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Alexander Ii

  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2010 02:54 PM
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Daniel Owens-20715169

Tsarist Russia, 1855-1917

TEST PAPER 40505/01

Question:
Why, and with what success, did Alexander II embark on a series of reforms?

Alexander II had many reasons for attempting to reform the Russia he inherited rule of.
In 1855 when Alexander took the title of Tsar, Russia was clearly falling behind other great European rivals such as Britain and France, particularly in regards to industry.
This fact was painfully and humiliatingly highlighted in the defeat of the Crimean war.
This military defeat made it clear that Russia’s internal social, economical and political failings were a threat to both its international empirical aspirations as well as its internal own stability.
Russian agriculture and industry were relatively backward compared with its rivals.
The agricultural output of the down trodden serfs was low as was general morale throughout all classes of the vast nation.
Realizing this in itself was a threat to Russian autocratic rule, Alexander decided reform, albeit deemed by many nobles as somewhat painful, somewhat radical, was essential in order to prevent a possible collapse of Tsarist rule.
Emancipation of the serfs was deemed necessary by Alexander, although this was obviously bitterly contested by other nobles, and land lords.
I believe Alexander hoped the creation of a new, larger wealthier class could help to boost economic activity throughout the nation, and that this in turn would help consolidate the rule and power of the Tsar.
This worked largely in practice, however the serfs, almost inevitably ended up with a worse deal than originally they anticipated. For many conditions were to actually deteriorate.
Zemstva, or local governments were formed, and given limited powers over their provincial subjects and matters, thus empowering ‘the people’ to some degree.
Zemstva were allowed to appoint Justices of the Peace, and the whole judicial system was overhauled, based loosely on more modern European...

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