and appointed and dismissed government officials at her own personal choice. Russia had 4 different Prime Ministers who were appointed in 16 months and their policies all varied from repressive to oppressive.

Rasputin was murdered in 1916 by some of his opponents, and Alexandra who was left alone to rule tightened her grip on authority over the Russian people. While this was happening, World War 1 was not going well for Nicholas, who had still not won a large battle which he could tell the people about. This meant that most of the Russian moral had gone and the war effort had lost all of its momentum first gained. Also the severe winter did not help, it meant that there was a shortage of food for all classes of people, and the means of transport were disabled.

The anarchy in Petrograd was finally brought to the attention of Nicholas, but only a limited amount because the reports were censored. It was not until he tried to return to Petrograd that he realized how many strikes there were and how critical they were to Russia. This was just like the Tsar’s rule, because reports were being censored so the Tsar himself was out of touch with what was going on in Russia. He didn’t realize that Government ministers and bureaucrats were abandoning their positions, and how badly Russia was coping. In Petrograd, the Duma attempted to maintain some sort of control over the increasing amounts of strikes.

In February they advised Nicholas to abdicate his throne, and he responded by ordering the dissolution of the Duma. However 12 members decided to stand against the Tsar and defy him. This was a major turning point in the revolution against the royal family, because nobody had defied the Tsar on this sort of scale. These members however went against the Tsar on a constitutional level and were led by Alexander Kerensky. They formed a provisional committee and officially asked for Nicholas II to abdicate his throne. The soviets also formed an alliance with the committee to try and add more force to the opposition against the Tsar.

Once he was defied by the Duma and the Russian people, Nicholas tried to return to Petrograd to restore order. He thought that by making an appearance everything would be forgotten and the situation could be calmed down. It was only when he was on a train to Petrograd and he had been abandoned by his advisors and ministers that he realized how bad the situation was. His fellow officers in the high command also advised Nicholas to abdicate his throne. And on March 2nd he did and offered it to Gran Duke Michael. He realized that Russia was in a state of chaos and didn’t think that he would be up for the job so declined the offer.

On march 3rd the provisional committee which was formed from the former 12 members of the Duma formed a provisional government. Although the discontent remained, the strikes gradually stopped as the people became aware that they had achieved the change that they had wanted. For the rest of the year, the provisional government moved Nicholas and his family around the country. Finally they were moved to a militant stronghold where they were sentenced to death by the government. Each of the six family members were shot and the bodies were soaked in acid and then burnt. This was the end of the Romanov family.

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