Peter the Great

Facts about Peter the Great

We found 32 facts about Peter the Great

The first Emperor of all Russia

Peter the Great is considered one of Russia's greatest rulers. He was a great reformer, strategist, and builder who was the first of the tsars to travel abroad to learn and watch the world develop.
He wasn’t reluctant to act incognito to take on physical labor. He tried to transfer all the experience he gained to Russia. He won wars, built cities, and changed the country for the better. His methods were not always benign and approved by everyone. It is said that he was great but also cruel.

Peter the Great
Pyotr I Alekseyevich, commonly known as Peter the Great, was born in 1672 in Moscow.

He was the son of Alexei I Mikhailovich (Tsar of Russia from 1645 to 1676, father of three successive tsars of the Romanov dynasty - Fyodor III, Ivan V, and Peter I), and Natalia Kirillova Naryshkina (Tsarina of Russia, second wife of Tsar Alexei I Romanov).

At the age of four, he lost his father and was placed under the care of boyar Rodion Streshnev.

His education took place under the tutelage of enlightened teachers, including Simeon Polotsky, a great poet and dramatist who came from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He received a thorough education, learned German and Dutch in his youth, and was interested in technical and military issues.

After his father's death, Peter's half-brother, Fyodor III Romanov, took the throne.

Fyodor's death, after six years of rule, led to conflict between Peter and his other half-brother Ivan, who was mentally limited.

Eventually, both brothers became tsars, with their sister Sophia as regent.

The brothers co-ruled until Ivan V died in 1696.

Meanwhile, Peter married Eudoxia Lopukhina, who came from a wealthy boyar family.

She married Peter shortly before an attempt on his life, prepared by the Tsar's half-sister Sophia Romanova (Peter threatened her claim to the throne). Three sons were born of the union with Eudoxia: Alexei Petrovich (who was later imprisoned, tortured, and executed in Petropavlovsk on his father's orders), Alexander Petrovich, and Pavel Petrovich. The marriage, however, did not turn out to be a happy one, Peter dismissed his wife and later confined her to the Pokrovsky Monastery in Suzdal.

Shortly after Ivan V's death, already an independent tsar of Russia, he won his first victory, defeating the Turks and capturing the fortress of Azov.

This made him realize the need for a strong navy.

Meddling in the Polish election, Peter I supported the election of August II the Strong as king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1697.
He was the first Russian tsar to travel abroad.

In 1697-1698, he embarked on an official diplomatic, 18-month mission called the “Grand Embassy,” traveling through the countries of Western Europe.  He went on this trip incognito as Peter Mikhailov.

The official purpose of this trip was to obtain confirmation that Turkey's European adversaries were ready to continue the war against the "enemy of the Lord's cross."

However, diplomatic considerations were not the only ones that came into play. Peter was curious about Europe, he wanted to see and learn about it. He wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible in matters that interested him.

Peter I dreamed of bringing Russia as a strong, modernized, accepted state into the arena of European politics.

He wanted to establish permanent diplomatic relations with European courts to gain their support in the struggle against the common enemy - the Ottoman Empire, and to acquire specialists in various fields for his country.

The envoy consisted of 200-250 people accompanying three plenipotentiary deputies (ambassadors).

These included three governors: Novgorod, Siberia, and Belov.

The envoy visited Livonia and Prussia, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Austria and the Republic.

In social contacts, Peter I was perceived as an attractive man with a noble demeanor and pleasant appearance. His intellectual qualities were also appreciated, but his lack of social savvy was also recognized, and his behavior was described as typical of a representative of his country.

During his stay in the Netherlands, Peter was employed in a shipyard belonging to the East India Company as a simple laborer, demanding to call him Peter Timmerman van Zaandam (Peter, the carpenter of Zaandam).

He settled in the enclosed area of the shipyard. Every day he went to work together with the craftsmen building the 30-foot frigate, which the Company named after the apostles Peter and Paul. He ate meals with his fellow workers, who addressed him by his first name, although everyone knew who he actually was.

While in The Hague, he regularly attended parliamentary sessions (as an observer), visited scholars, and toured palaces, picture galleries, and museums.

He took a keen interest in minutiae, "trying to pinch a particle from each discipline for his own use." He made massive purchases of technical equipment, books, biological preparations, etc. He also recruited more than 100 craftsmen and many officers.

Peter I's trip to Western Europe is described by chronicles as one of the "milestones" of his reign.

The repercussions of this trip were the changes that took place in Russia. From a semi-oriental, remaining isolated country, Russia turned into an important participant in European politics. The reforms that the tsar began to introduce upon his return touched almost every area of the country's life. They were often not only a reproduction but also a copy of the devices and solutions the tsar saw in Western Europe.

Many specialists in various fields came to Russia (about 750 people, mostly Dutch).

Among them were military officers, craftsmen, and people of science and art. Their task was to teach Russians and instill Western European progress in the country.

The reforms introduced by Peter the Great over the years affected the military, administration, economy, as well as education, culture, and the Orthodox Church.

He established a table of ranks. The first to be introduced were changes in customs (boyars had to shorten their robes and shave their beards, which could now only be worn by clergymen, peasants, and merchants - for a special fee). He also introduced Western dances and smoking.

Peter I reformed the army, introducing annual compulsory conscription for permanent service in the regular army.
He introduced a new administrative division of the country, dividing it into gubernias, provinces, and districts.

He also established magistrates governed by mayors.

The reform also included the central government of the state. A ruling Senate and colleges were created.

He placed subordinates at the head of the new offices, thus perpetuating tsarist absolutism and centralization of power.

He built from scratch the new city of St. Petersburg, to which he moved the country's capital.

In 1721, the Senate proclaimed Tsar Peter the Great as Emperor of All-Russia.

He organized a network of secular schools at the elementary level.

He reformed the existing Cyrillic alphabet, creating a new script. He established the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

He subordinated the Orthodox Church to the state, allowing Russia to take over the cultural tradition of Byzantium.
He introduced the Julian calendar in place of the Byzantine calendar.

At the time, the Julian calendar was used only in Protestant countries; Catholics had already been using the Gregorian calendar for 100 years.

He introduced the poll tax, which was the primary source of revenue for the Russian monarchy until 1887.
In 1712, Peter the Great received the Order of the White Eagle - the oldest and highest state decoration of the Republic of Poland, awarded for distinguished civil and military merits for the benefit of the Republic of Poland.
After the end of the Third Northern War with the Peace of Nystad, Russia gained wide access to the Baltic Sea, and the opportunity to develop its fleet, and unlimited international trade.

Russia gained its "window on the world" that Peter I had so sought.

Peter the Great is Vladimir Putin's favorite historical figure.
Tsar Peter I was nicknamed “the Great” not only because of his merits but also because of his impressive height - 203 centimeters.
In Poland, there is a giant oak tree in the village of Toporów, which was named the Peter I Oak in honor of Peter the Great.
Peter spent the last years of his life expanding Russian territories in the east.

He conquered Kamchatka and fought a war with Persia, consolidating Russia's position in the Caspian Sea region.

Peter the Great died on February 8, 1725, in St. Petersburg.

He is buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral on the grounds of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

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