How successful was Alexander II’s Edict on Emancipation of the Serfs in modernizing Russia in the years 1861-1881?

analytical Essay
3275 words
3275 words

Alexander II was the Tsar Liberator who, despite unflattering characterization by his contemporaries, undertook one of the biggest reforms in Russian history: the liberation of the serfs. Yet despite such a necessary and seemingly humanitarian reform, his life was abruptly finished by a successful terrorist attack following no fewer than ten unsuccessful ones.
The main challenge Alexander II faced in his projects towards modernization of Russia was a compromise between advancing his state thorough improving the lives of his subjects, without falling prey to the demand for further reforms he would be unable to satisfy. Westwood, revisiting Russian History in 1981 phrased the problem as follows: “how to advance the education of the state by educating the people, without educating the people to questions the state? ”.
After the crippling defeat in the Crimean War, Alexander II knew that Russia could not be allowed to lag behind the Western world any longer if it was to maintain its independence. The reform of the state had been advisable for a long time, but for Alexander III it was necessary. He knew that before any real changes could be achieved, the main problem had to be solved: the problem of serfdom. However many limits and imperfections his edict of Emancipation carried with it, most importantly it allowed for further modernizing reforms in the legal, government, education and military spheres.
The need to abolish serfdom was a persistent and, according to Mosse writing in 1958, biggest problem in Russian society since the reign of Peter the Great. All the problems of Russian Empire stemmed from serfdom and would automatically be solved with its removal .
To begin with, it was a natural step the development of Russian soci...

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In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the crimean war tilted the scale in favor of emancipation of serfs by adding military needs to the social and economic needs, already prominent in the empire.
  • Analyzes how alexander drew up an agreement that satisfied no one. alexander's grandmother catherine said that "the better was the enemy of the good" in russia.
  • Analyzes how the newly free serfs were disappointed and disillusioned by the emancipation.
  • Explains that the zemstva system allowed for close participation of locals in the outcomes of the government of a locality, leading to fast and efficient changes in local lifestyle.
  • Analyzes how golovin introduced multiple far-fetching modernization in the russian educational system through an atmosphere of freedom and tolerance and autonomy.
  • Analyzes how alexander ii introduced a modern judicial system in 1864, modeled after its western counterparts.
  • Analyzes how alexander ii's military reforms achieved unmistakable modernization. miliutin reduced the length of service from twenty five to six years in active service, and introduced military service based on the appropriate age of 20.
  • Analyzes how alexander ii's emancipation of the serfs modernized russia. it was the first step towards liberty and freedom of an individual and towards recognizing his rights.
  • States that mosse, werner e., "alexander ii and the modernization of russia".
  • Analyzes sack, arkady j., "the birth of the russian democracy". new york city, russian information bureau.
  • States westwood, j. n., "endurance and endeavour: russian history, 1812-1980".
  • Explains that alexander ii was the tsar liberator who undertook one of the biggest reforms in russian history.
  • Analyzes how the emancipation failed to solve the economic backwardness of russia.
  • Argues that the emancipation of serfs made russia a more modern country, despite its ineffectual short-term effects.
  • Analyzes how alexander ii's great reforms were successful in modernizing russia, leaving the concept of autocracy behind.
  • Analyzes graham, stephen, and lynch, michael. the emancipation of the russian serfs, 1861: a charter of freedom or an act of betrayal.
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