One of the massive societal changes triggered by World War One involved Russia, then ruled by Tsar Nicholas II, who had been in power since 1894.
Nicholas was a conservative and was not responding to the obvious need to modernise Russia into the 20th Century and was instead intent on preserving the existing autocracy.
His position had been substantially weakened by the defeat in the war with Japan in 1905 that had led to a revolution, a situation he only just managed to moderate by promising significant social reforms. However he later reneged on these promises, generating increasing popular resentment.
However it was his involvement in World War One that directly led to his downfall. Approving Russia’s mobilisation in August 1914, he oversaw the unfolding disaster of the war on his country with ever-escalating casualties serving to bring popular resentment to flashpoint.
In February 1917 the first of two Russian revolutions for that year occurred in Petrograd, with mass public demonstrations later joined by soldiers from the Imperial Russian Army. The unrest resulted from increasingly harsh social conditions compounded by the effect of the war that was increasingly drawing resources away from an already overstretched economy. In addition, popular feeling held that the war was of no real concern to Russia on the first place.
On 15 March 1917, Tsar Nicholas 11 was forced to abdicate, signalling the end of the Russian Empire. Over the next year Nicholas and his family, the Romanovs, were imprisoned at various locations, finally leading to Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg 1918.
Here, soon after midnight on 17 July 1918, the family was herded into a basement and shot to death by a party of eleven men carrying pistols.
The February Revolution was followed by the October Revolution bringing into power the Bolsheviks with Vladimir Lenin rising into prominence as their leader.