Peter the Great of Russia (1672–1725)

Peter the Great

1672 On the 9th of June, Peter the Great or Peter I of Russia was born at Moscow. He made Russia look towards West and transformed his country into a power of Europe.  Massive man, able of horrible cruelty, Peter introduced in Russia European technologies and habits and established Sankt-Petersburg city. Son of Tsar Aleksei who had died when Peter was only four years old, he grew up within an atmosphere full of bloody cabals at Tsar’s Court, but he spent a big part of his childhood being calm and without worries in a village near Moscow. He became leader together with his brother Ivan, under his step-sister Sophia’s regency.

1689 He took over all control. During childhood he had learnt how to train his “armies”, how to build a house, to hunt and to sail. Being a practical man, Peter spent his entire life achieving knowledge and skills.

1697 He left to a great diplomatic tour, a tournament of European capitals, period when he worked as a ship builder in Amsterdam and London, where he visited the Parliament and got an honorary degree from University in Oxford. Out of ship building, he learnt to sail and to make watches, attended drawing, engraving, carpentry and masonry  lessons, he learnt how the paper is produced, how whale-oil must be cut, he studied human anatomy and surgery and became a good gardener. More than this, Peter employed eight hundred foreign tampers to work in Russia in order to help him modernize his country, country that had been oriental and back until that moment.

1698 He came back to Moscow to quell the revolt of soldiers and pedestrians from the infantry special body and then he turned his attention to his ambitions regarding external politics. He had inherited a kingdom without seaside and he was decided to solve this Russian problem. He established the first Russian fleet and turned a ragged army into a modern fight force. Firstly he fought against Turks, in the South, in order to open his way to Black Sea, then he prepared the war against Sweden planning to win the control over the Eastern shore of Baltic Sea.

1700 Great Nordic War began, one that lasted until 1721 and Russia suffered a devastating defeat at Narva.

1709 Peter went on and obtained one of the greatest victories in Russia’s history, smashing Swedish army at Poltava.

1721 Treaty from Nystadt was signed, in which Sweden humbly gave to Russia its Baltic provinces. Peter the Great was proclaimed Emperor and so Russian Empire was born. Internally, Peter strengthened Tsar’s powers, both the central and the local ones. He supported industry, introduced a new calendar, simplified Russian alphabet and introduced Arabian numbers, established schools and a science academy. The first Russian newspaper, Vedomosti, was published during his reign. The serfs’ situation remained almost the same and many uprisings were quelled in a cruel way. Even if Peter was ranked as a great reformer and in the end many of his reforms proved to be insubstantial, his greatest act was Russian Empire territorial expansion, especially Baltic shore conquest. He was travelling all the time. He never lived for more than three months in a place.

1725 His death was as his personality. He threw himself into Finland’s gulf’s water to save some soldiers that were drowning. He got sick and could not escape to fever.

Peter liked to have a poor life. He built many wooden cottages where he lived too, but when he was to the Royal Court he wore poor, shabby clothes. He was also decided to impose to noblemen the Western habits, even by himself if it was necessary.

His second wife, Catherine, a former Latvian servant, was one of the few people who could face him. They had twelve children, but only two girls, Ana and Elisabeth, survived.






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