(2) How far were Alexander III’s aims and
methods different from Alexander II’s?
1 Alexander has a reputation for being a reactionary who
depended on repressive measures to secure his control.
2 Although his rule was relatively peaceful, it has
been described as ‘the peace of the graveyard.’
3 Economic development
3.1.1 To modernise Russia by industrialising it
3.1.2 To protect Russia’s power and status amongst
foreign powers by developing its economic strength
3.1.3 To ease social and economic pressures in rural areas
3.2.1 Alexander willing to support industrialisation
3.2.2 Sergei Witte = minister responsible for modernisation drive.
3.2.3 Guiding principles: state should provide the means of development (transport, markets,
money) but private enterprises should take responsibility for developing industry and trade.
3.2.4 Domestic industries protected against foreign competition by high import duties (1887, 1891)
3.2.5 Foreign investors encouraged to invest in Russian industry
3.2.6 Railways, financed by foreign capital (money) were built to provide easier access to
raw materials and markets for finished goods. E.g. Trans-Siberian railway (6000km)
connected western Russia (Moscow) with eastern Russia (Vladivostok).
3.2.7 Western Siberia developed through introduction of railway
and encouragement of peasant migration to the area.
3.2.8 Agriculture exploited as a source of export earnings (i.e.
grain was sold abroad, which brought money into Russia)
4 Political control
4.1.1 To increase centralised government control over local areas.
4.1.2 To crush known political opposition.
4.1.3 To ensure the loyalty of national minorities by making them more Russian in culture
4.1.4 To crush nationalist movements within the empire by enforcing Russian rule.
4.2.1 Censorship: publications critical of the regime could be suspended indefinitely.
4.2.2 Undid Alexander II’s judicial reforms, which had made local courts (volosts) rather than nobles,
responsible for justice in local areas. Instead judges appointed by the Ministry of Justice were
used in towns and land captains (appointed from the nobility) were used in rural areas.
4.2.3 Local government (zemstvas) continued but faced constant interference
from central government. 1890 Zemstva Act changed membership so that
the nobility were strengthened and peasant representation was weakened
4.2.4 Zemstva continued to carry out improvements to local services (e.g. roads)
4.2.5 Russification: attempt to remove all trace of national minority identify and make them Russian in terms of
language, dress, religion, culture, legal system and ruling elite.
5 Social control
5.1.1 Overall: to enforce conformity
5.1.2 Education: to limit the access of lower classes to education so they weren’t exposed to new ideas.
5.1.3 Religion: Aim to strengthen Orthodox church and to stop dissent.
5.1.4 Peasants: to win support from the peasantry by alleviating some of their social and economic problems
5.1.5 Nobles: To strengthen the status and position of the nobility and to regain their support.
5.1.6 Workers: To win their support by improving their working conditions.
5.2.1 Education: Access to universities was increasingly restricted to the nobility. E.g. women were
stopped from attending by 1886; fees were increased to exclude the poor in 1887. Schooling was
limited to people from the upper classes e.g. 1887 working classes were explicitly banned from
sending children to secondary school. Church was given more control of primary education.
5.2.2 Religion: Dissenters (non-Orthodox) were clamped down on: e.g. 1883 Dissenters banned
from building new places of worship, from wearing religious clothing. Any attempt to convert
someone from Orthodoxy was punishable by exile to Siberia. BUT they were also given
more political rights e.g. allowed to have passports and hold minor political offices.
5.2.3 Peasants: Redemption payments reduced in 1881; 1883 Peasants’ Land Bank
established to give cheap credit to buy land. Peasant taxes (e.g. Poll tax) reduced.
5.2.4 Nobles: 1885 Nobles’ Land Bank established.
5.2.5 Workers: reforms to improve working conditions (e.g. child and female
labour regulated and hours reduced; factory inspectors appointed).
6 Physical control
6.1.1 To crush known political opposition
6.2.1 1881: Law of Exceptional Measures: gave the government wider power to interfere with civil liberties.
In exceptional circumstances the government could set up military police courts, confiscate property,
and arrest, imprison and fine people. The right to trial by jury was removed in political cases.
6.2.2 1882: decree gave the police power to put any person under
surveillance. They had to surrender their personal documents, could
not move without authorisation, and could be searched at any time.
6.2.3 The Okhrana (secret police) were set up. They spied
on and infiltrated known political extremist groups.
6.2.4 Criminal and political prisoners increasingky sent into exile in Siberia. E.g. increased from 1,200 in
1880 to 4,113 by 1900. Exile ranged from milder forms (being left free and allowed to take families) to
hard labour (prisoners lived in colonies and had to do manual work under supervision).
6.2.5 Political extremists executed (e.g. Lenin’s older brother following an assassination attempt).
6.2.6 Jews: policy of savage persecution: series of pogroms between 1881-83 – tolerated by the government.
1882: Provisional or Temporary Rules severely restricted Jews legally and socially e.g. banned from marrying
Christians, not allowed to settle in rural areas or hold government jobs. 1890 Foreign Jews deported