Historians tend to overwork the cliche that the Russian monarchy was not ‘overthrown’ in 1917, but ‘fell’ because of its own inner rottenness and incapacity. By itself a legitimate formulation, it should not be understood as signifying a simple changing of the guard. An imposing institutional edifice, sanctified by centuries of history, was wrenched from its foundations, and a baffling new constellation of forces—overlapping, and conflicting—emerged in its place; each party was anxious to play an important role, but all lacked direction. In short, what occurred was indeed a genuine revolution, and all attempts to contain it within the framework of a dynastic coup or a constitutional adjustment were unavailing. Such was the profound re-combination of power relationships that it took some time for various organs of authority to find out what they could and could not do. The Provisional Government soon discovered that it could not get the trams, factories and railways running without the Soviet’s approval. Several instruments of tsarist despotism vanished within hours as a result of popular wrath— the political and ordinary police, the governor-generals and their staffs, the district courts and the prisons. Premier Lvov’s happy thought of replacing the governor-generals with chairmen of the provincial zemstvo boards (many of them inveterate reactionaries) drew panicky telegrams from local revolutionary bodies, who requested instead ratification of their own measures. 2 General Alekseev’s instructions from Supreme Headquarters to bring all unauthorized agitators before 308the field military courts (presumably to be shot) were equally unavailing. Even the harried Soviet Executive Committee often found itself following, rather than leading, its turbulent constituency. 3