Analyse the reason for, and the nature of, opposition to tsardom in Russia between 1855 and 1894.
The period between 1855 and 1894 covered the reigns of Alexander II and his son, Alexander III. Both of these Tsars were opposed because of their autocratic nature of tsarist rule and the backward state of Russia, both economically and politically. Alexander II realised the danger to Tsardom and did introduce many reforms, most known for emancipating the serfs, to try and stem opposition, but he failed to introduce a national duma. Alexander III, shocked by his father's assassination, followed a policy of repression. The oppositions varied, they included political activists, revolutionaries, peasants and workers. Many of the nobles as well opposed various policies, especially the emancipation. Educational reforms also led to a series of riots and opposition to individual policies.
Alexander II could be considered as reactionary as his son, they both pursued similar aims: strengthening Russia and improving its international position while maintaining autocracy. Alexander III did follow some of his father's reforms but the economic progress during the 1880's and 1890's were crucial steps towards modernization. Alexander II could be seen as a reformer, a “Liberator”, whilst his son, a conservative reactionary.
There were many different reasons for why there was so much opposition towards tsardom. First of all, the nationalities: an example is the Polish revolt of 1863. There was a Polish desire for reforming the land and re-establishing a Polish nation. This led to protests and demonstrations, killing 200 thousand people. The Poles' planned conscription into the Russian army, led to a rebellion in February 1863, which lasted over a year in the countryside until it finally was put down by granting a land reform. This clearly showed that the people who weren't Russian blooded didn't accept nationalist aspirations within the Russian Empire. This then contributed to the use of Russification policies in the future.