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ABOUT RUSSIA / HISTORY / GREAT REFORMS

Epoch of Great Reforms

The Liberation of Peasants

The preparation of the cancellation of the serfdom began in January 1857 with the creation of the next Secret committee. In November 1857, a rescript was signed and hasty dispatched all over the country, at the name of general-governor Nazimov. This rescript announced the beginning of gradual liberation of peasants and ordered to create in each province noble committees for entering offers and amendments to the project of reform. The opened preparation about the cancellation of the serfdom began.

The revival of the country's movement in 1858 under influence of rumours concerning the liberation compelled the government to radicalize the preparing reform. In December 1858 the new liberal program of the Main committee was authorized. It provided the liberation of peasants with the lot on conditions of the repayment.

The majority of serfdom propositions was rejected, but during the discussion of the project in the Main committee and the State council, under the pressure of reactionary and conservative forces, the editorial commissions reduced the sizes of allotments, and the norms of country duties increased. Not having given to landowners the opportunity to discuss this project, Alexander II, on the 19th of February 1861, signed the "Regulations about the peasants who left serfdom".

The serfdom was cancelled. Peasants received personal freedom. The land was completely kept under the control of landowners till the conclusion of the redemption bargain; peasants used farmsteads and grounds for duties (permanent-obliging condition).

House-serfs declared themselves free without any repayment, but within two years, they should serve the owners or pay a quitrent. Serf workers of state and landowners' factories were transferred to quitrent and received the right of the repayment of former manors and lots.

The sum of redemption payments was determined by the sizes of the peasant's quitrent, which means that the personal dependence of peasants, not the ground was repaid. This sum fixed in bank at 6% annually, should bring to a landowner annual income at the rate of labour payments. The government was the intermediary between the peasant and the landowner, paying to the landowner 60% - 70% of the amount of the transaction. Peasants were supposed to bring annually 6 % of this redemption loan within 49 years.

The state peasants (except Siberia and the Far East) considered as personally free and paying to the treasury a labour tax, conserved their rights to use those lots. They might continue to pay the labour tax to the state, or to conclude with the treasury a redemption transaction. The repayment was brought lumpsum in the sum, and the annual interest to which was equaled to the amount of the labour tax. Landowners' peasants of Siberia were transferred to the state lands.

In the reorganization of government ruling's system, one of the first steps was the reform of the local authorities' system.

Being the representative of the institutions, local authorities were attentively concerned by the local needs. The main problem of the local authorities (zemstvo), besides the limitation of their competence, was the poor financing of their activity, which were carried out due to local taxes. Work in zemstvos promoted the formation of civil consciousness, development of Russian intelligentsia. The government, aspiring to avoid the creation of opposition, did not allow contacts between zemstvos of different provinces.

The preparation of the city reform began in 1861.

The "city's position" was confirmed on the 16th of June 1870. In cities a classless municipal Duma (administrative organ) and a board city (executive organ) were created under the presidency of the city's head.

The most consecutive of the reforms of the 60s was the judicial reform. On the 20th of November 1864 was promulgated a decree about judicial reform and new judicial charters. They entered general judicial establishments for persons of all estates, with the general order of legal proceedings. In Russia the jury, the transparency, the competitiveness of the legal proceedings, the equal responsibility of all estates before court, and the independence of court of administration, were affirmed.

The country was divided into 108 judicial districts. Two kinds of courts were created: the reconciliatory and the general. Judicial charters were distributed to 44 provinces and were introduced into them during more than thirty years.

The law approved in 1863, which cancelled corporal punishments by rods, lashes, knouts, markings on verdicts of civil and military courts, was accepted. Women were completely exempted from corporal punishments. But birches were kept for peasants (by verdicts of volost courts), for exiled and punished soldiers and convicts.

The preparation of reforms on fleet began even from the Crimean war. The head of sea department grand duke Konstantin Nikolaevich and his colleagues developed a number of projects on which the administration of the fleet and naval educational institutions were reorganized (in the 60s). In 1857 the system of military settlements was liquidated. The service life of the low grades was reduced from 25 to 10 years.

Within 12 years were carried out transformations in the army (1862-1874). Military theorists M.I. Dragomirov, D.A. Milyutin, G.A. Leer made qualitative changes in the military theory. In the army appeared new charters, giving the main attention to fighting and physical preparation of the soldiers. During the reform of military schools, there were created military grammar schools and cadet schools with biennial term of training. Persons of all classes were accepted in those schools.

After long debates, on the 1st of January, 1874, the Charter about the compulsory military service radically changed the system of recruitment in the army. The general compulsory military service of all men after 21 years was entered at the place of recruitment. Soldiers were serving 6 years at active service and were registered as soldiers of reserve, sailors respectively 7 years and 3 years; those who finished elementary schools were serving 3 years, grammar schools 1,5 years, graduates of high schools, 6 months. The creation of a small army of peacetime with a significant trained reserve in case of war was the result of the reform.

The Political Crisis of 70s-80s

The political crisis of the end of 1870 and the beginning of 1880.

The consequences of the Russian-Turkish war, poor harvest and famine of 1879-1880, industrial recession of the beginning of the years 1870-1880 created a sharp crisis situation. The peasant's movements strengthened again, there were agitations of students in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kharkov, the local-liberal figures acted for the introduction of the Constitution. Revolutionaries made series of terrorist acts. The situation in the country deteriorated.

The government answered by reprisals. Since August 1878, political crimes affairs were transferred from civil courts to military. In the same year was created a police service for struggle against the peasant's movement, and the detective police for prosecution of revolutionaries was organized. Searches, arrests became a usual phenomenon. In April 1879 (after A.K.Soloviev's attempt on Alexander II), in St. Petersburg, Kharkov and Odessa, provisional generals-governorships alongside with already existing constant generals-governorships (in Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw) were founded. All generals-governors received emergency powers (to prosecute to the military court, to subject to administrative exile, to arrest, close editions etc.). After the explosion in the Winter palace on the 5th of February 1880, organized by S.Khalturin, the government tried to save the dictatorship.

On the 12th of February 1880, the Supreme administrative commission on protection of the state order and public peace was created. The main official of the commission was one of the most cunning and dexterous dignitaries, the former Kharkov's general-governor, earl M.T. Loris-Melikov. He had exclusive and dictatorial power. Alongside with retaliatory measures, M.T. Loris-Melikov began the dialogue with local authorities (zemstvoes), promised to expand their rights, weakened the censorship, and displaced D.A. Tolstoy from the post of minister of education.

After the liquidation of the Supreme administrative commission (in August 1880), Loris-Melikov occupied the posts of Minister of Internal Affairs and chief of gendarmes, and tried to accomplish the realization of reforms in order to overcome the crisis. For the stabilization of the situation, senatorials were sent in order to investigate the facts of abusing, and the 3rd section was liquidated.

In January 1881,Loris-Melikov presented to Alexander II the project of reforms, with which he intended to overcome the crisis. He proposed the creation of an administrative and financial commission, including officials and "reliable" public figures, for the preparation of local governing reform and the revision of the conditions of repayment of peasants' grounds. Then the projects should be submitted to the appreciation of the general commission with the participation of the local city elected. On the 7th of March 1881, the King approved this plan named 'Loris-Melikov's Constitution'. However this very day Alexander II was killed in the act of terrorism.

Development of Russia during the Post-reform Period

The social and economic development of Russia during the period after the reforms.

The Russian empire was distinguished among other European states with the area of 18 million sq. versts) and its fast increasing population. After the reforms there were significant changes in the social structure of the Russian society.

The number of the noblemen owning grounds sharply reduced. At the end of the 70s there were not more than half of the peerage's nobility. But noblemen were occupying high state posts. In 1863 it was authorized for officials to combine public service with enterprise activity.

The rural exodus - outflow to the cities for earnings was practiced by peasants.

After 1861, the rates of the growth of commercial and industrial bourgeoisie basically increased, due to the increasing rich peasantry and fine business, and also city lower-middle class.

In 1870-1880, new organizations of industrialists appeared. The cancellation of the serfdom resulted in the fast growth of hired workers.

The agriculture.

As a result of reform the sizes of peasants' lots in the majority of provinces decreased (at the average of 20%) and were from 2-3 to 40-50 dessiatinas on courtyard. The peasant's community received the right to possess lands, distributing and redistributing lots between courtyards. After the reform, landowners who had no means for land processing began to sell it out. The basic buyers of the ground became prosperous peasants. The livestock of cattle increased.

The peasant's reform stimulated also the development of the industry. The rise of agriculture liberated working hands and created demand of industrial output.

Foreign capital investments - from England, France, Germany, Belgium were basically done in the heavy industry.

The rise of the cotton industry proceeded.

The extracting and heavy industry developed with high temps.

In 60-70 started the development of machine engineering industry, with their centers in Moscow and Petersburg.

The transport.

The construction of railways, in which was prevailing the private construction, had a special value in the economy of the country. Improvement of transport system promoted the development of trade. Remote areas of the country were actively taking part in the commercial relations. The significance of fairs gradually fell, and commodity exchanges gathered force. Grain trade inside the country was increasing.

The foreign market developed also. Bread became the main article of the Russian export. During the thirty years after the reforms, its export increased up to 5 times.

The financial policy.

The realization of reforms in 1861, on the basis of redemption operation demanded big credits. The industry and transport were in urgent need of credits. The state budget of the country was touched by a chronic deficiency. In 1861, it was estimated at the sum of 82,6 million rubles instead of initially incorporated 21,3 million rubles. The covering of deficiency was carried out by means of foreign loans, release of additional treasury notes etc.; that resulted into fluctuations of the ruble exchange rate.

For the realization of repayment operation in absence of money in the government's treasury, the government used payments of the redemption sums by percentage papers as state loans. The order of repayment of these papers provided the restriction of their transfer from hands to hands and the establishment of 49-years term of repayment. Similar measures resulted into the growth of the internal debt and displeased noblemen - landowners. The problem of the realization of transformations in the finance system became the main task of the government in system of the finance.

One year after declaration of the country reform, the government began the realization of the reform of the finance. In 1860, during the preparation of the country reform, instead of former credit establishments, the State bank, which funds were formed basically of state contributions, was created. Private contributions and deposits of the industry were concentrated in joint-stock banks which active creation was observed in 1860 and the beginning of 1870. In 1875-1880 the majority of joint-stock banks went bankrupts.

In 1862, the attempt to make the currency reform on the basis of free exchange of bank notes with gold and silver at a firm rate was taken. The realization of reform was conditioned by the obtention by the government of a large foreign loan. However, the reform failed: the deficiency of the state budget, and the decrease of the business activity in the beginning of 1860 had an effect also. The growth of inflation continued.

The peasant's movement from the end of the 50th years accrued, warmed up by constant hearings about preparing clearing. If in 1851-1855 were done 287 peasants' revolts, in 1856-1859,1341. The deep disappointment of peasants in the character and the contents of reform was expressed in mass refusals of the execution of duties and of signing of "authorized letters".

From middle of the 70s years the peasant's movement began again to gather force under the influence of land's narrowness, weight of payments and duties. That situation was due the to the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, and in 1879-1880 a bad crop and pasturage became the reason of terrible famine. The number of peasants' revolts grew from year to year.

The working-class movement of the 60s years was not significant. Cases of passive resistance and the protest - submission of complaints, or flight from factories, prevailed. Due to their serfdom traditions and the absence of a special working legislation, the rigid mode of exploitation of labours of operation was established. With time, workers started organizing strikes, especially in big enterprises. The usual requirement was the reduction of penalties, increasing of wages, improvement of working conditions. Since the 70s years the working-class movement had gradually increased. The number of strikes covering big industrial enterprises, alongside with the agitations which were not accompanied with cessation of work and submission of collective complaints, increased.

Differently from the peasant's movement, the working-class movement was more organized. Appreciable role in the creation of the first working circles was played by the activity of propagandists - populists. They ordered the propaganda among workers and their aim was the revolutionary struggle "with the existing political and economic stratification" and for the establishment of socialist relations.

The Social Movement

The democratization of the system of the national education, the appearance of a great number of specialists with higher education among the noblemen and people of other classes, considerably expanded the circle of the intelligentsia. The Russian intelligentsia was the unique phenomenon of social life of Russia, which occurrence can be attributed to the years 1830-1840. In the intelligentsia various directions of the public opinion were developed.

In the second half of 1850s, the publicity became the first display of the "thaw" which came soon after the accession of Alexander. On the 3rd of December 1855 was closed the supreme committee of censure, weakened by the censure rules. The broadest distribution in Russia received the editions "Free Russian Printing", created by A.I. Gertsen in London in the spring of 1853.

The liberal movement of the end of 1850 and the beginning of 1860 was the widest in Russia and had various shades. Liberals were acting for the establishment of the constitutional forms of government in the peaceful way, and for the political and civil freedom, and also for the education of people. Being supporters of legal forms of struggle, liberals operated through the printing and zemstvoes (local authorities). The historians K.D. Kavelin and B.N. Chicherin first stated the program of the Russian liberalism.

Big expansion of the liberal journalism and liberal notes and reforms was known at the end of 1850. The new magazine 'Russian tribune', created by M.N. Katkov became the tribune of the liberal ideas at the beginning of 1850-1860.

The rising of national revolts in the first years of reform and their severe suppression by the government rendered a certain influence to the liberal movement. Aspiring to leave frameworks of local interests and associations, the liberal figures organized at the end of the year1870 several national congresses, which the government attended rather neutrally.

In the conditions of political crisis in the beginning of 1860s, the revolutionary democrats, being the radical wing of the opposition, were growing in activity. The magazine 'Sovremennik', since 1859, became the ideological center of that direction , which was under the supervision of N.G. Chernyshevsky (1828-1889) and N.A. Dobrolyubov (1836-1861).

The strengthening of peasants' revolts during the realization of reforms in 1861 raised in the figures of the radical direction hope about the possibility of a peasant's revolt in Russia. The agitation rendered a certain influence in the development and the expansion of the student's movement, which originally showed the expression of its solidarity with the peasant's movement of the reform's period.

In the end of 1861 and beginning of 1862, a group of revolutionaries-populists (N.A. Serno-Solovievich, M.L. Mikhailov, N.N. Obruchev, A.A. Sleptsov, N.V. Shelgunov), created a secret organization of All-Russian value, 'Earth and Will', after the defeat of Decembrists. Its inspirers were Gertsen and Chernyshevky. The organization was distributing illegal literature printed in London and in secret printing houses in Russia. The preparation for the revolt, appointed for 1863, was conducted.

In the middle of 1862 the government got the support of liberals, unwrapped wide repressive campaign against the revolutionary democrats. "Sovremennik" was closed (till 1863). The leaders of radicals - N.A. Serno-Solovjevich, N.G. Chernyshevsky and D.I. Pisarev were arrested.

In 1860, on the wave of denying the existing order, among the student youth, the ideology of nihilism was distributed. There were created artels, workshops, factories, and communes hoping, through the distribution of collective work, to prepare for a socialist transformation of the society. Having failed, they broke up or passed to illegal revolutionary activity.

In the 70s there were some closed currents of the utopian socialism, which received the name of "populism". Populists believing that Russia can directly proceed to the socialist system, saw the main obstacle to the socialism in the government, and considered that the secret organization and the revolutionary leaders should lift people to revolt and result it in a victory.

In the beginning of 1870s, all over the European part of Russia rose numerous national circles. Among them the society "Chaikovtsy" (N.V. Chaikovsky, A.I Zhelyabov, D.A. Klements, S.M. Kravchinsky, P.A. Kropotkin, N.. Morozov, . Natanson, S.L. Perovskaya etc.). The majority put the purpose on the prompt preparation of the peasant's revolt. At the meetings organized by them, they called not to obey authorities.

At the end of 1876 there was created a new centralized All-Russian organization of populists, the second "Earth and Will ". Its conspiration center (L.G. Deich, V.I. Zasulich, S.M. Kravchinsky, A.D.Mikhailov, M.A. Natanson, S.L. Perovskaya, G.V. Plekhanov, V.N. Figner) supervised the activity of separate groups not less than in 15 large cities of the country. Soon in the organization, two currents appeared: one was declined to the continuation of propaganda activities, and the other thought that the unique method of the revolution was terrorism. In August 1879, there was a final split.

The circle "National will" united the circles of students, workers, and officers. In the strict conspirative management entered A.I. Zhelyabov, A.I. Barannikov, A.A. Kvyatkovsky, N.N. Kolodkevich, A.D. Mikhailov, N.A. Morozov, S.L. Perovskaya, V.N. Figner, M.F. Frolenko. In 1879 members of "Narodnaya Volya" ("National Will"), hoping to cause a political crisis and to lift the population, made a number of terrorist acts. The Executive committee ('National will') took the death sentence against Alexander II in August 1879. On the 1st of March 1881 in St. Petersburg, a bomb thrown by the populist I.I. Grinevitsky fatally wounded Alexander II.

The Polish Revolt of 1863

In 1860-1861 all over the Polish Empire, the wave of massive demonstrations in memory of the anniversary of the revolt of 1830 swept. The Warsaw demonstration was one of the biggest demonstrations in February 1831, which was dispersed by government forces. In Poland the martial law was entered, and massive arrests were carried out.

At the same time, certain concessions were made to the patriotic movement: the State council was restored, the university of Warsaw was reopened etc. In this situation rose secret youth circles, calling Poles to the armed revolt. The Polish society was divided into two parties. The supporters of the revolt were "red". "White" - landowners and large bourgeoisie, expected to achieve the restoration of the independent Poland trough diplomatic means.

In the first half of 1862, circles merged into a uniform insurgent organization led by the Central national committee, which was the secret conspirative center of the preparation of the revolt (Y.Dombrovsky, Z. Padlevsky, Z.Serakovsky etc.). In December 1862, the committee did an agreement with "Earth and Will" about joint actions. The program of the Central committee included the liquidation of estates, the transfer to peasants of the ground used by them, the restoration of the independent Poland in the borders of 1772, with the granting to the population of Lithuania, Byelorussia and Ukraine of the right to choose their destiny.

On the 22nd of January 1863, the central committee declared the beginning of the revolt. The direct pretext was the beginning of the recruitment in the Russian army. Military actions developed spontaneously. Coming soon to the leadership of the revolt, the "white", staked on the support of the West-European powers. Despite of the note of England and France, with the requirement to stop bloodshed in Poland, the suppression of revolt proceeded. Prussia supported Russia. Russian forces, under the command of general F.F. Berg struggled against insurgent groups in Poland. In Lithuania and Byelorussia, the armies were under the command of general-governor .N. Muraviyov ("The hanger").

At the same time, on the 1st of May, Alexander II cancelled the provisory-restrictive conditions of the peasants, decreased up to 20 % loan payments in Lithuania, Byelorussia and the Western Ukraine. Having taken as basis the agrarian decrees of insurgents, the government during military actions announced the land reform. Having lost the support of peasantry, the Polish revolt by the autumn of 1864 came to a final defeat.

The Foreign Policy during Alexander II

The Foreign policy of Russia during Alexander II was directed first of all to the solution of the eastern question. The defeat in the Crimean war undermined the international authority of Russia, resulted into the loss of its prevailing influence in the Balkans. The neutralization of the Black sea made defenseless the southern sea borders of the country, thus hampering the development of the South and broke the expansion of foreign trade.

The main task of the Russian diplomacy was the cancellation of articles of the Parisian treaty. Trustworthy allies were necessary for this purpose. England remained the most dangerous enemy of Russia because of the rivalry in Transcaucasia and in Central Asia. Austria itself tried to fix in the Balkan. The Turkish policy was orientated to England. Prussia was still weak. Mainly the rapprochement with France was equitable to the interest of Russia, as France competed with England in the Mediterranean. To strengthen its positions in the East Russia still staked on the struggle of the Christian people against Turkey.

Since April 1856 the talented diplomat and politician Gorchakov Alexander Mikhailovich (1798-1883) became the head of the Russian department of foreign policy.

Gorchakov took care of the consent of the powers, insisting on the exclusive right of Russia to assert its national interests. Striving for the rapprochement with France, he tried to help Russia out from the international isolation.

In March 1859 the Russian-French treaty about the neutrality of Russia in the war of France and Sardinia against Austria was signed. But being sure of the French unwillingness to guarantee the support of the Russian interests in the East, Russia tried a rapprochement with Prussia. In 1863 the military convention with Prussia, which helped the tsarist government in its struggle against the Polish revolt, was signed.

Russia supported the aspiration of the Prussian chancellor O. Von Bismarck to the unification of the German lands. This diplomatic support helped Prussia to win the wars against Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1870-1871). At the London conference of the powers, that signed the Parisian treaty (January - March 1871), Russia achieved the cancellation of the interdiction to have a navy at the Black sea and to build military arsenals at the Black Sea coast.

The trading relations with Central Asia, being so much important for the Russian economy, were complicated because of constant civil dissensions in this region. The anxiety of the Russian government was caused by attempts of the English diplomacy to influence the Kokand and Khiva Khanates through the Afghan emir.

In 1864 began the resolute advance to the central Asian khanates.

Successful operations against the emir of Bukhara began in the spring of 1866. In March 1868 the emir declared the "sacred war" against Russia, but was defeated and in June he was compelled to sign a humiliating treaty.

The last big khanate was Khiva. But before its conquest the Russian government decided to take measures to weaken the tension with England. After long negotiations in 1873 the Russian-English agreement on the recognition of Afghanistan as a neutral zone and about the transfer of Khiva under the "charge" of Russia was signed. In February 1873 the Russian troops started a campaign against the khanate of Khiva. In May 1873 the capital of the khanate of Khiva was surrounded and capitulated, and in August the khan signed a peace treaty and recognized vassalage to Russia.

After suppression of the revolt in Kokand (1875-1876) on the 19th of February 1876 Russia declared the inclusion of Kokand into the Turkistan governorship. The Bukhara and Khiva khanates, which strongly decreased in the territory, preserved their nominal independence. In 1878-1879 England occupied Afghanistan and established its protectorate.

By the end of the 70s the advance of Russia to Turkmen tribes started. The Russian administration carried out its policy in the joined Central Asian states taking into account local traditions. The Russian legislation expanded in Central Asia. Intestine wars stopped. Free lands caused immigrants from Russia and from other nearest countries to move here.

On the Caucasus with the advance of the Russian army more and more new areas were conquered. In April 1873 the Russian-German military and defensive convention was signed. In the same year Russia and Austria-Hungary signed a political convention, to which joined Germany. So "The Union of three emperors" appeared.

In the summer of 1875 a new Middle East crisis burst out. Despite demands of the European powers Turkey refused to give equal rights to the Muslim and the Christian population of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Bosnia and Herzegovina revolts broke out.

Having not achieved concessions through diplomacy, on the 12th of April 1877 Alexander II published the manifest of war against Turkey. Because of success of Russia, England sent a military squadron to the sea of Marmara and together with Austria threatened with rupture of diplomatic relations in case Russians captured Constantinople.

On the 19th of February (3rd of March) in San-Stephano was signed the peace treaty between Russia and Turkey. Turkey recognized the independence of Serbia, Montenegro and Romania and transferred to Russia Southern Bessarabia and the fortresses of Kare, Ardagan and Batum. In the Balkans appeared the Bulgarian princedom, which meant the independence of Bulgaria.

Under pressure of England and Austria-Hungary Russia had to place the articles of the agreement to the international discussion. Diplomatic defeat of Russia was promoted by the position of Bismarck, who strived for the rapprochement with Austria-Hungary. On the Berlin congress (June - July 1878), the San-Stephano peace treaty was changed: Turkey took back a part of its territories, including the fortress of Bayazet; the contribution was reduced in 4,5 times, Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, and England received Cyprus.

The Far East policy of Russia was connected with the process of colonization of this territory and development of the Russian-Chinese trade. The Aigun treaty of 1858 and the Pekin treaty of 1860 about differentiation of the lands were added by agreements of the sea and overland trade. There was a problem in the relations with Japan concerning the "unshared" joint possession of Sakhalin. According to the Simod treaty of 1855 Japan actively occupied Sakhalin. On the 25th of April 1875 in St. Petersburg Russia and Japan signed the treaty of transfer to Japan of the Kurile Islands in exchange for the Japanese part of Sakhalin.

Education, Science and Culture

Reforms of national education became an integral part of the social reorganization of the 60s. "The regulations about primary national schools" of the 14th of June 1864 in addition to state and church schools introduced Sunday and local schools.Their curricula and teaching staff favorably differed from those of state and church schools.

The new charter of grammar schools (the 19th of November 1864) divided secondary educational institutions and grammar schools into classical and real ones with seven-year term of study. There were created schools with curricula of four classes of the grammar school. In the grammar school children of all layers of the society and creeds were admitted, but the fee was high. In the classical grammar school the humanities prevailed, and children were prepared to entry universities. Real grammar schools trained experts for the industry and trade, there were taught exact and natural sciences. Their graduates could enter only higher technical educational institutions. In 1865 there were 96 grammar schools in the country.

In 1871 a new and stricter charter of grammar schools was taken. In the classical grammar school the term of training increased up to 8 years, natural sciences were abolished. Real grammar schools were transformed into real schools with the six-year term of study. The governmental supervision over the local school and teachers became stronger.

By the beginning of the 60s in 14 universities of the country studied about 3 thousand students. The new university charter was authorized on the 18th of June 1863. The university self-management was restored.

In 1858 woman's grammar schools were founded. It was forbidden for women to enter universities. They were admitted there just as listeners at the beginning of the 70-80s.

In 1857 the government decided to revise the censorial charter. After permission in 1858 to discuss in press the public problems and activity of the government the number of periodicals (1860 - 230) and books (1860 - 2058) seriously increased.

Press, especially the periodical one, played a great public, political and educational role. From the end of the 50s the first place were occupied by social and political, scientific and literary editions, and first of all "thick" magazines "Sovremennik", "Otechestvennye Zapiski', "Russian word", etc).

The number of readers increased too (in the St. Petersburg Public library the circulation of books rised from the years of 1854 to 1874 11 times as much). The rise of the Russian culture in the 60-80s was reflected first of all in literature. The leading direction in fiction became critical realism. Collision of ideas, moral problems, new phenomena in the public life, ways of development of Russia excited heroes of I.S.Turgenev, F.M.Dostoyevsky, L.N Tostoy, I.A.Goncharov, A.N.Ostrovsky. The theme of the people permeates N.A.Nekrasov's creativity. A.A.Fet and F.I.Tyutchev created subtle lyrics.

The art experienced the process of establishment of realism too. In the theatre formation of the realistic direction is inextricably related with the plays of A.N.Ostrovsky. The leading role in the development of the dramatic art belonged to the Moscow Small theatre. The other center of the theatrical culture was the Petersburg Alexandriysky theatre.

In the 60-80s the Russian musical culture achieved great success. Established by M.I.Glinka, the Russian national musical style was continued by his pupil A.S. Dargomyzhsky and compositors of "Mighty heap" (M.A.Balakirev, M.P.Musorgsky, A.P.Borodin, N.. Rimansky - Korsakov, T.A.Kui).

A special place in the Russian music is occupied by Peter Ilich Chaikovsky (1840-1893).

In 1862 in St. Petersburg under the initiative of the outstanding composer and musician A.G.Rubinstein was opened the first Russian conservatory.

Painting during the reforms was also marked by new talents who brought world glory to the Russian art. The most outstanding ideologist and organizer of the young generation of artists was I.N.Kramskoy, its theorist was V.V.Stasov. In this period worked I.N.Kramskoy, V.M And A.M. Vasnitsovs, I.I.Levitan, V.D.Polenov, V.G.Perov, I.E.Repin, V.I.Surikov, I.I.Shishkin, N.A.Yaroshenko, etc.

The big role in development of the Russian art was played by the creation of the first national gallery. Since 1856 the Moscow merchant P.M.Tretyakov (1832-1898) took a great interest in collecting of the most outstanding works of the Russian fine art. His private collection became the nucleus of one of the world's richest national museums.

During the reforms in the cities there was active construction of public buildings, factories, plants and apartment houses.In architecture the "national" style in the spirit of the traditional Russian architecture was formed.

The second half of XIX century is rich of new outstanding discoveries of the Russian science. I.M.Sechenov's works (1829-1905) "Reflexes of brain" (1863), "Physiology of nervous system" (1866) were the basis for the Russian physiology.

In the 60-80s the biologist I.I.Mechnikov (1845-1916) made a number of brilliant discoveries concerning the phenomenon of phagocytosis (protective factors of the organism).

The scientist-darwinian .. Timiryazev (1843-1920) through his research of the process of photosynthesis founded the Russian school of physiology of plants. D.I. Mendeleyev's discovery (1834-1907) of the the periodic system of elements (1869), was one of the fundamental laws of natural sciences.

The founder of the new school of organic chemistry was A.M.Butlerov (1828-1886).

In the field of mathematics and mechanics a great value had the creation by the Petersburg scientist P.L.Chebyshev (1821-1894) of his scientific school, which received world recognition by the development of the theory of numbers, the theory of probability and the mathematical analysis.

Among scientists - physicians A.G.Stoletov (1839-1896), the author of classical research of the theory of magnetism and electricity is especially known. The largest contribution to the world science was made by the Russian geographer and traveler (P.P.Semenov-Tyan-Shansky (1827-1914)).

The Evolution of the Social and Political System, Alexander II. The Abolishment of Serfdom.

The reign of the emperor Alexander II (1855-1881) became the period of radical transformations of the Russian society. The interests of the political and the historical development of the country demanded the fundamental change of basic ideological purposes of the autocratic system.

After the Crimean war the collision of traditional orders and new requirements had put Russia before necessity and inevitability of reforming the political system. But by virtue of features of the historical development, the state and the social system of Russia, radical transformations might have been carried out only with assistance of the czar.

When in February 1855 Alexander II had ascended the Russian throne, nothing foretold him as a reformer. As against to his father, he had received the seemly to the successor of a throne upbringing and education. His teachers were V.A.Zhukovsky, M.M.Speransky, E.F.Kankrin. Tutors pointed out his goodwill, sociability, quite good abilities to sciences, but at the same time - the tendency to recede before difficulties. Alexander II became the emperor in 36, quite prepared and having the experience of state activity.

A year after the accession convinced in the frailty of Nikolai's system Alexander II addressed to the Moscow nobility with his well-known speech (of the 30 of March 1856): ' It's better to abolish serfdom from above, rather than to wait till it's been done from the bottom.' The abolishment of serfdom was the central event of the reign of Alexander II the Liberator. Then reforms of the local management, the system of legal procedure, reorganization of the army, reforms of finances, national education, and censorship had followed.

Among supporters of transformations the outstanding role was played by grand duke Konstantin Nikolaevich (the younger brother of the czar), Minister of Internal Affairs P.A.Valuev, Minister of War D.A.Milyutin, Minister of National Education A.V.Golovin, publicists K.D.Kavelin, .N. Katkov, famous scientists K.P.Pobedonostsev, N.H.Bunte, P.P.Semenov-Tien-Shansky etc. The course of Alexander II and his adherents encountered counteraction of conservative forces of the supreme bureaucracy, which had a significant political influence at the courtyard. The chief of the III branch of the Private Chancellery prince P.A.Shuvalov and Minister of Justice V.N.Panin headed the opponents to reforms party.

Russian Empire
Birth of the Empire - Peter the Great
Epoch of Palace Revolution
Russia in the second half of XVIII century
Epoch of Alexander I Reign
Nikolai`s Russia
Epoch of Great Reforms
Alexander III Government
Russia in XIX-XX centuries. First World War


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