chapter  1
24 Pages

On the Path to Reform

Under Alexander III Russia carried out a major shift in its foreign policy, from its traditional alliance with Germany to an alignment with France. The statements of Katkov and Pobedonostsev gave Alexander the support he needed to reject any liberal plans. On April 29, 1881, he issued the Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy, written by Pobedonostsev. The principle of unshakable autocracy that it proclaimed made a reexamination of the reforms of the 1860s and the 1870s inevitable. Because Ignatiev had come into office after the publication of the Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy, he devoted considerable effort to strengthening the power of the state. The autocracy adopted a series of measures in the second half of the 1880s and the early 1890s aimed at preserving the patriarchal and communal practices of peasant life. The intelligentsia came to occupy the gentry's place, even though it rejected historical tradition and was hostile to autocracy.