When the autocratic rule of Russia crumbled in the revolution of 1917, it was due to a variety of underlying and systemic causes that were rooted deep in the empire's history. These economic, social and political problems were reinforced and exacerbated mainly by the First World War (1914-1918), but also by the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05, that created and resulted in the same kinds of problems and revolts experienced in 1905. The policies imposed by Nicholas II, his predecessors and his ministers mostly served to aggravate rather than to alleviate the discontent of the Russian people. These policies and resulted in the riots and strikes that led to revolution in 1917.
The situation in Russia around the turn of the century was complicated and the nation was difficult to rule. There existed a huge diversity of ideologies and identities within the Empire, making it hard for the Tsar to keep his authority and control. The influence that his two most recent predecessors had on the empire was contradictory; Alexander II was known as "the Tsar Liberator", and he introduced many reforms, such as the Emancipation Edict; and, Nicholas I, known as the "Reactionary Tsar", with his counter-reforms. Tsar Alexander III, who was crowned Tsar in 1894, wanted to "uphold the principles of autocracy" like his father, meaning the three reactionary principles: autocracy, orthodoxy and nationalism. Tsar Nicholas II was a weak and indecisive leader, unable to delegate his tasks and he generally cared too little for his people. One might argue that the only loyalty the Tsar had was to God, due to the orthodox belief that he was chosen and guided by God himself. Article One of the Fundamental Laws of the Empire stated that: "God himself commands that this supreme authority be obeyed".
The causes of the 1917 revolution included Russia's social, economic and political problems. Socially, Tsarist Russia stood well behind the rest of Europe in its industry and farming, resulting in few opportunities for advancement on the part of peasants and industrial workers. The discontent came from centuries of oppression of the lower classes by the Tsarist regime, and their considerable lack of rights. The rapid industrialisation of Russia also resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial workers. Economically, widespread inflation and famine in Russia contributed to the revolution. These economic stimuli originated in Russia's outdated economy and the Tsar's failure to modernize it. The rural agrarian economy struggled to produce enough food to feed the cities each year, and despite the vast expansions under Sergei Witte of the railway systems, they also lacked the ability to effectively transport the food into the cities. Factory workers also suffered as Russia's young and undeveloped industrial base sought to catch up with the rest of Europe. They had to endure terrible working conditions and low wages. The sporadic riots did not create a calm context in which to develop an industrial foundation peacefully or methodically. Politically, the people of Russia resented the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II. Most segments of Russian society had reason to be dissatisfied. They had no representation in government, and the Tsar remained out of touch with the people. This was seen on the "Bloody Sunday" of 1905 where his people came in peaceful demonstrations to his palace, which he had left, and were shot at by his army. Ultimately, a combination of these three factors, coupled with the development of revolutionary ideas and movements, laid the foundations for the Russian Revolution.
This discontent of Russia's people