pg 879-895 - Pages 879-895 SPIRIT OF REFORM IN RUSSIA...

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Pages 879-895 SPIRIT OF REFORM IN RUSSIA Defeat in the Crimean War not only defeated Russia’s territorial ambition but also forced the country on a path of reform o Hundreds of peasant rebellions had erupted during the decade before the Crimean War o Serf defiance ranged from malingering while at forced labor to boycotting vodka to protest its heavy taxation Gripped with fear because everyone was expecting a serf uprising at any minute o Even though economic development was spreading through parts of eastern Europe, the Russian economy stagnated compared to many in western Europe Soil and food shortages depleted and nobility was arrogant of the suffering of their people o A Hunter’s Sketches by Ivan Tugenev contributed to the spirit of reform with sympathetic portrayals of serfs and frank depiction of brutal masters A Russian translation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin struck a positive response o The poor performance of serf-conscripted armies was found a disgrace and the system of serf labor was an intolerable liability after the loss of the Crimean War Emancipation of the Serfs Alexander proved more flexible than Nicholas I “Great Reforms” o Granted Russians new rights from above as a way of ensuring that violent action from below would not force change Most dramatic reform: o The emancipation of almost 50 million serfs beginning in 1861 o Terms : Communities of former serfs, headed by male village elders, received grants of land The community itself (called a mir ) had full power to allocate this land among individuals and to direct their economic activity Communal landowning and decision making prevented unlimited mobility and the development of a pool of free labor
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o Conditions attached to these land grants: Peasants were not given land along with their personal freedom: they were forced to “redeem” the land they farmed by paying the government through long-term loans, which in turn compensated the original landowners Nobility still owned most of the land, while the peasants ended up owning less land than they had as serfs Idealistic reformers believed that the emancipation of the serfs, once treated by the nobility virtually as livestock, had produced miraculous results The state reformed local administration, the judiciary, and the military o Government compensated the nobility for the loss of peasant services and set up zemstvos (regional councils through which aristocrats could direct neglected local matters such as education, public health and welfare) o Aristocrat dominance assured that the zemstvos would remain a conservative structure, but they became a countervailing political force to the distant central government Their vision broadened as they saw new ways of solving social and economic problems Judicial reform gave all Russians and some former serfs, access to modern civil courts, rather than leaving them at the mercy of a landowner’s version of justice or secret,
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course HIST 1010 taught by Professor Frazier during the Fall '05 term at Western Michigan.

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pg 879-895 - Pages 879-895 SPIRIT OF REFORM IN RUSSIA...

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