To what extent did Alexander II succeed in his attempts to modernize Russia?

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Paschalis Kitsikopoulos

To what extent did Alexander II succeed in his attempts to modernize Russia?

In 1855, European countries had to deal with many difficulties. By that time, a major imbalance was existing in and between all countries. A detonation of economy and technology was disturbing even the biggest nations of Europe. All countries were intimidated by the greatest power of the time, Japan and India. Russia was an enormous country, however, it wasn't very advanced as far as the technology, the economy and the organization of the country were concerned. Thus, in an attempt for a more modern functioning of the nation, Alexander II was authorized to make the appropriate changes.

According to Alexander II, the first change that should be made in the country was to overcome all the harms that occurred after the Crimean war. This war caused a big harm to the country of Alexander II, since Russia was beat by Turkey, and missed the only chance to move to the Mediterranean Sea.

Therefore, Alexander concentrated on these factors that would cause disorganization, and thus he was given the chance to start modernizing the country.

To begin with, in 1861, Alexander gave to Russia the great advance of freedom to the serfs. This liberation benefited in more than one ways the Russian nation. Firstly, from then on, people were allowed to start a family without a permission needed from the government. Furthermore, citizens were allowed to emprise their properties and started businesses, and consequently to own land. These actions were expected to solve the issues that existed, but instead they resulted to a failure since they did not reach their primary objectives. The serfs weren't satisfied because even though they were now free, they still weren't able to own land, which disappointed them. Even the serfs from the private estates, that they were given land, were unsatisfied as well because of the unsatisfactory land that charged high taxes, impossible to pay. Alexander's emphasis however, was given to strength up the military of Russia, which had weakened very much during the Crimean war. From then on, men were allowed to enter the military forces and get trained which would help them react faster and better in case of crisis.

Although, the creation of Zemstvos was another reform that Alexander II established. This reform was in places, which had an incredible amount of wealth and had the ability to undertake this assignments. Zemstvos were local councils, which had the right to provide services like building roads, schools and Hospital.

Alexander II also introduced reforms in the educational and cultural regions. Firstly, he usurped the censorship that existed before his reign in press and will and, thus, embraced a more liberal political system. However, this reform was after an attempt of assassination of the Czar, even though it was not as severe as it used to be. In addition, the government stopped universities and they tried to inject conservative policies to the schools, although this reform failed due to the lack of resources and objections of some liberal teachers and citizens.

In the military, Russia was aided through the introduction of the Emancipation of the serfs, who would collect an army able to help in any time. However, although the weapons were modernized, up to a point, the Russian military failed to keep up with the development of technology and industry that was taking place in the rest of the world. Nevertheless, Russia failed to make a good military force, so they weren't successful there industrial strength.

In the economic reforms, he made a State Bank in 1866. The ministry also established the ''Peasant Land Bank'', which helped peasants to buy their lands and help them in their movements. But there was a new bank created by the nobles that Nobles' Land Bank, which opposed the former bank.

Even if Alexander II make new lows, who took some ideas form the reforms, he failed to achieve his goals. His did succeed to make Russia a strong military power, because he didn't try new ways to help it. His reforms didn't help the majority of the people but only small parts of the community (i.e. Emancipation of serfs).The workers wanted better working conditions and some of them wanted their freedom. Since the Russian people were totally against conservatism he didn't satisfy any of their demands. This lead to the creation of secret societies and to increasing revolutionary spirit in Russia, which Alexander felt he had to limit. All this factors affected his failure and ended up in his assassination in 1881, by a policeman. His death had three main consequences, which would affect the Russian history. The first was that by his death, his successors in the Russian throne, in order to avoid having the same fate, used repression, conservative policies and policy brutality, which lead to a new wave of disregard by the citizens. The second consequence was that his assassination raised racist and anti-semitic feelings. The third he failed to introduce his new upcoming reform, which was the introduction of an elected parliament

Incompletion, Alexander took a great part in the development of the Russian government and his reforms were very import. Although, his reforms were liberal, they failed to prevent his assassination. Since, his reforms were found unsatisfactory for his people and since his death lead to greater grievances, his whole reign just temporarily extended the life of Tsardom, which was finally arrived in to an end after the death of one of his great successors, Nicholas II.