HIS 241
Unit 11:
Alexander II and the Great Reforms




Tsar Alexander II of Russia (1818-1881, reigned 1855-1881).  Along with Peter the Great, Alexander II was by far the most important reform-minded tsar of the Romanov dynasty.  His reforms of the 1860s profoundly affected Russian society and charted a new course for his country.

Alexander II
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What you must do this unit
What you can do this unit
  • Read Professor Hammond's notes on the "Campaign to Assassinate  the Tsar" (*.pdf file).  The Russian revolutionaries tried for quite some time to assassinate Alexander II before finally succeeding in 1881.  The story of the "hunt for the tsar" is actually very fascinating, and here, in Professor Hammond's lecture notes, you can get a brief account of what was involved.
  • Read chapter 23 and chapter 24 from Mary Platt Parmele (1843-1911) A Short History of Russia (1907, 4th edition).  These are short chapters, and this is optional reading.
Some videos that you can watch for this unit
  • Russia - Land Of The Tsars 17
  • Russian Imperial History 17/20
  • For extra credit please suggest to your instructor a relevant video for this unit of the course. Send the title of the video, the url and a brief explanation of why you find the video interesting and applicable to the material that is being studied in this unit.
Extra Credit Options
  • For 50 points maximum extra credit, read Ivan Goncharov (1812-91), Oblomov (1858) and write a one-page paper about why it took Oblomov so long to get out of bed in the morning.
  • For 50 points maximum extra credit, read W. Bruce Lincoln, The Great Reforms: Autocracy, Bureaucracy and the Politics of Change in Imperial Russia (1990) and write a one-page paper about why the tsar actually undertook the Great Reforms.
  • For 50 points maximum extra credit, read Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (1826-89), History of a Town (1869-70) and write a one-page paper in which you explain why the book was so funny yet so realistic.
  • For 25 points maximum extra credit, read the Emancipation Manifesto (also in Russian at schoolart.narod.ru/1861.html) and write a paragraph that answers the question, What was the underlying political rationale for the Emancipation?
  • For 10 points maximum extra credit, submit the answers to the Turgenev study questions.



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