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KS4 History: TB 236-2 - The Czar of Russia (1916)

Explore attitudes towards the Tsar in 1916.

Main image of KS4 History: TB 236-2 - The Czar of Russia (1916)
AuthorRakesh Pathak, Felsted School
TopicWWI and Russian Revolution
Key Wordspropaganda; Romanov; Tsar Nicholas II; Lenin; Trotsky; Kerensky
Show full lesson spec

Footage of Tsar Nicholas II reviewing troops on the Eastern Front in 1916.

A useful film for looking at Tsarist rule by 1916 and considering different contemporary political perspectives on Nicholas II's rule.

This lesson idea initially uses the footage to get students thinking about why the film was made, the sentiment of the ordinary Russian soldiers in 1916 and why the film might have been shown to a British audience. The main task for students during the lesson is to explore how this footage might have been exploited by a range of political groups and individuals with varying attitudes towards the Tsar. There is also scope at the very end of the lesson for students placing themselves in the position of a Tsarist minister in 1916 and discussing their ideas for the content and style of a Tsarist propaganda film that might have boosted public support for the Romanov dynasty.

Lesson Objective

  • How would different groups and individuals have reacted to this footage of the Tsar?
  • In what ways could propaganda have been better used to bolster the position of the Romanov dynasty during WWI?


Divide students into small groups and give them the following questions to discuss after watching the item:

  • Why had the Tsar taken personal charge of the Russian Army by 1916?
  • Why would this footage have been of interest to a British audience?
  • Using your contextual knowledge of the impact of World War One on Russia up to 1916, what do you think the private thoughts of some of the Russian soldiers being reviewed by the Tsar might have been?

A spokesperson from each group can then report back with answers to each question, within the context of a brief whole class discussion. The discussion should cover the third question in detail as this will provide a grounding for the main lesson task.


Main Attraction

Divide students into pairs and before watching the item for a second time, asking students to pay particular attention to the opening caption.

Now, give students a list of six groups or individuals (for example: Kerensky, the German government, Trotsky and Lenin, the Social Revolutionaries, the Tsarist government and the French government), and ask them to analyse the clip from each of these perspectives.

Each pair should come up with a two-sentence caption to accompany the footage from the point of view of each of the groups/individuals on the list. Each caption should reflect that particular group/individual's attitude towards the Tsar and Russia's involvement in the war. You may wish to decrease the number of captions that each pair constructs.

Once the pairs have written their captions - hear a selection as a whole class. Which captions work best and why? Which captions most accurately encapsulate the beliefs and attitudes of a particular group/individual? How do the different captions change the meaning of the footage? How has this task added to students' understanding of propaganda?


End Credits

How effectively could this item be used as pro-Tsarist propaganda? Challenge students to come up with their own ideas for the content, style and captions for a film that would have done a rather more effective job of promoting the Romanov dynasty!


External Links

Video Clips
Complete film (0:59)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

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