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Nicholas II

Tsar Nicholas II.

The Russian Revolution was an uprising that occurred in the Russian Empire in 1900 following a series of Russian defeats during the Great Northern War.

Russian elites in St. Petersburg had lived in fear of revolution since the European uprisings of the Bloody Eighties. In order to maintain itself in power, the nobility had come to rely on the secret police, the army, and informers within the various revolutionary movements. The successive losses of Alaska in 1898 and Siberia in 1899 to the armies of the United States of Mexico, followed by an economic and financial crisis, led to an uprising in St. Petersburg on 2 February 1900 which spread from there to the rest of European Russia. The most important revolutionary leaders were Count Serge Witte, Pavel Miliukov, and General Vladimir Malenkov.

In the Ukraine, General Malko Hrishchiev formed his own provisional government, with power being exercised behind the scenes by a cabal of young officers led by Major Simon Petlura. This was followed by Poland and the Baltic States breaking away from the Russian Empire. By early July, the new national armies and the revolutionaries had united to defeat the forces loyal to Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas was obliged to abdicate on 17 July in favor of his brother Michael II, and he and his family fled to Great Britain. Two months later, Tsar Michael gave up hope of remaining in power, and on 5 September he and the remainder of the Russian royal family fled to Sweden.

Fighting continued among the various Russian successor states for five years, and was only brought to an end by the intervention of Britain, France, the Germanic Confederation, and Austria.


Sobel's sources for the Russian Revolution are Michael Suzanov's Siberia Under Mexican Domination: the First Year (London, 1910); Feodor Kluchansky's Russia in Exile (London, 1911); Felix Noland's A Military History of the Great Northern War (London, 1925); C. Hadley McCoy's The Beginning of Modern Times (London, 1965); and Zoë Montgomery's The Russian Revolution (New York, 1967).

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