Domestic politics under Alexander III, 1881–1894

Brief notes on Alexander III's domestic policies

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  • Created by: Joshua
  • Created on: 17-05-10 16:54

Changes to Alexander II’s reforms


  • Alexander had been tutored by extremely nationalistic Pobedonostev whom convinced him of the need for autocracy.
  • Concerned with the reforms carried out by his father, which appeared to weaken the system. He personally rejected the idea of a western democracy.
  • The brutal assassination of his father affected him deeply. This motivated his reaction and further certified the foolishness of reformation.
  • Believed a reactionary policy was the "Russian" way to rule. He was needed to guide his people in the right direction, thus had to be loved and obeyed.

Upon coming to power he issued a manifesto calling for "The eradication of the vile sedition disgracing Russia."

1881: Passed the Law on Exceptional Measures in a bid to regain control, surrounding himself with those supportive of the regime.

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Giving Control back to the Monarchy

  • 1889- Creation of Land Captains- members of local nobility, responsible for law and order in the countryside.
  • These could override the Zemstva
  • 1890- reduced independence of the Zemstva

Alex's Motivation

  • Wanted to reduce power of Zemstva
  • wanted to tighten up local authority
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Judicial Changes

  • Reverted legal reforms introduced by father
  • 1895- Government had control of sacking judges
  • It became harder to become a judge

Alex's Motivation

  • Protection of state power in legal system
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  • 1882- law passed restricting lower classes to primary education
  • 1884- 'University charter' gave government control of it
  • Professors appointed based on loyalty to state rather than academic ability/achievements
  • 1882: Banned- Women in higher education + Student groups

Alex's Motivation

  • Maintain church control
  • Stunt class mobility
  • Revolutionaries were usually educated and of university age, he tackling the universities in order to control the growth of the intelligentsia.
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Censorship and Control

  • 1882- Temporary solution- Censorship and control on books. Many books banned including art and theatre
  • Attack launched on non Russian orthodox systems: Banned from building centres of worship.
  • 1893- Priests given more influence- gained salary from state

Alex's Motivation

  • Clamp down on disloyal opinions and attitudes towards his regime
  • Wished to re-establish state control through the promotion of Russian Nationalism.
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Police and Okhrana

  • New legislation- Police surveillance, any area could be dubbed
  • Within an area of 'subversion' suspects could be searched, arrested, detained, imprisoned or exiled
  • Population threatened as police numbers increased and there was no legal representation for those accused.
  • People were often exiled for felling trees and drunkenness.


  • Quash any pre-revolutionary activity.
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