The idea that Russia’s historical destiny was essentially different from that of Central and Western Europe had a considerable ancestry. During the March days, as previously in 1905, there had come into existence Soviets of workers’ delegates, elected from factories and professional organisations, as organising centres of the popular movement. In April an all-Russian Soviet Congress was convened at which representatives from the villages and from soldiers’ committees in the army took their places alongside the delegates of the urban workers; and while the governing authority was vested de jure in the Provisional Government, composed of the heads of the former opposition parties in the Duma, an increasing amount of de facto influence rested with the Soviets. The Great War placed a grave strain on the slender resources of the Russian Empire, and by the winter of 1916 economic disorganisation had reached an advanced stage.