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Reform & Reaction
(1855-1881)…read more

Slide 2

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Motives for Alexander II's reforms
· Alexander had a relatively liberal upbringing so was inclined
to social reform
· Defeat in Crimean War ­ highlighted need for change e.g.
Unskilled and unorganised military (conscripted serfs without
· Fear of major serf unrest unless there was change `from
· Change was needed for significant economic growth e.g.
Agriculture quite unproductive, not enough labour for
· Educational reform needed to develop a better educated
ruling and administrative class
· Legal reform needed to make legal system fair and
independent from government interference.…read more

Slide 3

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Motives for Emancipation of Serfs in
· Alexander II had a liberal upbringing so he believed
serfdom was morally wrong
· There was a fear of revolution from below
· It would strengthen the autocracy and catch them up
with the more advanced Western countries
· Serfdom was anachronistic and inefficient
· It blocked the way of economic and social progress, as
the labour was needed to resource industrialisation
· Could open the way for other reforms e.g. Military
reforms needed abolition of serfdom…read more

Slide 4

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Advantages of Emancipation
· Serfs were released from ties to land-owners
· They were free to marry, own property, set up
businesses, travel and have legal rights
· Each family could keep its cottage and allotment
· Peasants kept the land surrounding the cottage and
received additional allocations of land based on their
position in the mir
· They could sometimes buy additional strips of land
· Communal fields were retained by the mir and could
be used by all ex-serfs.…read more

Slide 5

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Disadvantages of Emancipation in
· It only applied to the privately owned serfs living on
the land
· It took about 20 years to complete
· About 15% still remained obligated to their landlords
until 1881
· Peasants had to pay redemption payments for their
land for 49 years with a 6% interest charge
· They had to remain within the mir until all redemption
payments had been made
· Landowners retained ownership of meadows, pastures
and woodland so there wasn't much grazing space or
source of wood for peasants…read more

Slide 6

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Military Reforms
· Courts could no longer give service in the army as a
· Better provisioning and medical care
· Length of service reduced from 25 years to 15 (6 in army &
9 in reserves)
· Conscription made compulsory for all classes (including
nobles) from the age of 20
· Corporal punishment and flogging abolished & military
punishments made less severe
· Modern weaponry introduced, steamships built, railways
constructed to improve transport of troops and provisions
· Military Colleges set up to provide better training for
officer corps…read more

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