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How Alexander II Changed Russia

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When Alexander II came to power he inherited a weak, demoralized, and feudalistic nation. Alexander II saw that Russia needed to evolve into a more modern European nation if it were to survive. To do this Alexander II implemented the Great Reforms to remodel Russia. The greatest of these reforms was the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Alexander II reforms greatly changed Russian society and politics as they inspired radical groups who wanted more freedoms to form, the establishment of zemstvos, and reorganized the Russian military into a major power.

Czar Alexander II's reforms gave Russia freedom. However, once the people tasted some freedom they immediately wanted more. "At home, the reform era only served to embolden Russians who wanted the country to engage in more radical changes. The educated public in the 1850s and 1860s openly debated the details of the Great Reforms and found many of them wanting. As a result of his policies, Alexander helped to spawn a politically radical movement that called for an end to autocracy." (Norris). The evidence shows that the reforms made radicals want even more freedoms. The new radicals were Raznochintsy, or commoners, and were in university. The very fact that these commoners were in college was an example of how society in Russia was changing. Before the Great Reforms, only the nobility was allowed in universities. The Radicals like P.N Lavrov, and P.N. Tkachev wrote various pamphlets on how the Czar was holding Russia back from a worker's utopia. In fact, during The Mad Summer of 1874, two thousand radicals left the cities and went to live as peasants. The radicals became so bold that the Czar eventually started to tighten the states control on the education system in Russia. The extent of the new radicals would be shown by the assassination of Alexander II by the "Narodnaya Volya" or the 'Peoples Will' in 1881. The reforms of Alexander II started a hunger for more freedom that could not be quenched.

The reforms created political change by the formation of the zemstvos, which gave the serfs the right to vote. "A new system of elected assemblies at the provincial and county levels was introduced in 1864. These assemblies, known as zemstvos, were elected by all classes including the peasants, although the landowning nobility had a disproportionately large share of both the votes and the seats."(Britannica Online). Along with the creation of the zemstvos, it was declared that all Russians were to be treated equally under the law. With the creation of the zemstvos the serfs had a say in their government. The zemstvos used the Prussian three class voting system which made sure that every class was represented. The zemstvos controlled; local facilities, transport, credit, insurance, health and education. Despite the nobilities' majority control the serfs began to have a say in their lives. The zemstvos created Russia's first political bureaucracy. They also inspired radicals to try and create



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