Russia AQA past paper- Jan 2009

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1a) Explain why Alexander II decided on a policy of reform in Russia. (12 marks)

Alexander II was also known as the 'Tsar Reformer'. He set out to remodel completely the enormous state which had been entrusted to his care and also to abolish an old-age order founded on slavery and replace it with civiv decency anf freedom. Furthermore he wanted to establish justice in a country which had never known the meaning of legality. There are many motives for Alexander II to decide on a policy of reform such as the loss at Crimea, Economic, Political and Moral considerations and the Tsar Reformer's own views. 

Russia was suffering from the impact of the Crimean War which was a shocking humililation for her and had revealed that Russia was no longer a great power in Russia as she had suffered two disasterous defeats against Britain, France and Turkey and Piedmont Sardinia at Balaclava in Octover 1854 and Inkerman in November 1854. There were many peasant uprising as the army was criticised for being tooo reliant on the serf conscripts. The war was ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1856, which was another humiliating blow for Russia as the treaty not only reduced Russia's influence in the Black Sea area but also declared the Black Sea as a 'neutral zone' preventing its use by Russian Warships in times of peace. General Milyutin (minister of war 1861-81), took the view that the army needed to be modernised and Alexander II listened to him because a new way of enlisting soldiers was needed. If the system of serfdom was changed and the communications network opened up, there was also a possibility of developing Russia's economic potential which could lead to her regaining her status as one of Europe's greatest powers again.

Alexander II was no liberal and was still fully committed to retaining his 'God given duties' and his power in Russia but also wanted to restore Russia's power in Europe once again and felt that change was needed himself in Russia. The Tsar Reformer believed that by granting limited freedoms and reforms, he would stimulate a more dynamic economy, without altering the basic framework of his rule. Although the Tsar knew the dangers of radical change, he believed that modernisation was necessary and to move away from its reliance on Serfdom which could lead Russia on the road to economic modernisation too. He was supported in this by members of his family and also by 'enlightened bureaucrats' who pressed for change and reform.

How successful were Alexander II's reforms in modernising Russia before his death in 1881? (24 marks)

There were a lot of reforms made under Alexander II's reign of power in Russia up until his assassination in 1881 which saw the takeover of Alexander III who wanted to undo Alexander II's reforms. Tsar Alexander II was donned 'The Great Reformer' and led the Emancipation of the Serfs. The reforms were particularly made in the Military as General Milyutin advised…

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