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Alexander II: “The Great Reformer”

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ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
THE DETERMINED REFORMER
пѓ� Undertook program of vast & far-reaching
reform (most significant = emancipation)
пѓ� Crimean War pointed out weaknesses,
inferiority, & backwardness of Russia
пѓ� Determined to ensure greatness of Russia
пѓ� But never went too far with liberalism &
consistently upheld autocracy
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
THE BIG ISSUE: SERFDOM
пѓ� Motivations for abolition:
 Contributed to military
backwardness
 Economically inefficient
 Fear of revolt from below
 Morally wrong
 Tsar said so
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
THE BIG ISSUE: SERFDOM
пѓ� Process of emancipation:
 Creation of SECRET
COMMITTEE
• Made up of large
landholders
• No consensus about
land redistribution
 Secret Committee made
MAIN COMMITTEE
 Finally agree on terms,
approved by Tsar in 1861
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
THE BIG ISSUE: SERFDOM
пѓ� Emancipation Settlement:
 Freed serfs from bondage
 But had to buy land
• Govt. would loan money
• Redemption payment plan
over 49 years at 6% interest
 Land given to obshchina
 State peasants also freed
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
THE BIG ISSUE: SERFDOM
пѓ� Reactions:
 Nobles sullen over loss of
income
 Intelligentsia wanted more
for peasants
 Peasants dazed & confused
• insufficient land for
survival
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
THE BIG ISSUE: SERFDOM
пѓ� Emancipation?
 Peasants bound to
commune
 Commune perpetuated
backwardness & inefficiency
 Peasants not given legal or
political rights
 Did not lead to serious
improvement of lives
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
OTHER REFORMS
пѓ� Administrative reforms
 ZEMSTVO system (1864)
• Attempt to make local govt.
more effective
• Engaged in civic projects
• Gave nobles bigger say in
local govt.
• But had many problems
 Commune perpetuated
backwardness & inefficiency
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
OTHER REFORMS
пѓ� Administrative reforms
 Village commune govt.
• Controlled lives of
peasants
 Town govt.
• Ensured law & order in
villages
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
OTHER REFORMS
пѓ� Judicial reforms (1864)
 Clean up of legal system
 Established equality before
law (except for peasants)
 Judiciary made separate
branch of govt.
 Made system equal to most
advanced Western systems
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
OTHER REFORMS
пѓ� Military reforms (1874)
 Object = create better
trained, more effective, social
just army
• Changed terms &
conditions of service
• Introduced education into
army
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
OTHER REFORMS
пѓ� Economic reforms
 Creates state treasury &
state bank
пѓ� Educational reforms
 Allows students to go
abroad
 Some higher ed. for women
пѓ� Reduces censorship in law
 But remains in practice
ALEXANDER II & THE GREAT REFORMS
ASSESSMENTS
пѓ� Reforms did help transform Russia
 Sweeping social, economic, legal
change
 Russia moves further toward
modernization
пѓ� Led to pressure for more reform
 But Alexander would only go so far
 Much opposition to reform
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