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Alexander, a True Liberator

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September 13, 2007 HL History 2 Alexander II: The Reformer The defeat of Russia in the Crimean War unquestionably played significant role in urging Alexander II to trigger change, yet nothing could have been achieved in Russia had Alexander II refused to acknowledge the need for reform. Thus, Czar Alexander II accession to the throne in 1855, raised hopes for millions of peasants across the country. These hopes were in effect justified. As early as 1861, Tsar Alexander introduced a series of reforms that were by far the most "radical and far-reaching of any attempted by a European government" (41). Political prisoners were released, censorship was relaxed, tax debts were annulled, and most importantly, serfdom was abolished. In 1864, a new legal system provided open trials, jury system, and an independent judiciary. In addition, Alexander II improved the stagnating educational system, wherein he repealed the harsh measures which were implemented during the rule of Nicholas I. ...read more.


Thus, Alexander II was caught in the middle of a crisis: on one hand he was expected to pacify the nobility, and on the other, to please the peasants. To limit ourselves to these failures would be wrong and unfair towards this autocratic leader. It was expected of him to carry out one of the most difficult tasks that could ever confront an absolute ruler, "to completely remodel the enormous state which had been entrusted to his care, to abolish an age-old order founded on slavery, to replace it with civil decency and freedom..." (56) The will to accept to changes is already a big alone a big deal, but to ask of him to turn back on the philosophy of his ancestors is too selfish of a request. Beyond a doubt, the political and social liberation that resulted from the reforms was not exactly how Alexander II had pictured it to be, yet it was liberation ...read more.


This claim can be substantiated when analysing the inconsistent nature of Czar Alexander II reforms. He acknowledged the necessity for improve the system that had failed his people in the Crimean War, however, he was quite confused and anxious when he came across the more radical implications of his reforms. In the words of David Saunders, "the laws which freed the serfs emerged from a process that the Tsar barely understood and over which he had only partial control" (55). All in all, many of policies instituted by Alexander II were unconvincing, yet these failures cannot overshadow efforts. The intentions behind the implementation of these reforms was essentially driven by his will to assist his people, and not for his own self-interest. And for this selflessness, he most certainly deserves the title of the "Great Reformer". ...read more.

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