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Tsar Alexander II and Emancipation of the Serfs

            There were many reasons for the tsar deciding to emancipate the serfs, like his uncle Tsar Alexander I had tried to do in the past. Russia used to be one of the greatest powers in Europe, but due to her lack of reform she was falling far behind many of her western counterparts and Tsar Alexander believed that emancipation, along with other reforms, could help to make Russia a great power once again. Alexander emancipated the serfs for many reasons, but his own upbringing and liberal influences was one of the most important. He had gained many of his views from his tutor, zhukovsky, who was a well-known liberal poet. He continued to gain support from some ministers such as General Dimitri Milyutin. This influence from a young age had helped to give him the view that serfdom was an outdated and cruel system and he continued to receive support for this policy of reform from parts of the intelligentsia which allowed him to push it through easier. This was not the only reason for his reform but was an important factor because emancipation could not get through without the personal support from the tsar.
             As mentioned before General Milyutin was a big supporter of reform and this was because he believed that emancipation could help to create a more professional army as seen by western powers such as Britain who, along with other nations, had defeated Russia in the Crimean war which ended in 1856. He wanted a smaller, better trained army and believed that the current policy of conscription and use of military service as a punishment created an ineffective military force. The creation of a professional, voluntary force would help to improve moral and allow Russia to better train her military. Alexander had been crowned while Russia was being defeated in the Crimean war and this had shown how ineffective her military was which meant that reform, through emancipation as well as other more detailed military reform, was essential.

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