Russian Revolution Lesson for Kids: Causes & Effects

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The Russian Revolution changed the face of the world by creating the first communist government. Find out how and why this conflict started and what happened to Russia and its last royal leader.

Russia Before the Revolution

The first lesson of the American Revolution is how high taxes inspired us to fight back against the British. Imagine, however, that the issue wasn't taxes but a losing war, starvation, and poverty. Do you think the Founding Fathers might have been more desperate? That was the situation in Russia in 1917, when its society fell apart, and one of the most important revolutions in history began.

Map of Russia in 1900
Map of Russia

Before the Russian Revolution, Russia was ruled by tsars, kings who had complete power over the country. The tsars lived in very fine palaces, but most Russians were poor peasants or workers. Tsar Nicholas II pulled Russia into World War I in 1914. Russia had Great Britain and France as allies and believed that it could quickly defeat Germany in the war; however, this overconfidence led to disaster.

Seeds of the Revolution

Russia's first battles with Germany in World War I were embarrassing defeats, but Tsar Nicholas II kept up the war, which led to a crisis in Russia. Peasants and workers in Russia ran out of money and food, while many soldiers died in the fighting. In February of 1917, a food riot broke out in St. Petersburg (the Tsar's capital) when there was not enough to eat. The Tsar ordered soldiers to attack the crowd, but the soldiers mutinied, or refused to obey orders, which helped to kick off the Russian Revolution.

Photo of Tsar Nicholas II
Tsar Nicholas II

Leaders of the Revolution

The most important leader of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, wanted to make Russia into a communist state, a place where no person possessed any property, and everyone was equal. Given how unpopular the Tsar was, many Russians thought this was an idea worth fighting for. Workers and peasants joined Lenin as he traveled across the country to speak.

Photo of Lenin giving a speech
Lenin speech

One of Lenin's great accomplishments was the simplicity of his slogan: 'Peace, Bread, and Land.' The Russians were starving and tired of war, so Lenin's promise to end the war and provide food was popular with the peasants and workers.

Not long after the food riots in St. Petersburg, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, or gave up his throne in March 1917. Many months later, Lenin carried out a plan to give weapons to workers across St. Petersburg and overthrow the new Russian government.

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