What caused the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia? What were the consequences?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Over a century of Romanov rule came to a crashing halt in February of 1917, as a democratic revolution overthrew Tsar Nicholas II in Russia. The Romanov's had ruled unilaterally over Russia since the Seventeenth Century. There were many failures during Nicholas's rule that led to his ultimate downfall.

Ultimately, Nicholas's failures can be attributed to his inability to allow his advisors to make decisions. After becoming entangled in World War I, he insisted on directing strategy, which he was not capable of. Russia was soundly embarrassed and defeated by Germany in short order with the loss of millions of Russian troops. The toll that the war took on the economy plunged the country into chaos and famine.

While Nicholas was off playing war general, the control of the government was in the hands of his wife. She was even less qualified to handle a Russia on the brink of destruction. Tsarina Alexandra appointed an eccentric monk named Rasputin to make important decisions. Rasputin was not at all qualified to make significant decisions and when he failed, the Russian people were not at all happy. Rasputin was murdered in 1916, but he had already damaged the reputation of the royal family beyond repair.

The disruption of transportation, agricultural, and industrial capacity of Russia was completely and utterly disrupted by the war effort. Labor unions and other activist groups led widespread protests that were met with violence by the forces of Tsar Nicholas. This was the final insult to injury in Russia.
In March of 1917, Tsar Nicholas was forced to resign. The results of the abdication were sweeping. The autocratic rule of Russia was over and a democratic transitional government was established. This government would be overthrown by the Bolshevik Revolution in November. A communist government and economic system would rule Russia for the next seventy years. As for the Romanov family, their fate was not for the faint of heart. They were immediately detained after abdication, and in November they were assassinated by Bolshevik forces.

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