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To what extent did Emancipation solve the problems of the peasantry for Tsarist society?

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To what extent did Emancipation solve the problems of the peasantry for Tsarist society? The Emancipation Decree of 1861 gave Russian peasants the right to buy land and serfdom (the Russian equivalent of landed slavery) was abolished. The peasantry were land dwellers and agricultural workers, they made up 82% of the population. Tsarist society consisted of the tsar (emperor) who governed all Russia. Russia contained mainly peasants while the upper class constituted 12%, the working class 4%, the commercial class 1.5% and the ruling class just 0.5% of the population. The Emancipation Decree of 1861 was issued to solve the problems of decreased productivity because of an increasing population. It was also as a result of the Crimean War of 1855-56 which motivated Tsar Alexander II to introduce Emancipation to help the Russian State. ...read more.


The Ministry of Interior reported 647 peasant riots in the first four months and 70 peasants were killed by troops at Bezdna in 1861. Also, many peasants had to rent more land from nobles, often on similar terms as under serfdom. Peasants still had special courts and did not posses full citizen rights and also a massive population put pressure on the land. Therefore Emancipation did not change much for the peasants and actually increased the amount of discontent and this lead to a economic spiral downwards where agricultural production was not revolutionised as many gentry were indebted and peasants improvished. The effect on Emancipation on the nobility was huge because they had been totally unprepared for existing in a competitive society without the serfs to rely on. Part of the reason for the generous compensation terms they received was that the government rushed to ensure their survival as a moderating force in Russian society in order to counteract more radical groups. ...read more.


For example most peasant farmers did not produce a natural surplus as the state hoped would create an industrialised society. Also peasants did not form a strong market for industrial goods as they were burdened by redemption and other payments. In conclusion group of essentially subsistence peasant farmers cannot be turned into modern agriculturists at a stroke. Such modernisation required more than just ridding the serfs of their domination by the nobility. It required a radical change in the social and economic structure and in the attitude of the peasantry towards these structures. The Tsar was not in a position to implement or to offer such a change, even if the peasants had been willing and able to accept it. Therefore the Emancipation act of 1861 had a far-reaching effect on Tsarist society by not solving the problem of the peasantry because of the economic, social and political effects. ...read more.

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