Nicholas I (Николай I Павлович, r Nikolai I Pavlovich; 6 July 1796 – 2 March 1866) was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1864. He was the younger brother of his predecessor, Alexander I. He was also the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He is best known as a political reformer whose reign was marked by Industrial Reform, Liberalisation of the Judicial System, Military Reform, The Abolition of Serfdom, and the annexation of Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand.
He saw himself as 'The Father of Russia' – a patriot and reformist determined to bring Russia up to par with a changing world. A handsome man, he was highly self-confident and strategic and trained as an engineer. His reign had an official ideology called "Reformist Nationalism" that was proclaimed officially in 1827. It was a Industrialization policy based on economic expansion, westernisation, economic liberalism and Russian nationalism.
He was successful against Russia's neighbouring Central Asian rivals as he annexed the Khanates of Khiva, Kokand and the Emirate of Bukhara during the Grand Annexation Campaigns of 1843-1848. Historians emphasize that his reform of the armies with a extreme meritocratic system in the selection of his generals, he is also known for the reforms in the training of the Military and the large budget spent on constantly updating all Russian soldiers with the top armaments and uniforms of the time.
Nicholas was born at Gatchina Palace in Gatchina to Emperor Paul I of Russia and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia. He was a younger brother of Emperor Alexander I of Russia and of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia.
Nicholas was not brought up to become the Emperor of Russia; he had two elder brothers. In 1825, when Alexander I died suddenly of typhus, Nicholas was caught between swearing allegiance to his second-eldest brother, Constantine Pavlovich, and accepting the throne for himself. The interregnum lasted until Constantine Pavlovich, who was in Warsaw at that time, confirmed his refusal. Additionally, on 25 (13 Old Style) December, Nicholas issued the manifesto proclaiming his accession to the throne. That manifesto retroactively named 1 December (19 November Old Style), the date of Alexander I's death, as the beginning of his reign.
1825-1830 Focus Moves away from Agriculture and Urban expansion
Nicholas, motivated by his Liberal Generals, hired advisors from Europe in rapidly Industrialising Places such as the UK and Prussia. He was determined after persuasion by his advisors to shift Russia's economic focus from grain production to Manufacturing. Taxes for those who invested in factories were nearly eliminated, taxes for Agricultural Workers and Industrial Workers were separated (with far lower taxes for industrial workers) to encourage free men to move to the Moscow and St.Petersburg and seek employment in a series of newly expanded and built factories. This was largely successful, but the cities soon became the site of large overflow ghettos as workers had nowhere to live, with the the Moscow Typhoid Outbreak of 1829 large rows of apartment blocks were built in the city centres of four major cities to deal with the influx of rural migrants seeking employment. Despite these actions the economy of Russia was pretty stagnant until 1833. To solve this Russia's Minister for Finance opened up Russia to, and encouraged foreign investment while removing former barriers such as tariffs.
1830-1845 Industrialisation and Abolition of Serfdom
Nicholas I saw the downsides of Serfdom on the Russian Economy after appointing an advisor who had studied in Western Europe. He was convinced that if Russia were to Industrialise to challenge the growing dominance of the United Kingdom he would have to have a large, Urban workforce at his disposal. The decree of Serf Liberation was signed in 1832. To prevent strong Peasant communities the Government forced many into public construction jobs including new Private and Public factories spread wide across Western Russia, this helped rural towns grow at a steady pace, lifting many rural economies. This became known as 'The Freedom Folly' among many former serfs who felt they had become slaves of the state. Despite this Serfs were awarded many new freedoms such as property rights and the right to travel freely and after the Free Economics Plan of 1836, the freedom to seek alternative employment, but unemployment was a criminal offense until 1848, after the Decree of Citezenship, as it was considered a hindrance to the State and Public good.
1840-1850 Judicial Reforms and The Decree of Citizenship
The judicial reform of Nicholas I is generally considered one of the most successful Judicial reforms of the 19th Century. A completely new court system and order of legal proceedings were established. The main results were the introduction of a unified judicial system instead of a cumbersome set of estates of the realm courts, and fundamental changes in criminal trials. The latter included the establishment of the principle of equality of the parties involved, the introduction of public hearings, and jury trial. However, there were also problems, as certain obsolete institutions were not covered by the reform, but these were later eliminated in the 1870s. In 1848, with the incorporation of newly annexed Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand the decree of citizenship was established. It ruled that any man over the age of 16, under the rule of the Russian Empire had the right or responsibility too... 1.) The right to travel freely in Russian land. 2.) The right to seek or refuse employment. 3.) The right to a fair and balanced trial. 4.) The responsibility to enlist in the Army Draft. 5.) The responsibility to Pledge allegiance to the Russian Monarchy.
Grand Annexation Campaigns
Resignation, Illness and Death
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