How far did Alexander III bring political and social change to Russia? When Alexander III took power in 1881, he introduced is manifesto in the April of that year stating all of his intention being the Tsar. With the assassination of his father by democrats, he did all in his power to avenge him by introducing laws, which went against democratic views. Russification: Being Tsar or the worlds biggest country, Alexander III had a big challenge ahead of him to keep the Empire together, so he began Russification where he ruled over his multi ethic empire.
To help bring unity to this massive empire, everyone was made to use the Russian language and to use the Russian Orthodox Religion. This created a lot of uproar within the Empire, as many couldn’t speak Russian. It took 4 years for Russian to become to official language of the empire. With everything having to be Russian, all official documents had to be written in Russian, all education in schools had to be Russian. This badly affected Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All of the Jewish communities were persecuted as Alexander III blamed them for the assassination of his father.
Over 600 anti-Jewish measured were introduced; for example, only a certain number of Jews were allowed to attend university. Most fled to either USA or Western Europe. The Russification policy was not successful and later led to resentment. Political Repression: With the assassination of his father, it threatened the whole political and social system in the Russian Empire, so Alexander III had a big challenge ahead of him to help try and keep the diverse country today. One of the first things he did was to replace all his fathers’ liberal ministers with Pobedonostev who instilled conservative values into Alexander III.
Alexander III gave himself absolute power; they forced the schools to raise their fees to prevent the poorer classes from gaining an education this led to an illiteracy rate of 79%. Universities lost a lot of their freedoms and censorship was greatly tightened. He strengthened his security considerably and changed it into an agency known as the Okhrana who had more powers. He introduced the Statute of State Security which the Okhrana could arrest and put anyone on trial without a jury. Also the presses freedom was restricted. 14 newspapers were banned between 1882-1889. The Okhrana censored all foreign books and newspapers.
Universities were now under control by the Russian government and the fees were increased, this lead to closure of all universities in 1889 due to student demonstrations. Increased Central Control: With Pobedonostev undoing all of Alexander II reforms, Land Captains appointed by central government enforced local control in 1889. Land Captains replaced the locally appointed justices of peace and had to enforce local laws, in 1890 Land Captains were made members of the zemstva (local government bodies), and so ensured that landed classes had more power so teachers and doctors were banned from seeking the election.
This later extended to towns and cities in 1892. Pobedonostev put all primary schools were put under control of the church. Thus was to introduce restrictions like banned any peasants or workers from entering secondary schools. The government also interfered with the trial by the jury system, which was later changed in 1890 as the government exercised the right to choose juries following a ‘wrong’ verdict. Financial Reform: Even though Russia was the one of the great powers in Europe, it was the most economically undeveloped.
With an economy based on agriculture, which was backward and unproductive, so was difficult to sell enough grain to raise money for a large industrial development. Alexander III knew that if Russia wanted to keep the status of being one of Europe’s biggest powers, they need to modernise their economy and increase economic wealth to maintain the massive army, so in 1882, Nikolai Bunge reduced tax on peasants and so established a Peasant Land Bank. This offered loan facilities to peasants so they could increase the size of their land and make them more productive. In1889 Ivan Vyshnegradsky gave more financial incentives to peasants to move o Siberia, as there was more land, which reduced the pressure on the demand for land. This began Russia’s economic development and attracted foreign investment from France and Britain. Vyshnegradsky started Russia’s long-term economic development by having leans from foreign countries. In all Alexander III changed Russia for the better as he started to make use of their vast number of peasants which great increased money coming into Russia with the agriculture, and later leading to the industrial revolution. With his great successes being reducing peasant tax and moving the peasants to Siberia.