• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14

Serfdom – Emancipation, etc

Extracts from this document...


History Revision Notes Serfdom - Emancipation, etc Graham Stephenson: History of Russia 1812-1945 The economic basis of the nobility was the land. By the beginning of the 19th century private estates were everywhere worked by peasant serfs, who were by far the most numerous class in the State, and who were entirely deprived of political and personal rights. The bonds of serfdom had been strengthened during the 18th century with the intention of compensating the nobility for their lack of political power. But the direction of policy changed with the accession of Alexander I in 1801. From that date the autocrats, at first timidly and then with desperate courage, attacked serfdom because it was inhumane, because it was inefficient, and because it gave too much social influence to the nobility. Emancipation came in 1861; the long delay perhaps being testimony to the obstinacy of the nobility. The peasant question festered for too long. It helped to set the intelligentsia against the State and prevented Russia from taking steps towards industrialisation at an early date. Defeat in 1812 might even have been an advantage; the total victory over Napoleon strengthened the arguments of those who claimed that Russian institutions were not in need for reform. There were widespread fears that Nap. would provoke social war in Russia by declaring emancipation during his march to Moscow. He failed to do so and the peasants fought with courageous patriotism. In spite of the condition to which he had been reduced - in practice little short of slavery - the Russian peasant retained a superstitious veneration for the person of the Tsar, seeing in him the personal representative of God. Evils were usually blamed upon the landowner and even when the peasant did revolt - an event which had occurred frequently during the 18th century and which was to occur still more frequently during the nineteenth - he frequently 'discovered' a 'true' Tsar and claimed that the actual occupant of the throne was a usurper. ...read more.


Public auction and advertisement were forbidden, serf-owners could no longer send their serfs to penal servitude in Siberia, and an attempt was made to prevent the wealthy from purchasing serf-substitutes for military service. Alex also tried an experiment in emancipation in the Baltic provinces. Between 1816-19 the serfs were freed by without any land allotment. The land became the outright property of the nobles who were able, following the English model, to establish a new middle-class of tenant farmers on their estates. The experiment did not satisfy the peasants and the Baltic provinces remained a centre of discontent. Nick was also much concerned with the serf problem. Its humanitarian aspect did not trouble him but he hated the disorder caused by peasant revolts (which were frequent in the 1830s) and the loss of poll tax and rent revenues to the State. His response was a bureaucratic one. A 5th section of the Imperial Chancery was created especially to deal with the problems of state peasants. It was entrusted to the 'liberal' Kiselyov, an energetic general of the sort much employed during this reign. It was hoped that the improved condition of the state peasants would encourage the private owners to improve the lot of their serfs. Kiselyov removed the state peasants - now declared to be 'free inhabitants' from the control of the existing administrative system, and placed them directly under the Ministry of State Properties. This seemed in itself a very large change since it concerned about one third of the total population of Russia, but its significance should not be overrated. Such a change was typical of the bureaucratic mentality of that period. It was thought that to create a new Ministry was in itself a major achievement. In fact, all that happened was that a few officials and files moved out of the Ministry of the Interior into the new ministry. ...read more.


They were better educated than they had been in 1861. Their grievances were focused and expressed by educated revolutionaries. They had closer links with the towns. They travelled more, they were less superstitious, less fatalistic. They were disappointed by the results of the long-awaited emancipation. Since that had evidently not worked, what was to come next? They witnessed the flight of the landlords from the countryside and, as the landlords disappeared, the peasants grew used to helping themselves. More and more land came under peasant control and was subjected to inefficient peasant agricultural methods. The peasants distrusted authority, for they knew from experience that authority meant trouble. The landlord flogged, the bureaucrat cheated and extorted, and the soldier shot. Witte was among the first to grasp the meaning of this rising tide of anarchy. His solution was to create a new class of rural capitalists, who would remain loyal to the social order because it was in their economic interest to do so. Lenin, a mind equally acute, observed the same symptoms but drew quite different conclusions. The peasantry had become in his view a revolutionary class. He saw that he could use them to destroy the bonds of society and thus give him the chance to seize political power. The Foreign Grain Trade: profound changes in ag. post 1905 by Stolypin. Necessary to examine Russia's foreign grain trade. Yet another burden laid upon peasantry by remorseless State. Russia under later Romanovs presented same picture as Ireland during potato famine of 1846 - while people starving ports carrying on brisk export trade in food. Beginning of century 10% of total value of exports was grain. By 1850 - 30%; 50% 1870-1900; 55% 1913. During most of century Russia greatest grain-exporting country in world. Some grain came from large estates viz in south, but most from peasant farms. Primitive Russian ag. had to compete in world markets with mechanised and fertilised grain lands of old/new worlds - the empty lands of N. America had higher yield than overcrowded arable area of Russia. India & Russia had same level of ag. efficiency. 2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics 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 GCSE Politics essays

  1. Comparing the German and Russian systems of government

    In Germany it is the Chancellor who decides who should be appointed in the German cabinet and then requests the president employ his choices. The only way a Chancellor can be dismissed is if they receive a vote of no confidence from the Bundestag and that is very uncommon.

  2. "The Colonisation of Africa was Inevitable in the Late Nineteenth Century" Discuss.

    Europe's market was treated by protectionism (Germany in particular). Colonial Powers also applied protectionism to their colonies in Asia, the Americas and Australia, which were either closed to non-owning countries or simply already saturated with European goods. The process of industrialisation and the growing industrial output rapidly elevated the needed amounts of raw materials.

  1. Devolution, is the granting of power by a superior authority to a minor authority. ...

    In fact government is far more effective for this extra tier of bureaucracy, and this money spent will in theory improve the efficiency of public services. In actuality, examples in other countries embody success. In Switzerland's semi-autonomous cantons for example and Germany and Spain, there is effective co-operation between local and national governments.

  2. What were the causes of the 1905 Russian Revolution? How successful was this revolution?

    They were uneducated and many could not afford to rent a house - this led to many of them living in the factory in which they worked. In 1898 the Social Democratic Party (S.D.P) was formed under the leadership of Gregory Plekhanov, Vladimir Liych Ulyanov (Lenin)

  1. DanielO’Connell – 1775 – 1847

    > The petition of 1805 The petition on 1805 was the first time O'Connell came into prominence of Irish politics as one of the framers. The petition was in favour of removal of Roman Catholic disabilities, this was of course rejected.

  2. To what extent was religion the main causeOf rebellion in the reign of Henry ...

    down, the seizure of goods and the introduction of new taxes The Lincolnshire Rebellion was lead mainly by the gentry, which meant that there was a high level of leadership within the rebellion. So, the rebels could be lead in an organised fashion, and wouldn't lead to a great panic on a battlefield if it came to it.

  1. Critically evaluate/assess the achievements of Sergei Witte and their consequences for the social groups ...

    payment on foreign loans and the increase of publics spending, import tariffs put up prices in Russia. This had a direct negative affect on the already oppressed peasants and laboring classes due to paying indirect high tax rates and low wages.

  2. British History Coursework: The Irish Famine 1845-1849

    To limit the number of people seeking relief, and the expense to the British government, The Poor Law Extension Act of 1847 was introduced by Lord Russell's government. One section of this, "The Gregory Clause" stated that no tenant holding more than a quarter acre of land was eligible for public assistance.

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