ALEXANDER III: Counter Reforms - Zemstvos

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ALEXANDER III
The voice of God orders us courageously to undertake the task of ruling,
with faith in the strength and rightness of autocratic power.
The Last True Autocrat of Russia
ALEXANDER III: The
Russian Bear
• Born in St. Petersburg on
Feb. 26, 1845
• Second son of Tsar
Alexander II
• Older brother, Nicholas,
died in 1865, making him
heir to throne
• Married the wife of his
older brother
• Father of 5 children:
Nicholas, George, Xenia,
Michael & Olga
ALEXANDER III: The
Russian Bear
• Assumed the throne and
role of Tsar in March 1881
due to assassination of
father, Alexander II
• Nicknamed the Russian
Bear. 6’4’’ tall (193 cm)
• Heavily influenced by the
conservative political and
religious views of his tutor,
Count Pobedonostsev
• Fierce nationalist and
defender of the autocracy.
Alexander III: The Royal Family
Michael, Marie Fedorovna, Alexander III, George, Olga, Xenia, & Nicholas
Alexander III: Influences Pobedonestsev
• Heavily influenced by
Konstantin
Pobedonestsev – tutor
of 3 different tsars.
• Staunch imperialist and
supporter of the tools
needed to run the
empire: Orthodoxy,
nationalism, &
conservative autocracy
ALEXANDER III:
INFLUENCES Pobedonestsev
• Taught to view liberal
reforms – constitution &
free press - as threat to the
state.
• Threats to the state should
be crushed
• Influenced by tutor to be
anti-semitic – Jews were
Christ Killers
• After the death of
Alexander II, reacts to the
reforms
ALEXANDER III: INFLUENCES –
ASSASSINATION OF ALEXANDER II
ALEXANDER III: INFLUENCES –
Assassination of Alexander II
• The assassination of his father occurred at a
critical moment
• Attempts on Alexander II’s life began in
earnest in 1866 forcing Tsar to isolate himself
and react more conservatively in last half of
reign
• Members of the People’s Will succeed in
assassinating Alexander II on March 1, 1881
• March 1, 1881 very significant day
ALEXANDER III:
INFLUENCES – Death of
Father
• Rage at father’s death
• Event would solidify the
reactionary tone of
Alexander III’s reign from
1881-1894
• Important point: Did not
support father’s reforms
ALEXANDER III:
Importance of Father’s
Death
• Weakness of policy of
reform
• Reformers wanted same
democratic rights as other
European countries
• Weakness of reform
spawned reform groups
(Land & Liberty, People’s
Will)
• Alexander II’s death ended
hope for reform from
above
ALEXANDER III: Personal Ideology
Becomes Policy
• Enraged at
• Determined to
assassination
strengthen the rule of
the tsars as a God given
• Reverses father’s
right
commitment to national
assembly & constitution • Known as reactionary
ruler and reign is Age
• Gives Accession
of Counter Reform
Manifesto (rightness of
autocracy, religious
• Political Ideology was
references, defines
one of 1 nationality,
faithful subject)
language, religion &
form of administration
ALEXANDER III: Counter Reforms
• Quickly began dismissing
any liberal proposals
within government
• Liberal judges and
officials sacked
• Tightened censorship of
press
• Exiled thousands of
revolutionaries to Siberia
ALEXANDER III: Counter Reforms Zemstvos
• Alexander II had created local political councils in
rural (zemstvos) and urban (dumas) areas.
• Alexander III believed that zemstvos impaired
position of nobility & endangered class structure.
• Appoints crown approved nobles ot serve as land
captains – would have admin & juridicial control.
• Segregates zemstvo elections on a class basis
(nobles, non-peasants, peasants)
• Result: Nobles represented 57%, 30% Peasants,
13% others of zemstvo seats. Nobility clearly
dominant.
ALEXANDER III: Counter Reforms Zemstvos
• Voting for nobles and others in zemstvo required
land ownership
• Women & Jews disenfranchised
• Decisions of zemstvos had to be approved by
Minister of Interior
• Crown officials decided if decisions were
dangerous to public or local interests
• Prevented from raising own money – provincial
governors in control of finances now
ALEXANDER III: Counter Reforms
Political Liberties
• After assassination, state
of emergency declared
(martial law)
• Govt. administrators
given extra-judicial and
executive powers.
• Could: issue fines without
court appeal, make
arrests, confiscate
property.
• Legal jurisdiction given to
military tribunals
• Land Captains took over
as justice of the peace as
justices were sacked.
• Huge #’s of people
disenfranchised: landless,
bulk of urban population,
Jews
• In Jewish Pale of
Settlement 1/10 of
officials were Jewish
• Autonomy of universities
eliminated
ALEXANDER III: COUNTER REFORMS
The Peasantry – Still in Bondage
• 1881, redemption made
compulsory for all peasants
• Peasants needed consent
from owners to leave
villages, even if they had
paid redemption fees
• 2/3 of zemstvo had to
approve breakup of any
household
• Peasants could not
withdraw from commune
• Land captains decided
partitioning of lands
ALEXANDER III: COUNTER REFORMS
Urban Workers Misery
• 50% of workers worked in
large factories – 1000+
workers
• Government intervention
for disputes between
workers and owners
• Stiff penalties for strikes
• 1890, government
inspectors given right to
use child labor and nighttime work for women
ALEXANDER III: Counter
Reforms
Russification
• Russification of all
elements of Russian society
introduced
• Imposition of Russian
language and schools on all
national minorities
(Germans, Poles, Finns,
etc.)
• Use of Russian mandatory
by local officials and in
courts
ALEXANDER III: Counter Reforms
Russification
“Trying to stamp out the native language was
not just an insulting and demoralizing
policy… it was ridiculous as well. Polish
students at Warsaw University, for example,
had to suffer the absurd indignity of studying
their own native literature in Russian
translation.”

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