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Alexander's Ii Reforms

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After the loss of the Crimean war in 1856, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, his people, and its surrounding major powers realized the true conditions of un-industrialized Russia. The strength of its military ended up being an illusion, and now the country faced both an incredible backwardness and a lack of credibility in its own potential in protecting itself against competitive and rival countries, bringing into question some of the very basic structures of Russian politics and society. Russia’s backwardness in all key institutions compared to surrounding great powers was massive, and the loss of the war had a critical effect on the faith the people of Russia had in their Tsar. Because of this intolerable humiliation, Alexander II found his back pushed against a wall and was forced to make all sorts of reforms in order to ameliorate the poor conditions of his country.
As one of Alexander’s first reform, in 1861 Alexander II declared “the edict to emancipation”, in other words, the abolishment of serfdom for fear that it would “reform from the below”. Even though Slavophiles stressed the importance of serfdom in the preservation of political and social stability, Westernizes emphasized its role as a brake upon Russia’s economic development in relation to other countries surrounding it. Alexander therefore decided to free the serfs from their landowners and give them land that they could now grow crops on without being governed by the landowners. However, right from the very first reform other major conflicts were brought up, as the emancipation of the serfs caused a huge problem to the nobles and the landowners, who now no longer had free labor. In addition, land could only be granted to the peasants at the expenses of their landowners, and such a step would come dangerously close to accepting the radical doctrine that the land should belong to those who worked it, and...

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