Handout#3 Alexander ii’s Reform & Impact of Reforms 1861-81

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Alexander II’s Reform & Impact of Reforms 1861-81

  • 1861 Emancipation Edict:-Brought other Reforms

  • Reforms Occurred-Naturally-b/c of Need to Modernize Russia


  • Emancipation brought Reforms in Other Areas

  • Reformers-Milyutin-Brothers-Dmitri-Military /Nikolai Milyutin

  • Educational Reforms

  • Legal Reforms

  • Local Gov. Reforms --Provisional-Zemstva /Town Dumas

  • Industrial Dev.-Promoted by Von Reutern

  • Church Reforms-(Limited )

  • Treatment of Minorities

  • 1866-After Attempt on Alexander II life—Becomes More Reactionary-(Nihilism)

  • Under Alexander II Rule Emergence of Opposition-Intellectuals, land and liberty party, Populist Party etc… Writers,

  • Intellectuals Aim to change Society- “ RESORTED TO ACT OF TERROR”

  • Tsar Alexander II-Assassinated 1881- Day he took his first steps towards creating a National Assembly

Focus Q: How and with what success, did the regime (Alexander II) address the need for further reform in the empire?

1874-Military Reform

  • 1862-Dmitri Milyutin-Elected Minister of Defense

  • 1833-55-1 Million Conscripted Peasants died due to poor conditions in army

  • Aims to Modernize the Army



  • 1863-Rid of Cruel Punishment-Floggings/Running the Gauntlet

  • Military Court Procedures changed-no longer punish a person by making them serve in the army

  • New Code of Conduct to follow

  • Military Service Reduced-10 y/5 reserve

  • Created Office-“Chief of Staff

  • 15 Military Districts-training purposes-Military Cadet Schools-Infantry/Cavalry

  • Military College-Accepted Non-Nobles

  • Military Colonies-Communes abandoned

  • Army Medical Services Modernized

  • 1874-Conscription Act Passed

-Nobles no longer Exempt from military service

-Age 20 Serve/Drawn by lots

-15 yrs-6-Active-6 Reserve

-Educated served less time

  • New Spirt of Professionalism in Army

  • Army Now Based on Merit (ability)

  • Smaller/better trained

  • Cut Cost of Spending on Army

  • Victory over Turks-1877-78

  • Maintain order at home

  • Improved literacy Rate

  • Wealthy cld avoid service

  • Wealth mainly Generals

Overall Effect of Military Reform

  • 1877- Russia V Turks-Russia wins

  • 1904-05-Russia-Japanese War-Russia defeated

  • Russia in WWI Disastrous

Legal Reforms


  • b/c-Administration of Justice-Ineffective / Corrupt

  • 1862-Legal Reforms

  • Defense Lawyer

  • Trial by Jury

  • Rights of Defendant

  • Courts Open to Public

  • Press Permitted to Report on Cases

  • Judges Properly Trained

  • Court Hierarchy Established

  • Equality before the Law

  • New Legal System

Culture & Educational Reforms


  • Under-Nicholas I /Strict Censorship-(Writer Dostoevsky –exiled to Siberia/ MEMBERS OF PETRASHEVSKY CIRCLE)

  • 1863-Alexander II-Minister of the Interior Responsible for Censorship(….)

  • New Rules-For writers/Editors

  • Newspapers/books/periodicals over 160 p/academic work -no longer submitted for censorship

  • Academic Works-Books/ Periodicals -over 160p- No longer needed approval-

  • Minister-cld still order Withdrawal of Publication/Prosecute Publishers

  • Ist time Newspapers/cld discuss both International /Domestic policies

  • Information and ideas circulated more freely

  • Push the boundaries-Radical. Critical articles published

  • Authors returned from exile-Leo Tolstoy-Ivan Turgenev


  • Less class ridden

  • Importance of Humanities

  • University Statute (Law)-More power-

Choose their own staff/syllabus

Women cld attend

  • Scholarships

  • Education necessary for modern society?

Local Gov. Reforms


1861 Nobles had lost their legal & judicial control over serfs

1860--Alexander II Appointed Commission to make Local Gov. changes (Liberals-Nikolai Milyutin –Pyotr Valuev )

Local Gov.-

  • Organized into Provincial & District Gov.-Elected Councils –Zemstva

  • Elected Councils -Three separate electoral colleges-Landlords, /Town Dwellers / Peasants

  • -Meet annually

  • -Permanent paid Civil Servants to administer policies

  • Towns-Elected Councils-Durma

Zemstvo (P) / Dumas (T) Very Effective

Z_D_Not throu’ out Russia-Existed I only in 43 Provinces 43/70

-Limited power

-Dependent on Central Gov for funding.

-Governors elected by the Tsar

-Elected Council members mainly-Nobles

-Provided a chance for the Intelligentsia

to participate in gov.

Zemstva-Seedbed of Liberalism”

*** 1860-Tsar refused To extend the Zemstva-to create an Elected National Assembly

Creation of a National Repr. Body-Cautioned by;-Landlords-Reforming Bureaucrats-

Other Reforms

Financial and Economic Development

  • 1862-Minister for Finance-Von Reutern-

  • Reformed the Treasury

  • Abolished –Tax farming

  • -New system of collecting taxes

  • Created Gov. Budget

  • Extended Credit facilities-to Private Businessmen

  • Reduced import and export duties

  • Set up State banks

  • Overseas investors to-Expanded railroads

  • Gov. financed-subsides to improve industries etc…

Foreign Expertise/Investors

  • Improved industries-iron coal and textiles

  • -oil

Church Reforms

  • 1862-Valuev Set up Commission to Examine the practices of Orthodox Church

  • Allowed Priests to rise up the Hierarchal ladder

Reformer or Not? Alexander’s treatment of the Jews, Finns and Poles


  • More tolerant of the Jews

  • Anti-Semitism dated back to Middle Ages

  • 1791-Catherine the Great-“Pale of Settlement” –Ghettoes

  • Limited on Professions/Property Ownership

Alexander allowed Jews to

  • Attend university

  • Allowed Jews to participate in Commerce/Industry

  • Allowed Jews with Academic degrees to live in Russian towns

  • Barred from Owing Land

  • Cld not live in Central or Eastern Russia

The Finns

  • Alexander II –Recalled the “Finnish Diet” of the Four Estates-(Representative Assembly)

  • Finnish to become the sole official language in Finland

  • Created a separate Currency for area Finnish lived in’

  • Finnish soldiers did not have to serve outside Finland


  • 1815-Congress of Vienna divided Poland between Prussia and Russia

  • Poland maintained its Own Constitution but had Russian Tsar as King

  • Russia tried to impose its culture on Poland

  • 1830-Uprising in Poland-“Warsaw”-Polish Gov. Created

  • Russians Squashed uprising 1831—Annulled Constitution/ Crushed and Destroyed Polish Army/Closed Warsaw Universities Built Russian Military Base in Warsaw

  • Confiscated Property-Exiled 10,000 polish rebels

Alexander II in Regards to Poland

  • Relaxed Restriction on Practice of Catholics. /Allowed Use of Polish language

  • Gave Poles more Local Autonomy-Freedom of Expression

  • Allowed Polish Nobles to form their own Nationalistic Societies-“Agricultural Society of Poland”

  • Alexander II-Response to further Polish Reforms OF THEIR OWN Constitution in 1861 was--“No Day Dreaming Gentlemen”

  • 1861-Polish Nationalist Demonstration squashed

Two years of unrest caused by;

  • -1861 Alexander II response towards further reform- void

  • -Attempt to put Polish Nationalists in to Russian Army-Caused Creation of “ Polish Central National Committee”- Declared Poland in state of Rebellion against Russian Rule

1863 Polish Uprising

  • Rebel Poles held out for 16 months

  • Rebellions squashed-by Russia Army

  • Split within Polish Society -Russians won over Polish Peasants by giving them land

  • 80,000 sent to Siberian Prison camps

  • Poland had been destroyed/ lost its status

  • Became a Vistula of Russia

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