The Decembrist Revolt
By the time the Decembrist revolt was taking place Russian serfdom had become useless to the Russian society and was not of any value to the society as a whole. As a matter of fact it had reduced humanity to a point that peasant farmers did not have a right over their personal lives
The Decembrist revolt which can also be termed as the Decembrist uprising was held on the 26th of December 1825. It’s known as the Decembrist revolt because this events took place in December. This revolt was staged by army officers in the heart of Russia at the senate square that is located in in St Petersburg. The Decembrist brought to the table the desire of the elite to have freedom and ensure that every human being had the rights to govern their own personal lives. The Decembrists had experienced how liberalized western societies lived. They had attended liberal universities and interacted with nationalities that had absolute freedom. They therefore saw the need to have freedom and to eradicate serfdom and other vices that were inhuman. This was therefore marked as the turning point for the serfdom in the Russian empire. Serfdom can be traced back to the 11th century. It can be termed as part of the feudal exploitation that developed among the rural population in Europe as a whole. Serfs as they were referred to in Russia were seen as private property owned by their masters. This was basically a form of slavery that was rather modified. (Hayek 56) Landowners had overtime acquired rights over taxation policies over the peasants working on their land. This eventually led to evolvement of ownership rights and this led to peasants living under the mercies of their master. The masters at some point had absolute power over the peasants to a point that they could not marry or get married without permission from their masters. More than twenty million Russians peasants had become property of the masters and had no rights or privileges over their lives or families as a whole (Hayek 67).
It was important to end serfdom in Russia because its demerits were more than the merits. Other countries in Western Europe that had abandoned the feudal system had become more advanced economically, politically and socially. Russia on the other hand remained to be in the same economic and political status. The people of Russia also acknowledge the fact that they were not progressing like the other countries in Western Europe. Among such people was Peter the Great who was for the transformation of the political, social and economic structure of Russia, his greatest desire was to move Russia to a modern era. He therefore advocated for the abolition of serfdom to improve the economy. Serfdom was then used as an explanation to some of the weaknesses that Russia was going through at the time. Weaknesses such as shortage of food, backwardness in industrial technology, overpopulation (Hayek 110). It contributed to shortage of food because the population was growing at a high rate especially among the serfs this in return translated to high population that could not produce enough food for itself. Industrial technology could not develop because they were used to the old ways of means of production. During farming they used the common farming tools because they had a large number of serfs who provided labor. They therefore saw no need to have advanced equipment because they were in a comfortable place. There can be other factors that can be said to contribute to this issues, serfdom however can be said to be a contributing factor as well.
Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV was the grandson of Ivan the great, he was the first to be proclaimed the tsar of Russia. His reign came with a number of achievements among them the completion of the Russian state that was administered centrally. He also saw the creation of the Russian empire that incorporated the non-slave states. Peter the great was a czar in Russia during the 17th century. He is well known for his reforms in Russia and how he helped improve the political, economic and political structure of Russia. The role of peter the great can never underestimated in Russian History. Both leaders can be said to have played a great role in Russia. However they both played different roles and used different approaches in ruling the people of Russia.
Ivan the terrible was generally a strong leader and had absolute power over Russia. Ivan the terrible was more of a dictator, he ruled with extreme violence and he was not hesitant in killing people. His authoritarian aspect made him acquire other territories and expanded Russia. However during his reign thousands of people lost their lives because of the numerous wars that the people of Russia fought. His reign was characterized by unbalanced authority from him. He had moments where he could be a very good leader and have the best interest of the people at heart. He would all over sudden change become brutal and very cruel. He was very unpredictable, this is also evident in his personal life because he got married to at least seven wives. His uncertainty was translated to Russia and eventually the country was in turmoil. He was also very suspicious and was often in fear of his throne being taken away from him. He believed that people were in a bid to take away his position as the tsar of Russia. His rule can therefore be described as dictator based.
Peter the great can be said to be the absolute opposite of Ivan the Terrible. He was a believer of bureaucracy and believed in executing administrative issues in an orderly way. He was not happy by the fact that Russia was not as developed as other countries in Europe. (Robert, 56)He therefore worked towards ensuring that the country develops, economically, politically and socially. (Robert, 76) He traveled all over Europe in search of ideas and a plan on how he was going to improve Russia. During his reign he was able to reform the serfdom system, he was also able to place the Russian Orthodox Church under the management of the government. He also fought a number of wars in order to expand Russia’s territory. He was also determined to have a Russian based navy and as such he built a European seaport that did not freeze even during winter. Peter the great had a reign that can generally be described as good, productive and beneficial to the people of Russia. He also motivated the people of Russia to develop themselves and work hard in order to develop Russia. The capital of Russia back then was named after him, St. Petersburg.
Hayek Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. University of Chicago Press, 2001
Robert K. Massie. Peter the Great: His Life and World. University of Chicago Press, 2003