Emancipation Essay

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Introducing Alexander II (Oxley page 23) * Alexander II had been well prepared for taking over from his father. The historian Lionel Kochan wrote that he was “the best prepared heir the Russian throne ever had”. * He was 37 when he succeeded to the throne, and as Tsar he undertook, over 25 years, a radical reform of many of Russia’s institutions, including serfdom, local government, the army, the universities and the law. * He is known today as the “Tsar liberator”. * Assassins threatened Alexander’s life on so many occasions that he had to resort to a continuous armed guard and very high levels of personal security. In the end these measures were not enough and he was murdered in 1881. Problems facing the new Tsar (Oxley page 23) * The Crimean War, especially the capture of Sebastopol, believed by almost everyone at the time to be invisible, had revealed just how deep-seated Russia’s problems were. * Communications were woeful, her munitions industries inadequate for a modern war and her administration had been revealed to be corrupt and ineffective. Serfdom (Oxley page 25) * Serfdom prevented the growth of Russian industry, obstructing the free flow of labour and restricting enterprise. * It prevented the introduction of modern methods of agriculture, leaving Russia poor and lagging behind the rest of Europe. * Defeat in the Crimea had shown that the army needed urgent reforms, which was difficult as long as serfdom survived, for serfs serving 25 years in the ranks formed the mass of soldiers. * Abolition was the only way to stop the rising number of peasant revolts. [EVIDENCE] There had been 1467 of these since 1800. The Emancipation of Serfdom (Oxley page 26) * The serfs were freed, which meant they could marry whoever they wished, own property and set up their own businesses. * The land at the

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