Russian rulers 1855-1964

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Alexander II (1855-1881)
Reforms of the army
The secret police was called the third section.
Education reforms.
Reduced censorship, political prisoner's such as the Decembrists set free.
Emancipation of the serfs.
Reforms of the law.(juries introduced).
The Problems facing the new Tsar
The Crimean War, especially the capture of Sebastopol, believed by almost everyone at the time to
be invincible, had revealed just how deep-seated Russia's problems were. Her communications were
woeful, her munitions industries inadequate for a modern war and her administration had been
revealed to be corrupt and ineffective. The system meant that there was no room for modernisation
or change.
The Crimean war 1855-1856
First major European war fought not only by Russia but also the great powers. The war was fought on
Russian territory against British, French and Turkish forces. 25 million men were subjected to service
but only 800,000 actually fought due to poor health. Russian casualties were very high, as high as
500,000.Vast majority caused by illness and disease rather than fighting. Success of the western
powers was attributed to a number of factors. Their armies were not serfs and they had an advanced
weaponry and industry.
Modernisation was sought in the end of serfdom and in the liberalisation of the legal system, in
education, military reforms and the government. However the Crimean war was not the only reason
for this, there were liberals within the ruling class and the Tsar himself was more prepared to change
and adapt than Nicholas II. But war was a major catalyst.
Alexander II was nicknamed the Tsar Liberator but actually was more of a Great Disappointment.
Russian defeat in the Crimean war had been the catalyst for fundamental change. Alexander moved
quickly to reform the army. Recruitment was suspended in 1856. Military colonies were abolished
altogether. Every man over 20 was made liable to conscription if medically fit. The length of service
for conscripts was reduced to six years followed by nine years in the reserve and five in the milita.
The military reserve was as a result raised from 210,000 to 553,000 by 1870 the training and
discipline of soldiers was made both more humane and more efficient.
Local government reforms
Alexander was personally commited to the maintenance of his autocratic rule. But he also recognised
there had to be changes in the governmental system. The abolition of serfdom showed some reform
since the gentry lost much of the legal basis of their control of the peasentry.

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Zemstvos were created in 1864. Zemstvos were local government responsible for public health,
prisons, roads, agriculture, the relief of famine and to some areas of education. In towns and cities
Dumas were set up with similar responsibilities but only those who paid taxes or were on proper
register were granted the vote.
Neither zemstvo nor duma had control of the police which remained under the Tsar and minister of
the interior.…read more

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For those wanting change, the reign got off to a promising start. Alexander immediately stopped all
army recruitment and eased censorship. He also released all those Decembrists still in prison or exile
who had tried to overthrow his father in 1825. A similar amnesty was given to those Poles who had
rebelled in 1830-31. The restrictions on foreign travel were also quickly lifted. In 1859, 26,000
passports were granted to travel abroad.
For many critics, the abolition of serfdom was the most urgent need.…read more

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Conclusion of Alexander II's Reforms The reforms made under Alexander II were the most reaching
made since peter the great. However they could not have worked because massive unrest occurred
and there was a huge wave of opposition. Financial policies saw little reform. The poll tax which the
gentry were exempt remained a heavy burden on the peasants. It increased by 80% over
Alexander's reign. Russia had problems before the war but Alexander only focused on effects from
the Crimean war.…read more

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Their mission ended in abject failure.
The police reacted with waves of arrests in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The students in the
countryside were also not able to evade arrest for long. The movement was smashed in a few
months. They had found bridging the gap between liberal student and the ignorant conservatism
of the peasant difficult, many being denounced by stewards and the local gentry.
Not all were arrested. Some escaped to continue the campaign by setting up `Land and Liberty'.…read more

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War brought financial crisis and the collapse of the rouble. It was a major factor in the
end of the so called free trade in Russia's economic development. Yet again this war
showed Russia's backwardness, this time there was no major series of reforms.
Alexander III (1881-1894)
Tsar Alexander III (Alexander's reign was marked out by relentless repression and desire for political
and social control.
1. Extended repression ­ Crack down on opposition groups and undid many of the reforms of
Alexander II.…read more

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According to Professor Hutchinson, this was `the defining event of the decade'. It was made worse
by the inevitable outbreak of cholera and typhus the following year.
The government was responsible for the severity for the famine, or so many believed. In an effort to
raise much needed revenue, the government had heavily taxed consumer goods.…read more

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University education was restricted and
religious tolerance eroded.
The Okhrana became a much more important element in Russian life than it had done before. The
bureaucracy, police and army were dedicated to enforcing religious, racial and national
Economic growth
The economy was already growing under Alexander II however under Alexander III
industrialisation was rapidly increasing. With an average growth of 8% per annum at the end of
the century. The highest growing rate of any country in the world.…read more

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As cities grew there was growth in the middle classes. The numbers of banks and other financial
institutions mushroomed. The zemstva helped as they employed teachers, doctors ect. As the
work of the zemstva expanded so did the expectations of the intelligentsia for wider
consultation at a national level.
Despite this the intelligentsia had little in common with the peasants' or the workers, but were
equally ignored by the political establishment. (They were denied in the political system). Which
pushed them towards the radical movement.…read more

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When food was scarce during the first world war many workers went back to the village.
Industry depended hugely on state intervention and orders especially the railways and armaments
industry. The economy before the First World War was not producing what the peasents making up
80% of the total population. A command economy was in existence long before Lenin and Stalin. It
was an economy designed to protect the territorial integrity of the empire in an increasingly
threatening world.…read more


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