HIST245 Lecture 11: Lecture 11 outline
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Lecture 11: The Great Reforms
a. Turning point in Russia history. Pre-1861 and after 1861. 1861-1865: reforms that modernized
Russian, abolished Serfdom.
b. How do we get there: dramatic significant step taken by next ruler: Alexander II.
c. Context needed for Great Reforms period.
d. End of Nicholas: began with domestic disaster and instituted reactionary principles to prevent
this, reign ended with terrible foreign crisis. In turn spurned his successor to introduce far
reaching domestic revisions. Crimean War shook up Russian Domestic Policy, wasn’t just war,
but caused many, esp. Russians elite to figure out wehere Russian went wrong and to solve this.
II. The Crimean War, 1853-1856
a. Stems from Nicholas reactionary policies, at home and abroad.
b. Policy towards Ottoman empire does the best to illustrate how important reactionary principles
were to Nicholas.
c. During Catherine – Russian & Ottoman Empire enemies, fighting over Black Sea are, who got
Crimea, but Nicholas decided that when it came to internal revolts that challenged traditional
structures, enemy could become friends when in came to internal issues: Russia come 1832-
Egypt rises up against Sultan. Nicholas sent troops, in order to crush uprising to keep with
Nicholas ideas of keeping rulers in power.
d. Ottomans weakened by internal unrest and sense of chaos and weak ruler ship at the top, being
called the “Sick Man of Europe” countries taking bet of who getting pieces of Ottoman Empire
when it collapses. Poised to divided up Ottoman Empire once assumed structure collapses.
e. Nicholas continuing support of Sultan, esp. 1832- not looked unfavorable, France, Britain and
Austria beginning to think Russia not doing this just in reactionary principles, but getting head
start in taking of territory once it collapses.
f. By Late 1840, tense: keeping with principles illustrated by Congress of Vienna, after defeat
Napoleon: when countries in Europe begin to see one European state gaining more power than
other, ally together to gang up against state. 1848: Nicholas see as GanDar as Europe, propping
up states via revolutions, but did not intervene in France and second Republic claimed in France
– Louis Napoleon, nephew. Wanted to become Empire and Russia target.
i. How: pry Ottomans from Russian alliance, challenged those state of affairs in Jerusalem,
orthodox in Jerusalem in charge of holy places, what Russia supported but when Louis
asked Ottomans to give holy things to Catholics, Ottomans chafing under Russia, play
two states: get away from Russian and agree to Louis in December 1852.
ii. Blow to Nicholas, didn’t want to go to war. Former allies, time and military might trying
to prop them up. Spent next trip trying to negotiate to change minds, after not really do
what he asked, did he declare war on Ottomans over this issue in 1853.
g. He invades province of Moldavia and Wallachia: Sick Man of Europe, Ottomans are on way out,
so Nicholas once changes mind, why not get a head start on dismemberment of Ottoman Empire.
Began to formulate great plans to take over Balkans, get Balkan Christians to revolt against
Ottomans and help ally with Russians to try and push Ottoman Empire out of Europe.
h. European distrust of Europe: did not go over well. In 1854: get another blow, gang of Europeans
with Louis declare war of Russia (need to take them down) France gets Britain on side. Blow to
Holy Alliance, Austria joins with French and British and declares war. Austria has good
motivation: bordering all of Balkans.
i. So France, Britian and Austria gain to lessen Russian Empire, keep balance principles in tact and
so demand that Russia exceed to 4 point plan to end the war.
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i. 3 most important: demanded that Russia get rid of Blakc Sea fleet. Prized creation of
Peter and Catherine. Britian and France invae Crimea.
j. Biggest blow comes to Nicholas, September 1854: British and France invade Sebastopol,
Russian territory. Died soon after the invasion of March 1855. Crimean war to blow to Russia,
Nicholas, reactionary principles home and abroad that Nicholas instituted.
III. Alexander II and Reform
A. A Plodding Reformer
a. Son of Nicholas. Nicholas military man, Alexander is like Peter and Alexis, never up to snuff.
Didn’t despise Russian military but didn’t love it, didn’t like military obedience thing, didn’t
care that much about revolutionary.
b. But on other hand, didn’t come to power like Alexander I, full of ideas for reform. Never
made any bold declarations about Russia being renewed. Hard to know if Alexander II had
any plans at all memoirs written about him: observers who called him “least talented and
intelligent of Russian rulers” – charming, how to smile and be pleasing. Never got emotional,
disliked intense arguments either from conservative and reformers. Going to be guy who
completely transforms Russia, not within expectations of Russian elite. How become big
reformer: Crimean War.
i. Turning point in Crimean War – siege of Crimean Port of Sevastopol continued in
1855. Siege was brutal both for victorious and vanquished, stats. Vary, but 100ks of
Russian soldiers killed, 12k on the last day of battle. Many who saw Crimean War
and Civil War of advent of new warfare for Europe and west. Mass casualties become
the norm. British and France even though won war, war of attrition lost many men,
French 100k French soldiers died in Crimea.
1. Well over half of those who died, died of disease. Instructive war – nature of
causalities ranked institution of Field Hospital and nursing of sick come out of
stats. About dying from wounds and diseases.
2. Field hospitals with trained nursing staff become part of warfare due to
ii. First wars to be fully documented photographically. Roger Fenton: photographic Van
that went around taking pictures of soldiers, battlefields, and valley of the shadow of
death – shells of brutality of warfare, bringing pictures home changed nature of public
discussion of warfare. Both in western and in Eastern Europe. Russians got to see
through photographs and journals how devastating war was. Nature of war+ in
August of 1855, Sevastopol captured by British and France and Russians had to
retreat in shame. Alexander: thought no point in continuing war, Russia had to cut
losses, costing fortune in terms of money and manpower and no man in site. March
1856: Russia concedes humiliating defeat in Treaty of Paris.
iii. Finally do have to destroy Black Sea fleet. Treaty of Paris turning point. 1st time:
going to see advent of something like public opinion in Russia, people getting
engaged, people following progress of war, and trying to figure out why Russia lost in
such humiliating way. People began to ask – “Why was Russia defeated so easily by
European powers even though once thought of great nation” – marched into Paris but
iv. Interesting: critique of government was not along liberal and reform minded elite, but
among conservatives as well. Most conservative bureaucrats found questioning
Russia’s government: corruption and stagnation and why this led to military belief.
Consensus: although looked like European superpower, was not. Domestically: was
barbaric backwards country that Europeans always thought it was. People blame
v. Alexander began to receive reports from bureaucrats that things not going well:
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