Tsar Alexander Iii's Reign Essay

3133 words - 13 pages

Tsar Alexander III's Reign

The reign of Tsar Alexander II was one that demonstrated a great
change in action, attitude and policy to that of his father, Tsar
Alexander II, 'The Tsar Liberator.' Historians have long labelled Tsar
Alexander II as a Liberal, reforming ruler and his son as a
reactionary, oppressive heir to his legacy. Hingley argues that his
thirteen years of reign were spent '...systematically destroying all
of his father's work. The choice facing Tsar Alexander III when he
ascended to the throne was a difficult one. There were two routes that
he could follow: to continue the tentative steps that his father had
made into reform or to back track into Conservatism in an attempt to
strengthen the autocracy.

By the time of his accession the Tsarevich had already been heavily
influenced by his tutor, the ultra - conservative, Pobedonestov, and
was thus firmly set against his father's policies concerning reform.
This influence that Pobedonestov held continued into Tsar Alexander
III's reign. Hite describes Pobedonestov; 'He believed that autocracy
was the only possible basis of government for Russia and that Tsar
Alexander II's reforms were criminal acts.' Van der Kiste describes
Tsar Alexander III as '...never the most original of thinkers...' who
was incredibly influenced by his mother's confessor Father Bashanov
and the '...arch conservative...' Pobedonestov. It was Pobedonestov
who impressed, so vigorously, upon the Tsarevich that reform was
dangerous and should be prevented at all costs. It was with this
attitude that Tsar Alexander II had allowed his son to grow up, an
ideology and attitude that was almost the opposite to that of his own.
The Tsarevich had become a stubborn conservative and nationalist due
to the conservative views of his tutors and others of influence around
him at court. It is interesting, as Hingley comments, that the reign
of Tsar Alexander III was '...in keeping with the tendency for stern,
uncomplicated Romanov Tsars to alternate with those of gentler and
more elusive temperament.' This illustrates well the situation in
Russia at the accession of Tsar Alexander III, and the atmosphere
throughout the majority of his reign, that it was almost diametrically
opposed to that of his father's

This was his reaction to the assassination of his father. Where the
Nihilists had attempted to bring a more democratic and liberal
governing to Russia in the assassination they had inadvertently
brought into rule a Tsar whose approach from the outset of his reign
could have not have been more different. Not only this, but the
actions of the 'People's Will' had hardened Tsar Alexander III's
resolve that any attempts at reform were dangerous and could only
affect the stability of the monarchy. He had seen the proof for
himself, that the introduction of...

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