The motives for the reforms of Alexander II

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GCE History Unit 1H - Tsarist Russia, 1855–1917

REFORM AND REACTION, 1855-1881

The motives for the reforms of Alexander II, including the emancipation of the serfs

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GCE History Unit 1H - Tsarist Russia, 1855­1917
REFORM AND REACTION, 1855-1881
The motives for the reforms of Alexander II, including the
emancipation of the serfs
Reforms
Emancipation of the serfs
Military reforms
Local government reforms
Judicial reforms
Educational reforms
Censorship reforms
Economic reforms
Church reforms
Motives for Emancipation of the serfs
Personal reasons
Alexander was a humane and sensitive Tsar
o Found cruelties of serfdom offensive on personal level
Publicly condemned serfdom as
o `unfair'
Alexander has liberal education ­ receptive to new ideas influenced by the west
o Members of the intelligentsia who promoted western ideas who'd wrote
copiously and persuasively about need for change in Russia's society
o Still believed in maintaining the tsarist autocracy and upholding his
`God-given' duties. But believed that part of his responsibility was
accepting Russia needed to change to enhance power and become a
leading power
Political reasons
Serfdom was a cause of Russia's humiliating defeat in the Crimean War, 1856
Defeated by Britain and France on its own doorstep
Serf to blame because
o Serfdom kept an extremely large proportion of Russia's labour force
bonded to the land ­ prevented peasants from moving to industrial sites
in the cities stunting industrial growth needed for modern weapons &
infrastructure in Russia (1 musket for every two Russian soldiers &
weaponry out dated and inferior to French and British.)

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Lacked initiative and training ­ poor soldiers
Undermined Russia's position as a Great Power ­ Alexander determined to not
let this happen again
His own father Nicholas I had maintained a reactionary and authoritarian
regime, yet he was unable to prevent emergence of a new ferment of social and
political thought which helped politicise and breed undercurrents of disloyalty
Serfs becoming more violent and restless
o Serfs hostile to serfdom since it kept them in slavery
o Serfs unable to provide for themselves to due…read more

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Motives for Judicial reforms
Abolition of Serfs meant that a new legal system had to be introduced in Russia
o Noble landowners no longer involved in delivering local justice
o The new peasant class had property rights unlike serfs
Motives for Educational reforms
Needed to educate Russians to `catch up with the West'
Emancipation of serfdom increased the need for basic literacy and numeracy
among peasants trying to run their newly-acquired small holdings
Motives for Censorship reforms
Done in accordance with the greater `liberalisation' of…read more

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