For numerous reasons, after 1861, unhappiness and lack of satisfaction of peasantry increased dramatically. In my opinion, the biggest responsibility for this was the Emancipation Act introduced by Alexander II in 1861. However there were other changes that cumulated to create such discontent of the peasants, including; industrialisation; increase in population; agricultural workers, industrial workers; and autocracy.
When Alexander II introduced the Emancipation Act in 1861, the majority of peasants in Russia were left discontent. An estimate of over 80% of the Russian population were peasants, and more than half of these were serfs. The idea of the act was to give freedom to the serfs; however, this freedom came with a price (literally). Formers serfs had to pay a redemption payment to the government for a duration of an astonishing 49 years and were completely controlled by their village communes, so much so that they even had to ask for their permission before leaving the village. As this was an act, it was not optional and serfdom was abolished, leaving a large percentage of the population agitated and discontent as at least with serfdom, they didn’t have to give away substantial amounts of money Another key change that created extreme discontent of peasantry was the rapid increase of the Russian population. The Russian population doubled between the years 1861 to 1914 to 130 million. This was a huge problem as it caused overcrowding in main towns and cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow. It also caused conflicts and land disputes as there was not enough housing to shelter everyone, and although Russia is the largest country in the world, there was not enough land to share between this extreme population. Due to the increase in population, many people were migrating to big towns and cities. Urbanisation occurred as there were not enough job vacancies, and families were unemployed. The increase in population also created food shortages across Russia as there was an increasing demand for food to supply the entire country. In some cases, food shortages did lead to starvation of individuals and families.
Industrial workers were displeased in Russia in the 19th century as there were no benefits, therefore if they got injured and were unable to work (which was not rare due to poor working conditions); they would not receive any relief to substantially support them and their families. For some people, they could not afford to be injured and become unable to work, as they struggled to provide the basics for their family being employed. Agricultural workers also suffered in 19th century Russia as there was no sufficient farm land and peasants were only entitled to strip farming. Strip farming is where a field is shared between many people in long but narrow strips, which were not the easiest thing to grow crops on. Only certain crops were able to grow in the amount of land allocated, not all providing a sufficient income, and therefore leaving these peasants struggling to earn enough to provide for their family, and thus making them desperate, unhappy and stressed.
Alexander II’s had strong beliefs in autocracy, as did his father and the rest of his family whom had been in power. The strength of his commitment to autocracy increased in the years following 1860, later leading to an attempted…