What problems did Alexander II face in 1855 Essay Example
What problems did Alexander II face in 1855 Essay Example

What problems did Alexander II face in 1855 Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (917 words)
  • Published: September 5, 2017
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In 1855, when Alexander II, son of Nicholas I, became Tsar of Russia, he was confronted with numerous challenges. Russia, being a backward country, was in need of reform. The gap between the aristocracy and the peasants was vast and causing issues. The serfs were being treated terribly, with a desperate need for changes in the legal and educational systems. Additionally, there were governmental problems that needed attention. Recognizing the need for reform, Alexander II made every effort to address these issues for the sake of the homeland. By 1859, there were over 40 million peasants enslaved either to private landowners or the state, with others working as servants on the estates of the Lords. These serfs were considered the property of their owners and often subjected to unjust beatings. They lacked freedom and their owners had control over


their marriages. Since 1649, when serfdom was legally established as a means to bind peasants to the land of the aristocracy, it had been a significant factor in increasing the wealth of noble families and preventing serfs from escaping their captivity. Although Alexander II did not express an immediate desire to free the serfs upon becoming Tsar, he understood that liberating them would ultimately be in Russia's best interest.He expressed the belief that it was preferable for emancipation to come from a higher authority rather than waiting for it to occur from the lower classes. This indicated that regardless of whether he liberated the helot or non-helot, they would inevitably strive for their freedom in one way or another. The emancipation, which temporarily solved issues, eventually led to disturbances that erupted violently in the rebellions o

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1905. By 1861, with great effort, Alexander II achieved what has been considered as "the greatest individual piece of state-directed social engineering in modern European history." In addition to freeing the helot, Alexander II implemented several other reforms. Following the resolution of the Crimean War, Alexander had pledged to reform the legal system in his proclamation on March 19, 1856. He established a committee in late 1861 to overhaul the system. The principles of this reform were made public on October 10, 1862, and the changes were put into practice in November 1864. The results amounted to a complete transformation of the Russian legal system. Courts became public, juries were introduced for most criminal cases, judges were more respected, court procedures were simplified, and suspects were granted the right to have legal representation. The abolishment of serfdom resulted in issues in rural areas. Previously, the Lords had authority over the helot.The group that served as an important group was now in demand for rural policing, as the serfs were freed from the Lords and desired more freedom. In order to suppress any rebellions, Alexander introduced rural policing under the ministry of the inside. These policing groups successfully suppressed peasant rebellions after their emancipation and were the first step in creating autonomous bodies called zemstvos. Zemstvos were introduced at the territory and provincial levels, with the national council claiming that they allowed people of all classes to participate in local affairs. However, this was not entirely true, as voting rights were weighted based on a person's wealth and land ownership. Despite taking orders from various ministries, the zemstvos successfully reformed the healthcare and education systems in

rural areas. From 1855, when the first zemstvos were introduced, about 1000 new elementary schools were built each year and the quality of hospitals improved significantly during Alexander's reign. Over time, Alexander's liberal mindset underwent changes.At the beginning of his reign, Alexander II was eager to liberalize Russia. This was evident in his approach to abolishing old censorship laws, allowing universities more freedom in their teachings, permitting once banned literature into the country, and even allowing exiled authors to circulate their works among the Russian population. However, this pro-liberal attitude could only last for so long. In 1863, there were rebellions in Poland, where Alexander II had implemented his liberal reforms. These rebellions lasted for a year and led to an assassination attempt on April 4, 1866. As a result, Alexander II introduced reactionary measures. The attempt on his life by a young student named Karakozov was seen as a consequence of the liberal education that was promoted. Old censorship laws were reinstated and the teaching of science, which was believed to encourage questioning of authority, was banned in elementary schools. The power of the zemstvos, local governing bodies, was also restricted and Alexander II ruled in a very authoritarian manner. However, despite these setbacks, Alexander II is still remembered for his significant legal reforms that had a positive impact. Unfortunately, his plans for a constitution were never completed due to his assassination in 1881. Although he did not succeed in establishing a constitution, he did successfully address other challenges that he faced during his time as Tsar.Despite not fully achieving his potential, Alexander II's reforms were still noteworthy. Had he not taken reactionary measures

or reversed some successful reforms, he would have been regarded as an even more successful progressive leader. He did grant Russia its first decentralized and representative form of government; however, he faltered in staying true to his liberal beliefs that were evident earlier in his reign. While Alexander II did not fully solve the problems he faced, he did manage to reduce the gap between social classes and introduce welcome changes to the role of the Tsar. If circumstances had not led him to become a victim of an unfortunate event, he could have been remembered as an even greater Tsar.

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