Kornilov’s Attempted Coup Backfired Worse Than He Ever Could Have Imagined

The majority of Kornilov’s grievance with the provisional government rested around their inability or unwillingness to take decisive action against the Bolshevik, which makes it especially ironic that his attempted coup was one of thing things that led to them taking power. The attempted coup was instrumental in providing support and sympathy for the Bolsheviks, and in convicting the people that the rightists did not have their best interests at heart.

While Kornilov tried to take advantage of the widespread fear and confusion sweeping the nation to strike against the Petrograd Soviet, he miscalculated, thinking that the people would support him as an end to the chaos, when in reality, they sided with the Soviet, who was better able to mobilize them. He thought that he could convince the people that the Soviet and the Provisional Government were working together to destroy what made Russia great, he didn’t count on the people not thinking Russia was so great, and instead feeling that it should be changed for the better. Ironically, Kornilov’s attempted coup provided a fantastic opportunity for those who wanted change to prove why the Provisional Government would never work: because they too agreed that the Soviet was wrong and should be stopped.


General L. G. Kornilov. 1917. In Seventeen Moments in Soviet History

“Kornilov Affair.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History.

“Kornilov Responds to Kerenskii.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History.

7 thoughts on “Kornilov’s Attempted Coup Backfired Worse Than He Ever Could Have Imagined

  1. I did my post on the Kornilov affair as well! It’s really interesting, because while leftist historians describe it as an attempted coup by Kornilov, many center and right-leaning historians believe prime minister Kerenskii tricked him into attacking Petrograd. I don’t think either is completely true – it seems like miscommunication between Kerenskii and Kornilov (combined with Kornilov’s ambition and dislike of the Soviet) led to the incident. It certainly is ironic how badly this backfired – great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is an interesting situation especially in terms of irony. It really does come down to the age old saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In trying to go against both of these powers he ended up getting the wrath of both. It also says a lot about being in tune with how the people are feeling and which way they are swaying. So often coups lead to unstable interim change and certainly without the backing the masses coups can often fall apart so quickly and leave a power vacuum. I definitely thing that this event contributed in sway some of the masses who might have been previously neutral.


  3. The Kornilov affair is super interesting and I love how you focused on the irony of this coup. The ability to mobilize troops was what gave the Bolsheviks an upper hand, and he played right into it unknowingly. It would’ve been great to see a little more background information, but great job!


  4. It really is a shame that the Kornilov Affair undermined the Provisional Government as well as the authority of Alexander Kerensky. It seems the Provisional Government, so loose in power, was always destined to fail as Russia had experienced such authority under the Tsars for the past 300 years. Russia needed a firm organization to lead it, and the Bolsheviks provided just that.


  5. Kornilov Affair was a really interesting piece of history that I had no idea about, The provisional government at the time seemed to lack so much power so I think that it was really interesting because it seemed that they were in such a position of dismay due to always being under control of a tsar.


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