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

Does Alexander II deserve his historical reputation?

Extracts from this document...


Does Alexander II deserve his historical reputation? In recent historical perspectives, Alexander II has been described as the Tsar Liberator, the man who freed and 'modernised' Russia. Alexander II succeeded to the throne in 1855, at the height of the Crimean War, a war which clearly portrayed the strong backwardness of Russia in comparison to countries such as England and France. It was due to this that the newly appointed Tsar proposed several new reforms to modernise Russia, to be at the same stage of Western countries. This essay will be focusing on whether Alexander deserves the title of the Tsar Liberator and whether he truly freed Russia. The first move Alexander II made to free Russia was the idea of emancipating the serfs within Russia. In 1861, Alexander issued his Emancipation Manifesto which proposed seventeen various things that would all contribute to freeing the serfs. Serfs were granted a personal freedom of two years, when full freedom would then be granted. Farming serfs were given plots of land in accordance to the size of their family to look after. Landowners got paid compensation in return for giving peasants pieces of land. The serfs would also get wages for working, something which had never occurred in Russia before. Alexander thought giving the serfs freedom would give me a wider range of support. This therefore, supports Alexander's current reputation. He was the 'Tsar Liberator' as he liberated the serfs and gave them their freedom. However, peasants were not actually given full freedom and were bound by several terms of their 'freedom.' ...read more.


No longer were there different courts for different classes, equality was introduced for all classes. Judges were to be better trained and paid higher wages to prevent bribery and the abuse of power that once occurred. All of these reforms were introduced to make the legal system fair by making the peasantry equal to the nobility. However, although this was what was theoretically meant to happen, the optimistic outcome did not always occur. Bribery still happened, regardless of how well paid the judges became. Judges still accepted money of people who offered it, mainly being the nobility. Therefore, the legal system was still not legitimate. Also, these reforms were not introduced to all provinces in Russia, for example, the legal system was still chaotic in the Caucus region. The military was also changed as a result of Alexander's reforms. Modern weapons were introduced and officers were given proper training. Convicts were no longer drafted into the army, thus strengthening it ass before, convicts jeopardised potential wins for the military. The length of service was also decreased from what was originally a death sentence, and generally lasted longer than life expectancy itself to 15 years active service and 10 year leave in reserve. This reserve was vast and could be mobilised whenever required. Additionally, these military reforms restored Russia's international reputation as well as Alexander's as 'Alexander the Great,' both the country and its Tsar regained their powerful reputation from when they lost it during the Crimean War. ...read more.


Censorship was once again tightened and the number of students allowed to go to university declined. He changed to a rule of repression. However, just after he was assassinated, he was planning to produce another reform, granting the Russian people a constitution. However, this was never passed as he was killed first. Therefore, if Alexander really was the 'Tsar Liberator' he wouldn't have accumulated such opposition from liberal students, and after he realised he had such opposition, he changed his stance. However, just before he was killed, he attempted to pass his final reform, the most liberal one of the lot. However, as he was killed before it was announced to the Russian public, it was never passed within his reign, so he cannot be classed as a liberator as he died before he had chance to be. Therefore, this essay concludes that although Alexander II maintained a generally liberal course throughout his reign, he does not deserve the title 'Alexander the Great' or the 'Tsar Liberator.' This is mainly due to his failures. Although his reforms were meant to liberate Russia, they never went to plan and often backfired, causing a decline in liberalism and an increase in opposition. However, if he had not have been assassinated, it is questionable as to whether he would have deserved the title then. Just before his death, he was proposing one of his most liberal reforms yet and maybe if this had gone though, he truly would have been the Tsar Liberator. However, it is not possible to say he was with the reforms that he passed as they generally lead to the citizens of Russia wanting more. ...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 Modern European History, 1789-1945 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 Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does Stalin deserve the title of Red Tsar when assessing his ...

    5 star(s)

    Even though Lenin and Stalin were very similar in some of their beliefs such as the belief in a monopolistic party, a strong state, the need for dramatic transformations within society13 to make Russia a socialist state. However unlike Lenin, Stalin did not believe that the communist movement should spread into the West outside the USSR.

  2. To What Extent Were the Reforms of Alexander II Intended to Preserve and Strengthen ...

    The aspect of the reforms suggest that Alexander was trying to hold onto power while once again creating the aura that he was actually reforming Russia, when in fact he only reformed it for 17% of the population. It can also be argued that by creating an independent legal bar

  1. How successful were the attempts by Alexander II to reform Russia?

    More importantly defence counsels were allowed and legal flogging was curtailed. These reforms were accepted by the public and were successfully applied. Once again, this policy can be linked to Alexander's reforms concerning the serfs. This new justice system allowed the poorer members of society to be given sympathetic hearings.

  2. What were the mains reasons for the emancipation of Serfs in Russia?

    However, their importance can be exaggerated: it is too much to speak of a revolutionary peasant movement in these years. The riots were not big enough to threaten the fabric of the state. The sentence that Alexander II used in a speech of 1858: ?It is better to abolish

  1. To what extent did Alexander II deserve his title of the Tsar Liberator

    Arguably the Tsar had the best interests of the Russian serfs in mind. However, it is questionable whether he was simply freeing the serfs from their physical burdens to employ financial ones instead.

  2. Were Alexander IIs reforms successful and did he deserve to be called a Liberator?

    Alexander saw emancipation of the serfs as a method of evolving; serfdom prevented the growth of Russian industry by obstructing free flow of labour and prevented introduction of modern methods of agriculture. Furthermore, Alexander saw from the rising number of peasant revolts that it was wiser to abolish serfdom from a higher power rather than peasants revolting.

  1. Did Alexander II deserve the title Tsar Liberator?

    This included the introduction of judges that could not be swayed by bribery, juries and courts. For the first time Russians were offered the chance of a fair trial, and a considerable freedom of expression.

  2. How effectively did Alexander II cope with the problems he faced on his succession?

    This huge length of time meant that many serfs were not actually emancipated for 49 years, as they were still under control of the Lords through the payments. Furthermore the landowners, many of who had already been debt lost wealth, as they lost land, loss ownerships of serfs and the redemption payments were mostly spent paying off old debts.

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