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Alexander II and the Emancipation of the Serfs
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Alexander II and the Emancipation of the Serfs


For DP History

For DP History

Published in Education
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  • 1.
  • 2. • Slavophiles: those against westernization – Core Beliefs • Orthodoxy and autocracy – Tsar as a symbol of Russia and strength » seen as a connection to God – Enforced traditional ideals of serfdom based on fraternity – Progress gained by improving current system and ideas fully b.JPG
  • 3. • Believed Russia should look west to improve • Rationalism over Orthodoxy and Autocracy – At direct odds with Slavophiles
  • 4. • Rent paying serfs paid an obrok • Rents controlled by nobility • Nobility insured productivity by fixing obrok as they saw fit – Ensured serfs would be productive • Obrok paying serfs often did other work outside of farming to subsidize their income in order to keep up with heavy burden – More money that was made higher obrok would be
  • 5. • Serfs that paid with their labor (barschina) • Harvest season – hard work • Downtime after harvest (in many cases)
  • 6. • Freedom from serfdom • Granted to the serfs in 1861 by Alexander II (officially)
  • 7. • Similar to other types of serfdom • Serfs bought and sold • Could not leave land • 1850 Russia > 80% of population serfs or state peasants • 1861 (officially but not in reality) 0% serfs
  • 8. • Bound to land (varying levels of mobility) • Permission needed to leave village • Permitted to save & buy freedom • 1837 given right to own land • Generally better off than privately owned serfs
  • 9. • Bound to land • Obrok paying serfs (often had more value to nobles) – Obrok paying serfs often involved in other work e.g. carpentry, blacksmithing, etc. – Obrok payers generally kept in poverty • Barschina paying serfs – Provided labor – Hard work during harvest time – Little value other than agricultural labor
  • 10. • Lives regulated by Mir – Mir governed everyday affairs related to land usage, crop rotations, harvesting and represented the peasants to the nobility (did not provide protection). Mir was made up of a council of elders each elder representing an extended family.
  • 11. • Village was their world (in general) • Most loved and respected Tsar – Problems viewed as local & focused on abuse – Did not see Tsar as creator of their condition – Fear of starvation (esp. with population increases)
  • 12. • Controlled all aspects of serf life – Marriage (arranged) – Encouraged reproduction – Punishment of serfs
  • 13. • Huge population growth – pop. growth 100% over a 58 year period (1800-1858) – Food shortages leading to starvation • Poor treatment of serfs by nobility • Ineffective economy (backwardness) • Regional differences and Russification policies (see next slide)
  • 14. From Tsarist Russia 1855-1917 by Sally Waller
  • 15.
  • 16. • Replaces father upon his death in 1855 at age of 36 – Nicholas I had been Tsar from 1825-1855 • Well educated (school government service) • Conservative – Believes in strong autocratic rule, orthodoxy like his father • Liberal (to be discussed at length later) – Education, military, censorship, economy
  • 17. Fought mostly in Crimea with some campaigns in Eastern Anatoia (current Eastern Turkey), Caucasus, the Baltic, Pacific and the White Sea.
  • 18. • Crimean War began due to Russian desire to expand to Ottoman controlled portions of Balkans • 1853 Nicholas I claimed that Christians in that area needed protection from the Turks and demanded Turks allow Russia to intervene – Not allowed - Russia declares war on Ottomans • Britain and France concern over Russia ambition and perceived growing power propelled them to side with the Ottoman Turks. • War dominated with incompetence on both sides • Russian incompetence greater than her opponents • Lost key port of Sevastopol - effectively losing war – Port lost entirely in Sep 1855
  • 19.
  • 20. • Death of Nicholas I during Crimean War (1853-1856) • Britain, France and Sardinia had come to the aid of Turkey as they feared Russian dominance in the Balkans • Port of Sevastopol in the hands of Britain, France and Turkey (returned in 1856 following Treaty of Paris – but required Russia to demilitarize the area – no naval fleet allowed) • Total humiliation for Russia • Russia reintroduced her fleet in 1871 with the blessing of Bismarck and newly formed French Republic
  • 21.  How successful were the reforms of Alexander II in achieving their aims?
  • 22. • One musket for every two soldiers • Russian weaponry out of date and inferior to British and French weaponry. • Russia dependent upon fear tactics to motivate conscripts • Russia had no rail system for troop transport or for supplies • Some battalions had up to ⅔ of their conscripts die of famine and disease as a result of poor nutrition and exposure. • Nicholas I was a micromanager who mettled in the affairs of his generals.
  • 23. • Recognized Russia’s economic backwardness • Loss in Crimean War impetus to reform – Reliance on serf conscripts questioned • General Dmitri Milyutin aimed to modernized army • New form of enlistment needed –Protests against military conscription and nobility between 1843-1853 numbered no less than 300 – Social stability of serfdom threatened
  • 24. – Lack of rail system blamed – Revolt in Black Sea region propagandized effectively – Trade badly disrupted – Russian military inadequacies on display – Russia as a “great power” in question for first time – Policies of Nicholas I potentially questioned (see reforms of Alexander II) • NI had believed in 1.Strong orthodoxy and autocracy (same as Alex II) 2.Expansionism, repression, censorship, elimination of rivals, etc. (Alex II was to take a different approach in many of these areas . . . Initially and then not and then again from 1879)
  • 25. – Despite his conservatism, seeds of emancipation planted by Nicholas I who despised the practice • Russian intelligentsia pressure Tsar to reform • Members of military staff (e.g. Dmitri Milyutin - minister of war under Alexander II) questioned army of serf conscripts as effective and tenable. • Russia must open up economically to compete militarily Alexander believed (and stated in 1856) “if we don’t do it from the top it will happen from the bottom”
  • 26. • Requests action by nobility March 1856 – No plan formed nobility ignores request • November 1857 Nazimov Rescript – Alexander gives an “Imperial instruction” to nobles – Nobles form committees and submit proposals to end serfdom • involvement of nobility in decision making was unprecedented • Why would Alexander II include nobility in policy decisions? • Eventual product was the February 1861 Ukase or Emancipation edict
  • 27. 1. Article one “serfdom and bondage forever abolished” 2. Former serfs free to marry, set up business, travel (although this was restricted by internal passport requirements issued by mir, own property and received legal rights 3. Serfs receive land surrounding home and often hired to work former lands. 4. State pays nobility – serfs pay state 5. Mir given increased responsibility – Collection and paying of taxes – Responsible for issuing permissions to travel or leave mir
  • 28. • Anger by nobility – Obrok had often worked outside of agriculture – Economic loss to noble based on industrial worth not on land or crops – Land prices doubled (and payments of former Obrok payers) to try to satisfy – angered both sides • Backlash by those peasants who used to pay Obrok – Had to produce more to pay state – Lack of technology did not allow – Lack of innovation – Mir involvement in crop rotations – What other issues existed?
  • 29. • Peasant anger – Requirement to pay for land – Viewed as theirs by many – Often fearful of being cheated by nobility – Eastern provinces treated better than western • Attempt to punish Poles • Reflected better quality in the West of agricultural grounds e.g. Ukraine • 1861 over a thousand revolts – 499 requiring military assistance
  • 30. • Many peasants felt that they were worse off after Emancipation decree • Many peasants worse off and now lacked protection formerly provided by the noble class – Food shortages, sickness, disputes, etc. • Mir replaced role of nobility and often made arbitrary decisions related to land redistribution and rights of travel – major inhibitor to industrialization • Subsistence farming a major problem 50% of farmers by 1878 did not create a surplus – average plot size only 9 acres by 1878 – Ukraine plot sizes about 30% smaller than elsewhere as nobility often involved in redistribution of land and hoarded best lands for themselves • Kulak class formed of former serfs who were often resented by less well-to-do peasants – lead to persecution under Lenin and Stalin after the revolutions – bought up land from other peasants and began to grow individual wealth
  • 31. • Unrest in countryside created lack of stability • Disputes over land rights and allotments often turned violent • Feb-May 1861 - 647 incidents of rioting and violence across country in the countryside (e.g. peasant revolt in Bezda, Kazan resulted in 70 deaths as military called in to quell peasant uprising). • Decreased efficiency of agriculture resulted. • Nobility financially strapped - by 1905 nobility had sold off ⅓ of land-holdings between 50-60% of remaining property had been mortgaged to banks for loans to stay afloat • Resulted in some former landowners movement to city and some to become politically active and anti-tsarist
  • 32. • Minister of War Dmitri Milyutin (1861-1881) • Desire to improve the caliber of soldier – Service in army no longer allowed as punishment for crimes – Better living facilities and abolishment of military colonies – Better medical care for soldiers – Service reduced from 25 years to 15 years (6 years active duty 9 reserves)
  • 33. • Universal conscription from age of 20 (nobles included) – Education could limit service years – Nobility still able to thwart system • Corporal punishment abolished • Modern weaponry introduced – Included iron-clad steamships • Strategic railways introduced • Military universities instituted – Non-nobility allowed and upward mobility endorsed • Military code reviewed and abridged to include a new code of conduct
  • 34. • System of elected local officials introduced at district and provincial levels – known as Zemstvo (singular) or Zemstva (plural) • Zemstvo elected by electoral colleges designed to allow for all to participate but keep noble dominance • Zemstvo responsible for public services (roads, schools, public health, welfare programs, jails and industry) • Success in building schools, training peasants in agricultural techniques, provided healthcare, built roads – later on they would be behind efforts to reform constitution and the 1905 and 1917 revolutions • Zemstvo banned by Bolsheviks in 1917
  • 35. What do these charts suggest? From Tsarist Russia 1855-1917 by Sally Waller
  • 36.  Before Emancipation Serfs not able to defend themselves  With emancipation new laws and new system was required
  • 37.  Dmitri Zamyatnin (minister of justice) tasked with reforming system 1. Principle of equality before law established (one court for all classes) 2. In addition to a judge, courts now had juries (of property owners) and lawyers to represent defendants 3. Court proceedings to be made public and transparent 4. Appeals made possible 5. Judges pay to be raised and training implemented
  • 38. 1. Dangerous crimes heard by a special senate 2. Local courts dealt with minor crimes and did not imprison for more than 1 year. Considered independent of political control 3. Volost courts were created to deal with transition from serfdom to peasantry. Judges in these courts were peasants themselves without history of crime. Given 3 year terms. 4. The Russian Courier was created to report on criminal proceedings and the court system in general. Can be seen as a change in censorship.
  • 39.  Special Courts still existed and were used to deal with political dissidents. This was headed by the “Third Section” (secret police).  Court cases became popular to observe leading to dramatic decisions being made. E.g. case of Vera Zasulich (openly murdered police chief and found innocent of any wrong-doing), 1878 which lead to changes in the laws and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to take on political crimes and those committed by high ranking members of society – decisions to be kept secret.  Trial by jury not established in Poland, some western provinces and the Caucasus.  Religious and military courts were not reformed  Volost courts not given same recognition as those of higher status and they were limited in scope.
  • 40.  Newly freed serfs needed to learn basic skills of literacy in order to function as free people  Alexander Golovnin minister of education 1862-1867 and instituted the following reforms between 63-64 1. Universites given power to govern themselves (as opposed to the church and state) and staff could be appointed with approval of Ministry of Education 2. Responsibility of schooling transferred from school to the zemstva 3. Primary and secondary education extended throughout the empire 4. School open to all classes and all genders (from 1870) Primary schools: 8,000 in 1856 to 23,000 in 1880 Primary students: 400,000 in 1856 to over 1 million in 1880 University enrollment went from 3,600 in 1861 to 10,000 by the mid 1870’s
  • 41.  Aim of primary education was “strengthening religious and moral notions and spreading basic knowledge”  Universities became centers of radicalism, socialism and militancy.  After 1866 return of school control to the government  Dmitri Tolstoy (reactionary and conservative) replaced Golovnin in 1867 reaction to assassination attempt of 1866 he implemented: 1. Tighter governmental control of education 2. Attempt to eradicate criticism of autocracy 3. Reduction in zemstva’s role in education 4. Restoration of church influence in rural schools 5. Experimental schools abandoned placing less emphasis on Sciences 6. From 1871 only students who attended conservative gymnazii were allowed to go onto universities 7. Governmental control instituted over university curriculum 8. Literature, Science, Modern Languages and History were abolished with emphasis on Maths, Latin, Greek and Divinity in their place 9. MIA allowed to determine topics that were not open for discussion 10. Teachers required to go to State controlled teacher colleges teaching deference to Tsar, etc. 11. Although women allowed to go to school university appointments of women were vetoed
  • 42. 1. 1863 censorship under control of Ministry of Internal Affairs 2. 1865 press and book publishers allowed to print books without permission but code established as to what was appropriate 3. Foreign publications allowed to be sold in Russia with approval from MIA 4. MIA able to fine press, but justice system and courts would decide upon outcome of cases 5. 1865 press allowed to comment on government policy. Books published in 1855 – 1,020 & books published in 1864 – 1,836 & in 1894 – 10,691
  • 43.  Still a degree of censorship  Church and military involved in some censorship cases  Political subversion treated harshly  1870 censorship rules re-established and clampdown more severe than under Nicholas I  Reaction to censorship reforms showed lack of tolerance on many for a return to what once had been accepted.  Did giving a degree of freedom open the flood gates?
  • 44. Mikhail von Reutern (Minister of Finance 1862-1878) pushed forward many reforms under Tsar Alexander II 1. Treasury reformed – new tax collection system, budgetary restrictions and auditing procedures on government offices put into place 1. Attack on corruption 2. Tax-farming was abolished (former policy that allowed rights to tax to be bought by private individuals 3. Banks extended – State bank established in 1860, municipal banks 1862, savings bank 1869 4. Lower tariffs and liberal trade policies introduced (series of laws over 18 years) 5. Government subsidies used to encourage private development of railroads 1. Many of these were sold to friends and relatives of von Reutern 6. Foreign investment encouraged – government guaranteed dividends 7. Development of cotton industry 8. Development of Donets Coalfield (Eastern Ukraine)
  • 45.  Despite reforms industrial growth slow and Russian economy weak  Budget not transparent and public  66% of government revenue from indirect taxation primarily of peasantry  1/3 of government expenditure went to repayment of debts  Russian ruble was unstable  Despite increases in grain and industrial capacity Russia still lagged far behind  Progress of railway was slow and draining on Russian budget
  • 46. 1. Brief relaxation of restrictions on Catholicism in Poland up until 1863 2. Jews had some relaxation of laws up until 1863 when their activities were again restricted 3. 1858 report on poverty in clergy lead to commission to investigate – very little accomplished 4. 1868 reforms allowed most talented priests to be promoted 5. Very little successful reform in the Church overall
  • 47.  More rights temporarily given to Poles and other non-Russians  Poles allowed to speak Polish  Poles, Finns and Jews given some additional rights  Polish rebellion in 1863 resulted in a Russification policy toward ethnic minorities  Not implemented fully until 1881 when Alexander III replaced his father after a successful assassination.  Policy did result in some retraction (taking back) of rights which were further eroded after 1866 assassination attempt in Paris and again by a revolutionary in St. Petersburg in the same year  Alexander II was considering increasing rights in 1880 and was assassinated in 1881 by Nikolai Rysakov a Russian and member of Narodnaya Voya (People’s Will) viewer/File:Ni_rysakov.jpg