Trying to preserve autocracy 1855-94 AQA 1H


(E) developments: industry Vshnegradsky

-Russia was underdeveloped in relation to Western Europe. Policies introduced were:

-import tariffs increased by 30% in order to boost home production 

-grain exports by forcing peasants to sell grain to the state

-loans from abroad e.g. from France

-grain exports increased by 18% and by 1892 there was a budget surplus.

-peasants suffered from heavy taxation, high good prices and grain requisitions.

-a famine following a bad harvest killed about 350,000 people and Vyshnegradsky was dismissed.

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(E) developments: Witte

-(1849-1915) finance minister

-Sought additional loans from abroad

-Increased investment in mining, oil and banking

-Encouraged European experts to oversee industrial planning and advise

-Achieved huge expansion of railway network (trans-siberian railway)

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Agriculture and the land issue

Emancipation bought little change in agricultural practice:
-because most peasants had too little land to come prosperous; owing to high taxes, grain requisitioning, redemption payments and the traditional farming practices favoured by the mir elders.

The landowners:
-the biggest landowners were mainly noblemen; many landowners sold off some of their land to pay off their debts; some abandoned farming to set up businesses or enter the professions.

The peasants:
-the richer more successful peasants, the kulaks, bought up land, sometimes with loans from the Peasants' land bank.
-the kulaks employed poorer peasants to work on their land.
-the poorest peasants became landless labourers
-many peasants were found to be unfit for military service
-avg life expectancy was 28. in england it was 45.

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Emancipation of the serfs

-Alexander II in 1861 ended serfdom in Russia; only applied to privately owned serfs. It permitted some greater modernisation of the economy but its terms were not as liberating as its supporters had anticipated.

-Serfs were declared free and could marry who they chose, own property, set up businesses, travel and enjoy legal rights. They were also given their own cottage and an allotment of land.

-Land allocations varied, making some insufficient to live on. Rights often remained theoretical due to other terms in the edict.

-Serfs were required to make 49 annual redemption payments for the land they were given - provoked unrest. Purchasing power of peasants remained low.

-The Mir was responsible for the collection of taxes, including redemption payments. Freed serfs had to remain with the mir until redemption payments were complete. The mir supervised farming of the allocated land. Mirs constrained the peasants, preventing them from leaving the countryside. Mirs also tended to promote restrictive and backward farming practices.

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(E) reform under Von Reutern

-Since Russia did not possess a wealthy middle class, von Reutern (minister of finance 1862-78) belived the govt must direct economic change:

-Tax farming was abolished; treasury was reformed and budgeting and auditing systems were established.

-Credit facilities were made available through establishment of banks; subsidies offered to private railway companies; tariffs on trade lowered.

-Cotton and mining inustry expanded, some improvement in agriculture.

-Transport and labour mobility remained limited; growth was slow; russian currency was unstable; too much debt.

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