The February Revolution

The February Revolution of 1917 serves as the event that most directly led to the downfall of the Romanov Dynasty.

As Freeze explains, the revolution began with street demonstrations protesting food shortages. Revolutionaries quickly joined in, and the growing protests became centered around general dissatisfaction with the regime.

The Tsar, alarmed at the increasing magnitude of the protests, called upon the military to fire on the protesters. The military, however, ended up joining the protesters. In a manifesto “To the People of Petrograd and Russia,” the Soviet of Worker’s Deputies recounts the events that unfolded: “the soldiers would not act against the people and turned against the Government. Together with the people they seized guns, arsenals, and important governmental institutions.”

The manifesto, written in early March (before the Tsar abdicated), also provided instructions for what needed to occur next: “In order to succeed in this struggle for democracy, the people must create their own governmental organ…All together, with our forces united, we will fight to wipe out completely the old Government and to call a constituent assembly on the basis of universal, equal, direct, and secret suffrage.”

After Tsarist ministers were arrested and his police disappeared, Nicolas abdicated. I was able to find his Abdication Manifesto. He recognized the major impact that World War I had had on Russia (or, as he described it: “the great struggle against a foreign foe”), and stated that he was handing “down our inheritance to our brother, Grand Duke Michael Aleksandrovich, and give him our blessing on mounting the throne of the Russian Empire.”

He continued:

“We call on all faithful sons of the Fatherland to fulfill their sacred obligations to their country by obeying the Tsar at this hour of national distress.”

I’m not sure how seriously his last wish was taken…


Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, To the People of Petrograd and Russia. March 12, 1917 (February 27)

Original Source: Izvestiia komiteta petrogradskikh zhurnalistov, No. 1, 12 March 1917.



Nikolai II, Abdication Manifesto. March 2, 1917

Original Source: Izvestiia komiteta petrogradskikh zhurnalistov, 3 March 1917.