(9/13/2017 note: I am posting a series of articles on the Russian Revolution, but not necessarily all by Carley. Although Carley wrote a first article entitled "One Hundred Years Ago: the Triumph of the February Revolution 1917", I am not including this in the series. Sorry for the confusion.)
This is a second article in a series which I will post about the Russian Revolution of 1917. Please read my introduction to the series if you have not already done so.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 did not occur all at once, but over a period of eight months and four political crises. The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the collapse of the tsarist government were provoked by a spontaneous eruption of popular anger in the capital city of Petrograd. The collapse was both anticipated and not. French and British diplomats had warned that the tsarist government was on its last legs, but revolutionaries like Vladimir Lenin, in exile in Switzerland, were caught off guard, and hurried to return home.
Revolutionaries of all stripes, including Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs), rushed to organise Soviets (literally "councils"), tumultuous democratic assemblies of soldiers, workers and peasants, but they were reluctant to take all governmental power into their own hands.