Year 9

Tsarist Russia

I can explain why tsarist rule in Russia came to an end in February 1917.

Year 9

Tsarist Russia

I can explain why tsarist rule in Russia came to an end in February 1917.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. Russia in the early twentieth century was governed by an absolutist tsar.
  2. Russian society was largely rural with 85% of Russians living in the countryside.
  3. Russian society was unequal. The aristocracy and middle classes had far greater wealth than peasants and workers.
  4. Fighting was going badly on the Eastern Front, causing high levels of poverty in Russia.
  5. Strikes and riots broke out in early 1917, forcing the Tsar to abdicate and go into exile.

Common misconception

Revolutions always involve the execution of the previous leaders of government.

Although there was violence during the February Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II agreed to abdicate.


  • Tsar - tsar is the Russian word for emperor

  • Duma - the Duma was a Russian parliament set up in 1906

  • Absolute power - a ruler has absolute power if they can act as they wish without any restrictions

  • Abdicate - to abdicate means to give up the throne

Based on the fact Russia had the largest army in the world, ask students to predict how people may have felt about the war at its very beginning. Then ask why it might be a problem for the Tsar if high expectations weren't met.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains depictions of discriminatory behaviour.
  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.
  • Contains conflict or violence.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

Which statement is most accurate?
Only people from Western Europe fought in WWI
Only people from European countries and their empires fought in WWI
Only people from outside Europe fought in WWI
Correct answer: People from all over the world fought in WWI
Write the missing word. In a feudal society, make up the majority of the population but have very little power.
Correct Answer: peasants, Peasants
In which country did the Industrial Revolution begin?
Correct answer: Britain
Match-up the keywords with their correct definitions.
Correct Answer:aristocracy,upper classes

upper classes

Correct Answer:bourgeoisie,middle classes

middle classes

Correct Answer:proletariat,working classes

working classes

Write the missing word. According to Marx, in a society, most of the work was done by the proletariat but the bourgeoisie held most of the power and wealth.
Correct Answer: capitalist, Capitalist
Starting with the earliest, sort the following stages into order according to theories of Karl Marx.
1 - bourgeoisie take power from the aristocracy
2 - bourgeoisie exploit workers
3 - proletarian revolution
4 - socialist state created
5 - communism achieved

6 Questions

Write the missing word. Russian emperors were known as ...
Correct Answer: tsars, Tsars, tsar, Tsar
Which group made up the majority of Tsarist Russia's population?
middle classes
industrial workers
Correct answer: peasants
How many Russian soldiers died fighting between 1914 and 1917?
over 9000
over 90 000
Correct answer: over 900 000
Write the missing word. During the February Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to ...
Correct Answer: abdicate, Abdicate
Starting with the earliest, sort the events of the February Revolution into chronological order.
1 - strikers and female protestors demand an end to their hunger
2 - protests in Petrograd grow larger and demand that Tsar Nicholas II abdicate
3 - soldiers sent to break-up the protests begin to join the protestors
4 - politicians and the army encourage Nicholas II to abdicate
5 - Tsar Nicholas II abdicates
Which example best demonstrates that Tsar Nicholas II had absolute power in the years before 1917?
Nicholas abdicated in 1917
Nicholas took over personal command of the army
Correct answer: Nicholas maintained a secret police force

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