Before 1917 Russia was the largest country under one empire. In economic terms it was extremely backward, as it was very late to become industrial. It was also quite backward in political terms; too, as there were no legal political parties or democracy of any kind.
Nicholas II was not educated about affairs of state, so didn't have a great deal of understanding about how politics worked, which is most probably the main reason why he was not that good a leader for Russia. Neither Nicholas nor his father, Alexander, was well trained for the job of ruling the vast country. It is a common theory that Nicholas had inherited many of his own flaws in intelligence and cunning from his father, so it is possible any other Tsar from the Romanov Empire may still not have been able to prevent the revolutions that were to come. Revolutionary activities really started on 9th January 1905, which became known as'Bloody Sunday', because a large crowd protesting for the Tsar to change the working conditions for the poorer classes was shot at by troops. This made Russians lose faith in the Tsarist regime. Unrest erupted in towns and villages up and down the country.
Workers carried out demonstrations and strikes, and trade unions were formed. Amidst this chaos, Alexandra gave birth to Alexei, their longed-for heir. Whilst Nicholas was away at the warfront, rumours of scandals within the royal family were running through the public. Despite Rasputin's murder in 1916 the image of the Tsar and Tsarist rule as incompetent was firmly implanted in the community. Ultimately the main cause of the revolution was the fast industrialization of Russia at the time. This put great stress and pressure on Russian society, peasants and factory workers who had to pay for industrial growth.
After Nicholas II resigned as Tsar, he and his family were arrested on 21st March, apparently "for their own safety". They were kept for five m..