JUNE 2009 AQA TSARIST RUSSIA

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1a) Explain why many Russians were dissatisfied with the decree emancipating the serfs in 1861?(12 marks)

Both Landowners and Peasants were unhappy with the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. The peasants, effectively weren't actually freed from the chains of serfdom as they still had to pay redemption dues for 49 years with high rates of interest which caused resentment as they already considered the land theirs. They also had to pay Labour service for 2 years before becoming free men and were still tied to the Mir and had to pay high taxes to them which they felt was unfair as they got a reduced amount of land which was not enough to farm efficiently on therefore a lot of peasants still used the old methods of farming which wasn't good for the economy of Tsarist Russia as only 50% were capable of creating a surplus (technical backwardness/ famine). They no longer had some protection from the landowner and they were no longer able to use common land or graze cattle on pasture land. Furthermore, the local and provisional nobility supervised creation of volosts and Mir, so they got best pick of the land and increased prices. The debt of the peasants forced them to sell to the Kulaks. Also because of the Mir, they weren't allowed to travel or move around and had no civil, legal rights and were economically tied to the commune.

Landowners didn't want Emancipation either and feared the consequences as unrest continued because 4 months following Emancipation there was 647 incidents where the army had to restore order). Also the compensation from the government bonds didn't end noble bankrupties and the profits they expected from Emancipation did not materialise because 50% of government bonds they received went on existing debts. By 1905, some of the nobility had to sell 1/3 of the land they had in 1861. Loss of land, local, political and economic influence made some sell up and move to the towns and by this point they resented the government and made them lose faith in the Tsar.

How important was the backwardness of agriculture in contributing to weaknesses in the Russian economy in the years 1881 to 1914?

The backwardness of agriculture in Russia between 1891 and 1914 is a large factor in explaning th weaknesse of the economy, as yield was very low and grain was their main export. The Great Famine didn't help as there was no surphlus food to export…

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