The revolution that changed the world

his year marks a century since the October Revolution finally brought the reign of Russia’s Czars (the Romanovs) to an end, and saw the birth of communism, which would lead to the establishment of the Soviet Union. Here are some of the key dates that changed Russian (and world) history forever.

Lenin the Russian Revolutioner

Оцуп (1883–1963) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But before we start, it’s worth mentioning that, until February 1918, Russia used a different calendar to the rest of the Western world (Russia’s Julian calendar was 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar used by the West until 1 March 1900, when it became 13 days behind). All dates below follow the Gregorian calendar, which we all use today.

  • 20 May 1887 - Lenin's brother, Alexander Ulyanov, is hanged for plotting to kill Czar Alexander III.
  • 1 November 1894 - Czar Alexander III dies. His son, Nicholas II, would become ruler of Russia.
  • 20 December 1895 - Lenin is arrested, kept in solitary confinement for 13 months, and then exiled to Siberia for three years.
  • 30 July 1903 - The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) meeting sees the Party split into two factions: Mensheviks (minority) and Bolsheviks (majority).
  • 22 January 1905 - Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg marks the start of the 1905 Russian Revolution.
  • 30 October 1905 - The October Manifesto, issued by Czar Nicholas II, brings an end to the 1905 Russian Revolution by promising civil liberties and an elected parliament (Duma).
  • 28 July 1914 - World War I begins.
  • 18 September 1915 - Czar Nicholas II assumes supreme command of the Russian Army.
  • 8-12 March 1917 - The February Revolution begins with strikes, demonstrations, and mutinies in Petrograd.
  • 15 March 1917 - Czar Nicholas II abdicates. The following day, his brother, Mikhail, refuses to accept the throne. Provisional Government formed.
  • 16 April 1917 - Lenin returns from exile and arrives in Petrograd on a sealed train.
  • 16-20 July 1917 - The July Days begin in Petrograd with spontaneous protests against the Provisional Government. After the Bolsheviks unsuccessfully try to turn these protests into a coup, Lenin is forced into hiding.
  • 24 July 1917 - Alexander Kerensky becomes Prime Minister of the Provisional Government.
  • 7 November 1917 - The October Revolution begins as the Bolsheviks take over Petrograd (remember: it’s October according to the Julian calendar, but November by the Gregorian).
  • 8 November 1917 - The Winter Palace - the last stronghold of the Provisional Government - is taken by the Bolsheviks. The Council of People's Commissars, led by Lenin, takes control of Russia.
  • 14 February 1918 - The new Bolshevik government converts Russia from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, turning 1 February into 14 February.
  • 3 March 1918 - The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, between Germany and Russia, takes Russia out of World War I.
  • 8 March 1918 - The Bolshevik Party changes its name to the Communist Party.
  • 11 March 1918 - The capital of Russia is changed from St Petersburg to Moscow.
  • June 1918 - Russian civil war begins.
  • 17 July 1918 - Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed.
  • 30 August 1918 - An assassination attempt leaves Lenin seriously wounded.
  • November 1920 - Russian civil war ends.
  • 3 April 1922 - Stalin is appointed General Secretary.
  • 15 December 1922 - Lenin suffers a stroke (his second) and retires from politics.
  • 30 December 1922 - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established.
  • 21 January 1924 - Lenin dies. Stalin would become his successor.