Russian Revolution or October Revolution?

What is the Russian Revolution?

A Brief Summary

By “Russian revolution” scholars refer to two separate events that took place in 1917 which brought to the demise of the Romanovs’ tsarist regime and would shape the course of World History for the following seventy years (until 1991, date of the dissolution of the Soviet Union). The first event is the February revolution, which was largely due to spontaneous uprisings of the Saint-Petersburg population and part of the Army, after a mass protest originated by food rationing. The mid to long term causes, however spawned back in time to include a general discontent with the emperor Nicholas II and defeats inflicted to the army during the First World War.

The tragic February events, almost exclusively confined to Saint-Petersburg, resulted nevertheless in the abdication of the Tsar and the end of the Romanov dynasty.

The Provisional Government

Initially the power was taken by a liberal government, composed of noble or rich capitalist, led by prince Lvov. The Moscow Soviet did take part to the coalition, but it still didn’t have the influence that would grow of the following months: only after Vladimir Lenin’s return from the exile (a fiery come-back – at Saint Petersburg Finland Station – immediately marked by the proclamation of the need of a world-wide revolution)  would the Bolshevik strength increase and reach the critical mass needed to force the course of the events in the direction of a socialist revolution. Continue reading “Russian Revolution or October Revolution?”

Alexander Kerensky: The Leader That Never Was

Every revolution has a leader, a hero, a winner. The Chinese Revolution of 1949 marked the success of one man, Mao Zedong; Cuba still widely celebrates his Comandante Fidel Castro, Tehran’s major airport is named after the spiritual father of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khomeini and, of course, the Soviet Union for decades cherished the memory of the man who (supposedly) gave the Russian people peace, land and bread: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by the alias Lenin. But in the crucial months of 1917, after the tsar abdicated and Russia plunged into chaos, another figure emerged, that of Alexander Kerensky. Continue reading “Alexander Kerensky: The Leader That Never Was”

Heidelberg Library Resources on Russian Revolution

Russian revolution is not similar to any other revolution; it was a coordinated planned revolution and the culmination of series of protests, political reformations and civil insurrection succeeded in 1917. Each one of these events that led to the Russian Revolution have their own kind of story, full of mystery, intrigue and drama. There are many fictions, movies, articles, documentaries and scholarly content on Russian Revolution and you may have seen or read some of them. But how can you determine if the information you have retained from watching a movie about the Russian Revolution is based on the truth? How can you evaluate your source of information and identify the most valid and reliable source from those that contain biased or flawed information?

In the first session of our Dissertation Workshops held on September 20 in the computer lab, students learned how to understand if a particular source can be used in their academic paper. This interactive workshop primarily helps the Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy and Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy students to find and evaluate primary and secondary sources of information on political science and international relations.

For instance you may look for primary sources to find photos of Battle of Tsushima and a museum archive can give you access to non-interpreted or unanalyzed picture of this battle:


If you intend to study a map from the Empire of the Tsars, you may find very helpful:

Secondary sources can tell you the story of the Russian Revolution more steps removed from the original photos or museum archived documents. You can use LIRN to get access to the scientific databases and find scholarly or peer-reviewed articles on Russian Revolution.

Rasputin’s hypnotic powers, his influence on the last Russian’s Tsar and his brutal demise have been always one of the most fascinating side-stories of the Russian Revolution. You may be wondering what the truth about Rasputin mythology is. The following article available on can be absorbing for you:

Pares, B. (1927). Rasputin and the empress: Authors of the russian collapse. Foreign Affairs (Pre-1986), 6(000001), 140.

If you need guidance on using e-Resources and finding more material on Russian Revolution, or you want to attend the next Dissertation Workshop, please contact your Librarian. You can also use other libraries’ resources that we provide you for free through the Inter-library loan services.

Please send an email to Ms. Leili Erfanian for more information.

Similar Articles

On the topic of the Russian revolution, see also a brief comment on “A People’s Tragedy” – a major classic on the subject – and a short portrait of one of its less known actors, Alexander Kerensky.

“A People’s Tragedy: the Russian Revolution 1891-1924”

russian revolution figes

“A panorama of Russian society on the eve  of the revolution and the story of its violent erasure”, according to the publisher’s note, prof. Figes’s main opus on the Russian revolution is huge in scope, thorough in unique research, composed with energy, story aptitude, and human empathy. Starting from the Famine of 1891-1892 and ending in 1924, with the death of Lenin, it argues that by then “the basic elements of the Stalinist regime – the one-party state, the system of terror and the cult of the personality – were all in place”. Many view the Russian Revolution as the most noteworthy occasion of the twentieth century. Recognized researcher Orlando Figes presents a scene of Russian culture on the eve of that upset, and after that portrays the account of how these social powers were brutally deleted. Inside the expansive feeds of war and upset are scaled down histories of people, in which Figes takes after the primary players’ fortunes as they saw their expectations bite the dust and their reality collide with ruins. Dissimilar to past records that follow the birthplaces of the upset to overextending political powers and beliefs, Figes contends that the disappointment of majority rule government in 1917 was profoundly established in Russian culture and social history and that what had begun as a people’s insurgency contained the seeds of its degeneration into savagery and fascism.

2017 is of course the first centenary since the “ten days that shook the world”. However, the exact day of the event varies from the original and highly symbolic October 25th according to the Julian calendar to November 7th of the “new style“.

A new centenary edition of the book with a new introduction has been published recently, as Figes’ text has become a fundamental work, along with others such as The Russian Revolution by Pipes. For an exhaustive bibliography on the topic see its page on the Oxford Bibliographies website.

By the same author, “Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A History” follows the life of the Soviet Union from his birth to its collapse. Shorter in length and wider in scope, the book investigates if and how the revolutionary tenets and goals set in 1917 held throughout the subsequent decades, under the short, dense and partly experimental rule of Lenin, through the long, despotic reign of Stalin, all the way to Gorbachev’s perestroika and  USSR final demise.

The “red October” being a major event in the world history of the nineteenth century, it obviously has a major role in several courses of both our Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy and  the Master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy. Students of these curricula willing to develop their knowledge about these topics are encouraged to search for further resources (including Figes’) on our library’s online catalog, on the LIRN portal, at the American Library in Paris (SIU students’ membership is paid by Schiller) or at any other of the facilities listed on the Paris campus library page.