Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: Introduction

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Wilde, Robert. "Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: Introduction." ThoughtCo, Jun. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/russian-revolutions-introduction-1221814. Wilde, Robert. (2017, June 19). Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: Introduction. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/russian-revolutions-introduction-1221814 Wilde, Robert. "Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: Introduction." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/russian-revolutions-introduction-1221814 (accessed September 22, 2017).
Tsar Nicholas II
Tsar Nicholas II. Wikimedia Commons

Although a timeline of 1917 can be very helpful for a student of the Russian Revolutions (one in February and a second in October 1917), I don't feel it adequately conveys the context, the decades long build up of social and political pressure. Consequently, I've created a series of linked timelines covering the period 1861-1918, highlighting - amongst other things - the development of the socialist and liberal groups, the 'revolution' of 1905 and the emergence of the industrial worker.

The Russian Revolution wasn't simply the result of World War One, which just triggered the collapse of a system being eroded by tensions for several decades before, the sort of collapse Hitler thought would be repeated in the Second World War; he was a war too late for his plans, and history is rarely as easy to predict by looking back as history students have to argue in essays. While the events of 1917 were traumatic for two continents, it set in motion Europe's communist era, which filled much of the twentieth century and affected the outcomes of one hot war and the existence of another cold. No one in 1905, or 1917, really knew where they would end up, much like the early days of the French Revolution gave little clue to the later, and it's also important to remember that the first revolution of 1917 was not communist, and things might not have turned out the way they had a lot of different paths been taken.

Of course, a timeline is primarily a reference tool, not a substitute for a narrative or discursive text, but because they can be used to quickly and easily grasp the pattern of events, I've included more detail and explanation than is normal. Consequently, I hope this chronology will be more useful than simply a dry list of dates and unexplained statements.

However, the focus is very much on the revolutions in 1917, so events key to other aspects of Russian history have frequently been omitted from the earlier eras.

Where the reference books disagree over a particular date, I have tended to side with the majority. A list of texts with timelines and further reading is given below.

The Timeline

Pre-1905
1905
1906- 13
1914- 16
1917
1918

Texts used in compiling this timeline

A People's Tragedy, The Russian Revolution 1891 - 1924 by Orlando Figes (Pimlico, 1996)
The Longman Companion to Imperial Russia 1689 - 1917 by David Longley
The Longman Companion to Russia since 1914 by Martin McCauley
The Origins of the Russian Revolution Third edition by Alan Wood (Routledge, 2003)
The Russian Revolution, 1917 by Rex Wade (Cambridge, 2000)
The Russian Revolution 1917 - 1921 by James White (Edward Arnold, 1994)
The Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes (Vintage, 1991)
Three Whys of the Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes (Pimlico, 1995)

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