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Word Count: 1,782
A brilliant civil servant in the reign of Alexander I Speransky pointed out that there were only two estates in Russia the slaves of the Sovereign and the slaves of the landlord The former are called free in relation to the latter but in fact there were no free men in Russia except the beggars and the philosophers That is to say throughout the 19th century the peasants who were mostly serfs contributed the majority of the population in Russia During the period of 1801-1905 the main government policy towards the peasants was to emancipate the serfs though the degree of carrying out this emancipation policy was quite different from Tsar to Tsar In 1801 Alexander I came to the throne In this early years of Czardom he was influenced by Speransky and took the emancipation of the serfs as his major concern in his reform programme In 1803 he issued an edict that the landowners could if they wished emancipate the serfs with land allotments This resulted in emancipation of about 50000 peasants Then between 1816 and 1819 serfs in the Baltic provinces were also liberated with their legal rights clarified and improved Besides the sale of serfs as substitutes for army recruits was ended Even when Speransky was replaced by the narrow-minded conservative Arakeheev the Tsar still opposed to serfdom In 1818 Arakeheev was asked to prepare for the emancipation of the serfs The sale of serfs without land except in Estonia Courland and Lavonia was forbidden Alexander Is emancipation policy was genuine However as HL Ellison had said The will to transform the condition of the peasants remained strong but the visible means of making major changes were lack of Thus the status and the situation of the majority of peasants remained unchanged whereas in the Baltic provinces the conditions of the serfs were worsened for most of the land was still retained by the nobles When in 1820 the spread of
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