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L-15 Part III Era of Great Reforms (1) 1. Emancipation of the Serfs. Introduction. Historiography Sources Themes. 1. Emancipation. A. Watershed. Cataclysmic Event Turning point: Toward a new social order Comparison of pre-reform and post-reform Russia’s 1861 as France’s 1789.
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2. “Revolutionary Situation”
a. Thesis: preempt social revolution
Rumors about changes in their status, which began to circulate about there years ago throughout the whole Empire, have created tension between landlords and serfs, for whom this matter represents a question of life or death.” (1857)
“As the landlords put it, the peasants have stretched out their hands and will simply not be pacified. Most of them understand freedom in the vulgar sense of being free to do whatever they wish, with no laws or restrictions; and they are convinced that the land and their houses belong to them.” (1858)
First Serf: “They say that we will soon be free.”
Second Serf: “Probably like the state peasants.”
First Serf: “No, that’s just it—completely free. They won’t demand either recruits or taxes; and there won’t be any kind of authorities. We will run things ourselves.”
3. Triumph of Western Humanitarianism
“The majority of the gentry believe that our peasant is too uncultured to understand civil law; that, in a state of freedom, he would be more vicious than any wild beast; that disorders, plundering, and murder are almost inevitable; and that in many provinces—especially along the Volga—the terrible times of the Pugachev Rebellion are recalled.”
4. Crimean War Debacle
b. Why Focus on Serfdom?
c. Larger Ideology: Emancipation (raskreposhchenie) of all society
Westerner Kavelin: “Most people are convinced that Russia’s natural conditions should make it one of the richest countries in the world; yet it would be hard to find another state where there is less capital, where poverty is so ubiquitous among all the classes of people.”
Slavophile Iurii Samarin: “We were vanquished not by the foreign armies of the Western alliance, but by our own internal weaknesses, which are due to serfdom.”
1. Volia (personal freedom)