The Dead Cow, the Turbulent Priest and the Russian Revolution

Dr Alan Wood.
Dr Alan Wood.

A lecture in Lancaster will mark 100 years since the fall of the Russian Empire.

On the night of October 25 1917, platoons of armed soldiers, sailors and civilian workers known as the Red Guards entered the Winter Palace in Petrograd, capital of the old Russian Empire, and arrested the members of Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky’s Provisional Government.

This occurred just eight months after the abdication of Nicholas II, last of the Romanov Tsars who had ruled Russia for more than three hundred years.

Dr Alan Wood, a former senior lecturer in Russian History at Lancaster University and now visiting Professor at Portland State University in Oregon, USA, will hold a lecture at The Friends Meeting Hall in Lancaster on November 3 entitled “The Dead Cow, the Turbulent Priest and the Russian Revolution”.

He said the lecture will explore the little known role played by “rebellious, religious schismatics” in the drama of 1917.

He said: “It was an almost bloodless revolution, masterminded by Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Party, and Lev Trotsky, Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet (Committee of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies), under the popular slogans of ‘Peace, Land and Bread’, and ‘All Power to the Soviets’.

“On the following day, the newly formed government, the Soviet of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom), passed the Decree on Peace and the Decree on Land, which promised the withdrawal of Russia from the First World War and the redistribution of land among the vast Russian peasantry, who only half a century before had been emancipated from the mediaeval system of serfdom.

“Unquestionably, the Russian Revolution was the most important political event of the twentieth century, the repercussions of which are still felt today throughout the world.”

Dr Wood, who lives in Halton, says that since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, historians in both Russia and the West have continued to study and analyse the long and short-term causes of the Revolution, and its long and short-term consequences.

He said: “Often the debate has been couched in terms of what might have happened if certain events, circumstances, coincidences, accidents etc had not taken place.

“This kind of speculation on the ‘might-have-beens’ of the past, is a pointless exercise, what is called ‘counter-factual’ history, and quite frankly a waste of time.

“What happened did happen, and it is the professional historian’s task to interpret and attempt to explain why it happened.”

He added that the October 1917 Revolution is currently being commemorated by events, exhibitions, publications, conferences, radio and TV programmes, art displays, musical concerts and symposia across the UK and across the world.

The lecture will take place at 6pm at the venue in Meeting House Lane and all are welcome to attend.