How Far Did Alexander Iii Bring Social & Political Change to Russia?

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On 13th March 1881, Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a terrorist group called The People’s Will, a radical group opposed to the autocratic rule of the Tsars. As a result, his son Alexander III became Tsar. He was very autocratic and the immediate impact of Alexander III’s rise to power was to end any further political reform. Instead, his reign is noted for being one of political repression. Part of Alexander III’s problem was the legacy left by his father who had begun reforms which raised expectations of major change within Russia. Other problems he faced were that Russia was economically underdeveloped, he had to keep the large multi-ethnic empire together and also the country was still recovering from the death of Alexander II. As a result Alexander III pursued a policy of counter-reform. Counter-reform was partly a reaction to the murder of Alexander II, but Alexander III also believed that his father’s ‘Great Reforms’ had been a mistake, weakening Tsarism and leaving it insecure. His policy was to undo the reforms as far as possible and he did this through a number of social and political changes. Alexander III’s first ever policy was ‘The Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy’ in 1881. It was influenced by Konstantin Pobedonostsev who was Alexander III’s chief adviser. Pobedonostsev strongly supported autocracy, the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian nationalism. The manifesto marked the start of the rule of Alexander III as Tsar by rejecting the more liberal reforms of his father in favour of ‘unshakable autocracy’ which signalled that all power went to the Tsar as a sacred duty from God. The document summed up Alexander’s counter reform policies. The Manifesto changed the political nature of Russia because it marked the start of a new reign and a new start for Russia and declared that absolute power resided in the Tsar. Alexander III wanted to reverse
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