Nicholas I dies and his son inherits the throne.
Nicholas II was crowned Tsar of Russia and married to Alexandra of Hesse, a German princess. At the public celebration of the Tsar's coronation, thousands of people were stampeded to death - yet Nicholas and Alexandra went to celebrate, making a bad first impression.
In 1903, the disciplined Marxist Social Democratic Party split into Bolsheviks (led by Lenin and wanted a revolution) and the Mensheviks (though Russia wasn't ready for revolution)
Russia was almost overwhelmed by a series of of strikes and rebellions which turn into a full-scale revolution. The Tsar survived by offering the Duma, an elected parliament.
In 1906, Tsar appointed a tough new Prime Minister called Stolypin who took a carrot and stick approach to the problems of Russia. The stick was exiling and executing thousands of revolutionaries, whilst the carrot was allowing wealthier peasants to opt out of mir communes and industrialising Russia.
Stolypin, the Prime Minister, was assassinated - however the Tsar was going to fire him anyway as he felt he was changing Russia too much.
In August 1914, Russia joined World War I - immediately there was a surge in patriotism and the Tsar became very popular. The capital, St Petersburg was even renamed Petrograd as it sounded too German.
In August 1914, two huge but badly-led Russian troops carried out an offensive against Germany - it failed disastrously and 250,000 men were lost.
Nearly 600 factories had to close due to men being away at war.
In August 1915, the Tsar took personal command of the army, leaving Alexandra (and Rasputin!) in charge in Petrograd.
In December 1916, 3 loyal nobles murdered Rasputin - however the damage had already been done to the Tsar's reputation.
With Russia faring poorly in WWI and facing severe food shortages, violent clashes between authorities and protestors increased in 1917, resulting in a full-scale revolution. As a result, both the Provisional Committee (Kadets) and the Petrograd Soviet (Socialist Revolutionaries) were formed and the Tsar was forced to abdicate. Following the March Revolution, the Provisional Government took control of Russia.
Lenin travelled to Petrograd from exile in Switzerland (with help of Germany) and made a speech to the Bolsheviks urging a end to the war, no support to the Provisional Government and 'all power to the Soviets!'
A spontaneous uprising in Petrograd - more than 100,000 soldiers and Bolsheviks roamed the streets shouting 'All power to the Soviets!'. Was brutally crushed by Kerensky. Resulted in Lenin fleeing to Finland.
Kornilov, the leader of the Russian army tried to stage an uprising against Kerensky in order to escalate the war effort and take control of the Provisional Government. At first it seemed as if Kornilov was going to win, however Kerensky allowed the Bolsheviks to form the Red Guard and Kornilov was forced to flee. The Bolsheviks came out stronger, disciplined and more popular.
Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held - first free elections in Russia's history - however Socialist Revolutionaries won majority.
8 Nov 1917: decree on land - no private ownership of land and 540 million acres of land given to the peasants.
9 Nov 1917: decree on peace - Russia wanted peace with Germany
Lenin set up a extreme Communist government in November 1917 called Sovnarkom, and soon began enforcing decrees as a result of the dictatorship of the Proletariat.
During September and October 1917, Kerensky and the Provisional Government began to lose their power. Peasants in the countryside were rebelling and taking land, and soldiers were deserting and joining the Bolsheviks due to Soviet's Order No. 1. As a result, Kerensky prepared to form the Constituent Assembly - Lenin knew he need to take action before this, so return from exile in October and announced that the Bolsheviks should revolt. On the night of the 6 November, the Bolsheviks took over key locations in the Petrograd then stormed the Winter Palace on the 7 November, facing little opposition/resistance.
Peace conference between Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary begins at Brest-Litovsk.
2 Dec 1917: decree on press - banned all non-Bolshevik newspapers.
12 Dec 1917: Russia's main liberal party, CDP, was banned and its leaders arrested
27 Dec 1917: decree on workers' control - factors were under the control of workers' committees
20 Dec 1917: Cheka was set up - it was a political police force to deal with political opponents
First Constituent Assembly meeting was held in January 1918 - Lenin sent Red Guards to close it down and crush protests, then used the Congress of Soviets to pass laws as it contained a Soviet majority.
Lenin agreed to one of the harshest war treaties ever made. Russia lost 20% of its population, 74% of its iron ore and coal and had a fine of 300 million gold roubles. Lenin said it gave Russia 'breathing space' and that Germany was on the doorstep of a socialist revolution.
The Russian Civil War began in March 1918 when a group of Czech POWs (Czech Legion) seized part of the Trans-Siberian railway and by June controlled most of the railway and Siberia. Other 'White' armies rallied behind them, including the Allies and former Russian army officers. However, the Bolshevik reaction was ruthless, and as result of the Red Terror, very few cooperated with the Whites. After several losses and the last defeat in Crimea in Nov 1920, the Bolsheviks were securely in power by 1921.
Lenin announced the New Economic Policy - allowed market forces to be introduced (people could buy and sell for profit), ended grain requisitioning and allowed the private ownership of small business/ sale of surplus goods. Allowed the return of capitalist behaviours and led to new kulak/ nepmen classes.
Sailors at the Kronstadt Naval Base mutinied, demanding free speech/elections/trade unions and an end to war communism. Trotsky's Red Army crushed the rebellion brutally, but it raised hard questions and they had once been Lenin's greatest supporters and led to the New Economic Policy.
In 1922, Lenin created the Union of Socialist Soviet States or USSR - in 1924, they agreed on a constitution. The main feature was that only party was allowed - the Communist party.
Lenin dies after a series of strokes in recent years.