Alexander II Mindmap with themes

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  • Created on: 12-06-19 18:31
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  • Alexander II
    • The emancipation of the serfs, 1861 (Theme: social and cultural change)
      • Assumed power in 1855, well-preapred for the role after his father Nicholas I instilled him with the value of duty and obedience. But often felt he couldn't live up to his father and said to one of his tutors in 1829 'I wish I hadn't been born a Grand Duke.' Alexander had a humane persepctive on the world and was much more sensitive - he knew that Russia needed to become part of the modern world, but still a firm believer in autocracy and Russia's identity.
      • 1856 - Alexander starts the process of abolishing serfdom. WHY?: Some considered it morally and ethically wrong, writers like Turgenev had drawn attention to the plight of peasants. Peasants had been largely revolting in the 1840s. 'Better to abolish serfdom from above rather than below' - army was also made up of mainly peasants - posed a massive threat - Tsar ordered weekly reports on the mood of the peasantry from December 1857
        • The Crimean war had drawn attention to the state of the army which was made up of mainly peasants - thousands of military trained peasants released back into villages after 25 years of conscription - military reform could only be carried out if serfdom was abolished
        • Economic reasons - Russian economy could only advance (thought the intellectuals) if serfdom was abolished. Free labour is more productive that forced labour- backed by Miliyutin in 1947
      • Various discussions resulted in the 22 Emancipation statutes in February 1861. Now: Serfdom was abolished and serfs were now legally free - could marry whomever they liked, travel wherever they like, vote in local elections and trade freely.
        • Peasants had land to go with their freedom, kpet houses and immediate land around their house but would have to buy other land (in strips) that they had previously worked.
        • Had to make annual payments for the land they were buying: government purchased the land - peasants now had 49 year redemption payments
        • Peasants still under control of the Mir and their power was strengthened. The nobility still played a huge role in policies. Landowners were compensated for their loss of their land in government bonds
      • 1866 - State peasants given the right to buy land in the same way as former serfs or tenants. Over 23 million serfs involved in the emancipation and there was a 2 year transitional period in which it occurred in.
      • PROBLEMS: Peasants received 3x less land than they had worked -good quality land was limited - peasants still had to work as hired labour for much of the year.
        • PROBLEMS: Peasants were paying more for the high valuation land. Landowners were allowed to decide which parts they wanted to hand over - kept the best land for themselves.
        • PROBLEMS: powers of the Mir strengthened. Responsible for taxes and redemption payments, issued local passports to control peasant movement. Land would be returned to the Mir if Peasants left. Now peasants were tied to the village.
      • CONCEQUENCES: Peasants felt cheated, caused deep resentment - over 1,000 disturbances in 1861. The army had to be brought in to restore order on over 300 estates. But diminished quickly, most got on with the process.
        • CONCEQUENCES: Nobles gruntled, felt uncompensated for their losses. Lost power and influence started to criticise the regime.
        • Absentee landlords, rented land to peasants whilst they weren't there as money went to pay off debts and a lot of them just sold up.
        • CONCEQUENCES: Radical intelligensia felt emancipation  protected nobles and betrayed peasants - growth of opposition to the regime. Some peasants started buying land off of poorer neighbours (kulaks)
      • KEY DATES: 1856 - Alexander annonces serfdom to be abolished from above rather than below. 1857 - Committee set up to discuss abolishment. 1857-9 - Peasant disturbances on the news of emancipation. 1861 - 19th Feburary statue to abolish serfdom drawn up.
    • Other Reforms of Alexander II
      • Local government reform, 1864 - Zemvsta brought in improvements to roads, schools, health facilities, transport and drainage etc (local areas). Nobles gained political experience running the councils. Members of the third element gained self -esteem and began demanding social reform and improvements in living conditions. Became hostile with the state.
        • WEAKNESSES: zemvsta introduced into a limited number of provinces, restrictions placed on zemvsta powers. Dominated by the nobility - focused on their own interests. Results were patchy and peasants didn't really participate because they were put off by the nobiity and resented paying the zemvsta tax.
      • Judicial reforms, 1864 - Fewer courts made, each province had it's own court. Judges made more independent with higher salaries - fairer decisions. Jury trials introduced for more serious cases - further out of government control - now prosecutors and defenders who could summon their own witnesses. System of JP's established, dealing with smaller cases. Village courts used for peasant cases - still used illiterate judges.
        • CONCEQUENCES: Russians got fairer trials and greater access to justice - less corruption and less perversion from people of power. JP's worked quickly and cost nothing. Challenged the rule of the authority - independent authority now existed, new freedom for lawyers courtroom was now a space to challenge the government - genuine free speech. New juries were independent.
          • Seperate peasant courts emphasised their lower status. Some courts like church courts remained outside the system. The bureaucracy could still intervene - trail by jury not guaranteed. Had most impact in large cities.
      • Military reforms, 1861-81 - Controlled by Miliyutin. Universal conscription introduced at the age of 21. Standard military service reduced to 15 years (1862-70 reserve increased from 210,00 - 500,000) . Administration of army reorganised. Officer training = radically improved - military colleges established. Modern rifles and artillery introduced, punishments reduced and conditions for ordinary soldiers improved - housed in barracks.
        • CONCEQUENCES: Smaller proffessional army, less class ridden and less brutal. Alexander restricts officer training to the nobility. Significant saving in government expenditure. Opposed by nobility who didn't want their offspring to mix with the lower classes. Still relied heavily on peasant conscripts -uneducated and illiterate - reduced effectiveness of training.
      • Education reforms 1863-64 - Modern state needed a more educated population. Number of pupils doubled in first years of Alexander's reign - Primary schools opened to all classes nearly 1 million pupils in attendance by 1878. Secondary schools opened to all classes and curriculum extended. Overhaul of higher education - women could now attend courses but not get degrees - students drawn from wider social class range.
        • CONCEQUENCES: More literate population - population has new aspirations. Higher education increase led to students questioning the regime - played a more significant role in society. Poor students formed groups reacting to their treatment by the state - led to protests and disturbances - student radicalisation.
      • Censorship, 1860s - Censorship of the press lifted now could discuss government policy and editors were given more freedom. Ministry of interior could still withdraw any publication they deemed as dangerous - huge growth in books and publications some were overly critical of the reigme.

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