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Why Was Russia Considered Backward in the Early 19th Century?

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Why Was Russia Considered Backward in the Early 19th Century? The views on Russia and how modern it was in the early part of the 19th century are varied and focus on different aspects of Russian life; politically, economically and socially. Russia was very different to much of Europe and the rest of the world, but this does not necessarily mean it was behind the times. Russia was being ruled by a Tsar (Emperor). The tsar was autocratic and held all power over the country, there were no other official people who had a say in what was done such as there was in America, Britain and much of Europe too. Democracies were seen to be the best system to run a country; it was a lot fairer than an autocracy as the people's views could be heard. The people of Russia had no say in what was done and they had to abide by the laws due to strict punishments, Article One "God commands his (the tsar) supreme power to be obeyed." Also, those who could influence the tsar's views were the rich land owners which made up only 11.4% of the population. ...read more.


The people found it hard to make enough food and materials and much of the population lived in poverty practically starving while a small percentage of the country live in luxury. Although Britain still had very different scales of wealth, most people had jobs in towns and houses though not all were very safe or clean. The situation in Russia meant its economy was weak unlike Britain's and America's. Had Russia experienced an Industrial Revolution similar to Britain's it would have been one of the most powerful countries in the world but it was held back due to lack of industry. Russia was agriculturally based as there were no towns therefore no working class so there could not be a revolution such as in France or America. The country was run on Serfdom, nobles owned the peasant who worked their land. The peasants were practically slaves; they could be bought, sold, separated from families and punished severely. Slavery was not so widely used around the world and there were moves towards abolishing it, though it did not end in the early 19th century. However, even though Russia was not the only country to have slavery, it was also not trying to move away from this system. ...read more.


The punishments in Russia were also very brutal; criminals were flogged, tortured and executed in public. The bodies were left in public for weeks after to set an example to others. Countries like Britain also had hangings and were not stopped until 1964, but they were carried out in private and weren't for all the public to see. Executions to this day occur in some states of America, but they are not as brutal as those carried out in Russia. Peter the Great had tried to modernise the way the people of Russia dressed but although they may have looked different the same principles and thoughts were still in those people so were still backward compared to the rest of the civilised world. Russia was very obviously different to countries such as France, Britain and America. This was partly due to their hold onto tradition and wanting to keep their culture rather than changing completely to Western ideals. However, they could still have kept aspects of their culture and took on some of the things that made other countries modern such as the railways. Had they made some changes it would have helped their politics, economy and society, but those in power were comfortable and felt no need to help all their people so in this sense Russia was very backward. ...read more.

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