In the Russia of the second half of the 19th century, millions of peasants lived in serfdom, a political system that had been present in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Many viewed Russia as a barbarian, uncivilized land. The Tsar at the time, Alexander II, tried to reform the system, while maintaining a state of autocracy, a sort of political evolution which the royal family believed would help them maintain power. The serfs, peasants who were neither educated, landowners or wealthy, were treated as slaves. The reforms put in motion by the Tsar tried to change this for the better, while keeping him in power.
A serf's life in Russia in the second half of the 19th century was comparable to that of dogs in Europe at the same time. They owned neither the land they laboured on, neither their right of way through the land. They belonged to the landowner for whom they worked, without even the right to marry the woman of their choice without their master's consent.
The tsar wanted to change this, for both moral and efficiency reasons. First, it would gain popularity with the peasants, the majority of the Russian population. Secondly. It would calm the unrest which had been present among the serfs for the previous century. Thirdly, it would give him a better image on the international level, encouraging commerce and trust.It would therefore allow him to push the country's economy forward and make him an honourable man for other nations to trust in.These reforms were to take place in the legal, military and governmental basis.They would allow the sers to be judged more fairly, have access to municipal councils and no longer force them into a long, 25-year long conscription.
In order to achieve this, the Tsar,