Nicholas II abdicates after food shortage protests and ahead of impending October Revolution.
Lucy Worsley concludes her history of the Romanov dynasty by investigating how the family's grip on Russia unravelled in their final century. The years between 1825 and 1918 were bloody and traumatic, a period when four tsars tried and failed to deal with the growing pressure for constitutional reform and revolution.
Lucy Worsley examines the extraordinary reign of Catherine the Great, and the traumatic conflict with Napoleonic France that provdes the setting for the novel War and Peace. She begins in the 18th century, when the great palaces of the Romanovs were built. Built in Romanov Russia, blood was always intermingled with gold - these splendid interiors were the backdrop to affairs, coups and murder.
The Romanovs were the most powerful monarchs since the Middle Ages, wielding absolute power into the 20th century. Their demise was shocking and brutal, yet for most they are distant, barely understood figures. Lucy Worsley applies her characteristic insight and wit to the Romanov dynasty to create a fresh and compelling account of this most extraordinary royal family.
Everywhere is now part of our story as we enter a period in history which, like no other, is dominated by the acts and personalities of a small group of powerful leaders - Titans. This is the time for Churchill and Roosevelt, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini, for Tojo to dominate both public and daily life. Peripheral figures to the main game are still part of the story - Eisenhower, of course, supreme commander in Europe and president-to-be and independence leaders Gandhi in India and De Valera in Ireland.
Stalin, who was highly praised at the 17th congress of the Communist Party in 1934, launched the construction of the Moscow canal and a new Trans-Siberian route. The NKVD, which took over from the GPU, increased the number of camps and transformed the Gulag into a veritable prison industry. In 1935, the number of prisoners in the Gulag exceeded one million. The trials held by Moscow, which were the showcase of the Great Purge, hid the repression that was hitting Soviet society and the anonymous. Mass executions and arbitrary arrests rapidly increased in number. In January 1939, 2 million prisoners were working in the Gulag, but on 22 June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. As a consequence, in 1942, detention conditions in the gulag degenerated. Famine and disease caused the death of many prisoners. In 1945, in spite of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, the Gulag archipelago, supplier of essential raw materials, continued expanding.