IB History Higher
To what extent does Alexander II deserve the title ‘Tsar Liberator’?
In many ways Alexander II could not be called ‘Tsar Liberator’, because of his reactionary actions and great reluctance to fully liberate the peasant class or put true dents in the system of Russian autocracy. However, Alexander II does still have a claim to the title because he was responsible for the most radical change Russia had ever seen, the emancipation of the Serfs in 1861. The extent to which he deserves the title lies in his intentions when abolishing serfdom and fostering reform. Alexander II, and his intentions, has been viewed as an autocrat holding onto his power, the ‘Tsar Liberator’, and as an indecisive ruler attempting to better Russia while trying to appease both the noble and peasant class. In any case, Alexander II deserves the honorary title of ‘Tsar Liberator’ for beginning a process of liberation with the emancipation of the Serfs, but cannot fully be called a liberator because of his partial reform and reactionary conservatism.
Alexander II’s actions concerning reform and change in Russia are often observed as the actions of a traditional ruler attempting to improve and transform Russian government, while retaining the authority of the noble class and his own autocratic powers. While Alexander II was the Crown Prince he saw first hand the many ways Russia had fallen behind its neighbors in Western Europe, and he began to understand the many areas that needed large reform through his work in committees. Alexander II spent significant time serving on committees of inquiry into serfdom. During this time the scores of ways serfdom was impeding the government’s ability to both operate and reform became evident. Primarily, Alexander II saw first hand the inefficiency of the Russian military during the Crimean War (1853-56), and it would have been impossible to reform when factoring in the continuation of Serfdom. Some historians believe the sole...
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