Russian history

Home/Russian history

Alexander Kerensky (supplementary notes)

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES: February Revolution: On February 23, 1917 women in the streets of St. Petersburg filled the streets demanding bread, calling on factory workers to join them. Bolshevik, Menshevik and Socialist revolutionaries were hard at work stirring an already simmering pot. Soldiers fired at first into the crowds, but later refused to continue, arresting their officers instead. Nicholas II commented in his diary: ‘All around me I see treason, cowardice and deceit’.

The July Days: Bolshevik propaganda was calling for an end to the War. The garrison at St. Petersburg, already being called Petrograd, mutinied in favour of the Bolsheviks. The revolutionaries were in a fix; they did not wish to seize power yet because they thought the bid would be unsuccessful, but if they did nothing the support of the dissident soldiers and workers would be lost. On the 4th July they tried to take control of a movement they could not control.

The October Revolution was the actual Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia. Kornilov had attempted to set up a military dictatorship and failed. By September the Bolsheviks had a majority in the Petrograd Soviet, and soon afterwards in Moscow. Lenin returned from exile, but he knew that the October Revolution was not the end of the Bolshevik Revolution but the beginning.

By | 2014-04-01T13:27:18+00:00 February 10th, 2014|Russian history|0 Comments

Alexander Kerensky

Kerensky was born into the Russian educated class in 1881. He became a lawyer specialising in ‘cases for the people’s good’, and became a revolutionary. When St. Petersburg became Petrograd he was a leading member of its Soviet, and moved further upwards by becoming Minister of Justice in the Provisional Government riding high after the February Revolution. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:27:25+00:00 February 10th, 2014|Russian history|2 Comments

Revolutions of 1830

 France, Belgium, Poland & Central Italy: The July Revolution in France expelled Charles X and replaced him as King with Louis-Philippe. The Austrian Netherlands belonging to Belgium were united with Holland at the Congress of Vienna (1815), to form the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. But Roman Catholic Belgians (mostly French-speaking) resented the dominance of the Protestant Dutch (Flemish-speaking) in this new state.

After the expulsion of Charles in the July Revolution, there were riots in Brussels, exacerbated by the sending in of Dutch troops in an attempt to restore order. By September most of Belgium was in a state of revolt and Dutch King William asked the Great Powers for help. As Prussia, Russia and Austria were by their nature opposed to revolution and also fans of the monarchy, they were cautious to the extent of being un-cooperative, because if they sent soldiers to help the Dutch, French pressures would be inclined to compel Louis-Philippe to send aid to the Belgians. (more…)

What was the ‘Mir’

It was a commune of 19th century Russian peasants, dominating almost every aspect of rural life in that vast country. It is not generally known that the commune system was well established in the century before early 20th century Communism, which must take its name from the communes. Land was owned by the community and re-distributed occasionally (a period of years) in order to take into account changes in ownerships due to death, wills, gifts etc.

The mir controlled rotation of crops, choice of cereals and common pasture for domesticated animals. When the ‘Emancipation of the Serfs’ came in 1861 the functions of the mir were naturally extended; the government needed it as an (unpaid) civil service used to collect redemption dues, state taxes and control of the system of passports. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:27:58+00:00 January 23rd, 2014|Russian history, World History|0 Comments

Field Marshal Montgomery (‘Monty’)

In practice, the nickname or epithet ‘Monty’ was not used when addressing Bernard Law Montgomery, except possibly by the few other soldiers senior to him in rank, and even then, with caution. He was born in 1887, and became a middle-sized, clip-toned, fiery exponent of the philosophy that insists that anything will be achieved by will-power. Montgomery rose so fast after leaving Sandhurst that he was appointed Lt. General, commander of the British Eighth Army in North Africa in August, 1942. He was a greyhound-like fifty-five.

Montgomery found his troops fed up, dispirited, low in morale. He adopted slightly unmilitary dress, favouring light fawn trousers of decidedly military cut, with a grey pullover peeping below a standard battle dress jacket. On his head he wore a distinctly peculiar beret, more like a Basque farmer’s headgear than a British general’s. On it he wore not one cap badge but two or perhaps three. The men loved it. He used to give them what he called ‘pep-talks’ which enthused them. (more…)

What was the Cheka?

Felix Dzerzhinsky /

Felix Dzerzhinsky /

This colourful European word in initials stood for ‘The Extraordinary Commission for combatting Counter-Revolution, Sabotage and Speculation’ and we will not attempt to put that in Russian. It was the fearsome Soviet secret police.

It was founded in December 1917, because Lenin (q.v.) was opposed by the middle classes, peasant/serfs and even some socialist parties in his attempts to set up a one-party state. Faced otherwise with famine and civil war, Lenin saw the Cheka as essential for the survival of the Soviet regime he was so anxious to establish. (more…)

By | 2014-01-03T11:37:39+00:00 January 3rd, 2014|British History, Russian history, Today, World History|2 Comments




Nearly seventy years after the dropping of an atomic bomb over this naval port and military base in Japan the debate still rages. Was the action of the United States necessary? How many people died because of the exploded bomb? To what extent were President Truman and General Eisenhower involved in the decision to use the newly invented horror weapon? Would the Japanese have carried on fighting World War II in the Pacific if the bomb had not been used? (more…)

The last King of Poland

Poland is one of the European countries whose peoples have suffered terribly throughout the centuries simply because of the country’s geographical position on the map, or because of their religion (strictly Roman Catholic), or because of hatred of them by the people of neighbouring states. Poland’s last King was a Poniatowsky – Stanislaw II, born in 1732.

When he was just twenty-three, he was working as a diplomat for the British ambassador in Catherine the Great’s St. Petersburg, and he caught the eye of this extraordinary Empress. Through her influence and that of his father, another Stanislaw, he was elected King of Poland in 1764 at the age of thirtytwo. (more…)

The Treaty of Trianon (1920) and its effect on Hungary

This treaty is another good example of the collateral damage to be expected when states join in wars with the express intention of gaining territory, though the war in question has nothing or little to do with them. In the First or Great War of the 20th century, Hungary, because of its alliances with Austria, fought against the Western allies. Romania, sensing a chance to do well out of it, declared for the allies.

The Treaty of Versailles decreed that Hungary, among the states which fought for the loser, Germany, should share the blame and pay the price. After the four terrible years spent mostly advancing and retreating over the trenches were over, Hungary became a Republic, but a Communist revolt established a Communist administration in 1919. This failed, and a monarchical regime (in name only) was introduced with a new constitution, under the leadership of Admiral Horthy. (more…)

Load More Posts