Alexander II Tsar Liberator Essay Research

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Alexander II : Tsar Liberator? Essay, Research Paper To first assess what the question really asks, we have to extrapolate on the meanings of the word “liberator”. The official definition of the word “liberate” is “to set at liberty: free; “i. We are then drawn to the meaning of the word “free”. This can have many meanings. But, in my opinion, the most important are those that follow: it can mean having the legal and political rights of a citizen, enjoying civil or political independence, the capability of choosing for oneself without restriction from another. So if we are again to contemplate the nature of this title, we can take it to mean several things. These are as follows: that the effect of the Tsar’s actions was to endow his people with freedom. This

freedom means several things: that they had the liberties and rights of free men, that they were now free to act as they wished, they were free from certain massive restrictions such as want to a certain degrees, and that they were also able to choose their own path without political or economic interference. Another major presumption we have to make is that we are not merely contained to the serfs: we need to discuss the lateral impact of the social changes. These social changes affected many different peoples and groups in different ways. But by far the largest upheaval was that of the effect of the emancipation on the serfs. Perhaps the clearest argument for the accolade of “Tsar Liberator” going to Alexander is his involvement of the emancipation of the serfs. In 1861,

the emancipation edict was decreed. In theory it gave perfect freedom to the millions of Serfs and State Peasants. But on closer inspection this was not true. The real terms of the emancipation edict give peasants a limited amount of freedom in terms of rights, but in other arenas they would see new restrictions imposed. They were now given free legally, and had the right to trade, act as they wished, and marry whom they liked. This in itself is a monumentous achievement, and if we think in this vein, then yes, Alexander should be deemed the Tsar Liberator. The argument is even more compelling when we think of the freedom they gained from the brutal, oppressive landlords. The cases of landlords such as Saltykova, who brutally tortured her subjects, were bound to never happen

again, as would the exiling of serfs to Siberia. But although in these areas, the serfs did gain freedom, in other arenas they lost them. Beforehand the peasants had complete job security. They had all the access to common ground, to woods and to grazing land, and good fertile soil. The exploitation they suffered was only very little, and seldom. Only one hundred and seven peasants were sent to Siberia every year, out of a serf population of twenty millionii. Sexual exploitation was the exception, not the rule. According to one British traveller to Russia in the nineteenth century, the lot of the Russian Peasant was “more enviable than our own.”iii After emancipation, they lost many of their rights. Beforehand, they could farm as much land as they wished. However, after

emancipation, the edict decreed that they were to be given one third of the land they had previously farmed. As this was to be chosen by the landlord, who did not have altruistic motives behind him, the serf was given the most infertile land possible, and even this was limited in quantity. But this land was not free. The serf would have to pay over the odds for the land, and for the loss of his “industrial” production through Redemption Payments. These crippling costs meant that the situation they were in was virtually the same as before. They were tied to the land, and could not leave until they had paid off these excessive fines. This was assured by the Mir, which I shall deal with later. To compensate for this, one would expect that the freedom one would receive would be