Question: “His measures of reform did not disguise his belief in the need to maintain autocratic rule.” To what extent do you agree with this point of view?
Tsar Alexander II had many reforms. He was an autocratic ruler who began his reforms in Russia in 1855. Some claim that his reforms were proof of his liberal attitude and others argue that he was primarily a traditionalist, this essay will explore to what extent both of arguments are accurate depictions of “The last great tsar.” When Alexander II came to power he was already faced with a series of problems, the Crimean war (1854-56) being a key one. Russia’s defeat in the Crimean war resulted in the realization that Russia was in fact a backward nation, and in need of modernization. Reform was a subject that had already been brought up due to peasant uprisings and overall dissatisfaction in the countryside. The Crimean war simply proved that Russia’s reforms were inevitable. Emancipation was one of Alexander’s most notable reforms; it allowed the serfs to have basic rights such freedom of marriage and to make a living off of their own land. Many claim that emancipation is a clear example of Alexander’s liberal ideology, as he risked the vital and sensitive relationship he had with the nobilities (who owned the serfs) in doing so. Alexander II realized that emancipation was necessary because without it there would be no development in the nation, and it would continue being backwards, to quote Rasinski: “To initiate change in Russia is dangerous, but to stop it is even more so.” Emancipation entailed further reforms, a key one being the judicial reforms which started in 1864. The judicial reforms were a major step forward in promoting a more modern atmosphere; everyone in Russia was tried in the same way, Alexander II also made trial by jury so the nobilities were no longer able to be the judges. There were less corporal punishments and people were not treated differently just because of their social...
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