Why Did Alexander II Emancipate the Serfs in 1861?

Alexander had many liberal friends, several of whom where supporters of these western liberal ideals. His connections in and around the Decembrists meant that he had a clear and precise understanding of their situation and knew exactly what it was they were protesting about. Koshelyova, and influential landowner, told Alexander that "The abolition of the right to dispose of people like objects or like cattle is as much our revolution as theirsaE. The influence of these friends must have played a vital role in Alexander's views on emancipation, which, combined with Zhukovsky's teaching, must have inclined him in favour of emancipation.

Even though Alexander was a sympathiser towards the condition of the serfs, he strongly believed in maintaining the autocratic system at all costs. His famous statement "it would therefore be better if the transformation took place from above rather, than from belowaE shows that Alexander knew serfdom posed a threat to his regime and feared a revolution. Instead of emancipating from the position of "tsar liberatoraE, he did it from the decisively conservative stance, not wanting anything to interfere with or even overthrow the autocracy, or jeopardise his position and the divine rights of th



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