emancipation of the serfs

Tsar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias (1868 - 1918)

“What am I going to do? What is going to happen to me, to you, to Alix, to Mother, to all Russia?“

Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov was born on May 6, 1868, in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, south of St. Petersburg. He was the eldest son of his parents, Alexander Alexandrovich, the heir to the Russian throne, and Princess Dagmar of Denmark. Nicolas’s grandfather was the Tsar, Alexander II, known as the Liberator for emancipating Russia’s serfs in 1863. Their family, the Romanov dynasty, had ruled Russia for three hundred years. Nicholas would be the last emperor.

Unlike his soft-hearted, liberal grandfather, Nicholas’s father was a reactionary, whose conservative and religious values strongly influenced Nicholas’s beliefs. In 1891, Nicholas’s father acceded to the throne when Alexander II was murdered by an anarchist revolutionary. This murder convinced both Alexander III, and his son, against offering further reforms. Yet Nicholas’s education did not prepare him at all for his future role as Russian emperor.

Although he had a close relationship with his mother, Nicholas’s father believed his son to be silly and weak. Tsar Alexander III was a very strong ruler and saw no need to share a job with his uninterested heir. He refused to let him participate in any affairs of state; once, when Nicholas was twenty-five, a minister suggested that he be allowed to head a committee to supervise the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Alexander III was incredulous. “Have you ever tried to discuss anything of consequence with him?” asked the Tsar about his son and heir. “He is still absolutely a child; he has only infantile judgements. How would he be able to become president of a committee?”

The Romanov family in 1893. From left to right: Tsarevich Nicholas, Grand Duke George, Empress Maria Feodorovna (Princess Dagmar of Denmark), Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Xenia, Grand Duke Michael, Tsar Alexander III seated.

In neither his education nor his temperament did Nicholas show much aptitude to be emperor. He enjoyed foreign languages and history, but struggled with economics and politics. In general he preferred sport to books, when older he delighted in the military and served for a year when he was nine-teen. In 1894 he married Princess Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt, a German noble, with whom he had four daughters and a son, Alexei. Alexandra was an assertive woman whose personality dominated the weaker Nicholas, and she strongly reinforced his belief in autocratic rule and his resistance to democratic reforms. In contrast to his political life, Nicholas’s home life was serene. He was a wonderful family man, a devout Orthodox Christian, and devoted to his wife and children.

The same year that he married, Nicholas became the Tsar when his father died of kidney disease. The newly-crowned emperor had not expected to be thrust into the role so soon, and he panicked about running the vast Russian empire all by himself. It was the moment, he wrote, that he “had dreaded all his life.” He confessed his fears to a cousin: “Sandro, what am I going to do? What is going to happen to me, to you, to Alix, to Mother, to all Russia? I am not prepared to be Tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling. I have no idea of even how to talk to ministers.”

Nicholas determined to uphold the status quo as Tsar, but unfortunately evens abroad and at home forced his hand. Hoping not to be left out of the imperial scramble, Russia grew its industry in the Far East, and forced concessions from China in Manchuria. Yet Russian’s expansion provoked the Japanese, who attacked Russia’s eastern border in 1904, beginning the Russo-Japanese War. Europeans were convinced that the white Russians would easily triumph over the “yellow” Japanese, but the Japanese embarked on a series of victories ending in the total destruction of the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tshushima in 1905.

Nicholas and Alix’s engagement photo, 1894.

The defeat was a stunning humiliation for Russian prestige. At home it sparked outrage and crisis that turned to strikes and riots. In January 1905, Russian troops opened fire on demonstrators in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, killing many. Outrage turned to outright revolution, and eventually the Tsar was forced to grant concessions in a constitution, as well as establish an elected parliament, the Duma.

Despite some elements of democratic reform, Nicholas tightened his autocratic rule. Secret police crushed revolutionary elements in the cities, and voting laws prevented the election of radicals. A travel guide for foreigners published in 1914 warned against taking photos in rail stations - offenders would be arrested.

The Tsar’s most pressing crisis, however, was at home. His son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei, had hemophilia, the scourge of interbred European royal families. Nicholas and Alexandra despaired for their child and sought any means to help him. They turned to an unlikely source, a disheveled mysticfrom Siberia named Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin’s monasticism belied his true character, that of a debauched womanizer and con-man. Russian noble society despised him, but Alexandra especially confided in him, and Rasputin strengthened her belief in Nicholas’s divine right to rule. His influence steadily eroded the trust Russian people felt for their Tsar.

Nicholas (left) with his cousin King George V of England. They are wearing German military uniforms while on a visit to Berlin. Despite their likeness, George refused to help Nicholas or offer him asylum during the Russian Revolution, fearing that he might be toppled as well.

Nicholas’s failing popularity received a boost in 1914, when Russia went to war against Germany and Austria. Although Nicholas was close to his cousin, the Kaiser (they wrote to each other as “Nicky” and “Willy”), Russians enlisted en masse and displayed loyalty and love for their royal family. Yet endless failures at the front burst newfound support for the Tsar, especially when Nicholas took over from his cousin as supreme commander in 1915, a position in which he demonstrated no talent. The unending string of military disaster was now firmly pinned on him. Worse, economic deprivations at home soon turned into crisis. Russia was deeply in debt and many were starving. Approval of the royal family soured; they were thought to be living in luxury while ordinary Russians died at the front or starved at home.

In March 1917 (February of the old Russian calendar), demonstrations in St. Petersburg (now Petrograd) again turned to revolution. This time, Nicholas had no army to turn to - the military was in a state of collapse, with many soldiers deserting to go back home and take part in the revolution. Helpless, Nicholas abdicated on March 15, 1917. He hoped to go to England for asylum, but the British government (fearing he might provoke the British left) refused his request. Five hundred years of Russian Tsardom ended with NIcholas.

A shaky liberal-socialist Provisional Government was set up to replace the monarchy, but the war continued to go badly. Nicholas went into house arrest in the Urals with his family. His situation worsened in the fall of 1917, when a radical communist party, the Bolsheviks, ousted the Provisional Government. Civil war began in Russia between the Bolshevik “Reds” and the “Whites”, a complex mix of warlords and political parties who opposed the Bolsheviks.

The Russian royals played no role in the Civil War, but the Bolsheviks feared that the Tsar and his family could become a symbol for the White armies to rally around. Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children were transported to a house in Yekaterinburg for safe-keeping, but in the summer of 1918 the war was going poorly for the Reds and the Czech Legion, a unit of the White army, was rapidly advancing towards Yekaterinburg.

Nicholas in captivity at Tsarskoye Selo. This is one of the last photos taken in his life.

On the night of July 16-17, as the Czechs neared, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin ordered the execution of the royal family. What actually happened is still shrouded in some state secrecy, but what is known is that a truckload of local Bolsheviks and foreign soldiers entered the house and ordered the ex-Tsar and his family to the basement. The Empress asked for chairs for her and thirteen-year-old Alexei to sit upon. The Red commander brought in two chairs, and then informed the stunned Tsar that he had been condemned to death. “What? What?” asked the Tsar. The executioners brought out revolvers and began shooting the family. The four daughters, between twenty-two and seven-teen years old, had been hiding some of their jewels in their clothes which deflected the bullets. The Bolshevik shooters stabbed them with bayonets and shot them in their heads, and stabbed to death their maid, who had shielded herself with a pillow full of jewels.

The executioners burnt, dismembered, and buried the bodies. In 1976 a team of investigators found their grave, but did not release the information until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rumors had long abounded that one of the daughters, seven-teen year-old Anastasia, had survived and escaped the massacre, which were put to rest. In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the family as saints; today the place where they were buried is the site of a church.

IMPORTANT EVENTS AND THEIR DATES IN MODERN EUROPEAN HISTORY

1453  Constantinople is sacked by Muslim forces

1488  Bartolomeu Diaz rounds the Cape of Good Hope

1492  Columbus encounters the Americas (God, Glory and Gold.)

1517  Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses

1520  Diet of Worms declares Martin Luther an outlaw

1524-1525  The Peasants’ Revolt takes place in Germany

1534  Act of Supremacy passed in England → Henry VIII becomes head of the Anglican Church

1545  Council of Trent begins The Counter Reformation

1555  Peace of Augsburg (cuius regio, eius religio →whose region, his religion)

1585-1589  War of the Three Henries in France

1588  Spanish Armada destroyed by the English and “The Protestant Wind”

1603  Elizabeth I Dies → Tudor Dynasty Ends and the Stuart Dynasty Begins

1618-1648  The Thirty Years War (Treaty of Westphalia ends the war in 1648)

1642-1646  English Civil War (Roundheads vs. the Cavaliers)

1649  Charles I is executed → Oliver Cromwell begins his rule

1660  Stuart Restoration in England through Charles II

1688-1689  Glorious Revolution in England→ William and Mary of Orange replace James II and sign the English Bill of Rights

1643-1715  Era of Louis XIV  The Sun King (l’etat c’est moi)

1689-1725  Reign of Peter the Great in Russia

1756-1763  The Seven Years War

1789-1799  Era of the French Revolution (Radical Stage → late 1792-1795)

1799  Napoleon comes to power

1805-1815  Napoleonic Wars are waged

1814-1815  The Congress of Vienna meets (Main principles: Legitimacy, Conservatism, Compensation & Balance of Power)

1819  Peterloo Massacre in England

1830  Belgian Independence

1832  Reform Bill in England Passed

1848  Revolutions break out across Western Europe (France, Austria, Italy and Germany)

1861  Serfs emancipated in Russia under Alexander II

1870-1871  Germany and Italy Unification

1884-1885  Berlin Conference is held (“Scramble for Africa”)

1894  Tsar Nicholas II comes to power in Russia (the last of the Romanovs)

1905  Sunday Bloody Revolution in Russia → “The Dress Rehearsal”

1914  Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated → WWI starts

1917  March and November (Bolshevik) Revolutions in Russia

1918  Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed →Russia withdraws from war

1918  WWI ends

1919  Treaty of Versailles is signed

1918-1921  Russian Civil War (Reds vs. Whites)

1922  Mussolini comes to power in Italy and establishes the 1st Fascist government

1922  Russia officially becomes known as the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) → The Soviet Union

1923  Adolf Hitler leads the Beer Hall Putsch in Germany

1924  Lenin dies

1928  Stalin is firmly entrenched as the leader of the Soviet Union → begins the first of several 5 year plans

1929  Stock Market Crash in the US → The Great Depression begins

1933  Hitler comes to power in Germany

1938  Munich Conference (Peace in our time→Neville Chamberlain)

1939  World War II starts with Germany’s invasion of Poland

1945  World War II ends (V-E Day → May 8, 1945 and V-J Day → August 15, 1945)

1945  First session of the United Nations is held

1945-1989  Cold War (U.S. vs. S.U. begins and begins to end in Poland)

POST WW II  Decolonization → European colonies become independent

1946  Winston Churchill gives the “Iron Curtain” speech

1948-1949 Operation Vittles→the Berlin Airlift

1949  USSR successfully tests first atomic bomb

1951  European Coal and Steel Community formed (sounds like the Zollverein)

1953  Stalin dies and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev → destalinization begins

1954  French forces defeated in French-Indochina at Dien Bien Phu

1956  Hungarian revolt against the Soviet Union → it is crushed by the Soviets

1957  Rome Treaty is signed → The European Economic Community (EEC) is created = Common Market

1957  Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union → the first space satellite

1958  The fifth Republic is born in France and Charles de Gaulle becomes President

1961  Berlin Wall built → dividing East and West Berlin

1961  Soviet Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

1962  Cuban Missile Crisis → 90 miles off the coast of Florida

1963  Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is published

1964  Leonid Brezhnev becomes leader of the Soviet Union

1966  Under President Charles de Gaulle, France withdraws from the common NATO military command

1968  “Prague Spring” occurs in Czechoslovakia → it is crushed by the Soviets

1968  Student revolt in France (Paris)

1978  Pole Karol Wojtyla elected Pope → Pope John Paul II → 1st non-Italian in 455 years

1979  Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of England (“The Iron Lady”) (Mags loathes no one more than this heinous twat)

1979  The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (eventually becomes their own “little Vietnam”)

1980  1st independent labor union in the Soviet Bloc formed  “Solidarity” led by Lech Walesa of Poland

1980  Ronald Reagan elected President of the US (calls the Soviet Union an “evil empire”)

1985  Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader (implements policies of perestroika and glasnost)

1986  Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident in the Soviet Union (specifically the Ukraine)

1989  Berlin Wall comes down

1989  The “Velvet Revolution” occurs in Czechoslovakia → Vaclav Havel becomes President

1989  The Soviet Union withdraws its forces from Afghanistan

1989  Romanian leader Nicolai Ceausescu is overthrown and killed

1990  Lech Walesa becomes President of Poland

1990  East Germany and West Germany reunify into one Germany

1990  The first McDonalds opens in Russia

1991  Attempted coup attempt in the Soviet Union → The Soviet Union begins to disintegrate

1991  Boris Yeltsin becomes President of Russia → former 15 republics of the Soviet Union form the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.)

1991  Yugoslavia begins to break apart

1992  Maastricht Treaty signed

1997  Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister of England → 1st Labor Party leader in 18 years

1999  Eurodollar becomes the single currency of the European Union (EU)

Alexander ll reforms- emancipation

YEARS:1861-66
REASONS:
- Alexander felt that it was unethical and had many humanitarian ideas
- serfdom had meant that able bodied people were bound to the land during the Crimean war
- it would allow Alexander to gain favour of the Russian people
- political stability for the autocracy
- it would allow other reforms to take place
- the growing Intelligentsia did not agree with serfdom, putting pressure on the tsar
- peasant uprisings put pressure on the tsar

PROCESS
- 1861 privately owned serfs were emancipated
- 1866 stare owned serfs were emancipated
- serfs had to give ‘redemption payments to the government’ to pay back the land lords for the loss of their assets
- the Mir redistributed land to peasants

RESULTS
- kulaks brought extra land from poorer neighbours
- peasants who gave up their land left the Mir and started industrial work
- some peasants felt that they were cheated/ treated unfairly because although they were free the land was distributed in a way that benefitted nobles
- Intelligentsia and student protests against the peasants still being bound to the land lords and having to give the government money for 49 years

DEFINITIONS:
Kulak- peasants who were prosperous
Intelligentsia - educated members of society (writers etc)
Mir- peasant commune (group of people living together who share possessions and stuff)
Autocracy- government in which one person is ruling over everyone else

*** Hi guys! I really hope this helps some people, I know that I find this subject very hard so yeah… If you have anymore information you can add it or message me and I will add it in ***

I maintain that Shakespeare and Raphael are more precious than the emancipation of the serfs, more precious than Nationalism, more precious than Socialism, more precious than the young generation, more precious than chemistry, more precious than almost all humanity because they are the fruit, the real fruit of all humanity and perhaps the highest fruit that can be.
—  Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Possessed

anonymous asked:

Did you learn stuff from Mr. Russia? He looks like he could teach you a lesson or two about how to rule something.

[Tsar Alexander II was a more liberal man and had introduced many reforms during his reign, inculding the emancipation of the serfs in Russia. In the latter half of the 19th century, Russia’s industry was expanding and the country was becoming more and more important in the world’s economy as it industrialized. - however, Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 as there was a lot of dissatisfaction within certain groups in the country.
Industrialization didn’t reach far yet and the workplace conditions were awful; there were movements that condemned the westernization and industralization and called for a return to the old rural days.  

Alexander III, who succeeded Alexander II after his death, was highly reactionary.]

Freeing Russia's Serfs - How The Serfs Got Screwed

Russian serfs were emancipated in 1861, four years before slavery in the US was abolished by a Constitutional Amendment. Tsar Alexander II (1855-81) shared with his father, Nicholas I, a conviction that American slavery was inhumane. This is not as hypocritical as it might first appear. The serfdom that had operated in Russia since the middle of the 1600s (around when slavery was taking hold in the southern British colonies) was technically not slavery. The landowner did not own the serf, the serf just could not leave the land. Or disobey the landowner. But it wasn’t slavery, technically. Serfs made up ½ the peasants and about 1/3 of the population. And it was widely agreed by the 1850s that Russia needed land reform – and serfs were a clear target. So the young Tsar after losing the Crimean War declared the end of the war marked a golden moment in the nation’s history. Now was the hour when every Russian, under the protection of the law, could begin to enjoy ‘the fruits of his own labours.’

He then asked the nobles to plan how freeing the serfs could be done. Tsar Alexander II was shrewd: the nobles could hardly ignore a command from their tsar, and they could not complain about a plan they themselves had created, and to top it all off they couldn’t blame Alexander if their plan did not go well. Impressive though the prospect of legal freedom first appeared to the serfs, it soon became apparent that they had come at a heavy price for the peasants. It was not they, but the landlords and Tsar Alexander II, who were the beneficiaries. Unsurprising since the landowners decided how the serfs would be freed. The landowners got to decide which parts of their lands they got to keep (usually around 2/3) , and which to give up. They always chose the best parts, of course. And the landowners were compensated far above market value for the serfs they lost, and the peasants had to pay for their new land which they had been working for centuries now!

 Tatyana Shlykova (1773-1863)

Art by Claire (tumblr 1, tumblr 2)

Like Praskovia Kovalyova-Zhemchugova, Tatyana Shlykova was born into serfdom and as a young child, she left her home to live in the big house of her owners, the Sheremetevs.  There she trained as the company’s first ballet dancer under the stage name Granatova (garnet). 

Praskovia and Tatyana were lifelong friends.  Well-educated, famous performers they were nonetheless the property of their owner.  When the emancipated Praskovia secretly wed her former owner Nikolai Sheremetev in 1801, Tatyana served as their witness.  Two years later, Praskovia died from post-partum complications.  The newly freed Tatyana raised Praskovia’s son Dmitry as if he was her own.  After Nikolai’s death in 1809, attempts were made to separate the young heir from his surrogate mother.  The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna stepped in to ensure that Tatyana would remain a part of the boy’s life. 

Tatyana was brought to the Sheremetev family home as a serf.  She became both a famous dancer and a surrogate mother and grandmother to the descendants of the family that had once owned her.  She lived to see the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 before dying at the age of 90. 

Nicholas (”Nixa”) was a “romantic figure’. Almost twenty-one, he was tall, handsome, slim, intelligent and accomplished, quite unlike his lusty, rugged brothers. He was well-read, wrote poetry and had traveled widely. His father saw a worthy successor in his favourite son, who had inherited something of his own mind and liberal tendencies, although Nicholas was against the emancipation of the serfs, telling his father prophetically that “it will never bring anything but misfortune to the country”.

Little Mother of Russia - Coryne Hall