Impacts On The Russian System Of Government

2403 words - 10 pages

Impacts on the Russian System of Government

The Russian Tsarist system under the Rumanovs was extremely resistant
to change in all forms. Reforms were brought in only to preserve and
little improvement resulted from these reforms. In this essay I will
attempt to examine whether or not war had any impact upon the Tsarist
system of government, and whether or not war brought about any changes
to the system.

First, the war with Napoleon that ended in 1815 with the Vienna
settlement. Tsar Alexander I, Tsar at this time, had a genuine wish to
reform, but because of the desire for order instilled in him by his
Father Tsar Paul, his good intentions came to nothing. His military
victories against Napoleon played a vital role in the eventual defeat
of Napoleon's forces. Consequently, these victories brought power and
prestige to Russia and increased her standing as a great power. La
Harpe, a French liberal, had tutored Alexander and this had resulted
in him having some very liberal ideas. However, despite his positive
attitude towards reform in other European countries, its
implementation of these reforming tendencies in Russia was limited.
This was due to his desire for order. Alexander was petrified of
losing control and consequently, when reform and improvement was
presented to him, he often turned his back on it, because of the chaos
he feared might accompany it. In a sense the victory against Napoleon
was probably not particularly beneficial for Russia. Even at this
stage, Russia was behind other European powers in its industrial and
economic development, and unlike Prussia, and even to some extent
Austria-Hungary, Russia learnt no lessons from the war, and
consequently implemented no reforms. Perhaps, had the war been lost,
Alexander may have realised the need for change, and perhaps some
governmental reform may have resulted from this, due to public
pressure. However, it is clear that in this case victory in war had no
effect upon the Russian system of government.

Second, I would like to examine the Crimean war. This war was clearly
the war that can be most associated with reform and change. It came
during the reign of Alexander II who was clearly the most
forward-looking Tsar between 1800 and 1917. However, it must also be
remembered that when compared to previous Tsars, indeed, Alexander II
accomplished much in the way of reform. On the other hand, when one
compares Alexander II to the rest of Europe, the reforms he introduced
were extremely limited in scope and vision and certainly did not
remove Russia's backward nature. The key realisation of Alexander II
was that Russia was in fact a backward power that needed to be brought
up to date. This fact was illustrated for him by the war in Crimea.
Russia was defeated by powers fighting thousands of miles from home,

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