Russia and its rulers: Alex II

Key information on the history of Russia from 1855 to 1963. Focused on Alexander II-others to come. 

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Alexander 2nd Emancipation of the Serfs

Background: Balancing act between reform and concervatisom. Tsar liberator. Crimea defeat at 1 billion rubles and peasant resentment because of 25 year draft.

The Issue: Russia only country in europe with serfdom. Hostility from slavophilism who worried over economy losses and loss of status. Centrality: peasants central to Russian life and 1/2 of people owned.

Snowball: Buturlin Committee who were in charge of press and academic censorship was dissolved 1855= press completely free, allowed books like Herzens "The Bell" to be produced. Pardoned rebels Decmbrists, Polish rebels and Petrashevsky circle. Peasants given freedom to travel. The Miliutin Brothers called for liberal emancipation=peasants freed and given land rather than conservative emancipation where they are freed with no land.

Process: Rostovtsev committee 1856-8 set up to look in to emancipation. Replaced by the Editing commission 1859 with Count Panin who was more conservative and made it in to a more lengthy process.

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Alexander 2nd Emancipation of the Serfs NO.2

Status of serfs: Serfs given freedom in principle but were "temporarily obligated" for two years. They had to wait till the land Lords had agreed the process of transferring land (peasants had to be sold home and gardens). Peasants had to pay redemption dues over 49 years at 6%. The gov compensated the land Lords with interest baring state bonds.

Outcomes: Economically good for land Lords; Prices often fixed to high; over next 20 years 85% of peasants became owners of their own land, how ever land Lords kept the best land for themselves. 

Impact: Broke serfdom not Russia. The role of the Mir was strengthened. It opened the door for more reform to come. 

"It is better to abolish serfdom form above, rather then wait until it abolished itself from below" Tsar Alexander II (March 1856)

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Alexanders Other Reforms

Background: More liberal ministers introduced; Zamystnin (Justice); Valuev (internal affairs); Golovnin (education)

Judiciary: Background: Introduction of Partial codification (a single document for the hole of Russia). Legal profession extend which removed power form land lauds and provided more legal means. Inquisition used with no  defence. High levels of corruption.

Judiciary: Reform: introduced Barristers and Juries- by Zamystnin and transcripts of trials.

Judiciaery: Impact: Big change; fair trial how ever peasants still used Justices of the Peace (same as surf owners)

Local Govt: Background: Vacuum Left by emancipation as gov now hove to do surf owner jobs eg schools, roads, policing.

Local gov: Reforms: Zemstva- elected from local assembaly 1869 divided in to district (42%land lords and 38% pesants) and provincial (74%;10%). No national Zemstva. Duma for Towns introduced in 1870, the 8 largest equivelt to provincial Zemstva.

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Alexanders Other Reforms NO.2

Army:Background: Defeat in Crimea. Dmitri Miliutin reformed army. 25 year draft when surfes average life was 35. Influenced by Prussia who modernised their army.

Army: Reform: 15 year draft (9 of which in reserve), education for all army members, military split in to 15 district and higher training for officers.

Army: Impact: better education, army not a life sentance.

Education: Background Radicalism; repression with quota on uni attendance (st Petersburg closed 1861)

Education: Reforms: Glovnin 1864: elementary schools(regualted and exspanded); Secondary Schools "gimnazi" (increased); intermesiate "pro-gimnazi" introduced. Impact= spred of westen ideas.

Church: Background: Sate control; Belliustin 1855 (report on poverty in rural clurgy)

Curch: Reform: Valuev: Ecclesiastical Commission 1864 with limited impacts.

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Alexander 2nd Economy and Nationality

Railways: 1861- 1600km by 1878 there was 2200km, how ever this was not much of an improvement as Russia was so large. Needed government funding of 1.8 million rubles from 1861-76, this time was known a railway mania. Result: Coherence between areas of Russia as it was more accessible, internal triad made easier which lead to price stabilisation and fall in prices= Rural urban migration.

Metallurgy and Cotton: Metallurgy slumped as had been made by slaves who Left after the emancipation, fell by 30%. Raw cotten increaced 10 fold.

Coal and iron ore: John Hughes 1869 New Russian company in ukrane had lack of foreign investment.

Finances: Von Reutern introduced: public accounting to reduce tax farming, VAT and excise tax which stabilized and reduced prices, state bank in 1860, Put Russia on gold standard.

Nationalities: Polish revolt 1863 "crisis of raised expectations" because of small allowances more wanted= Church administrative status removed, 1869 Warsaw uni had to teach in Russian. Finland Diet given more power. Jews forced in to Pale of Settlement.

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Alexander 2nd War and Revolution

Back ground: Haphazard as attempting to modernise with out affecting autocracy. Liberals (if there isn't reform, there will be unrest) vs Conservatives (if there is reform there will be unrest). All reforms in light of Crimea failures.

Shift to the Right 1866: Karakozov-radical student who attempted to shoot Tazr. Golovnin (education minister) replaced by conservative Tolstoy ( 1871 tightened uni entrance to make more exclusive to richer communities). Baning of radical papers such as Hurzens The Bell, but support for extreme right wing writers such as Katkov. Third section given more power.

Russo-Turkish War: Pan-Slavism (unifying all Slaves). Ottoman empire stated to collapse, Russia invade in 1877, Russia suffer heavy losses but win, under Treaty of Berlin 1878 Russia gets small amount of territory but not what is entitled to thanks to Prussian influence.

Radicalism: Populists->Nardonik. Marxist carried out "going to the people" 1873\4 to encourage peasants to move to marxism (unsuccessful). Land and Liberty set up, a small group of peasants banned together (1876), 1879 divided in to Peoples will(violent) and Black repartition (non-violant). Alex ll sees has gone to right so Loris Melikov sets out national Zempho, but Alex II shot on day of agreement.

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Kirsty McMurran


This is the best set of revision cards i've ever seen, thank you so much for your invaluable help!

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