Alexander II


Crimean War

Alexander II became Tsar at the final stage of the disastorous war. They had been fighting the British, French and Turkish there since 1853 and suffered several defeats including the battles of Balaclava and Inkerman in 1854. In august 1855, they lost Sebastopol, a major naval base. The final defeat in 1856 highlighted Russias reliance on serf armies and the countries economic backwardness, particularly its lack of railways and outdated weaponry.

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Treatment of the Decemberists

They were a group of army officers who revolted against Nicholas I in 1825, but were later freed by Alexander II.

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The Mir

Most serfs belonged to villiage communes, or mirs, where their village leders regulated their primative ***** farming.

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Thes men formed elite regiments of mounted soldiers with special social privileges. They came from Ukraine and Southern Russia; skilled horsemen, strong military tradition, provided with weapons but each rode his own hihly trained horse. Acted both as police reinforcements and personal bodygaurd to the tsar.

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Emancipation of the serfs motives

- tsarist autocracy depended on the nobility but a growing serf population and innadequate agricultural systems meant that many of the nobility were in debt.

- younger nobles had become apathetic towards the serfs and critical of the regime.

- traditional practices of the mir prevented experimentation tih new agricultural systems

- peasants could not move to the towns to work in factories etc. so industry wasn't progressing

- some people believed it was genuinley wrong to keep people as 'slaves'

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Emancipation of the serfs terms

There emancipation was proclaimed in Alexander II's edict of 1861. Serfs were declared free and could marry who they wanted, own property, set up businesses, travel and enjoy legal rights. Serfs were however required to make 49 annual redemption payments for the land they were given. The Mir were still responsible for the collection of taxes and freed serfs had to remin in the Mir until redemption payments were complete.

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Consequences of the emancipation of the serfs

Enterprising peasants could buy up land and make money. Those who were able to move out of the Mir could start earning regular wages.

Land allocations varied and terms of the edict often remained only theoretical.

Redemption payments provoked unrest, serfs were now in considerable debt, so their purchsing power remained low.

Mirs constrained peasants and were restrictive and backward.

Pearsnts were resentful - their were 647 riots in four months after the decree.

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Alexander II's military reforms

- consciprtion was made cumpolsory for all classes

- length of service cut from 25 to 15 years, 9 of which spent in reserve

- modern weponry was introduced

as a result:

- a smaller but better trained army was creted 

- literacy was improved through army education campaigns

- but in the Russo-Turkish war victory took longer than expected

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Alexander II's local government reforms

- Rural councils established  (Zemstvas) in 1864

- Given power to improve public services, including relief for the poor, and to develop industry

As a result:

- zemstva offered representative government at a local level 

- made significant improvements in welfare and education

- no control over taxation and law and order

- dominated by nobles so peasants had little influence

- tsarist appointed provincial governors could overturn their decisions

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Alexander II's judicial reforms

- they established a single system of local, provincial and national courts

- all classes were judged equally

- judges goven better training and higher pay so they were liess likely to take bribes

As a result:

-  a fairer less corrupt system

- jury system could undermine the control of the government i.e. Vera Zauschlich

- church and military courts continued and reforms were not applicable to Poland

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Alexander II's judicial reforms

- they established a single system of local, provincial and national courts

- all classes were judged equally

- judges goven better training and higher pay so they were liess likely to take bribes

As a result:

-  a fairer less corrupt system

- jury system could undermine the control of the government i.e. Vera Zauschlich

- church and military courts continued and reforms were not applicable to Poland

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Alexander II's educational reforms

- zemstva took control of primary education and it was made free for all

- vocational schools set up at secondary level

- Universities made self governing in 1863 and began offering more liberal courses

As a result:

- number of primary schools tripled

- number of children in schools more than doubled

- number of students at universities tripled

- primary curriculum still based on religion

- secondary education was still fee paying

- radical students joined opposition grouos at uni

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The third section

The secret police often run by a close friend of the tasr but he had planned to have the third section abolished but he was assassinated. It was late replaced by the Okhrana. Following the attempted assassination of Alexander II, Shuvalov strengthened the police, encouraged the third section and stepped up the persecution of other ethnic and religious minorities.

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The Third Element in society

The referrs to members of the intelligentsia of no particular class who were hired to serve in zemstva institutions as agronomists, statisticians, technicians, doctors, veterinarians, teachers, andinsurance agents.

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The Loris Melikov Constitution

Suggested that they allow a few representatives of the commons to be presented in the legislative institutions with the granted advisory rights. The project was presented to Alexander II on 28 January 1881, and was unanimously approved on the 16th of February by the Exclusive consultation (Alexander II also participated). On 1 March 1881, the tsar told Loris-Melikov that the project would be discussed in 4 days by the Council of Ministers. Two hours later, Alexander II was assassinated. Alexander III, by the advice of Konstantin Pobedonostsev, immediately dismissed Loris-Melikov and his project and started the implementation of conservative counter-reforms.

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Land and Liberty

Made up of the remaining Narodniks after their second failed movement. They had similar aims but also had a commitment to the assination of the tsar. Planned and were responsible for the assaination of the head of the third section, Mezemstev in 1878. They then spilt into the Black repartion and the Peoples will, due to mixed views on what the aims of the group should be.

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Cherneshevsky - what is to be done?

He spread the view that the peasants had to be made leader of reolutionary change.

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Alexander Herzen - The Bell

The Bell and Herzen also advocated a new peasant based social structure.

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The Narodniks 'going to the people'

In 1874, Peter Lavrove encouraged 2000 young people to 'go to the people'. They dressed and talked like peasants to try and gain acceptance in villages and spread their socialist ideas. However, ignorance, loyalty to the chrch and the tsar and fear that the Narodniks were secret police aents lead peasants to reject them and even hand them over to the police leading to 1600 arrests. In 1876 a second Narodnik movement was attempted but failed like the first with many arrests.

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Georgi Plekhanov

Lead the split between Land and Liberty and organised the Black repatition. He later became a Marxist.

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Black Repartition

Aimed to partition the black fertile soil provinces among the peasants and work peacefuly among peasants. They aimed to spread radical materials among students and workers but were weakened by arrests in 1880-81 and evetually were broken up.

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The Peoples Will

Lead by Mikhailov, they were larger than the Black repartition and advocated voilent methods and assassination of the tsar in particular. In March 1881 they succeeded in assassinating Alexander II with a bomb as he was travelling to the Winter Palace in St Petrsburg.

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The house of slow strangulation

A nick name given by Plekhanov to describe the new facilities buil by the government to deal with the overcapacity of prisons. They were brutal places where prisoners were kept in solitary confinement and often had long waits for their cases to be investigated and brought to trial.

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Karakozov and 'hell'

Karakozov was a disillusioned student who decide to join a student group called 'hell' at Moscow University. In April 1866, he attempted to kil the tsar by shooting at him while he was taking a walk in the Summer Gardens but missed and was arrested and executed.

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The trial of 193 and the trial of 50

The trial of 50 lasted about 5 weeks and was open to the public and reported in government press. Some of the accused chose to defend themselves giving them the right to final speeches. They were sentenced to prison and period of exile outside European Russia.

The trial of 50 was followed by the trial of 193 who had 'gone to the people ' in the early 1870s. The trial was secret and most defendents refused to plaed before the court. Of the 193 on trial 90 were acquitted and only 28 were sentenced to hard labour. the judge made a plea of leniency to the tsa but the requat fell on deaf ears. 

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Vera Zasulich and Trepov

In January 1878 Vera Zasuich shot Trepov (chief of police) but he survived. Zasulich pleaded guilty but her defenced made a play of inhumanity of the victim that the jury acquitted her much to public approval. The Tsar ordered her immediate arrest but she had already been taken away by supporter and given safety of asylum abroad.

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The Russo Turkish war

In an attempt to recover the losses of the Crimean War , Russia went to war in 1877 in support of the Balkan states fighting against Turkish rule. In March 1878, after hard fighting Russia concluded the Treaty of San Stefano with Turkey. This created a large Bulgaria under Russian protection. Alarmed by such Russia gains, Britain and Austria-Hungary forced Russia to accept the Treaty of Berlin in July 1878, which split up the new Bulgaria. Even after Alexander II's military reforms problems of supply and leadershi continued, the army struggled to win in the war against Turkey.

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The Treaty of San Stefano and the Congress of Berl

The Treaty of Berlin was a part of the Congress of Berlin (June 13-July 13, 1878). In it, the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Ottoman Empire wrote the Treaty of San Stefano.

Treaty of San Stefano. was a peace settlement imposed on the Ottoman government by Russia at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.

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Alexander II's russification policies towards the

Alexander II removed some of the restrictions placed on the Jews, allowing them into higher education and the government service. Some jews were also allowed to settle outide of the pale. May other restrictions were simply no longer enforced.

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Pale of Settlement

Of all groups in Russia, the Jews had fared the wors hadn having been confined to the Pale of Settlement for centuries and subject to random attacks. Of the 5.2 million Jews in Russia, 2 million of the lived in Ukraine.

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The Finnish Diet

The Finns did not revolt and were rewarded with their own currency and Diet (parliament). Alexander II is still regarded as a founder of modern Finland today.

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1876 restriction on Ukrainian language

A secret decree issued in 1876, banning the use of the Ukrainian language in print, with the exception of reprinting of old documents. The decree also forbode the import of Ukrainian publications and the staging of plays or lectures in Ukrainian.

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The 1863 Polish Uprising

An attempt was made to kill the Russian appointed Polish Prime Minister, the perpetrators were caught and publicly hung creating a strom of protest. Russian troops arrested whole congregations of Catholics in church sparking rebellion in January 1863. The rebellion was finally crushed in 1864 after a fierce guerilla war. Less liberal policies were then pursued.

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