Brief History of the World Wiki
Russian Revolution
Period Late Modern Ages
Dates 1916-1922 AD
Preceded by
World War I
Followed by
Interwar Years
Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!

–Karl Marx

The era of the Russian Revolution lasted from about 1916 AD until 1922 AD. It began with the growing dissatisfaction with Tsarist regime. It then ended with Vladimir Lenin secure in power at the end of the Russian Civil War.

In the midst of World War I, in 1917 two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting in motion political and social changes that would lead to the formation of the Soviet Union. In the February Revolution, growing civil unrest erupted into open revolt, forcing the abdication of the last Russian Tzar, Nicholas II. Just months later, the newly installed provisional government was itself overthrown by the more radical Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin. Also in the midst of World War 1 the first, very real cracks appeared in the British Empire with independence for Ireland.


February Revolution in Russia[]

Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin in 1916

Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) and his family took a leading role in Russia’s participation in World War I. At the outbreak of war the Tsar’s cousin, Grand Duke Nikolai, was put in supreme command of the Russian army, and by September 1915, the Tsar himself had personally taken charge. With the conduct of the war so firmly in the hands of the imperial family, the public mood had a clear target for its discontent as the Russian casualties mounted. Meanwhile, with the Tsar at the military headquarters in Belarus, the government of the state was to an alarming extent entrusted to two people, his German-born wife Tsarina Alexandra and a self-professed holy man, Grigory Rasputin. In 1905 this charismatic charlatan was introduced to the emperor and empress as a healer and specifically in relation to the haemophilia of their only son, Alexis. Where the professional doctors despaired of the boy's condition, Rasputin offered hope. Alexandra was convinced. When the only heir to the Russian throne suffered a severe seizure in 1912, after following Rasputin’s advice, within hours the boy began to recover. Coincidence or not, this impressive outcome meant that henceforth the imperial family would hear not a word against their saviour. Gratuitously rude, with unkempt hair, dressed always in filthy clothes, smelling like a goat, and correspondingly lecherous, Rasputin’s dissolute lifestyle rapidly became a public scandal in the capital St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, Tsarina Alexandra as a princess of the German house of Hesse-Darmstadt naturally became a figure of hatred. During 1916 there was widespread agreement in the capital that change was essential, ranging from a palace coup to revolution. One plot was successfully put into effect, though not without considerable difficulty. In December 1916, three members of the imperial family plotted to murder Rasputin. When poison astonishingly had no ill effects, they shoot the holy man with a pistol. However, when they returned to the room, there was no body. The seemingly indestructible guru was found outside, staggering away through a snow. A few more bullets finally achieve the desired purpose.

The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in the royal train on 2 March 1917.

After an exceptionally cold winter, on 23 February 1917 thousands of workers flooded the streets of St. Petersburg to protest the lack of bread and fuel, soon joined by women demanding equal rights, those calling for the war to end, and others who had lost faith in the Tsarist regime; the February Revolution. In the Nevsky Prospekt, the main thoroughfare of St. Petersburg, they were confronted somewhat reluctantly by mounted Cossacks. Over the next two days, the crowds swelled, as did the police and soldiers. While the demonstrators treated the police as enemies, the soldiers were extolled as heroes and potential allies. Then on the afternoon of 25 February, a profoundly powerful and symbolic incident occurred. Once again, the crowds were confronted by a mounted squadron, when a young girl walked towards the ranks of Cossacks and pulled out a small bouquet of red roses. The officer paused, smiled, then leaned down and took the flowers. The crowd erupted in cheers and the troops began to waver. The next day, with the Tsar having heard of the unrest, for first time the demonstrators were fired upon; a second Bloody Sunday. In response, an entire company of soldiers attacked the police. Nicholas II immediately ordered senior generals to march on St. Petersburg and restore order, but the spirit of mutiny was spreading like a contagion with regiment after regiment defecting to the cause of the protesters. By 2 March, the generals convinced Tsar Nicholas that the only hope for his dynasty was to abdicate in favour of his brother, Mikhail. It proved a forlorn hope. Grand Duke Mikhail had been in St. Petersburg to witness the orgy of anti-imperial destruction, with the dynasty's two-headed eagle and imperial statues torn down wherever they could be found. Not surprisingly, he declined the crown, ending three-hundred years of Romanov rule.

Provisional Committee of the State Duma

With the sudden collapse of the imperial dynasty, Russia’s political turmoil developed into the struggle for power between rival factions. The liberal and reformist members of the elected Duma saw themselves as the only legitimate government, while a much more potent power was possessed by the revived St. Petersburg Soviet, speaking for the aspirations of the workers and soldiers. In the end, the Soviet agreed to support a Provisional Government under Georgi Lvov in return for certain reforms: freedom of the press and assembly; universal suffrage; and the replacement of the police with a people’s militia. These were extremely radical reforms considering the autocracy prevailing in Russia until this moment. The vast mass of the Russian people hoped that Russia’s participation in the war against Germany would be brought to a speedy end, but the Provisional Government was determined to continue the war, both from a sense of national pride and an obligation to the Allies. In an attempt to change the prevailing mood with a morale boosting military success, plans were laid for a major summer offensive. The result was disastrous with hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers losing their lives and millions of square miles of territory ending up in German hands. As a result the Provincial Government became little more than a lame duck.

October Revolution in Russia[]

When the Russian imperial regime was toppled, Russia’s leading Communists were taken completely by surprise, and none of them were in the country. Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky needed to cross war-torn Europe to reach their homeland, but the German authorities, keenly aware how damaging Lenin’s presence would be to the Russian war effort, facilitated their journey. A German engine pulling a single carriage was made available to Lenin at the Swiss border. On his journey, the Bolshevik leader wrote his April Theses advocating three main policies: an immediate end to the war, the redistribution of land to the peasants, and the strengthening the Soviets throughout the country in preparation to seize power from the Provisional Government when the moment came. Lenin received a hero's welcome when he arrived in St. Petersburg in April 1917, the first time he had set foot in his native country since 1906. He thus knew nothing from personal experience of conditions in Russia, and proceeded cautiously. After the disastrous summer offensive, the capital became uneasy with soldiers of the St. Petersburg garrison taking to the streets, threatening to overthrow the government if an order sending them to the front was not rescinded. As more and more soldiers, sailors and factory workers joined the protestors, on 4 July as many as 50,000 armed men surround the Tauride Palace where the Provisional Government met; the July Crisis. Yet, Lenin and Trotsky made the surprising decision that the moment was not yet. Trotsky, with great personal courage, even persuaded the angry and bewildered mob to stand down.

Lenin speaks at a meeting in Sverdlov Square in Moscow on 5 May 1920. This photograph was later retouched to remove evidence of the presence of Leon Trotsky who were standing on the steps of the platform.

After the narrowly averted crisis, Georgi Lvov stepped down as head of the Provisional Government to be replaced by Alexander Kerensky. As both an elected member of the Duma and a member of the committee of the St. Petersburg Soviet, Kerensky was a popular choice. However, he was unable to halt Russia’s slide into political chaos. To assuage the right-wing, he limited the influence of the Soviet. He then dismissed a senior right-wing politician called Lavr Kornilov suspected of planning a coup d’état; a subsequent military coup by Kornilov was defeated with the Bolsheviks playing a prominent role. However, with Kerensky having alienated both factions, the only ones to benefit were the outsiders, especially the Bolsheviks. By September, Lenin and Trotsky had taken over the St. Petersburg Soviet from the moderate socialists; the Bolsheviks in many Russian cities including Moscow followed suit. Kerensky, with sublime but misplaced confidence that he could crush the Bolsheviks once and for all, seemed to deliberately provoke a confrontation. In October, he announced plans to again transfer the St. Petersburg garrison to the front. Given added impetus by the elections due in November for the Constituent Assembly that would formally establish a republican government in Russia, Lenin and the Bolsheviks launched their long planned armed insurrection; the October Revolution (25 October 1917). With the St. Petersburg garrison having transferred their allegiance to them, on 24–25 October the Bolsheviks and the militia of the Soviet staged a nearly bloodless coup, occupying government buildings, telegraph stations, and other strategic points. Even the Winter Palace was seized almost without resistance, with the ministers of the Provisional Government bundled off to the Peter and Paul Fortress, the notorious imperial prison. The revolutionaries were furious to discover that Alexander Kerensky had fled St. Petersburg. His attempts to organise resistance proved futile, and he subsequently lived in exile in Paris and New York.

Lenin declares the victory of the socialist revolution at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets

The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which convened in St. Petersburg simultaneously with the coup, was presented with the take-over of power as a fait accompli. The Bolsheviks were the largest party in the assembly, but were not a majority. On the news of the revolution, two of their rivals, the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary parties, stormed out of this crucial meeting in shaping the future of Russia. This short-sighted act of petulance allowed Lenin and Trotsky to establish a Revolutionary Government (1917-22) which purports to represent the Soviets but had only Bolshevik members. The new government wastes no time. On his first day in office, Chairman Lenin invited the Central Powers to enter into immediate peace negotiations; in the humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918) that took Russia out of World War 1, she gave up huge tracts of territory: the Baltic States, Finland, Poland, and the Ukraine. On the same day, Lenin’s second bill expropriated without compensation the vast estates of the imperial family, the church, and the large landowners, to be distributed to the peasants. The rival socialist parties assumed that the seizing of secure political power was impossible, and confidently expected the imminent collapse of the Bolshevik regime. However, Lenin had an exceptional and ruthless talent. For example, when the Russian state bank refused to provide cash for what it considers an illegal regime, armed Bolsheviks forced the employees to unlock the vaults like armed robbers. The main political threat to the Bolsheviks laid in the Duma elections of November 1917. Having criticised the Provisional Government for not delivering a freely elected assembly, it was impolitic for Lenin to deny it. Despite banning opposition press, the Bolsheviks won just 168 of the 703 seats; this would be the last even partially free election held in Russia until the 1990. Lenin had the gall to declare that the results were invalid, claiming evidence of electoral malpractice. By December, he had banned all other socialist parties, and established the sinister Cheka, the forerunner to the KGB. Soon criminals were being released from prison to make way for the increasing numbers of political detainees. A Tsarist police state was being rapidly transformed into a Communist one.

Russia Civil War[]

Russian civil war.png

The seizing of power by Lenin had left his government with a multitude of enemies outside the hothouse of St. Petersburg: supporters of the old regime who became known as White Movement to contrast them with Soviet Red Army; supporters of the socialist parties that had a majority of the disbanded Duma; and numerous regions who saw the developing chaos as an opportunity for independence. The counter-revolutionaries were supported by the Allies, eager to reopen the eastern front against Germany. The White cause would be granted some heroic inspiration from the early campaigns in Southern Russia. A volunteer army under General Lavr Kornilov were driven from Rostov by the Red Army, and survived an epic withdrawal south; the legendary Ice March. The stark reality was somewhat less noble, with peasants pillaged and killed for supplies. There was a frenzied element of class war in Russia’s bitter civil war. The White cause would be helped by the even greater brutalities being perpetrated by the Bolsheviks. After the chaos of land reform, the so-called Red Terror terrorised peasants to secure grain and even seed for the cities; Lenin justify it by concocting a rich peasant conspiracy.

Russian civil war-1919.jpg

The turning point in the civil war came in 1919. The Whites had been swelled by defections, as well as munitions and some 30,000 troops from the victorious Allied nations; their purpose now to suppress Communism rather than damage Germany. The Whites attacked the Russian heartland in three massive thrust: west from Siberia towards the Volga; northwest towards St. Petersburg; and up from the Crimea towards Moscow. All three ultimately failed. In Moscow, Lenin conscripted of 120,000 workers and peasant to dig trenches for the defence of the city. In St. Petersburg, Trotsky arrived, rapidly raising morale with his gift for oratory, and organising a brilliant last-minute defence. After intense battles, the three advances were halted and reversed. In the aftermath, Western support drained away from what was now evidently a lost cause. The war would end with one final piece of Bolshevik brutality. By November 1920 there was only one White army on Russian soil, in the Crimea. Alexei Brusilov, a supporter of the Bolshevik revolution and a hero of the war against Germany, was tasking with leading the Red Army against in Crimea. After a successful campaign, he appealed to the officers of the White army to end resistance, and promised an amnesty in return. Brusilov was told that there was no response. In fact, several hundred officers, seeing his name on the document, surrendered and were all shot. Lesser battles of the civil-war continued on the periphery of Russia for two more years. The fall of the last White enclave of Vladivostok in 25 October 1922 marked the end of the war. During the course of the civil war the regions of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan fell under the control of semi-autonomous local Communist governments.

Photograph of Lenin in 1919, taken by Grigori Petrovich Goldstein

Now secure in power, Lenin acted swiftly to establish the Bolsheviks as the unmistakable and unremovable government of Russia. As a definitive break with the old regime, he moved the seat of government from St. Petersburg to the forbidding walls of the Kremlin in Moscow. Lenin believed passionately in the need for a dictatorship to safeguarding the revolution, albeit as a stepping-stone in the process towards a Communist utopia. And he was in no way averse to the repression and cruelty invariably associated with dictatorship. Russia became the world’s first imposed managed economy: food was forcibly collected for government distribution; market trading of any kind was suppressed; and the management of factories was placed under Communist control. The campaign provoked profound opposition among peasants and workers alike. By 1921, peasants were attacking Communist officials in rural areas, a rash of strikes swept through the cities, and the sailors in the Kronstadt naval base near St. Petersburg mutinied. When it came to the mutiny, Lenin took decisive action lest the it spread. A massive assault was launched on the naval base by 50,000 Red Army troops, with artillery and air support; some 2,500 rebels were subsequently shot without trial. Meanwhile, Lenin used the crisis to press home his dictatorship. A pressure group within the Communist party had been arguing for Trade Union rights, and he banned the formation of all such factions in the party. Henceforth, the decisions of the Central Committee may be criticised only by individuals. Though inflexible on any topic affecting the power of the Communist party, Lenin was prepared to yield on other issues. Acknowledging that the attempt to requisition the peasants’ entire harvest had been disastrous, peasants were to be allowed to keep the surplus of their production. The ban on markets was lifted, and a vigorous rural trade revived astonishingly quickly. Meanwhile on 30 December 1922, semi-autonomous Georgia, Armenia, the Ukraine and Azerbaijan agreed to form a closer union with Russia as the USSR. By the end of 1924, most other European countries recognized the USSR and there was the re-emergence of foreign trade. But by this time the Russian leadership had to cope with a new crisis; the rise of Joseph Stalin.

Mexican Revolution[]

To Do

Irish Easter Rising[]

Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Féin, and President from January to August 1922.

After the fall of Charles Stuart Parnell and the rejection of Home Rule for Ireland in 1893, younger radical nationalists became disillusioned with parliamentary politics and turned toward more extreme forms of separatism; the Irish Revival. The Gaelic League was founded in 1893 by Douglas Hyde to preserve, and indeed recover, the use of Gaelic as Ireland’s spoken language. The Gaelic Athletic Association established in 1884 to foster home-grown games like hurling. Meanwhile the late 19th and early 20th century saw a flowering of Irish literary and theatre talent such as W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and James Joyce. These movements were essentially non-political, but as elsewhere culture and nationalism were intimately linked. Meanwhile on the political front, the centenary of the Wolfe Tone Uprising of 1798 focused minds of the moderate on Home Rule, as well as those who sought complete independence for Ireland. In 1900, John Redmond re-united the moderate nationalist faction which had split after the Parnell divorce, to exert pressure at Westminster. Meanwhile the more militant republican faction formed around Arthur Griffith, the editor of the nationalist newspaper, the United Irishman. From 1901, he launched a new political organization, Sinn Fein, promoting two main policies: passive citizen resistance in the form of non-payment of taxes, and those Irish members of parliament should decline to sit in Westminster as a gesture of separatism.

Historian John Brown said of Edward Carson that "His larger than life-size statue, erected in his own lifetime in front of the Northern Ireland parliament at Stormont, symbolizes the widely held perception that Northern Ireland is Carson's creation."

By the early 20th century, there was so much political discontent, with nationalists elected to Westminster in virtually all constituencies outside Ulster, that the British government judged that the time had come for concessions, including the Land Purchase Act (1903) inducing often absentee landlords to sell their estates, a long-standing grievance of smallholders. In 1910, the moderate nationalists got their chance, holding the balance of power in parliament that allowed Herbert Asquith to form a government. The price was a commitment to bring before parliament a new Home Rule Act. Protestant Unionists in Ulster were bitterly opposed to a home-rule Ireland governed from Dublin, that would inevitably be dominated by Catholics. Under the brilliant and ruthless leadership Edward Carson, in 1912 half a million men and women signed the Solemn League and Covenant committing to disobey any Home Rule government, and in 1913 formed a volunteer militia the Ulster Volunteer Force who threatened to resist by physical force. The crisis in Ireland quickly escalated with the nationalist in turn forming a volunteer militia the Irish National Volunteers in 1913, and in 1914 Carson openly purchased 24,000 rifles from Germany. The prospect of civil disorder in Ireland was made worse by evidence that the British government would be powerless to cope with it; in the Curragh Mutiny (1914) officers threatened to resign if military action was ordered against the Ulster Volunteers.

The outbreak of World War I on 4 August 1914 had a two-edged effect in Ireland. The leader of the moderate nationalists, John Redmond, immediately urged Ireland’s young men to play a full role in the war effort, hopeful that this would deliver him the prize of Home Rule. As many as 200,000 men volunteered for service in the British army, an extremely high proportion of the population. However among a hard-line minority, Britain’s crisis suggested other possibilities. Some thirteen thousand men joined the secret militant Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), committed to the uninterrupted struggle for independence. With Britain distracted, they resolved on an armed uprising. Amongst the prime movers were Pádraig Pearse an Irish teacher and poet, James Connolly a journalist and socialist activist, Roger Casement a retired member of the British consular service, and Eoin MacNeill the official leader of the IRB. Even before the outbreak of war, Casement had organised a shipment of 1,500 rifles purchased from Germany to be secreted ashore at Howth near Dublin. On 21 April 1916, the Germans were persuaded to send a second shipment of 20,000 rifles, to be landed at Tralee in south-west Ireland by submarine with Casement on-board. However, the U-boat was intercepted by the British navy and scuttled with all its cargo; Casement himself made it ashore, only to be caught by local police and subsequently hanged for treason.


On the news from Tralee, MacNeill, the cautious official leader of the uprising, ordered all missions to be abandoned. However, Pearse’s romantic belief in the regenerative power of spilt blood ensured that the Easter Rising (24–29 April 1916) went ahead, even as everything conspires against it. On Easter Monday, just 1,500 ill-equipped men mustered at several locations in central Dublin. Famously as they assembled, a friend asked Connolly whether there is any realistic chance of success, and he replied none at all. Republicans usually armed with wooden rifles were a familiar sight in Dublin, thus Pearse and Connolly were able to calmly marched their men along O’Connell Street, the capital's main thoroughfare, and seize the General Post Office. Other groups were deployed to about twenty other buildings at strategic points around the city. With the Irish tricolour flying over the GPO, Pearse reappeared to read a proclamation of the Irish Republic. Nevertheless, the reaction of the average Dubliner was bemusement. The British declared martial law, and deployed local troops and artillery against the rebels. British reinforcements arrived in Ireland on the Wednesday, including 16,000 troops and the gunboat Helga which shelled rebel positions from the River Liffey. Despite spirited resistance, the result was never in doubt. On Saturday afternoon, with the General Post Office largely destroyed and ablaze, Pearse surrendered to the British commander.

Leaders of the Easter Rising

A series of courts-martial of the rebel leaders began on 2 May, and fifteen were executed over a ten-day period. Although the uprising itself had been unpopular, as the executions went on, the Irish public grew increasingly hostile towards the British authorities and turned the dead republican leaders into a new generation of martyred heroes. The most prominent leader to escape execution was Éamon de Valera, partly because of his American citizenship. Ultimately some 1,800 people suspected of supporting the uprising, directly or indirectly, were arrested and imprisoned in England without trial. Many of them, like Arthur Griffith, had little or nothing to do with the Rising. In these prisons the future Republican leaders like Michael Collins began to plan the coming struggle for independence.

Irish War of Independence[]

Result of the 1918 UK general election in Ireland

In the midst of World War 1, the harsh British reaction to the Easter Uprising was understandable; the rebels had after-all co-operated with Germany. However in the context of the recent troubled decades in Ireland it was a horrible misjudgement that brought physical force Republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. During 1917, the more radical Sinn Féin party began to win some sensational by-election victories against John Redmond’s moderates, prompting British prime minister David Lloyd George to make conciliatory efforts. All the prisoners serving sentences for the events of Easter 1916 were released under an amnesty by June 1917, including Éamon de Valera who was promptly elected the energetic new head of Sinn Féin. The elections of December 1918 took place in the midst of two crises. Firstly, there was an attempt to impose conscription in Ireland in response to the German Spring Offensive. Then, seventy-three members of Sinn Fein were arrested over claimed involvement in a German plot, but when evidence was produced it related almost entirely to the already well-known events of 1916. The resulting mood in Ireland was expressed in no uncertain terms in the voting-booths. The election of December 1918 was a landslide victory for Sinn Fein, winning every seat except for six outside the six counties of Ulster. Among those elected was a new leading light of Irish republicanism, Michael Collins. The Sinn Fein members had no intention of taking their seats in Westminster, and instead assembled in the Dublin Mansion House from January 1919 as the Dáil Eireann or the parliament of Ireland. This was as yet a parliament in name only, but two years of violence would change that. The new parliament under Éamon de Valera reaffirmed the proclamation of the Irish Republic, and informed the IRB that it was now the army of Ireland; the Irish Republican Army.

Harry Boland (left), Michael Collins (middle), and Éamon de Valera (right).

The Irish War of Independence (January 1919–July 1921) was inevitably a guerrilla war, and in the way of such wars the violence rapidly escalated. Under the ruthlessly talented leadership of Michael Collins, the IRA ambushed British policemen and soldiers, attack British government property, and carry out raids for arms and funds. The “squad” was formed to assassinate targeted “enemies of the state”, especially prominent members of the British administration and intelligence operatives. When de Valera was re-arrested, Collins oversaw an audacious prison break from Lincoln Gaol in February 1919, using a duplicate key baked into a cake. Alongside the armed campaign there was significant passive resistance including a boycott by railway workers on carrying British troops, and prisoner hunger strikes. The situation in Ireland became even uglier from June 1920. With the British police force in Ireland depleted by resignations, the government shipped in half-trained replacements and World War 1 veterans. The Black and Tans, named for their motley blend of black police and khaki military uniforms, gained a notorious reputation for their indiscriminate brutality. The violence quickly escalated. On 21 November 1920, there was a day of dramatic bloodshed in Dublin as Collins' Squad attempted to wipe out the leading British intelligence operatives in the capital; fourteen were killed and five wounded. In response, the Black and Tans drove an armoured truck into Croke Park during a gaelic football match and shot into the crowd; fourteen civilians were killed including one of the players, with a further 65 wounded. During the following eight months, ambushes, reprisals, arson, and assassinations became everyday events.

Page from a draft of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, as annotated by Arthur Griffith

By 1921, there was dissatisfaction in Britain with the casualties, conduct and cost of the war, with no clear end in sight to the bloody conflict. With Sinn Fein winning a clear democratic mandate in the election of that year, 124 of the 128 seats in the Irish parliament outside Ulster, British prime minister Lloyd George offered a truce in July 1921. Representatives of the British government including Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, and representatives of the Irish Republic including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, met in London for peace talks; for reasons that remain unclear Éamon de Valera chose not to attend himself. In December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, which partitioned Ireland and established the twenty-six counties outside Ulster as the Irish Free State, a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth. The predominantly Protestant six counties of Northern Ireland would remain within the union with Britain. The treaty fell short of the Republican demand for a united independent Ireland, and caused bitter debate in the Irish parliament, especially from Éamon De Valera who repudiated it. However, Griffith and Collins carried the motion by a narrow margin of 64 votes to 57. De Valera immediately resigned as president, with Griffith elected in his place. The bitter divide saw Ireland descend into the Irish Civil War.