A Brief Introduction to Alexander II

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Alexander II ­ A Brief Introduction
Eldest son of Tsar Nicholas I
Born in Moscow, 17th April 1818
Educated by private tutors, and had to endure rigorous military training
which permanently damaged his health
Married Marie Alexandrovna in 1841
Became Tsar of Russia on the death of his father in 1855
Russia was involved in the Crimean war at this time ­ signed the Treaty of
Paris in 1856 that brought the conflict to an end
Crimean war made Alexander realise Russia was no longer a great military
power
Advisers argued Russia's serf-based economy could no longer compete with
industrialised nations such as Britain and France
Began to consider bringing an end to serfdom in Russia
Nobility objected, but Alexander told a group of Moscow nobles: "it is better
to abolish serfdom from above than to wait for the time when it will begin
to abolish itself from below".
Issued Emancipation Manifesto in 1861 that proposed 17 legislative acts that
would free the serfs in Russia
Personal serfdom would be abolished, all peasants would be able to buy land
from their landlords
State would advance the money to the landlords and would recover it from
the peasants in 49 annual sums (redemption payments)
Introduced other reforms, allowing each district to set up a Zemstvo in 1864
­ local councils with powers to provide roads, schools and medical services ­
however the right to elect members was restricted to the wealthy
Improved municipal government (1870) and universal military training (1874),
also encouraging the expansion of industry and the railway network
Reforms did not satisfy liberals or radicals who wanted a parliamentary
democracy/freedom of expression like in Great Britain
Reforms in agricultural disappointed the peasants ­ in some regions it took
20 years to obtain their land, and many were forced to pay more than the
land was worth/others given inadequate amounts for their needs
Group of reformers established Land and Liberty in 1876
Illegal to criticise the Russian government ­ group had to hold their meetings
in secret
Group published literature demanding that Russia's land should be handed
over to the peasants
Some reformers of Land and Liberty favoured a policy of terrorism to obtain
reform
14th April 1879 ­ assassination attempt on Alexander ­ failed ­ man guilty was
executed the following month along with sixteen other men suspected of
terrorism
Government responded to the assassination by appointing six military
governer-generals that imposed a rigorous system of censorship on Russia

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Land and Liberty split into two factions in October 1879 ­ majority of
members favoured a policy of terrorism and established The People's Will ­
decided to assassinate Alexander
Unsuccessful attempts made, such as blowing up the train the Tsar was
meant to be riding on, and also blowing up a mine underneath where he was
meant to be eating his dinner
People's Will contacted the Russian government claiming they would call off
the terror campaign if the Russian people were granted a constitution that…read more

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Alexander's reign begun with optimism, but ended in violence and
recrimination ­ some regard this murder as one of the key turning points of
Russian history…read more

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