Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sayonara to the Tsar

The Romanov family ruled Russia for more than three centuries by autocratic rule. However, that all came to in end in 1917. Many different factors went into the fall of the Tsar Nicholas II rule. One of the most important contributing factors was the February Revolution in 1917.

It all began on February 23, 1917. On International Women’s Day, women workers from a textile factory decided to protest against the food shortages and high bread prices. Their protest was the spark for many other riots and demonstrations. The amount of protesters grew astronomically once people saw what they were doing, and they all converged on St. Petersburg.

Soldiers march towards St. Petersburg during the February Revolution
Soldiers march towards St. Petersburg during the February Revolution

Troops and units of police were sent to try to end the riots and protests, but they were unsuccessful. Too many people had joined in the revolution. Nicholas II began to take the revolutionists serious. He did not want them to find a leader, so he dismissed the Duma. However, they simply decided to reconvene. The Tsar finally realized that he needed to abdicate his thrown. The autocracy was finally abolished. The Romanov family rule ended on March 2nd, 1917.

A telegram that reports the abdication of the Tsar Nicholas II
A telegram that reports the abdication of the Tsar Nicholas II

The fourth Duma organized a provisional government following the abdication of Nicholas II. This provisional government would share power with the Petrograd Soviet. It would be a “dual government” that shared power between the two. However, the power of the provisional government was limited. The real power was with the Soviets. They showed their power when they issued Order #1 to the provisional government. The order said that they could remain in power, so long that they enacted what the Soviets wanted. This order was the start to the “dual government”. Gone was the tsar, now, a new type of government was in town.

Works Cited:


It’s Sunday…Bloody Sunday

If you type in the phrase “Bloody Sunday” into google, many different choices appear (40,900,000 to be exact). The first few are song lyrics from U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’. Next on the list are from a Bloody Sunday that happened in 1972. The incident I was researching happened on January 9th, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The movement all started with an Orthodox priest named Georgii Gapon. Gapon began organizing thousands of people into the “Assembly of Russian Factory Workers”. It was a legal labor organization that was approved by the government as a way to guide workers away from new extreme ideas and continue their support of the Tsar and his autocratic government. The movement took off. Thousands of people joined and supported Gapon’s assembly.

In December 1904, the machine-building Putilov factory laid off many workers. These workers happened to be part of Gapon’s assembly. The conclusion was drawn that they were trying to reduce the power of the Assembly by getting rid of workers that were members. This incident helped to spark the march on January 9, 1905.

Gapon wanted to deliver a petition to Tsar Nicholas II at the Winter Palace. The petition asked for a shorter work day, increased salary, as well as free elections. As the day arrived, the people peacefully began to make their way towards the Palace. They walked with religious icons and sang traditional Russian songs. What they met at the palace was not what the people expected.

The Preobrashensky Regiment greeted the peaceful petitioners outside the Winter Palace
The Preobrashensky Regiment greeted the peaceful petitioners outside the Winter Palace

The Tsar was not even at the palace when they arrived. Instead, the Preobrashensky Regiment was. They had been ordered by the chief of the security police to fire to kill. More than 100 people were killed, and hundreds more were injured. This incident caused for public opinion of the tsar to drop immensely. People turned against him after hearing about  this atrocious event. What started as a peaceful day turned into a horrible event in history.

Works Cited:

Freeze, Gregory. (2009). Russia, A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Photograph: The Tsar’s soldiers shooting at demonstrators at the Winter Palace – still shot from the Soviet Film “Devyatoe yanvarya – 9th of January” (1925) by Vyacheslav Viskovsky

Out with the Old, In with the New

Russia has always been a country that fascinated me. They are like that mysterious, leather jacket wearing, brooding person standing in the corner at a party. No matter what you learn about them, there always seems to be some secret that is just out a reach. This articulates my feelings about Russia perfectly. No matter how much I learn about Russian culture, history, architecture, politics, and just about any other topic for that matter, I always want to learn more. There always seems to be something more, lurking just beneath the surface, just out of reach. So, if you would like, you can come along with me to try to discover a little more of the rich and complex Russian history from the past 100 years.

For my first blogpost, I examined photographs by Prokudin-Gorskii that were taken in the early 1900’s. The thing that is so striking about these pictures is that they are in beautiful color, taken in the early decades of the 20th century. Every photograph that he took is quite spectacular, but the one that caught my eye is called Three Generations.


The picture above is of A.P Kalganov, his son, and his granddaughter. The reason why I was so drawn to this picture is because it shows how the country was beginning to transition to a more modernized nation. The grandfather on the left wears traditional Russian clothes and a long masculine-looking beard, while the other two appear in more modern Westernized clothes. This picture was taken in 1910, just seven years before the Russian Revolution took place. To me, this foreshadows the changes that took place in the overthrowing of the final tsar of Russia, and the takeover by the Bolshevik Party. The Bolshevik Party worked to modernize Russia and “catch-up” to the rest of the world. So, getting back to the photograph above, the grandfather symbolizes the old, traditional way of Russian life under the rule of the tsar. The two on the right show the changes that were to come to Russia under the Bolshevik rule. One simple photograph was able to portray so much history. A big thank you to Sergei Mikhailovich Produkin-Gorskii for his fantastic work.

Permanent Record:

Picture Titled: Three Generations, By Sergei Mikhailovich Produkin-Gorskii, 1910

Works Cited: