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TOPIC TWO : `THE TSAR REFORMER' ALEXANDER II
RETURN TO REPRESSION, 1866-81
Assassination attempt on Alexander II 1866
Second assassination attempt 1867
Duma established in towns 1870
First women admitted to Moscow University 1872
Introduction of Conscription 1874
Pobedonostsev fears constitution in letter to Alexander III 1879
Alexander II assassinated by Narodnya Volya 1881
THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT OF 1866 AND CHANGE IN ATTITUDE
4th April 1866 assassination attempt on Alexander II culprit Dimitrii Karakozov student of
City erupted in public displays of thanks-giving seemed to confirm popular devotion on
which autocracy relied.
Alexander shaken by event only year before heir had died and wife ill with tuberculosis
led tsar to question events
Alexander took a mistress who bore him 4 children and whom he married in 1880 but he
became increasingly distant from reforming members of family brother Grand Duke
Constantine and aunt, Grand Duchess Elena.
Alexander became more aloof and listened more to reactionaries conservatives and
churchmen used assassination attempt to attack reforms. Richard Pipes : "The Emperor faced
the solid opposition of the rank and file of the bureaucracy as well as that of his son and
heir-apparent, the future Alexander III."
Reactionary ministers suggested tsar's reforming instincts had weakened props supporting
monarchy Church and nobility and country needed purging of `foreign influences' infecting
the universities and being aired in the press. Also different ethnic minorities and religions
needed tackling as diluting Russian strength.
Conservatives supported some reforms Reutern's economic and Milyutin's military reforms
seen as essential to Russia's future and these ministers supported by conservatives.
In other areas tsar persuaded to make new appointments in 1866 to replace liberals with
(a) Golovnin replaced by Dmitrii Tolstoy as minister for public instruction
(b) Pyotr Shuvalov head of the Third Section
(c) Pyotr Valuev replaced as minister of internal affairs by Alexander Timashev
(d) Konstantin Pahlen minister of justice.
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Reactionaries feared education allowed influx of foreign ideas and criticism of autocracy
needed to be controlled educated people likely to be rebellious.
1866 reactionary Count Dmitrii Tolstoy put in charge of education
Zemstva's powers over education reduced, Church restored to control over rural schools,
gymnazii ordered to follow traditional classical curriculum and abandon natural sciences, only
students from gymnazii allowed to enter university (1871) those from modern technical
schools limited to higher technical institutions, free of corrupting influences.…read more
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ALEXANDER'S SWING BACK TO REFORM
1879 / 1880 more assassination attempts on tsar
Alexander shocked established commission under General Loris-Melikov to decide how to
reduce revolutionary activity. Laver comments how "when he was supposedly in a phase of
reaction, he was considering further changes.…read more
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Boris Chicherin, a liberal(1828-1904) wrote : "Alexander set out to remodel completely the
enormous state which had been entrusted to his care; to abolish an age-old order founded
on slavery; to replace it with civic decency and freedom; to establish justice in a country
which had never known the meaning of legality; to redesign the entire administration; to
introduce freedom of the press in the context of unbroken authority; to call new forces to
life at every turn and set them on firm legal foundations;…read more