Russia: unit 1 (1855-1894)

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: wilby99
  • Created on: 25-01-16 13:40

What was russia like in 1855?

  • Ruled by an autocratic tsar who was the head of the orthadox church and almost deified by the people.
  • Russia was 10% urban and 90% rural but these rural places were very difficult to reach and edicts could take up to a year to reach some parts of it.
  • There was a very large  surf class, virtaully no middle  cllass, a small upper class and an even  smaller intelligensia.


  • Used 45% of government and was the  largest in the world but was very under equipped and there was no sense of meritocracy.

Law and order

  • The army and cossacks were the police who ruled a police state where anyone showing anti-tsarist sentiment was exiled.
1 of 17

The Crimean war 1853-56

  • The crimea is a very important place historically and geograpicaly so Nicholas the first invaded expecting a quick victory (much like in the Russo-japanese war).
  • Britain and france joined in against Russia in order to protect their respective empiresbut they had more modern equippment than Russia.
  • Nicholas died at the begining  of the war (1854) which left Alexander with the problem of having to sort out the mess of the war even though he was well trained and  educated it was still  a big ask.
  • russia lost because:
    • poorly trained surf army
    • outdated technology
    • poor suppply lines
    • poor communication links
    • archaic medical science
  • The war left a  debt of up to a million Roubles which could never be paid off with the economy as it was 
2 of 17

Emancipation of the surfs 1861

  • Before the emancipation dict Alexander toured russia, asked nobels to draw up a list of the surfs and peasants and then got a secret comittee to organise the actual terms of the edict.


  • The  surfs became reecognised as free men
  • they could marry who they wanted
  • they could travel outside the mir as long as redemption payments were paid
  • they were entitld to keep a small portion of their land and property
  • landowners were compensated

Alexanders background

  • He chaired a government comittee as to whether or not Russia should carry on surfdom or not, had seen the surfs living conditions and was surrounded by 'enlighhtened thinkers' such as Milyutin Brothers.
  • He was always taught to protect the autocracy and  knew that surfdom meant Russia  was lagging behind other countries and knew that if  he did this he would make his mark in history in a way in which no other Tsar ever had.
3 of 17

Impact of the emancipation of the surfs 1861

Peasant gains

  • free to trade and marry
  • could travel after redemption tax was paid
  • could own property and a small allotment
  • a few peaasants became Kulaks 

Peasant loss

  • Had to buy land they had previously worked for free
  • It was likely they would pass on a large debt to their children 
  • lost their rights to the woodland and domestiic surfs were given no land.


  • Some sold land at high prices, profited and then re-invested this wealth into new industries
  • They lost the steady income surfdom  provided
  • Some were forced to sell up and move  into the cities
4 of 17

Impact of the emancipation of the surfs 1861 (2)

Further impacts

  • No landowner meant that someone else had to administrate and so the mir came  into play.
  • The mir was responsable  for  collecting redemption payments and for issuing passports
  • Volosts were set up to establish the mirs


  • if the peasants hadn't gone to find work in  the cities there would have been no working class emerged
  • when  the nobles went to the cities they were very unhappy with the tsar
  • after the decree there were 647 riots in 4 months- this was a dangerous time for the nobles
  • 1/3 of landowners were forced to sell up by 1905


  • only  50% of peasants produced a food surplus 
  • Kulaks were rare
  • The tsar used the army to punish people repeatedly
5 of 17

Alexander the seconds reforms


  • military colleges introduced and meritocracy introduced
  • flogging banned and length of conscription reduce
  • better medical care and food bought in and better equippment + iron clad ships
  • development of troop transporrtinng railways

Local government

  • Zemstva (regional council) introduced
  • town dumas introduced (they had no control over money matters)
  • Zemstva elected by electoral colleges and every five peasant votes equated to one nobles


  • education was extended to scondary (number of primaries trippled in four years)
  • student fees were scrapped and the number of unis tripled 
  • control of curriculum passed from church to zemstva who tightly controlled it
6 of 17

Alexander the seconds reforms (2)


  • 1863-rules were relaxed
  • 1865-books no longer censored after publication
  • 1865-newspaper, editorials and foreign publications were allowed


  • all now seen as equal before the law
  • trail by jury
  • dfendant had access to lawyers
  • cases open to the publiic and the press
  • volost courts were run by peasants to try other peasants
7 of 17

Opposition to Alexander the second

Effects of the reforms

  • Relaxation of censorshipmeant circulation of contreversial material
  • education meant growing number of students who realised the need for change
  • Zemstva meant people thought they could rule better than the tsar could
  • legal  reforms exposed many of the wrongs of the tsarist russia

Two broad opponents of the tsar

  • Liberal intelligensia:
    • westonisers wanted to modernise to become more llike to west
    • slavophiles wanted to become to make a few changes but keep the system mainly as it was.
  • Populists:
    • nihilists
    • anachists
    • marxists
    • nardoniks
  • see next card for each of the populists
8 of 17

Opposition to Alexander the second


  • scorned authority and tradition
  • a movement of ideas rather than a pollitical organistation
  • published many  anti-tsarist papers


  • wanted to destroy centralised  government
  • a very violent and agressive version of nihilism


  • the bourgiosie own everything whilst the proletariate have no choice but to submit
  • this was new to russia but grew in popularity durring the 1900's


  • traveled the country to persuade people to rise up aggainst the tsar
  • elicited a lot of public sympathy, but even more hostility from the peasants
9 of 17

Alexanders reaction


  • Numerous assassination attempts and the death of his son Nicholas coupled with the growth of opposition made Alexander become more insular.
  • He found his solice in his conservative mistress who slowly started to influence hiim towards abandoning his more 'enlightened' ideas.

What were they?

  • 'third section' formed and the police powers tightened
  • More show trials took place 
  • Only grammer school students could go to uni
  • These measures did not reverse his reforms

What impact did they have?

  • Because of relaxed censorship, people heard more about the injustices and so began to grumble.
  • 1964 Polish uprising showed the start of discontent.
10 of 17

Alexander the thirds reaction

Local government

  • land captains introduced
  • 1890  zemstvo  cam under government control
  • 1992 those who could vote restricted to those who owned land above a certain value


  • 1887 closed  court sessions introduced
  • 1889 volost courts put under the control of the land captains


  • any one thought likely to commit a crime could be arrested


  • tightened up significantly with the 1882 temporary regulations
  • all publications had to be state approved
11 of 17

Alexander the thirds reaction (2)


  • only 2% literate by 1887
  • women banned from going to uni
  • certain subjects banned and western influences prevented 

1881 redemption payments reduced

1885  poll tax scrapped and the right of appeal introduced into cases heard by the land captains

12 of 17


  • Alexander had been generally fairly tolerant of minorities , until the end of his rule and his 'reaction'
  • Alexander the third thought that a unified empire would be easier to rule and saw russification as the way forward

What Russification involved

  • Russian was tought as the first language and was the only language used in schools, courts and other official places
  • Russian orthadoxy became the only allowed religeon and western influence was discourages in order to strengthen tsarist loyalties


  • Easier communication across the empire
  • Theoretically strengthened national pride and weakened religeous tensions


  • Growing resentment: June 1888 aprox. 332 cases of mass disturbance
13 of 17


There were about five million jews in Russia and most of them lived in the pale settlement

Pobedonestovs influence

  • His phrase was "beat the yids, save Russia"
  • He thought that 1/3 should emmigrate, 1/3 should die and 1/3 should assimilate
  • he tought Alexander the second anti-semitism


  • First broke out in the Ukrain in 1881 (were stirred up by the Okhrana) until 1884
  • 1882 May laws
    • Jews banned from opening shops or buisnesses on sundays or christian holidays
    • banned from participating in local elections
    • very strict regulations on wjuich Jews were allowed into universities


  • Vast ammounts of immigration between 1881-1914
  • 1891 Jews were expelled from Moscow
  • many Leading Marxists came from Jewish backgrounds
14 of 17

Improving the economy

Von Reutans reforms 1862-1881

  • Aimed to increase income so more could be spent on developing industry
  • tax farming banned
  • 1863 import tariffs cut
  • foreign investment encouraged

Nikoli Bungi reforms 1881-1887

  • wanted to stop taxing peaseants and increase consumer products
  • spent more money on imports
  • russia ran into a big deficit

Ivan Vyshnedgradsky 1887-1892

  • "we may go hungry, but we must export" 
  • By 1892 Russia had a surplus
  • 1888 France gave Russia a big loan 
  • Exports continued durin gthe 1991-92 great famine which lead to much discontent among the people
15 of 17

Improving the economy (2)

Sergei Witte

  • Wanted to modernise Russia to get rid of any anti-tsarism
  • Heavy taxes and he continued to wxport
  • He welcomed large overseas loans in order to fund indusrty
  • He also bought in skilled workers and enginers from other industrialised countries to speed up Russias industrialisation.
16 of 17

Russian society


  • there was vast population growth and by 1880 the peasants life had not improved much since the emancipation
  • Years of the red cockrel 1903-04 
    • peasants seized and burnt a vast amount of land
  • 1870s when Russia flooded the grain market, incomes fell so they were less able to pay back redemption payments
  • Kulaks expoited the poorer peasants to make themselves more wealthy

Landowners  and nobility

  • life also worsened 
  • Emancipation robbed them of a cheap source of labour
  • some sold up and moved to Moscow


  • some peasants also moved to the cities, adding to the overcrowding
  • 1886-94 there were a min. of 33 illegal strikes a year
17 of 17


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Russia - 19th and 20th century resources »