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“A long period of repression and gloom” - Discuss this view of Nicholas I reign.

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Introduction

"A long period of repression and gloom" - Discuss this view of Nicholas I reign. Nicholas I reign has been described as a 'particularly dark period of Russian history' full of repression and gloom. Nicholas' restrictive policies, use of force as a means of restraint, stagnation and lack of progress suggest his reign was one of repression and gloom. However, it would be a mistake to dismiss Nicholas as 'merely a repressive monarch' because reforms were introduced and some progress was made. Nicholas' reign began amid the 'revolutionary fiasco' of the Decembrist Rising, causing him to begin his reign with repressive action in order to stop the insurrection. He was compelled to use the force of arrests, executions and exiles to restrain the revolutionaries, therefore, acting repressively. Five leaders were executed and three thousand people were arrested, of which over one thousand were exiled to Siberia. Nicholas' attitude to the rising was repressive because he believed his prompt actions had saved Russia from revolution and change. It could be said that the Decembrist Rising caused Nicholas to be repressive because he thought 'Revolution is at the gates of Russia' but swore 'that it shall not enter' as long as he was Tsar. ...read more.

Middle

Nicholas' censorship policies appear to be repressive because they did not allow any freedom of expression. The Censorship Law in 1826 allowed the authorities to ban almost anything if they wanted to. However, it was not applied strictly and in 1828, more lenient laws were introduced, but after 1830, censorship once again became 'strict, unfair and often absurd'. Writers could be shadowed, imprisoned or exiled and articles on poverty and serfdom were forbidden. The censorship laws show that Nicholas' reign was repressive. The number of people exiled in Nicholas' reign could be seen to be repressive because 150,000 people were exiled to Siberia during his reign. During his reign, Nicholas used the force of exiling as a means of punishment as he exiled 10000 people a year for undetermined periods of time. Intellectuals such as Dostoievsky were exiled to forced labour camps. The number of people exiled shows how repressive the reign of Nicholas was. Nicholas' attitude towards foreign travel appears to be repressive because it was forbidden. Even wealthy people could only travel under rigid conditions through a passport system. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nicholas tried to abolish serfdom by establishing a secret committee of leading reformers such as Speransky and Kiselev to examine the feasibility of gradual liberation. The committee introduced reforms such as prohibiting the sale of serfs as a means of settling private debt, and the auctions ended. Literature and the arts flourished and Russian was transformed into one of the worlds greatest languages be Pushkin. Currency reforms established confidence and stability in the monetary system and Nicholas was concerned about corruption so appointed a committee which reorganised the courts. Nicholas therefore, did introduce some reforms which imply that his reign was not completely one of repression and gloom. Although Nicholas' reign is notable for intellectual and creative achievement, economic and technical advances and attempts to introduce moderate reforms in government and the lives of state peasants, it is still characterised as a period of repression and gloom. Nicholas used force to repress the Decembrist Rising, education was brought under government control, the Third Section surpressed any liberal ideas, censorship laws restricted freedom of expression and the policy of 'Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality' promoted Russian traditions and blocked change. Nicholas' lack of change and reform suggest his reign was a period of repression and gloom. ...read more.

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