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How Successful Was Alexander Ii In Solving The Problems Facing Russia During His Reign?

1157 words - 5 pages

Alexander II faced several major problems during his reign, largely stemming from the negative implications of Russia’s system of serfdom that stifled economic and industrial growth, as well as Russia’s outdated and ineffective military that limited Russia’s presence in Europe and demonstrated her lacking industrial sector. Alexander was shown to be a keen reformer and managed to effectively tackle these problems, with his emancipation of the serfs, followed by his overseeing of successful economic and military reforms.

Arguably the greatest problem that faced Russia in 1855 was the outdated and feudal – like system of serfdom which lagged far behind the social infrastructures of other ...view middle of the document...

Alexander’s lacking reform can also be seen to have contributed to his assassination in 1881, as the Tsar’s stubbornness to fully liberate and integrate the serfs into a liberal society only spurred groups such as The People’s Will on in opposition to Russia’s autocratic rule.

Having said this, Alexander’s Emancipation of the Serfs was a step in the right direction and so certainly held some success in tackling the problem of serfdom. In theory, the Serfs were set free and granted the privileges that they had previously been disallowed: to own land, travel and find their own work instead of being tied to a particular piece of land which entailed what can be seen as slave – labour. This made many of the Serfs happy and grateful to the Tsar, however the majority were soon to realise that they remained trapped by circumstance of the emancipation; an old Serf dictum backs this up: “We are yours but the land is ours”. From this, it is clear that Alexander II achieved limited success in solving the problem of Serfdom and Serf unrest, as the emancipation benefitted the Nobles and land owners to the detriment of the many millions of Serfs, maintaining slow economic growth and provoking the further opposition to Alexander II’s autocratic rule that culminated with his assassination.

Another key problem that Alexander II faced was Russia’s out-dated military that he had inherited - a hallmark of Russia’s technological and industrial backwardness. Following a humiliating defeat in the Crimean War of 1856, Alexander soon realised that he had to reform the military in order for Russia to protect herself in future. Alexander saw that industrialisation was the answer to Russia’s lacking military might, and his freedom of the serfs was partly aimed at creating a large labour pool to fill the growing industrial sector that was essential to modernise the military. Under Alexander, industrial production was greatly increased, with 16 times the previous coal production and a ten-fold increase in steel production; a dramatic progression that enabled Alexander II’s Russia to advance its industrial and military status. Furthermore, Alexander’s appointment of Miliutin to minister of war in 1861 launched a series of reforms such as proper training for officers, re-arming soldiers with more modern weapons, and construction of strategic railways. These reforms produced a more efficient and professional Russian military,...

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