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Emancipation Of The Serfs Essay Help

By the nineteenth century, Russia was the only nation in Europe that still clung to the ways of feudalism. About fifty percent of Russian peasants were tied to a landowner as a "serf," a hereditary state that passed its slave-status to each successive generation.

However, in 1856, it became clear to all that Russia was no longer a great power, given its poor show in the Crimean War and its acute sense of backwardness. In response, Czar Alexander II issued the Emancipation Manifesto in 1861, which called for the freedom of all serfs. Peasants were newly able to buy land. The hope was that a transformation of the social order would begin and spark a market economy. "The Cherry Orchard" takes place during this period of difficult shifts, which required an intense ability to adapt to new modes of living.

A middle class rose to power, peopled by industrialists, businessmen, merchants, and other professionals, creating a new bourgeois consciousness. Simultaneously, the landed aristocracy declined.

Intentions of Alexander II and the Failure of the Emancipation of the Serfs

1480 Words6 Pages

Intentions of Alexander II and the Failure of the Emancipation of the Serfs

In the 19th century it was estimated that about 50 per cent of the 40,000,000 peasants in Russia were serfs, who worked on the land and were owned by the Russian nobility, the Tsar and religious foundations. This had been true for centuries; in 1861, however, this was all changed when Tsar Alexander II emancipated the serfs and gave them freedom from ownership. Alexander's decision was based on many reasons, and did not have the desired consequences, for the serfs at least. Therefore, it is possible to question Alexander's motives for such large reform, which this essay will do and will also look at why the emancipation,…show more content…

A large part of the problem was serfdom - Russia needed millions of industrial workers, to free up land and to force the nobility to relinquish power to a certain extent. The Tsar was also aware that much of western Europe looked on serfdom as being akin to slavery, and looked down on Russia as a result. As one historian has remarked:

'The strip system, involving the use of antiquated farming implements and techniques, had long ago been abandoned on the agriculturally advanced nations. Its continued use in Russia was a major reason why the nation could not meet it's food needs.'[1]

Alexander was also acutely aware of the threat of a serf uprising. Despite the general contentedness of the majority of serfs, there were a significant number who were not happy, and many groups of political activists, such as the Narodniks, had begun stirring up discontentment. In a population of 67 million, Russia had 23 million serfs belonging to 103,000 landlords. Serfs therefore outnumbered their landlords by over 200 to one, and so Alexander was right to be concerned about what might happen should a large uprising occur. His worries were plainly stated when he addressed the State Council in January 1861:

'It is

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