Emancipation Ukase 1861- reforms

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Military reforms 1874

Dmitrii Milyutin minister of war 1861-1881


  • Conscription (for those over 20) was made compulsory for all classes
  • Length of conscription reduced from 25 years to 15 years, 9 years of which were spent 'in reserve' (education could reduce the length of conscription
  • Military colonies were abolished; welfare imporvements (abolition of corporal punishment) army service was no longer to be given as a punishment
  • Military colleges were established to train officers (promotion through merit rather than class)
  • Fifteen regional commands and new code of conduct were established
  • Provision was made to modernise weaponry and build strategic railways
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Military reforms 1874 assessment of success

  • Smaller better trained army was created
  • costs of military to the government were reduced
  • literacy was improved through army-education
  • officers still mainly aristocrats
  • upper classes served less time (bought their way out of service)
  • Russo Turksih was 1877-1878, victory took longer than expected
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Local Government reforms 1864-1870


  • Rural councils (Zemstva) were established at district Uezd at provisional levels
  • Dumas were set up in towns (1870)
  • COuncils were elected thgough an indirect system, giving initial vote to the nobles, townspeople, Church and peasants >was weighted in favour of the nobility
  • Zamstva and DUmas were given power to improve public services (inc. relief for the poor and develop industry)
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Local Governemtn reforms 1864-70 assessment of suc

Zemstva and Dumas:

  • offered some representive governemtn at local level -but only spread slowly
  • dominated by nobles and professionals, peasants had limited influence
  • they attracted the liberal minded with local understnading and made significant improvements in welfare
  • they provided a forum for debate and criticisms of governmental policies (later became a huge issue for Tsar)
  • no control over local/state taxes (remained with Tsarist-appointed povincial governers who could overturn local council decisions)
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Judicial reforms 1864


  • established local courts under magistrates for minor offences
  • All classes were judged equal before the law and procededings were open to the public and reporters
  • Judges' training and pay were improved
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Judicial reforms 1864 assessment of success

  • A fairer and less corrupt system was created
  • promoted legal careers- attracted the intellegensia who were critical of the governement
  • the jury system could undermine governemental control
  • Ecclesiastical (church) and military courts countinued and reform was not applicable for Poland

Vera Zasulich 1849-1919

1878- became a part of revolutionairy activites, shot and injured Trepov (governor of st. petersburg) this was well publicsed due to the free press, and although her obvious guilt, she was found not guilty. This was an example of standing against authorities. Zasulich fled before she could be rearrested and went on to become a populist.

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Educational reforms 1863-1864

Russia need to improove standards of literacy and numeracy for Russia's modernisation. Despite opposition from the Orthodox Church, liberal minded minister Alexander Golovnin led important changes. (Replaced by Tolstoy in 1866 and reform slowed down)

  • Zemstva took responsibility for primary education (replacing the church)
  • free primary education was made available to all, regardless of class or gender
  • new vocational secondary level schools were set up
  • students from both vocational and classic secondary schools could progress to university
  • universities were made self governing in 1863. Began to offer broader and more liberal courses
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Educational reforms 1863-1864 assessments

  • Between 1856 and 1880: -the number of primary schools trippled -the number of children in primary education more than doubled
  • greater selection of subjects for boys and girls
  • number of university students tripled
  • primary curriculum was based on religion and offered basic reading, writing and arthmetic
  • secondary school was still fee-paying so was limited to the better off.
  • radical university students joined opposition movements commited to violence (intellegensia)
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Cultural reform 1858-1870

  • Minor reform of church organisation followed an Ecclesiastical commision in 1862. In 1869 the system of promotion was changed to favour the capable.
  • Non-Russian ethnic groups were given greater freedom:
  • Poles were allowed to use their own language and practice Catholicism (restricted after after the Polish revolt in 1863)
  • laws restricting activites of jews were relaxed
  • Finns were allowed their own representative assembly


  • Moved from the church to governmental control
  • 1865 regulations reduced restrictions on newspapers and books to allow comment on governmental policies and publication of foreign works.
  • There was a tenfold increase in the number of books published between 1859-1894
  • Censorship still continued
  • More governmental criticisms appeared
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Economic reforms 1860-1878

Russia did not possess a wealthy middle class, Mikhail von Reutern (minister of finance 1862-1878) belied the government must direct economic change.

  • Tax farming was abolished (companies couldn't buy the right to collect taxes)
  • treasury reformed and budgetting and auditing systems were established
  • credit facilities made available through establishment of banks
  • subsidies were offered to private railway companies and other industrial initiatives
  • government guarenteed annual dividends were provided to foreign investors
  • tarrifs on trade were lowered and trade treaties negotiated
  • cotton industry expanded and mining grew in the Donets coalfields
  • There was some imporvement in agriculture
  • Transport and labour mobility remained limited
  • growth was slow
  • tax system not changed and peasants remained poor
  • Russian currency was unstable and much income went to paying off debts.
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