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TOPIC TWO : `THE TSAR REFORMER' ­ ALEXANDER II (1855-81)

THE PERIOD OF REFORMS, 1855-66
Event Date
Crimean War 1853-1856
Death of Nicholas I
1855
Alexander II comes to power ­ Crimean War going badly
Treaty of Paris ends Crimean War 1856
Alexander instructs each province to consider reform 1857…

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Led to Russian intelligentsia and enlightened officials to question state of Russian society and
reliance on army of serf conscripts. General Dmitri Milyutin, later minister of war (1861-81)
thought army needed modernising ­ meant new method for enlisting soldiers. Poor
communications and lack of railways blamed for war failure --…

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cited [in his speech in 1856] is his following sentence: `I ask you, gentlemen, to figure out
how all this can be carried out to completion.' Alexander was determined on emancipation,
but he shrewdly judged that ­ by making over to the landowners the responsibility for
detailing how this was…

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in Russia between 1826 and 1854. By granting some of the measures that the intelligentsia
had called for, while in fact tightening control over the peasants, Alexander intended to
lessen the social and political threat to the established system that those figures
frighteningly represented. Above all, he hoped that an…

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Intellectuals pressing for reform before 1855 but divided between Slavophiles who
believed in unique Russian way and Westerners who favoured more western approach.
Slavophiles believed in maintaining peasant society and tenets of Orthodox Church;
Westerners wanted to abandon some Russian traditions to absorb modern western values ­
economic and military…

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1803 Alexander I made it legal for landowners to sell peasants land ­ but only 100,000
bought freedom in this way.
1816-19 Baltic states of Estonia, Livonia and Kurland abolished serfdom but land not given to
freed serfs.
1840s saw attempt to regulate serfdom in Ukraine.
Nicholas I recognised serfdom…

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THE TERMS OF THE EMANCIPATION UKASE

Decree only applied to privately owned serfs living on land.
State serfs had to wait until 1866 to receive complete freedom (had gained some freedoms
before 1861)
7 million serfs did not fit into above categories ­ terms for these worked out over following…

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rioted in protest." (The Reforms of Tsar Alexander II, Carl Peter Watts, History
Review 1998)



THE POSITIVE RESULTS OF THE EMANCIPATION DECREE

Some peasants did well out of land allocation and bought extra land from less prosperous
neighbours ­ known as kulaks ­ increased land holding and sold surplus grain.…

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Many peasants resented paying redemption payment for land they saw as theirs, even
though payments roughly equal to previous feudal dues ­ although some did pay more.
Some peasants granted less land than they had previously farmed.
Even those ostensibly granted same amount of land found they lost use of…

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Mir system stifled innovation and agricultural progress as peasants had to co-operate with
others within commune and each male child born to family received share of family land,
thereby reducing size of holdings.
Mir also tended to restrict issue of internal passports which had detrimental impact on
industrial development due…

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