To What Extent Does Tsar Alexander Ii Deserve the Title “Tsar Liberator”?

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Tsar of Russia from 1818 to 1881. Son of Nicholas I ascended the throne in 1855. Signed in Paris (1856) the peace that ended the Crimean War began the construction of a vast program of reforms. Open to ideas of social renewal, emancipated the serfs (1861) without satisfy the peasantry, which was granted in usufruct, with a strong payment of ransom, only a portion of the lands they occupied. Instituted the Zemstvo, provincial assemblies elected and encouraged education. The Polish uprising (1863) slammed on the brakes but the enthusiasm of the reformer Tsar, who also saddened by the extension of propaganda and revolutionary action, retired reactionary positions. The reign of Alexander II was marked by progress in art and literature, as well as by the development industry. In foreign policy he overcame the conflict of interests with Austria to join the Alliance of Three Emperors, waged a campaign against the Turks (1877-78) and, subject vast regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia, the advantageous treaty concluded Santo Stefano (March 1878). The diplomacy of the tsar was not successful at the Berlin Congress (1878), where England and Austria took advantage of Russian victories in their favor. Meanwhile politics eclipsed liberalizing the Tsar, had become increasingly violent revolutionary agitation, and the same Alexander II was assassinated by a nihilist bomb just when it seemed wanted to re-initiate a liberal policy.

In spite of his obstination on playing Russian Autocrat, Alexander II acted for several years somewhat like a constitutional sovereign of the continental type. Soon after the conclusion of peace, important changes were made in legislation concerning industry and commerce, and the new freedom thus afforded produced a large number of limited liability companies. Plans were formed for building a great network of railways — partly for the purpose of developing the natural...
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