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Russian Revolution Facts

Have you ever heard of little Princess Anastasia Romanov? She has featured in many films and books. Did you know she was a real princess in Russia and she and her family had to flee the country in 1917?

Princess Anastasia Romanov

This was because the monarchy had been overthrown in the Russian Revolution. Everything changed in Russia during the Russian Revolution and the monarchy was gone for good.

Tsar Nicholas II

Anastasia Romanov’s father, the Tsar King Nicholas II, was forced off his throne.

A man called Vladimir Lenin took charge and used a new idea in Europe, Marxism, to develop a new way of ruling all together. This was called Communism.

It was a huge change to the old way of governing at the end of World War One.

Why were people in Russia so unhappy with the King (Tsar)? Why did the people of Russia want change in 1917, and why did they want it so quickly?

Communist flag Russia

Hungry people

Russia was a huge country, and its people were very spread out. This made it difficult for the ruling monarchs of Russia to understand the lives of ordinary people.

In any case, the monarchs and the poorer or working Russians of the country led very different lives.

At the time, most of the people throughout were peasants: these are people that worked small plots of land. They were treated unfairly, and they did not always have enough money or food to eat.


New ideas

Some people in Russia in the big cities of Moscow and St Petersburg had been reading some new ideas about different ways of governing people. One idea was especially important at the time.

A man called Karl Marx came up with a theory that people felt explained how people in power (for example a factory owner, or a king) could take advantage of poor working people to make themselves wealthier.  

Karl Marx 1875
Circa 1865: Karl Marx (1818-1883), philosopher and German politician.

People liked this idea because they often had to work long hours for little money, and watched others get richer as they went hungry.

Karl Marx suggested that one day people should rise up against those in power and that the wealth of the world should be spread evenly around everybody.

This idea was spreading in the factories of Moscow and St Petersburg.


In Russia, this idea was becoming popular because people (especially factory workers) felt they were being treated unfairly.

The First World War had also been very hard on the Russian people and many of them were growing hungry. They wanted a change for that reason, too.

New York WWI Troops Fight to get into the Fight
Soldiers of the 369th Infantry Regiment man a trench in France during World War I. The Signal Corps photograph collection includes every major aspect of the United States (U.S.) Army involvement in WWI.

How did Marx’s ideas turn into a Revolution?

There was a young man in Russia called Vladimir Lenin who liked this idea very much. He and his Bolshevik party spread this message to all the factory workers in the city, and all the peasants in Russia’s vast countryside.

There were other political parties with the same idea too.


The February Revolution

Workers in factories were getting angry at the Tsar, too. In 1905, the people of Russia went on massive strikes (they stopped working to protest).

These strikes became very violent and the workers turned on the Tsar.

This was called the February Revolution. A new government was put in its place. The Tsar was gone, but the real transformation was yet to come.

Russian Revolution

The Bolshevik Revolution

In October of 1917, Lenin took full control of the government in what is called the Bolshevik Revolution. Russia became the first communist country in the world.

Do you know any other communist countries or states?

Quiz – Time to test your knowledge!


When was the Bolshevik Revolution?

Who was Vladimir Lenin?

Why were the people of Russia unhappy?

What did the workers do in 1905?

World War 1

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