Emancipation- Affect On Ex-Serfs Essay

768 WordsJan 5, 20124 Pages
‘Emancipation made little difference to the lives of the ex-serfs.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement? In order to decide to what extent the statement is true, I must define and discuss what is meant by ‘improvement’. This is what problems there were for the lives of serfs before emancipation, and to what extent these problems changed, for better or worse, after emancipation. The factors that will be discussed in this essay seem to suggest that the statement is indeed true. Before emancipation the Serfs were basically slaves, the lowest class in society. Their lives were dominated by the Mir -the family and noble who had control over them. The Mir made almost all local decisions over land use and distribution. To try to ensure a fair distribution of land a family land would be divided into good and bad areas. As the family’s circumstances changed land was distributed again accordingly. There was a Mir council that had an independent justice system for the Serfs and Serfs could not appeal against any decision of the council. Although they were treated very badly, were very poorly paid and treated, most Serfs weren’t opposed to this mistreatment. This was because the Mir gave the Serfs a feeling of ‘collective identity’, a feeling that they were not alone and that their good deeds would collectively grant them more assured access to heaven. Furthermore, although the Tsar believed that Emancipation would be in the best interests of the Serfs, the majority of Serfs hadn’t even heard of, and weren’t interested in ‘rights’. Despite not liking this mistreatment the threat of starvation was of greater importance to the Serfs. Therefore the Serfs were always slightly against emancipation from the start, as there was at least a guarantee of both land and food in Serfdom under the Mir. After the emancipation of the Serfs, the Serfs were now free to marry and

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