Alexander II's Great Reforms- Tsarist Russia

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  • Alexander II's "Great Reforms"
    • Local Government Administration
      • 1864-there was to be system of elected councils, known as zemstva.
        • Zemstva to be elected bodies, chosen through a system of "electoral colleges". There would be separate ones for nobles, townspeople, Church and peasants, but votes were to be arranged so that nobility dominated.
        • Zemstva to have a range of powers to make improvementsto public services
        • To administer poor relief in times of hardship
      • 1870- this reform was extended to towns, when dumas (elected town councils) were set up in urban areas
      • Evidence of failure
        • Zemstva and duma powers were limited-no control over state taxes, appointment of officials and maintenance of law and order
        • Never became, nor intended to be, the basis of a National Representative Assembly
        • Tended to preserve interests of professional classes who largely were the representatives
    • Army Reforms- 1875
      • Service in the army was no longer given as punishment in court
      • Length of service was reduced from 25 years to 15 years
      • Conscription was made compulsory for all classes (including nobles) from the age of 20. However, you could pay for others to take your place
      • Corporal punishment and flogging were abolished
      • Modern weaponry was introduced
      • Military Colleges were set up to provide better training for the Officer Corps
    • Legal/Judicial Reforms (1864)
      • The principle of equality before the law was established
      • Criminal cases were to be heard before barristers and a jury
      • Proceedings were to be open to the public and conducted orally, which caused corruption to some extent
      • Judges were given better training and pay
      • Volost courts were established to deal with peasants leaving serf dependence.
        • Volost courts could give reprimands  fines of up to 300 roubles and prison sentences between 3 months and a year.
    • Education and Censorship (1863-64)
      • Establishment of the zemstva provided an opportunity for changes in the control, development and funding of education
      • 1863- universities could govern themselves including appointment of their own staff
      • 1864- responsibility for schooling was transferred from the Church to the zemstva
      • Schools were extended throughout the country. 40,000 (1865) grew to over a million by 1880. Open to all, including women from 1870
      • 1863- censorship was placed under the control of the Ministry for Internal Affairs
      • Range of subjects at secondary and university level expanded to bring newer ideas- number of university students rose from 3,600 to over 10,000 by 1870s (hence more radical thinkers emerged)
      • Rapid expansion of book, newspapers and journals-even radical novels were published
        • "Success " of reforms caused government to remove some of the freedoms after 1866- closer control over range of subjects that could be taught and limits put on university entrance
          • Clampdown intensified in 1870s- consequence of growth in critical writings and growth in revolutionary activity- for example, "the People's Will"


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