In what ways, and with what success, did Alex II attempt to modernise Russia and preserve imperial power?

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History Essay

In what ways, and with what success, did Alex II attempt to modernise Russia and preserve imperial power?

Tsar Alex II was placed into power in the conclusion of the Crimean War in 1856. His popularity was largely non-existent due to him announcing the end of the Crimean War. It stained Imperial Russia under his name which ultimately created the perception that he was a weak leader and that Russia was in danger. Alex II’s intentions were unlike the previous Tsar, he looked to restabilise Russia and to restore their name as a superpower.  To do this, he instated 8 reforms that targeted all aspects of society in the hopes of making Russia a contender against the Industrialised Western Europe aswell as to secure his power. These 8 reforms varied in success despite their intentions to eradicate the economic plight from Russia. There were reforms that aided in preserving Imperial power and others that damaged the idea of maintaining an Imperial Russia.

The first reform introduced to Russia by Alex II was the idea to for the Emancipation of the Serfs. It granted him the titles ‘The Liberator’ due to the seemingly generous sacrifice for the Serf population. His intention however, was to liberate the Serf population a on a small-scale in order to supress revolutionaries. Alex II saw that the Serf population was beginning to become restless and he knew that the only way that Tsardom could operate successfully was with the cooperation from the bottom of the social hierarchy. This reform provided plenty of positives, however the repercussions undermined the main theme of the reform; increased liberty for the Serf class. Alex II stated that Serfs were free to purchase their own properties and were not owned by Landlords, however, he did not mention that the prices of land would tie a family down onto a block for generations, and very rarely would a landlord give up land. Alex II had not anticipated such a powerful hostility between the landowners and the Serfs, this therefore resulted in a greater division between classes. These policies provided limited success for the preservation of Imperial Russia because with the Serf class becoming increasingly unhappy, the social hierarchy was at a risk which therefore threatened Tsardom. Alex II was initiated another policy under his Emancipation of the Serfs reform. It stated that Serfs could freely marry who they pleased and they could also own their own business. This policy provided immediate success due to more freedom being granted, however, in the long run, the Serf population were not familiar with possessing so much power. This inevitably caused numerous riots and uprisings due to the demand for more power. This was another example of how Alex II experienced limited success because despite having positive intentions, the outcome ultimately threatened Imperial Power of Russia. The Emancipation of the Serfs reform held some minor successes but was squandered due to the confounding variables that were unforeseen. An example of a reform that left Russia prospering were the Army Reforms

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By the end of 1896, the Imperial Russian Army was left shamed due to poor conduct and organisation. Russia was now exposed externally as well as internally. Alex II picked up from Nicholas that in order to preserve Imperial Power, he would need to amend the Russian Army. There was noticeable corruption plaguing the ranks as well as a disgraceful level of moral that dragged the entirety of Russia into a crippled state. The chain of command and poor leadership made communication difficult during exercises and campaigns. Alex II’s solution to this was to change the conscription age to 20 ...

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