October Revolution

October Revolution
Part of the Russian Revolution and the Revolutions of 1917–23
Red Guard Vulkan factory.jpg
Red Guards at Vulkan factory in 1917
Date7 November 1917 [O.S. 25 October 1917]

Bolshevik victory:

Bolshevik Party
Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee
Left Socialist-Revolutionaries
Red Guards
Provisional Government
Commanders and leaders
Vladimir Lenin
Leon Trotsky
Nikolai Podvoisky
Vladimir Ovseyenko
Pavel Dybenko
Russia Alexander Kerensky
Russia Pyotr Krasnov
10,000 red sailors, 20,000–30,000 red guard soldiers, unknown number of workers500–1,000 volunteer soldiers, 1,000 soldiers of women's battalion
Casualties and losses
Few wounded red guard soldiers[1]All imprisoned or deserted
Bolshevik (1920) by Boris Kustodiev
The New York Times headline from 9 November 1917

The October Revolution,[a] officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution[b] and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution,[2] the Bolshevik Coup, or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917–23. It took place through an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 25 October (Old Style, O.S.; 7 November, New Style or N.S.) 1917.

The October Revolution had followed and capitalized on the February Revolution earlier in the year. The February Revolution had overthrown the Tsarist autocracy, resulting in a provisional government. The provisional government had taken power after being proclaimed by Grand Duke Michael, Tsar Nicholas II's younger brother, declined to take power after the Tsar had stepped down.

During this time, urban workers began to organize into councils (soviets) wherein revolutionaries criticized the provisional government and its actions. After the Congress of Soviets, the new governing body, had its second session it elected members of the Bolsheviks and other left-wing groups such as the Left Socialist Revolutionaries (Left SR) to important positions within the new state of affairs. This immediately initiated the establishment of the Russian Soviet Republic. On 17 July 1918,[c] the Tsar and his family, including his five children aged 13 to 22, were executed.

The revolution was led by the Bolsheviks, who used their influence in the Petrograd Soviet to organize the armed forces. Bolshevik Red Guards forces under the Military-Revolutionary Committee began the occupation of government buildings on 25 October (O.S.; 7 November, N.S.), 1917. The following day, the Winter Palace (the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd, then capital of Russia) was captured.

The slogan of the October revolution was All Power to the Soviets, meaning all power to grassroots democratically elected councils. For a time, this was observed, with the interim Bolshevik-only Sovnarkom or Soviet government replaced by a Bolshevik-Left SR coalition government with an All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets composed of all representatives of all factions who supported Soviet power and legally entrenching the peasant land seizures. Throughout 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which resulted in a Left SR walkout, and other policies disputed by both the other pro-soviet parties and minority factions of the Bolsheviks progressively dissipated until 1920, where there were no free elections, but delegates were appointed by a party state.

The long-awaited Constituent Assembly elections were held on 12 November (O.S., 25 November, (N.S.)) 1917. In contrast to their majority in the Soviets, the Bolsheviks only won 175 seats in the 715-seat legislative body, coming in second behind the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which won 370 seats, although the SR Party no longer existed as a whole party by that time, as the Left SRs had gone into coalition with the Bolsheviks from October 1917 to March 1918 (a cause of dispute of the legitimacy of the returned seating of the Constituent Assembly, as the old lists, were drawn up by the old SR Party leadership, and thus represented mostly Right SRs, whereas the peasant soviet deputies had returned majorities for the pro-Bolshevik Left SRs). The Constituent Assembly was to first meet on 28 November (O.S.) 1917, but its convocation was delayed until 5 January (O.S.; 18 January, N.S.) 1918 by the Bolsheviks. On its first and only day in session, the Constituent Assembly came into conflict with the Soviets, and it rejected Soviet decrees on peace and land, resulting in the Constituent Assembly being dissolved the next day by order of the Congress of Soviets.[3]

As the revolution was not universally recognized, there followed the struggles of the Russian Civil War (1917–22) and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.


At first, the event was referred to as the "October coup" (Октябрьский переворот) or the "Uprising of the 3rd", as seen in contemporary documents (for example, in the first editions of Lenin's complete works). However, переворот has a meaning similar to "revolution" and also means "upheaval" or "overturn", so "coup" is not necessarily the correct translation. With time, the term "October Revolution" (Октябрьская революция) came into use. It is also known as the "November Revolution" having occurred in November, according to the Gregorian Calendar[4] (for details, see Soviet calendar).