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Russian Conservatism$
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Paul Robinson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501747342

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501747342.001.0001

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The Great Reforms

The Great Reforms

(p.75) Chapter 5 The Great Reforms
Russian Conservatism

Paul Robinson

Cornell University Press

This chapter takes a look at the Great Reforms, a series of reforms conducted by Nicholas's son and successor, Alexander II. In March 1861, he decreed the emancipation of the serfs. Another important element of the Great Reforms was an overhaul of the judicial system in 1864, the most notable part of which was the establishment for the first time of trial by jury. Also in 1864, Alexander introduced a system of elected local self-government. Reforms continued into the 1870s, the most important probably being the reorganization of the army, which introduced a system of general conscription. But although reform continued, from the mid-1860s onward popular enthusiasm for it began to decline, and Russia's educated elites shifted in a conservative direction. Two factors contributed to this conservative turn. The first was a revolt that broke out in Poland in 1863, which the Russian government eventually crushed in 1864. The second was an increase in radical terrorism.

Keywords:   Great Reforms, Alexander II, radical terrorism, serfs, judicial system, elected local self-government, general conscription, Poland

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