January 9th: More than 140,000 Russian workers strike in commemoration of the 12th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
The February Revolution
February 14th: More than 100,000 workers are still on strike; the Duma attacks the government failing to respond to food shortages.
February 19th: The February Revolution begins. The tsarist government announces food rationing, leading to panic buying in cities, where food availability is already critically low.
February 23rd: Marchers gathered for International Women’s Day are joined by striking workers and socialist agitators.
February 25th: Strikes continue to expand, with more than 200,000 workers now involved, leading to occasional violent clashes between protesters and police.
February 26th: The tsar orders troops to fire on unruly protesters, dozens are killed. He also orders the Duma to be permanently dissolved, however, this is ignored.
February 27th: Two garrisons of soldiers in Petrograd shoot their officers rather than obey orders to fire on civilians. Mensheviks and striking workers reform the Petrograd Soviet.
February 28th: The tsar attempts to return to Petrograd but is delayed by railway problems in Pskov. The Duma and the Petrograd Soviet both meet to plan a course of action.
March 1st: The leaders of France and Britain formally recognise the Provisional Government as the official government of Russia.
March 2nd: The tsar met by the Duma’s Provisional Government committee, who demand his abdication. After consulting with his generals, Nicholas abdicates in favour of his brother Michael.
March 3rd: Nicholas’ brother refuses the throne unless it is offered to him by a constituent assembly elected by the people. This ends more than 300 years of Romanov rule.
March 3rd: The Provisional Government issues a set of liberal principles by which it intends to govern. This includes improvements to civil rights and freedoms, amnesties for political prisoners and the organisation of elections for a Constituent Assembly.
March 9th: Nicholas II and his family are detained under house arrest.
March 12th: The Provisional Government issues a decree abolishing the death penalty.
April 3rd: Lenin returns to Russia with the assistance of the German government. On arrival, he delivers a speech at Finland Station, which forms the basis of the April Theses.
April 18th: Foreign minister Pavel Milyukov informs the Allies by telegram that Russia intends to remain in the war until its completion. This telegram is leaked to the press, sparking a large public demonstration in Petrograd.
April 24th: Milyukov resigns. Six Menshevik and SR delegates join the Provisional Government, while Alexander Kerensky replaces Guchkov as war minister.
June 3rd-24th: The First All-Russia Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets opens; it is dominated by Mensheviks and SR delegates.
June 18th: On Kerensky’s orders, Russian forces begin a massive military offensive against the Austro-Hungarians in Galicia. The offensive fails, leading to 400,000 Russian casualties.
July 4th: The ‘July Days’ uprising in Petrograd. Workers and soldiers spontaneously revolt, demanding the Soviets or the Bolsheviks take power. Both refuse and the rebellion is crushed by government troops.
July 8th: The Petrograd uprising causes the liberal coalition in the Provisional Government to collapse. Kerensky becomes prime minister, leading a cabinet filled with socialists.
July 12th: Under pressure from generals, the Provisional Government reintroduces the death penalty for deserting or mutinying soldiers at the front.
July 19th: Kornilov replaces Brusilov as commander-in-chief of the Russian army.
August 25th: The ‘Kornilov affair’. General Kornilov declares his intention to march on Petrograd and free the country from radical socialists. He claims to have the approval of the Provisional Government, though this is unclear.
August 30th: Kornilov’s plan to seize control of Petrograd stalls.
September 1st-4th: strikes escalate, 700,000 railway workers on strike; leading Bolsheviks released from prison.
September 14th-25th: Provisional Govt calls a conference of all parties to discuss the crisis; Bolshevik delegates walk out.
September 25th: Bolsheviks hold a voting majority in the Petrograd Soviet; Trotsky elected as chairman.
The October Revolution
October 10th: October Revolution begins. The Bolshevik Central Committee declares that “an armed uprising is inevitable”. The Petrograd Soviet creates a Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC).
October 10th-23rd: Petrograd Soviet and Bolsheviks pass motions for the seizure of power and debate the means by which this should be achieved.
October 23rd: Bolsheviks lead an uprising in Tallinn, Estonia.
October 24th: Provisional Government troops attempt to close Bolshevik printing presses, prompting the MRC to act.
October 25th: Lenin announces that the Bolsheviks have seized power and calls for preparations for a Soviet government. Menshevik and moderate SR delegates walk out of the Congress of Soviets.
October 26th: The MRC arrests Provisional Government members in the Winter Palace, except for Kerensky, who has fled.
October 26th: Eighteen hours after seizing power, Lenin issues the Decree on Land, calling for the abolition of private ownership, and the Decree on Peace, urging an immediate ceasefire and treaty.
November 3rd: Bolshevik Red Guards win control of Moscow after a week of bitter fighting.
November 10th: The new government abolishes all tsarist ranks, titles and privileges.
November 12th: Elections for the Constituent Assembly commence. These elections take a week to complete and produce a voter turnout of 44 million people.
November 19th: A Bolshevik delegation begins peace negotiations with German officers at Brest-Litovsk.
December: The Bolsheviks introduce reforms to private property ownership, marriage and divorce laws, and the legal status of women.
December 2nd: The new government forms the Vesenkha, the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy.
December 7th: Lenin decrees the formation of the CHEKA, a small agency led by Dzerzhinsky and tasked with combating counter-revolutionary activity. It begins with 26 agents.
December 9th: Members of the Left SRs are admitted to Sovnarkom, the executive government body of the new government.
This page was written by Jennifer Llewellyn, John Rae and Steve Thompson. To reference this page, use the following citation:
J. Llewellyn et al, “Russian Revolution timeline 1917” at Alpha History, https://alphahistory.com/russianrevolution/russian-revolution-timeline-1917/, 2018, accessed [date of last access].