• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Alexander II is sometimes called the Tsar Liberator. Is this an accurate interpretation of his reign?

Extracts from this document...


Alexander II is sometimes called the Tsar Liberator. Is this an accurate interpretation of his reign? Serfdom was on the verge of being eliminated in Western Europe by 1848. However in comparison to Western Europe, Russia was the only European state yet to emancipate or attempt to emancipate its Serfs, this represented the backward nature of Russian society. However Serfdom was engraved in the Russian hierarchal society hence the reason for which serfdom was still present in Russia during the mid 19th century. Nevertheless by 1861 the emancipation statutes of the Serfs had finally been issued. How was it that despite there being hostility from the gentry and nobility to the destruction of Serfdom and the centrality of which Serfdom had in Russian society, was Emancipation of the Serfs able to occur in 1861. Did the emancipation of the Serfs take place due to Alexander II humanitarian concerns and sympathy towards Serfdom or was the emancipation of the Serfs an attempt for Russia to grow economically as well as politically in an attempt to retain its world status? These questions have been debated as many historians argue that the reasons for the Serfs being emancipated were due to economical, political, military and moral concerns. Russia during the mid 19th century was economical stagnated in comparison to countries such as Britain who saw a great economic boom through the industrial revolution, which consequently saw the boom of railways across Britain. ...read more.


It can be argued that the causation of the Serfs being liberated by Tsar Alexander II were to with economic, political, military and moral concerns. Nevertheless the idea of Tsar Nicholas II being labelled as a Tsar Liberator is strongly debated. In order for someone to be known or portrayed as a Liberator, they must give freedom to a person/group. The freedom received by the Serfs many feel left them worse off. Despite this so called Liberation of the Serfs occurring it was not the Serfs who were benefiting but more so the landlords.5 This was the case as the statues proposed that through emancipation of the Serfs, the Serfs were able to buy the land they worked on by paying redemptions over 49 years at an interest rate of 6%. The land, which they received, was usually narrow strips of poor land, which was not very fertile. 6 It is significant to take into account that despite the fact the Serfs were given personal freedom, they were not free in the sense that they were initially paid a very small amount for their work. Hence the Serfs were naturally financially instable; therefore it was ironic that such interest was placed on their land as they were not able to pay off their 49-year redemption including the interest placed on their land. As a result many Serfs found themselves in a worse off situation to the extent where their children were brought up on the burden of having to pay off the excess (and not achievable) ...read more.


Moreover it can be argued that in America the black slaves evidently witnessed a better life (despite it taking several years) whereas the Serfs were witnessing a worse life hence it was the consequences of the liberation of the Serfs which caused Alexander II's Liberator label to be questioned. Overall despite the Serfs receiving no genuine liberty11 one can argue that liberation did occur in the sense that an individual no longer owned the Serfs. However the extent of liberation is questioned by the situation of which the Serfs were left in as a consequence of emaciation. Russia had promised to give a new dawn to the Serfs but then left them in darkness.12 Nevertheless historians such as Terence Emmons describe Alexander II and the reforms as "probably the greatest single piece of state directed engineering in modern European history before the twentieth century.13 In conclusion I believe that despite Liberation was given on a general basis to the Serfs the way in which Liberation was given to them put the Serfs back to their social hierarchy in society as the benefit which occurred from the Liberation were very minimal and instead of making the Serfs better off caused them to become worse off. Hence it is a bit optimistic to call Alexander II a Tsar Liberator when infact his intentions for liberating the Serfs were more to do with pragmatic concern regarding Russia's economy, military and world status, than they were to do with giving the Serfs genuine liberty. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Historical Periods section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Historical Periods essays

  1. How far did the problems of his reign stem from Edward VI's minority?

    However, there were problems that arose which did not stem from Edward's minority. The financial situation was inherited from Henry VIII; he had left the country bankrupt. Even though Somerset may have driven England into further debt, the problem was already present, thus this problem did not stem from his

  2. To what extent had the Russian economy been successfully modernised by 1914?

    Consequently, there was no fundamental change in yield and in 1878 only 50% of allotments made a surplus, and the peasants were reduced to a hand to mouth existence. Moreover, often the land was given to the commune and not individual peasants, and the commune was then responsible for distributing the land between the peasants.

  1. Assess the political, social and cultural significance of Versailles in the reign of Louis ...

    For instance, to attend the king in the first intimate moments of the day, to see him rubbed down with rose water and spirits of wine, shaved and dressed was the privilege of the highest in the land. This centralization of government strengthened the position of the monarch because it

  2. The events in India in 1856/7 were caused by the issue of the new ...

    All of the historians mentioned saw the reforms, especially the Doctrine of Lapse saw this as a fatal blow to the rule of the East India Company as the reform did not just affect their lifestyle and personal life but their religion and culture, something which a lot of Indian

  1. How accurate is it to say that the weakness of the Protestant forces was ...

    However, a large factor contributing to Habsburg success is their own strengths rather than their opponent?s weaknesses. The Habsburgs showed strengths both politically and militarily in comparison to their weaker rivals. Their political strengths were important in helping them defeat the Protestants because they needed support in order to form a successful attack strategy.

  2. How accurate is it to say that the controversy over indulgences were merely the ...

    This constant taxation made the Germans feel constantly financially exploited from taxes such as the tithe, annates, indulgences and fruits and tenths. The Papacy was able to exploit the HRE because it suffered from a lack of strong centralised administration as well as other nations were beginning to regret papal taxes therefore the HRE had to compensate.

  1. Despite frequent changes in policy, Russian and Soviet governments were spectacularly unsuccessful in securing ...

    Living standards got worse, the opposite to what Khrushchev had hoped to achieve. For example; only five in one thousand citizens owned a car and in 1963, the USSR was forced to import grain from the capitalist west to compensate shortages.[31] There were successes during this time such as the

  2. To What Extent Was Russia Modernised During the Personal Reign of Peter the Great? ...

    This lead to the nobility within the courts to also adopt westernised clothing as they believed it would please Peter. However this small reform was not adopted across the whole of Russia. The main reason for this was that Peter also adopted the western fashion of being clean shaven, the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work