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Why, in spite of his efforts to reform Russia, was Alexander II assassinated?

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Introduction

Why, in spite of his efforts to reform Russia, was Alexander II assassinated? When Alexander II came to power in Russia in 1855, the country had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the Crimea. Alexander felt that a lot needed to be done in Russia to return the country to her former state of power and prestige. However, this was a lot to ask of one man, and as shown by his assassination in 1881, although he managed to change a lot in Russia, it was not enough. He was not willing to give up autocracy and so many of his reforms were not carried through to their inevitable end. Was it because of his reforms that Alexander was assassinated? Would he have been in a better position if he had not tried to change Russia for the better? Would he have avoided this end had he abolished autocracy? Alexander came to power in 1855, at the end of the Crimean War. This war had been fought by Russia against Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire around the Black Sea, Russia's only warm water sea port. When he came to power, Alexander saw that there were fundamental problems in Russia. Forty million out of the sixty million who made up the huge Russian population were serfs, owned either by the state or the nobility. This had always been a problem in Russia and the previous Tsars, Alexander I and Nicholas I had both looked into emancipation, but to no effect. ...read more.

Middle

giving them a forum for discussion, maybe even giving revolutionary ideas a chance to flourish which was not good for the autocracy. People in the zemstva realised that they wanted power beyond that which they were given but Alexander was not willing to give them this, which lead to their discontent. Other changes that were made during Alexander's reign included the changes that were made to education and also to the military and judiciary service. These were mostly positive reforms, benefiting both individuals and Russia as a whole. However the increase in the number of students attending university and the ability to study foreign history and politics led to more people questioning the state and its running. The judicial reforms meant that Russia was in theory a fairer place. However you could still be imprisoned without trial which meant that there was still a lot of room for corruption. Once all of these reforms were in place, Alexander had managed to partly close the gap between the classes in Russia. The main problem that Alexander faced with his reforms, was keeping everyone happy and avoiding the formation of opposition groups. This was obviously not going to happen as the reforms affected most sections of society. The nobility were not happy about emancipation and so to combat any problems that may have arisen here, redemption payments were given. ...read more.

Conclusion

If he had done this then some of the reforms that he made would have been taken through to their inevitable end. However, with him as a sole ruler there was no way that he could have given the zemstva the increased power that they wanted. The students that were now meeting regularly in the universities with less censorship led to new revolutionary ideas being formed. In effect his own reforms led to the Tsar's downfall. He had increased the ability for radical elements to meet. He had irritated the more conservative elements of his government by carrying out the reforms in the first place. Most of all he had shown the people of Russia a little power which they had never seen before and of course after this they wanted to get as much as they could out of him. When he was assassinated in 1881, it was not the first attempt on his life, in fact there had already been seven other assassination attempts. By the end of his life, Alexander had become isolated from both his people and his ministers and when the news of his death spread there was little sorrow. Despite changing Russia from what can only be described as a feudal system to the modern form that gave people relative equality before the law, a modern army and a reformed economy, better education, more personal freedom and limited censorship, Alexander was not popular and the people of Russia felt he had failed them. In the end it was his reforms that led to his death. ...read more.

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