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This lecture will discuss the long term reasons that contributed to the Russian revolutions of 1917. The powerful Tsarist state was confronted by economic and social change as it sought to maintain its position as a great imperial power. The abolition of serfdom in the 1860s brought fundamental changes to Russian society, while urbanisation accelerated the development of a middle class and brought millions of working people to Russia's cities. The multi-national Russian empire faced the challenge of nationalism from its population. The Romanov rulers of Russia were deeply reluctant to make political change, relying increasingly on oppression to sustain their power. Despite the monarchy's attempts to portray itself as the natural rulers of the Russian empire, their position was increasingly weak and lacked real popular support, so that the Tsarist state became fragile and brittle, susceptible to revolt.

Peter Waldron is Professor of Modern History at the University of East Anglia. He has published widely on the history of Tsarist Russia: his books include Russia of the Tsars (Thames and Hudson, 2011), Governing Tsarist Russia (Palgrave 2007, and The End of Imperial Russia, 1855-1917 (Macmillan 1997). He is one of the editors for the four volumes on The Home Front in the major international collaborative project Russia's Great War and Revolution (Slavica, 2016-17). His PhD. was on Stolypin.

This is a GB Russia event and tickets are only available from the GB Russia Society website at: