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Russian Peasantry 1861 - 1914:

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Ashley Cadoret

on 12 January 2014

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Transcript of Russian Peasantry 1861 - 1914:

Russian Peasantry 1861 - 1914:
The Effects of the Emancipation

Thesis & Blueprint
The problematic lives of the Russian serfs between 1861 and 1914 did not improve after the abolishment of serfdom (the emancipation). There were many peasant uprisings that led to the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the lords still retained some power over the serfs and there were many restrictions to the Emancipation Proclamation.
There are others who argue that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1861 was the best thing that ever happened to the Tsarist government, the lords as well as the serfs. This is because of the fact that they had many new rights and liberties they did not have before, as well as they now did not have to perform corvées for their lord and the economy improved because of the large number of serfs freed.
Alpern Engal, Barbara. “Russian Peasant Views of City Life, 1861-1914.” Slavic Review. Last Updated: Fall 1993 http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2499718?uid=3739448&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3737720&uid=4&sid=21102809147783

Goldston, Robert. The Russian Revolution. USA: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1966

Hurst, David A. The Russian Revolution: Experiencing History. Academic Press Canada, 1980.

Lynch, Michael. “The Emancipation of the Russian Serfs, 1861: A Charter of Freedom or an Act of Betrayal?” History Today. Last Accessed: October 28, 2013. http://www.historytoday.com/michael-lynch/emancipation-russian-serfs-1861-charter-freedom-or-act-betrayal

Ruiz-Diaz, Katherine E. Peasant Life and Serfdom under Tsarist Russia. Last Accessed: December 17, 2013 http://blogs.bu.edu/guidedhistory/historians-craft/katherine-ruiz-diaz/

Andy. Emancipation of The Serfs. Last Updated: June 5, 2011

Peasant Uprisings
The Russian serfs became angry over the years due to the unfair treatment they received from the Tsar, as well as the inequality and political corruption. As tensions grew, there were many peasant revolts and uprisings that ultimately led to the Russian revolutions in 1905 and 1917.
Lords Retaining Power
Although freeing the serfs seemed like the greatest achievement of Alexander II, the serfs’ lives did not improve in the least bit. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1861 freed the serfs from the feudalist system, but the lords, and the Tsar, still retained some power over the serfs that caused their lives to stay the same. They had to pay redemption payments for the mortgages on their new land, the landlords gave them terrible plots of land and the places where the peasants worked did not have ideal working conditions
The problematic lives of the Russian serfs between 1861 and 1914 did not improve after the abolishment of serfdom (the emancipation). There were many peasant uprisings that led to the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the lords still retained some power over the serfs and there were many restrictions to the Emancipation Proclamation.
Peasant Uprisings
- Bloody Sunday

- Workers Revolt of 1861

- Underlying Cause of the 1917 Revolution
Lords Retaining Power
- Redemption payments

- Bad land was sold to them

- Immoral working conditions
Restrictions of the Proclamation
- Imperial serfs not freed until later

- Controlled by Mir

- Staying local
Bloody Sunday
Workers Revolt 1861
Underlying Cause of the 1917 Revolution
Redemption Payments
- 49 year payments being paid to the creditors of the newly liberated serf

- When the serfs were emancipated, they needed to buy their own land. With absolutely no savings, 80% of the money needed was fronted by the government and 20% by the landlord

- These payments were made to the mir (peasant commune)

- They were now burdened with high mortgages plus interest, and they were also burdened with high taxes and trying to support their families

- Debt was extremely hard to pay off at this time
Bad Plots of Land
- The emancipated serf was not allowed to sell their land and buy a better plot of land because the land they worked on was now owned by the community

- Their old landlord sold 1/3 of their land to the peasant and that plot of land was very poor agriculturally speaking

- Serfs didn't have the resources required to have a better life, even after they were promised better lives after the emancipation

- The bad plots of land led to being unable to cultivate crops good enough to be able to support families
Immoral Working Conditions
- Since it was no longer their job to be working on someone's land all day, the emancipated serfs started working in factories all throughout Russia

- The working conditions the peasants had to work in were extremely immoral, they were absolutely horrendous

- Paid twice a year, low wages, 11+ hour days, no protection or coverage if injured...just some of the conditions under which these people worked

- Any attempts that were made in order to improve the workplace failed
Own Their Own Land
- Serfs could now own their own land and keep the crops they cultivated for themselves

- They no longer had to perform corvees for their lords

Rights the serfs now had:

- The right to marry
- Vote
- Sue legally in court
- Lease land they worked on
- Trade

Serfs were now people in the eyes of Russia
- The Emancipation Proclamation was written in 1861 by Czar Alexander II of Russia

- Alexander II ascended to the throne after the death of Tsar Nicholas I in 1855, leaving Alexander to deal with Russia's embarrassing defeat in the Crimean War. At this point Russia wasn't in a good state politically or militarily
- This proclamation freed 23 million serfs living under the feudal system in Russia

- A serf was a peasant, someone who was working for a land lord and cultivating their crops only to get very little in return
- The serfs were emancipated (freed) in 1861

- Czar Alexander II said: "Called by Divine Providence We vowed in our hearts to fulfill the mission which is entrusted to Us and to surround Our affection and Our Imperial solicitude all Our faithful subjects of every rank and condition."

- He also said "It is better to begin to destroy serfdom from above than to wait until that time when it begins to destroy itself from below."
Peasant Uprisings
Bloody Sunday, the workers revolt of 1861 and the 499 riots that occurred prove that the lives of the emancipated serfs did not improve after the emancipation manifesto. Thousands of liberated serfs and workers died in these events, and this all contributed to the 1917 revolution (peasant unrest was an underlying cause).
Lords Retaining Power
The serfs did not appreciate being taken advantage of. Prior to the emancipation they were controlled by the Czar, and even after the emancipation they were controlled still - this time by the Mir. Their lives before and after the emancipation did not change, their ex-lords still had power over them as well as the Mir. Although they were liberated, they weren't really given any freedoms.
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
By Ashley Cadoret
Restrictions to the Emancipation
The abolishment of serfdom, although it appeared to be an enlightened act at first, proved to be an act that did not benefit the Russian peasantry. Although they were freed from working for their lord, they still believed they were being cheated out of better lives. There were many restrictions to this emancipation. The serfs that were owned by the Tsar were not abolished from serfdom until 5 years after the original emancipation , the ex-serfs now had to answer to the Mir and they were restricted from spreading out across the country because the government convinced them to stay local.
Imperial Serfs
Mir - Peasant Commune
Staying Local
- January 22, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia (Winter Palace)

- 125,000 protestors led by Father Georgi Gapon

-Bloody Sunday was a massacre that killed and injured thousands of liberated serfs, now factory workers, who wanted better working conditions and better lives

- The government said the death toll was in the hundreds, while the actual number was in the thousands

- Cause: Immoral working conditions, political unrest in a corrupt government, peasant unrest

- Effect: Thousands killed by government in an attempt to attain better lives.

- This peasant uprising sparked the 1905 Revolution, the lives of peasants did not improve because now they were now an unruly and relentless mob

- With serfs now being liberated, they worked in factories and boosted industrialization in Russia... but the lives of the workers were horrific

- Peasants were fed up with the effects of the Emancipation Manifesto

- In the spring of 1861 (same year the manifesto was established) there was a revolt

- 9000 liberated serfs refused to work
Information about the Emancipation Proclamation of 1861
Discussion Questions
1. Would it have been better if Alexander had waited for serfdom to destroy itself or was he right in taking action and abolishing serfdom?
- In 1917 the second Russian Revolution occurred (the first one was in 1905)

- The now liberated serfs wanted better lives: better land, cheaper food, less taxes, and they especially didn't want to be conscripted into being soldiers in WWI (Russian army had an embarrassing loss in the Crimean War in 1854)

- 499 riots occurred in Russia in 1861

- Russia was an economically backwards nation, a military embarrassment to Europe and the revolution was a big change brought upon partially by the peasant revolts
Rights & Freedoms
Boosted Economy
2. How did the emancipation affect Russia politically and economically?
- Serfs that were working for the government were not emancipated until 1866, five years after the originial emancipation

- The imperial serfs didn't even get the same terms and conditions to their Emancipation Manifesto

- They had to suffer through 1,825 more days of back breaking work for the government

- This led to more peasant unrest in Russia, and more dislike for the government
- The mir was the community/peasant commune that basically ruled over the liberated serfs

- Peasants were now tied to the mir instead of the landlord - this caused the need for peasants to revolt

- The mir chose what land the peasants got

- This was unfair because the serfs were promised freedom, and all they got was being taken advantage of

- The mir was corrupt - it was beneficial to the government: mir controlled tax collection, land was sold for way higher than market value
- The Russian government wanted the newly liberated serfs to stay in the general area of where they had been working before

- The peasants were heavily restricted, being bossed around by the mir and the government

- They had to stay local because the government told the peasants the only land they could purchase was the land made available to them by their mir, who forced them to stay local

- Since serfs no longer had the job of working for a land lord, they now worked in factories all over Russia

- Economy boosted because industrialization was a booming industry now, agriculture was now also a rapidly increasing part of the economy

- The economy was improved, which made Russia a little better
Redemption payments, bad plots of land and immoral working conditions all contributed to the land lord of the serf continuing to have power over them. Their lives had no way to improve when they were still being controlled so much.
Year of the Emancipation: 1861
After 23 million serfs were emancipated in 1861, Russia changed. Now liberated peasants had all new lives they had to adapt to. In the spring of 1861, the peasants became restless. They did not want to work anymore, even though they had been freed from the duties their lords demanded of them, they felt as though they were still being cheated out of better lives. They even thought that this emancipation was a fake and there was a better one coming. Alexander said: "Reports have reached me that you expect a new emancipation. There will be no emancipation except the one I have given you. Obey the laws and the statutes: work and toil! Obey the authorities and the landowners!
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