Sample Essay Titles • Compare and contrast the policies of Alexander II (1855-81) and Alexander III (1881-94) of Russia. • For what reasons, and with what results, did Alexander II try to reform Russian institutions? • Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century. • Alexander II tried to reform Russian institutions only because the Crimean War showed that Russia was no longer a great military power.” Use specific examples of Alexander’s reforms to show to what extent you agree with this assertion. • Last Specific focus on Foreign Policy question was in 2001 • Despite his apparently liberal policies, Alexander II was just as conservative as Alexander III.” To what extent do you agree with this statement? • REFORM VS REACTION • REFORM OF RUSSIAN INSTITUTIONS
Aim for a thematic approach • Make sure you know how much Alex II and Alex III reformed Russian institutions- this can then help you do compare / contrast or success / failure.
Alex II • Key phrase often used in exam questions is the ‘reform of Russian institutions’ be sure to state what they are- (army, judiciary, education, local government, serfdom) this then sets up a thematic approach to the essay. • Any essay on Alex II domestic policy should deal with the Emancipation of the Serfs. • Alex II as ‘Tsar Liberator’- again use the institutions and particularly the Emancipation of the Serfs. • “The emancipation of the serfs in Russia was the only genuine reform introduced by Alexander II.” To what extent do you agree with this assertion?- again you would start with Serfdom and then move onto other institutions
Alex III • Key phrase often used is ‘reaction / counter reform’- be clear to explain this. • How far was he a reactionary? • He did make some reforms
Tsar Liberator? • Recognised that reform needed to come ‘from above’ to avoid forces of change from below. • Impact of defeat in the Crimean War. • Serfdom was inefficient- economic reasons for emancipation (1861). • Emancipation of the Serfs- ‘state engineering’- broke the feudal contract- the Mir system was strengthened- some local autonomy for peasants- more freedom of movement for peasants/ rise of a new ‘class’ of peasant- BUT redemption payments tied peasants to the land- Mir exercised control over the peasants in the same way the gentry had/ Civil disturbances
Emancipation- views • Moral improvement • Great step forward for Russia • Decline in the overall size of peasants land holding • Opportunity missed by Alex to reform further due to his commitment to Autocracy
Other reforms – for revision • Admin / Govt– setting up of the ZEMSTVA – rural local councils – ‘local initiative- local government for the people- but still dominated by the nobility. • JUDICIARY- reforms dealt with various abuses of law- dealt with corruption within justice system. Trial by jury / Public trials. Pay for judges. Police / Judge role redefined. • MILITARY- Milyutin’s reforms- training of officers / Military Code- response to Crimean defeat. Conscription / Education of soliders- overall failure with defeats in 1904 / 1917 • EDUCATION- zemstva controlled rather than the church- ‘liberalisation’ of education- women / class / curriculum choice- university independence. NOTE OVERALL INFLUENCE OF ARISTOCRACY WHICH LIMITS SCALE OF REFORMS
BUT…. To what extent was he a reformer? • Autocracy- reforms made to ensure its survival. • Nobility still had great influence in Russian institutions. • Radical in the context of Tsarism- but not enough. • Reforms gave rise to political consciousness. • Ultimately Alex II reliant upon repression to uphold the regime.
Alex III- the Reactionary • Personality- assassination of Father- - western style govt not ‘Russian’. • Wanted to rule as an autocrat- ‘Black Tsar’. • High levels of repression- formation of Okhrana. High levels of censorship. • Attempts to ‘turn back the clock’ on the reform of Russian institutions • Controls on judiciary- justice of peace (volost) abolished- replaced with Land Captains- nobility influence again. ‘In camera’ trials allowed. Crimes against state officials heard without a jury • Zemstva came under the control of the Ministry of the Interior • Education- women denied access to higher courses. Fees increased. Church influence over primary schools increased.
But…. there were reforms • 1883 Peasants Land Bank- loans to peasants. • Abolition of poll tax 1886 • 1885 Nobles’ Land Bank • 1882 Child Labour Laws- working hours
Policy of Russification- key features • Emphasis on Russian language, culture, religion and identity. • Use of the education system to support this. • Conscription into the army. • Closure of Jewish schools • 1881- 1883 Pogroms- attacks on Jewish businesses / property. • 1882 ‘Provisional Rules’ measures to restrict the civil rights of Jews- e.g. no right of appeal in court.
Task • Reasons and results of Alex II reform of Russian institutions • Reasons and results of Alex III’s counter reforms.
Compare and contrast- thematic structure • Personality. • Attitude towards autocracy. • Attitude towards reform of Russian institutions. • Attitude towards opposition groups. • Foreign Policy. • Use of repression / Russification