AII 'great reformer' vs AII 'great reactionary'

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  • Alexander II 'great reformer' vs Alexander III 'great reactionary.'
    • AII
      • Great reformer
        • Emancipated 51 million serfs in 1861
          • Challenged accepted convention and began the transformation of Russia society
          • Serfs freed from feudal obligations --> could marry, trade and vote in local elections freely
          • Allotted land for their needs; they could keep their houses and the land immediately around it
          • Humiliations and inefficiencies of Crimean War were the main catalyst for emancipation
            • Dmitry Milyutin, Minister of War, pleaded for reform in order to 'strengthen the state and restore dignity.'
              • Believed the army had to be modernised, and that only a 'free' population would provide the labour needed for military improvement
          • Condition of the peasantry was the most prominent weakness in Russian society
            • Unable to industrialise as the serfs wouldn't move to the cities
          • Property rights
        • Army
          • Dmitry Milyutin reorganised armed forces to create a smaller, more professional, more efficient and less expensive army
          • Conscription made compulsory for all classes (including nobles) from the age of 21 but the length of service was reduced from 25 years to 6 years. Plus 9 years in reserve
            • Reduction lifted the threat of a virtual life sentence and removed the burden from the life of ordinary peasants
          • Military colleges were set up to provide better training for the non-noble officer corps and the literacy within the army was improved; army educated 2-3 million soldiers in the 1870s-1890s
        • Zemstva
          • Elected local councils established both at district and provincial levels
          • Given power to improve public services: (roads, schools, public health, prisons), develop industrial projects and administer poor relief in times of hardship
          • Could respond to local needs far better than the central bureaucracy
          • Wide suffrage, 40% of members chosen by peasants
        • Legal
          • Old legal system replaced with new structure based on open trials in public, argued out by lawyers, in front of a jury
          • Local justices of the peace elected by Zemstva and were independent from political control
        • Education
          • Primary and secondary education extended and schools were declared 'open to all' regardless of class and sex
            • (allowing women to attend secondary school for non-vocational education from 1870)
        • Finance
          • Improved banking and credit facilities led to economic growth
        • Industrialisation
          • Expansion of cotton and coal-iron industries and growth of railways occurred through Gov subsidies
        • Ethnic minorities
          • Allowed Finland to have a Diet and encouraged the Finnish language
      • Not great reformer
        • Emancipation 1861
          • AII: "It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait for the time when it begins to abolish itself from below."
          • He didn't completely free the serfs and undid may of the reforms he made
            • Peasants had to make annual payments to the state (redemption payments) in order to pay for any land purchased
              • Made peasants feel betrayed as they were having to pay for their freedom and therefore, in their eyes, weren't free
                • When they were free they had no debts to pay so it could be said that the peasants ended up worse off after being emancipated
              • Payments were to take 49 years which was beyond the lifetime of most serfs and so was usually handed down to their children
                • 2 year period of 'temporary obligation' however, for some peasants this period lasted until 1881
            • Peasants freedom was restricted since the mir peasant commue controlled the movement of peasants in their district, so that those who wanted to travel more than 20 miles required an internal passport
              • Mir system was highly traditional institution and subsequently farming and technical backwardness perisisted
                • In 1878 only 50% of the peasantry was capable of producing surplus
        • Didn't go far enough with his reforms
          • Zemstva was only slowly introduced and many provinces were never affected
            • By 1914 only 43 of 70 provinces had a zemstva
          • Judiciary  reforms were only slowly introduced because of a shortage of lawyers, the Gov retained power of arbitary arrest and the secret police remained
        • Reversed his relaxation on censorship as soon as criticism of the Tsar began to be published
        • Liberal policy to Poland also reversed after a revolt in 1863 leading to 10,000 poles being exiled and the name 'Poland' replaced by Vistula Province
        • In the Universities, more liberal courses had been replaced by a traditional curriculum and subjects that encouraged critical thought such as literature, science and history were forced out
    • AIII
      • Great reactionary
        • Reacted right from the beginning of his reign showing that it was always his intention
          • Reign began with the public hanging o the conspirators involved in his father's assassination and the 1881 'manifesto of unshakable Autocracy'
            • Law on exceptional measures, which declared that, if necessary, a commander-in-chief could be appointed to take control of a locality, using military police courts and arbitrary powers of imprisonment
        • Reacted to his father's death by building the church on spilled blood in St. Petersburg which was a statement of divine right and autocracy.
        • Act in 1890 changed election arrangements for the Zemstva, so as to reduce the peasants' vote, and placed the Zemstva under central Gov control. In June 1892 a similar arrangement was made for the towns
          • Electorate was reduced to the owner of property above a certain value, and the mayor and members of the town council became state employees, subject to central Gov direction
        • Increased the number of police officers, recruited more spies and agent provocateurs (who would pose as revolutionaries in order to incriminate others.)
          • Placed a committed autocrat, Vyacheslav Plehve, in charge of the secret police, the Okhrana
        • Statute in 1882, any area of the empire could be detained, exiled or questioned, on suspicion of committing a crime or being related to a criminal
          • Gave them tremendous power over people's lives since any arrested person had no right to legal representation
        • Education
          • Education Ministry allowed to appoint key university officials based on 'religious, moral and patriotic orientation' from 1884.
          • Women's universities were closed and students were forbidden from gathering in groups of more than 5
          • Children from the lowest classes were to be restricted to primary education, so that they could never be 'taken out of the social environment to which they belong'
        • Censorship
          • Temporary regulations passes in 1882 that allowed newspapers to be closed down and a life ban placed on editors and publishers
          • All literary publications had to be officially approved and libraries and reading rooms were restricted in the books they were allowed to stock
          • Extended to theatre, art and culture where 'Russification' was enforced
      • Not great reactionary
        • Not all AII reforms disappeared and there was some positive change
        • May 1881, redemption payments were reduced and in some cases cancelled
        • May 1885 poll tax was abolished and the introduction of inheritance tax helped to shift the burden of taxation slightly, away from the lowest classes
        • Right to appeal and the establishment of the Peasants' land bank in 1883 which allowed Peasants to have better access to credit, thus being able to modernise and buy more land
        • Factory reform acts: child labour was regulated and their working hours were reduced
          • Women's working hours at night were reduced, and compulsory education for children working in factories was introduced
    • Conclusion
      • AII was the great reformer since the emancipation of the serfs affected so many people and the reform was of great magnitude. It was also a long-term reform which has stayed to this day.
        • Wasn't the great reformer since he undid laws and didn't go far enough
          • This was mostly down to unintended consequences e.g. a revolt in Poland in 1863 led to his liberal policy in Poland being reversed
      • AIII wasn't the great reactionary since not all of AII's reforms disappeared and he even made some reforms of his own, such as factory conditions
        • Although he did  react right from the start of his reign, he didn't react fully and undo all of AII's reforms such as the emancipation of the serfs
      • AII was the great reformer but AIII wasn't the great reactionary

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