Nicholas I sought to conquer the territories of Turkey and the Balkan Region, dreaming of extending Russian rule to remnants of the Ottoman Empire. However, the Turks received crucial assistance from France and Britain. Aided by the technology of the Industrial Revolution, they easily defeated the Russians. The war ended an area of Russian supremacy that had been present since Napoleon's defeat by previous Tsar, Alexander I.
Bloody Sunday Jan. 1905
Alexander II banished the Russian practice of serfdom in an attempt to improve the lives of serfs. However, it actually worsened conditions. The peasants had to buy land at high prices which often put them into debt. Agricultural production plummeted and the Russian economy teetered on collapse. As a result, this inspired acts of anarchy such as the People's Will, a terrorist ring that sought to assassinate the Tsar. Such acts would provide a foundation for the Russian Revolution.
World War I 1914-1918
Japan declared war as a result of Russian attempts to conquer China and Korea. After suffering heavy losses on land because of aggressive Japanese tactics and machine guns, Nicholas II sent 300 ships to invade Japan. However, the Japanese fleet destroyed the Russian Armada with ease. The war ended in a humiliating defeat for Russia that threatened the country's dominant world status and caused the people and government officials to lose faith in the Tsar.
Lenin Arrives in Russia 1918
Hundreds of people gathered at the winter palace, asking the Tsar to sign a petition that would grant the people representative government, freedom of speech, workers rights, and peace with Japan. However, the Tsar's guards fired on the peaceful protestors, killing more than a thousand. Bloody Sunday marked the end of Tsarism and triggered the 1905 Russian Revolution, an era of great political and social unrest that fragmented the country.
Russia's involvement in WWI was a disaster. There was a drastic loss in Russian soldiers with starvation and economic decline in the country. NIcholas II lost the support of all army, police, and citizens. With conditions continuing to worsen, the duma forced the Tsar to resign and took control of the country.
After 20 years in exile, Lenin arrives back in Russia. Lenin's Bolsheviks storm the duma and seize power in an overnight coup in the capital of St. Petersburg. Russia was now under the control of the Bolsheviks who ruled by fear and terror. The Russian era of great Tsars had officially ended and was replaced by a new political regime: communism. Communism would form the foundation of the newly formed Soviet Union.