Last Updated 17 Aug 2022

How Did Alexander Iii Reverse the Reforms of Alexander Ii?

Category Reforms
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Improvements in green To what extent did Alexander III reverse the reforms of his predecessor Alexander II? In many respects, there is no doubt that Alexander III was the most effective Tsar in such the short reign that he had. He was referred to as a reactionary, unlike his father Alexander II who was known as a reformer. He managed to please the people with his Russian figure and attitude, he changed their attitude and he made tsarism look all the better, all in a short period of time.

Despite their different policies, they had the same goals/ambitions inside their head in the long run, and that was to strengthen Autocracy in the Russian empire but Alexander III did this by reversing what his father had done as he felt he knew better ways of dealing with the situation and strengthening the Tsarist position. The first thing that Alexander III did when he came into power to contradict his fathers reforms was to recall the decision of creating the constitution.

Alexander III was a firm believer of the absolute power and judgment that autocracy and Russian history owned, he felt that Russia should stick to their traditional rules and the way things were run. Alexander put thins in to change this but Alexander III would not allow this and so reversed some of what he had done to make sure the Russian tradition stayed in place. He felt that a democratic Parliament was such a western way to think, NOT Russian. He preferred the principles of personal rule and he was so firm on this, he distrusted the bureaucracy.

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This lead to him wanting to be around conservative ministers such a Pobodenostev because he knew that if he was surrounded by the right people with the same mind has him, they too would want to reverse the reforms of Alexander II unlike the ones that he usually were with which was a mix of conservative and Liberal ministers that were influencing the changes in the first place. For many the many years that Alexander II tried to boost the tolerance of other religions, Alexander III abolished this straight away by demanding that Orthodox was the correct and Russian way to be thinking.

This was probably due to the really strict views that his top advisor, Pobedonostev had. Pobedonostev managed to get all the primary schools under church rule and he also made sure that peasants and workers children would not be allowed into secondary school. This was to prevent any people knowing too much and finding out that maybe they way they are being governed isn’t the right way to go about. This totally goes against the Elementary School Statute of 1864 and it meant that the local zemstva weren’t in charge of funding them anymore as they were on the brink of knowing too much.

Talking about education, Alexander III and Pobedonostev went against the 1863 University Statute that Alexander II welcomed which allowed universities to govern themselves and have their own sense of governing for the faculty and students. This is because conservative ministers that were around the Tsar felt that giving the people too much education was very dangerous as they’d learn to fight for themselves and find out about things that they probably would prefer they didn’t. This was reversed because Alexander III felt that Alexander II only did this to please the people and Liberal ministers that were influencing him.

In 1870 zemstva reform was introduced for the people. This was for the people and they were allowed to be in control of education and road building in their local areas. This idea became very successful and even with the little power it had, it spread amongst much of Russia. This meant that it was a wider spread issue for Alexander III to deal with. Alexander III didn’t like this because he knew that the zemvsta were education people rather generously and this was dangerous as be believe that there should be the lower class of people so Tsarism could swarm and reign effectively.

The Tsar couldn’t reign properly though with them in play because they were there for the local people and so the local people would only deal with the Zemstva and not higher up figures. When he came into power (Probably also with the help and guidance of Pobedonostev) he got rid of and restricted a lot of power that the zemstva had. He kept them so it made the people think that they had some form of power and influence but they didn’t really have that influence they thought they had. He knew that this was kind of working because the people didn’t coplain as much, they knew that they had the pportunity to do something about it and so decided that they were happy with what they had as it was a giant leap up from nothing anyway. He made Land Captains (as they were known) the most important members of each zemstva area and these people had the most power and say as they reported directly to the minister of the interior. They made sure that nothing went over the top or in any way threatened the Tsar. This is proof that the Zemstva lost power to what Alexander II had gave them so that the Tsar was stronger all due to Alexander III reversing the reform, to a reasonable extent.

In 1870, Alexander made the reform of having trials that weren’t that bias and allowed Trail by Jury. This made the system fairer and meant that the people wouldn’t complain as much because the jurys consisted or your ‘ordinary’’ Russians. This meant that every trial was fair and easier to make a judgment on because you didn’t have conservative people making the judgment or people that were bias towards the tsar. This was to please the people however Alexander II didn’t realise that this was dangerous because he had put the public in the position yet the public don’t actually like the Tsar.

Alexander III realised this because he spotted a case that was clearly one sided as the ‘ordinary Russians’ didn’t like the Tsarist reign much and so in a case where a radical extremist, Vera Zasulich was being trialed for shooting a police chief, was excused. To prevent any more ‘wrong’ verdicts from 1890 the government exercised the right to choose juries. Then there was the Statute of State Security in which courts had the right to detain and try political opposition members without the use of a jury as sympathy would be in play and this wasn’t the Tsarist way of dealing with things.

Alexander III reversed the whole way that the court and opposition was dealt with and make it completely different to what Alexander II did. Alexander III didn’t reverse everything that his father put in place, infact, some things he rather embraced. He love how his father brought in the The Universal Military Training act of 1874. He felt that a strong military was a really good way of dealing with problems in Russia. It made them look really strong and an empire that shouldn’t be looked lightly upon and weak. This was a crutial re enforced reform because the Russian people and army ad lost moral due to the loss of the Crimean war to the British. They knew that they were such a large country yet they failed to win a war that was theirs for the taking. It was humiliating to them. He also didn’t reverse the reforms of Alexander II Russification programme. He felt that Russification was a really good way to be able to make the whole of the Russian empire, RUSSIAN in full. Have the same attitudes and everything. But one thing that he added was the Jewish Programmes. He made sure that the population was educated into believing that Jews were wrong and shouldn’t play a part in Russian society as they only caused problems.

This made the whole picture of Russia much stronger for Alexander III and this is due to the re enforcement of Russification so in this case, he did not reverse the reform atall. Overall, I think that Alexander III did reverse many things that his father did because he felt he could make a stronger Russia based upon tradition and brute Russian attitude. I think however that due to him being so un prepared for such a powerful role in such a difficult time was the reason to why he made such irrational decisions.

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