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The Emancipation of the Serfs

The emancipation of the Serfs in 1862 had significant positive impacts. The main objective of emancipation was to improve the social conditions of the peasants and to establish a development strategy in the Russian economy. Emancipation contributed to these processes in a very significant manner, while at the same time alienating landowners and reformists.

In any case, there are significant benefits that were to be gained from emancipation from economic and material standpoints. Emancipation paved the way for more efficient agricultural activities and the creation of available labor for the industrialization of Russia. This was entirely needed given the failure of the Crimean war, by freeing the serfs soon after they paid redemption fees. They then had the freedom of seeking work in the new factories. The constant serfdom was a great obstruction of modernization of the military; therefore, burdening the treasury with unproductive military expenditures. R.A fadyet, a military reformer, he indicated that “under serfdom, anyone joining the army is freed. Therefore, one can’t join many people into the military without reorganizing the entire social order. Therefore it is important we increase the military establishment during the peacetime moments. ”

Emancipation of the serfs implies that the poorer nobles would be saved from bankruptcy. By the end of 1859, a third of the lands owned by the serfs had already been mortgaged to the noble banks. A majority of the small landowners could not afford to feed the serfs. It can be argued that Emancipation was turning to be irrefutable, and a majority of landowners were drastically shifting towards the free labor system by employing other people’s serfs. Since the peasant redemption fee would cancel the debts to the gentry, the economic benefits of emancipation were irresistible. The banks would not wait for the peasants to pay them: the state would pay them 80% of the total debt for the lands. Having been freed, the peasants, they were provided with a period of 49 years within which they were supposed to pay the 20% debts at very cheap rates. Moreover, the remaining debt was to be paid directly to the landowners in cash or through labor. The government would also assist them with generous loans to find it easy to pay the debt.

The serfdom system can be described as a situation where agricultural workers in Feudal Russia who cultivated land that belonged to certain landowners. The emancipation of the Serfs occurred due to some reasons. Most of which are linked to Russia .The defeat in the Crimean war was a huge failure to Russia as the Superpower. They lost their national prestige as they lost the war to Britain, France, and the Sardine Kingdom. Isolation is not the problem, but when it collaborates effort, then there is a purpose and objective behind it.This real change has to happen due to the amount of numbers. The Russian peasant made up approximately 80% of the entire Russian population and the time. When such a vast percentage wants something and is not opposed to using force, then there was a huge problem for the Russian autocracy.

Emancipation can simply be described as “to set free, from social, political and economic restrictions.” In the case, the emancipation in question concerned the end of serfdom. This was a form of slavery that bind the serfs to the landowners. A serf was an agricultural labourer who was tied to work on certain estates.

Even though Russia had come to depend on the serfs economically, the Serfs were holding the country back. Serfdom presented numerous problems, and Russia was lagging behind the rest of Europe. As indicated earlier, serfdom was an obstruction of free flow of labour. Therefore there were no modern techniques in agriculture. As a result, the noble elites discovered that their estates were becoming less productive. Moreover, the realized that the serfs were becoming more inefficient of the validity of Western criticism by Western economists opened up their eyes. Moreover, the defeat in Crimea demonstrated that the military needed drastic reforms. This was a challenging process of the Serfdom survived. For serfs who had served for more than 25 years in the ranks were admitted to the military. Moreover, the abolition of serfdom was the only solution to the rising numbers of peasants.

In 1861, the Tsar government decided that the Serfs must be emancipated. As indicated by Alexander in one of his famous speech to the noble landowners in Moscow “You understand that the prevailing system of serfdom should be changed. It is better to start a process of abolishing serf-ownership from above than to wait for it to start to abolish itself from below.”

Alexander issues his manifesto for emancipation proposed 17 legislative measures that would set free the Serfs in Russia. Alexander proclaimed that individual serfdom would be abolished and all the peasants would have the capability to acquire land from the noble landowners. The state would then advance the debt to the landowners and recover it from the peasants in 49 years known as redemption fee.

The success of emancipation of the serfs was significant in its accomplishments. The emancipation was a prelude to some of the most sustained program of sustainable reforms that was experienced by Russia. It also achieved these great changes without violence. It is evident that the only solution that this could have been accomplished was through an absolute ruler of the government. Otherwise, it could not have been achieved in a country ruled by democracy. The only social reform that can be compared to Serf emancipation is the freedom of African-American slave in 1865.Nevertheless, the emancipation of the serfs should be held to a lesser degree. This is because approximately fifty million serfs were set free without any adverse implication.

The significant change falling on the positive side of emancipation was the restructuring of the entire government system. The noble land owners were not happy with emancipation statute. Even though they received redemption fee, a majority of the landowners were mortgaged to the bank prior to the emancipation. Therefore, the redemption money in most cases went to pay most of the debts. Early 21st century, the nobles owned 40% less land compared to what they held back in 1861.This was attributed to the fact that they found the estates gradually losing their value and slowly sold off the land to the serfs.

The limited success of serfdom proved too many that Tsar’s government could not meet the need to common Russians. Indeed, it contributed to the slow growth of the economy. Agricultural activities were not effective, and the nobles were no more financially stable. There was a strong change in the fact that the emancipation established a motion of unforeseen chain of positive events that forever transformed the social and economic life of the Russian. The freedom bestowed on the Serfs provided them with an avenue towards industrialisation.

Emancipation was a success from the international point of view since the title of the policy demonstrated that Russia was a democratic country, that was stepping forward, and the statute was the only path that the rest of the world would have known of it.In a political point of view, emancipation was not a success for the Tsar; he lost the support of the noble who now backed him due to the fear of violence from the peasants

While the serfs were freed and opened up the consumer economy for the country, Tsar was faced with the problem of the peasants fighting for more changes because they had got the terms they were promised at the beginning. The peasants came out with numerous reasonable issues because they were now they were free from serfdom, which furthered their hopes of more reforms. However, they had already been impoverished by the Tsar with the redemption fee, small pieces of land and lack of better methods of agriculture. However, the conditions were much better compared to what they were before emancipation. After the emancipation, the Tsar lost the ground, because he promised the peasant and now they had ways of criticising the government, a capability they never had before. The huge advantage of emancipation was that it was a huge transformation which often outweighed the mass of disadvantages upon the peasants, which entirely were not new; they had not been addressed.

Freedom to the Serfs was one of the biggest social transformation and accomplishment. The emancipation statute of 1861, focused on giving freedom to the serfs, while at the same time maintaining the satisfaction of the nobles and landowners. However, the turned to be less efficient, and in most aspects, serfdom remained. Initially, it was assumed that all private serf to be free and granted individual rights. This included: freedom of marriage, owning property among others. Moreover, village people were allowed to seek other jobs freely.

Reforms initiated by the emancipation statute had significant advantages in Russian social, political and economic spectrums. The impacts were far-reaching compared to any other former Tsar. Alexander II understood the backwardness of serfdom. Therefore he decided to introduce reforms, with the objective of increasing status and welfare of the country. All the reforms he introduced had their positive and negative impacts. However, the emancipation of the serfs was the most genuine reform he introduced. Considering the extent of accomplishment for the singular reform, Emancipation had long-lasting changes, while other reforms had slight visibility among the society in short period.



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