Why Did Alexander Ii Order the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861?

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History - Why did Alexander II order the emancipation of the serfs in 1861? (12 marks) The serfs in Russia were some of the last serfs to be freed in Europe; Alexander II finally ordered their emancipation in 1861. This was 287 years after Elizabeth I freed the last remaining serfs in England in 1574. The serfs in Russia were finally emancipated for a number of reasons including uprisings amongst the peasants, enlightened views amid the intelligentsia and the need for an industrial revolution in Russia. Russia was severely behind the rest of Europe when it came to industrialisation, partly because the agricultural techniques used in the mid nineteenth century had not changed since the medieval period. The Russian social system being based on serfs did not assist the change that was needed to industrialise Russia because the serfs were effectively slaves and made up about 85% of the peasant population. Almost every other country in Europe had freed their serfs because they were hindering industrialisation; however Russia had not and could not hope to improve their industry if they continued to use the serfs. The Russians also believed that once the serfs were emancipated, they would create a pool of flexible labour and that they would be more willing to work if they were viewed as free people and were paid for their labour. Alexander had to emancipate the serfs in 1861 because he saw that they were delaying progress and change. During the Crimean War there had been many instances of serf unrest and several attempted uprisings, as the serfs tried to get their freedom. These outbreaks increased after the war ended as conscripted peasant hoped for their freedom; by the time emancipation was considered there had been over 200 attempts of revolution amongst the serfs. Also there had been increased numbers of serfs murdering nobles and bailiffs. Alexander
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