Compare and Contrast the Policies of Alexander II and Alexander III

Authors Avatar

Abhishek Puri

History- HL


Compare and Contrast the policies of Alexander II and Alexander III

Tsar’s Alexander II and his son, Alexander III had different an entirely different ideology when it came to the question of reform. On one hand, Alexander II was a liberalist, this reflects in his reforms which include the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861- where twenty to thirty million serfs were emancipated on private estates and also domestic households and also the abolishment of capital punishment. Other reforms of Alexander II included the founding of the Zemstva- a system of local self-government.  On the other hand, successor Alexander III had a conservative ideology. He believed in the doctrines of Nationalism, Eastern Orthodoxy and autocracy. Alexander III often questioned his father’s reforms, which he thought were too liberal and diminish the power of autocratic leadership of the country. After his accession of the throne, Alexander III started a wave of “anti-reforms”, as he reversed his father’s liberal reforms. Tsars Alexander II and Alexander III differed on the level of Foreign policy, Judicial and Educational Reforms but they shared a sense of Russian Nationalism.

Both Tsars Alexander II and Alexander III had different view points on Foreign Policy. Alexander II pushed for military conquests and urged annexation of the nearest countries to augment the size of the Russian Empire. Through the advancement of the Russian army in the Caucuses, even more area was added to the empire. For example, the Russia military started a campaign against the khanate of Khiva. Consequently, in May 1873 the capital of the khanate of Khiva was captured by the Russian army and in August of the same year, the Khan of Khiva signed a peace treaty and recognized his county’s vassalage to the Russian Empire. Additionally, Alexander II pushed for military cooperation between Russia and Germany. As a result, in 1873, the Russian-German military convention was signed. Alexander II also led Russia successfully in the Russo-Turkish war of 1887. However, Alexander III tried to turn away from the cooperation with Germany and in addition; he stopped any conquests or waging of wars by the Russian Empire, unlike his paternal predecessor, Alexander II. Thus, Alexander III Foreign Policy played more of a peacemaking role unlike Alexander II’s which was very militarily aggressive.

Join now!

The sphere of judicial policy was also an area where there were big differences between the two Tsars. Alexander II was famous for his “great liberal reforms” where the Zemstva was established in 1864. Under this system rural districts and later large towns could be self-governed through a system of representation from different social strata. However, under Alexander III, the power under the Zemstva was acutely restricted. These administrative powers held previously by the Zemstva were handed to the Ministry of Interior in 1889.  Thus, Alexander III restricted what people could do in Russia and accumulated that power in his ...

This is a preview of the whole essay

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay


**/*** There are some good contrasts in this essay but there is a tendency for them to read as simple, implicit differences. The essay would benefit from better organisation and rigorous, critical analysis when discussing these two Tsars. There are many areas of comparison - both were Tsars with a divine right to rule. They both wanted the same goal for Russia but came at the problem from two different angles. Create a compare/contrast table before approaching an essay such as this and look at such factors as; political, economic, religious, social intellectual etc this will help organise your ideas more clearly and gives you a framework to follow in your answer. It also helps you work on a thesis which you can hang your argument off. Overall, some good points but a little one sided in favour of differences.