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Summary The Reforms of Tsar Alexander II

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A snapshot of the summary - The Reforms of Tsar Alexander II

  • 1 Introduction

  • Why does Carl Peter Watts feel Tsar Alexander II introduced a series of reforms in Russia?
    1. They were a direct response to Russia's defeat in the Crimean War
    2. intended to liberate Russian society from some of its most archaic practises
    3. improve Russia's economic and therefore military capability
    4. conserve the existing socio-political structure by a process of modification 
  • How does Watts feel that the conservative nature of Tsar Alexander's reforms is shown?
    Because they continue the same policy employed by his predecessor Nicholas I (1825-1855)
  • What does Watt feel this conservatism does in aiding political stability in Russia?
    Rather than helping to conserve the position of the aristocracy it jeopardised the stability of Russia because Alexander's successors inherited 50 years of social and political dissatisfaction (perhaps a long-term cause of Russian Revolution 1917?)
  • 2 Emancipation of the Serfs

  • 2.1 Reasons for Reform

  • Why was the need to reform evident before Alexander II's reign?
    1. 1825: Decembrist Revolt; although unsuccessful demonstrated deep-felt dissatisfaction with the aristocracy and that reform was needed
    2. 1773-75: Pugachev Revolt demonstrated the dangers of a dissatisfied peasantry
  • How did Nicholas I respond to the need for reform in 1825-1855?
    Introduced a series of minor reforms:
    • Improved living conditions of state and crown serfs
    • these were intended as an 'example' for dvoriane (nobility) on treatment of private serfs
  • What was the response of the dvoriane to Nicholas I's reforms?
    Most landowners took little notice and continued to:
    1. Extract feudal dues
    2. Use serfs for labour services
    3. took little regard for their serfs' welfare
  • What was Nicholas I's opinion of serfdom?
    He abhorred serfdom:
    1842 told the Council of State:
    "There can be no doubt that serfdom in its present situation in our country is an evil... [it] cannot last forever... The only answer is thus to prepare the way for a gradual transition to a different order"
  • Considering Nicholas I's distaste for serfdom why wasn't it abolished?
    Conservatism of the autocracy was too strong that it wouldn't make a move against the dvoriane by imposing the abolishment of serfdom unilaterally
  • Why was Alexander II supportive of the abolition of serfdom?
    1. Served on committees of inquiry into serfdom thus he understood the weakness that serfdom imposed on the Russian state
    2. Moreover, the Russian defeat in the Crimean War demonstrated that she was lagging behind her European counterparts Britain and France
  • What idea did a prominent slavophile express about Russia's defeat in the Crimean War which introduced the idea of the need for internal change?
    1856; Yuriy Samarin articulated the concerns for the political society when he wrote that "We were defeated not by the external forces of the Western alliance but by our own internal weakness' 
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