Peter the Great – Waking the Bear From It’s Slumber

Who Was Peter?

Here are the titles of Peter:

By the grace of God, the most excellent and great sovereign prince Pyotr Alekseevich the ruler all the Russias: of Moscow, of Kiev, of Vladimir, of Novgorod, Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan and Tsar of Siberia, sovereign of Pskov, great prince of Smolensk, Tversk, Yugorsk, Permsky, Vyatsky, Bulgarsky and others, sovereign and great prince of Novgorod Nizovsky lands, Chernigovsky, of Ryazan, of Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersky, Udorsky, Kondiisky and the sovereign of all the northern lands, and the sovereign of the Iverian lands, of the Kartlian and Georgian Kings, of the Kabardin lands, of the Circassian and Mountain princes and many other states and lands western and eastern here and there and the successor and sovereign and ruler.

As a child Peter got a good education, he was constantly around several tutors. The father of Peter was Alexis I the current monarch of the kingdom and he suddenly died in the year 1676. The throne passed to Peter’s half brother, the ill Feodor III. Because he was sick he couldn’t completely rule so some people were governing instead, but his death was 6 years after he became king in 1682. He didn’t have any children of his own so the title went to the other brother called Ivan V. He was mentally ill so a council gathered and chose 10-year old peter instead and his mother as regent. In the meantime a rebellion broke lose by the elite Russian forces called Streltsy. They killed many of Peter’s relatives and friends. As Peter witnessed these acts a hatred towards them was born. Their rebellion was a success and Sophia the leader of the rebellion and Peter’s half sister insisted that Ivan V and Peter rule together. Sophia for 7 years controlled both of them, she even made a hole in the throne that could be seen today, giving information on what Peter should say to the nobles.

From a young age Peter’s interest in the military could be seen, he only wanted to play with war toys and was interested in warfare. As years passed by the Prestige of Sophia was getting weaker and Peter wanted to gain control. She instantly played the Streltsy card, but it was no use. She ran away and Peter started to gain control. He later forced her to enter a convent and lose the control of her claims. When his mother the current Regent died he gained full power of the throne. This was in 1694, but there was also Ivan V. Even tough he wasn’t doing anything he died in 1696 leaving Peter alone on the throne.

Peter had a Russian background and he grew extremely tall. He was around 6.8 feet or 2 meters. In that period it was an extreme height. He was always a head taller with anyone he met. But he wasn’t bulked for that size, he was skinny and couldn’t fill the whole frame. There are descriptions of his small head that didn’t match his body.

Modern Russia

Before all of this, the French ruler wrote a letter to the Russian king Alexis I. The problem here was that Alexis was dead for 11 years. This shows how weak the Russian state was at the time and Peter will give it exactly what it needs. He started to modernize Russia. In order to do this he must make the country stable. After he cleared his enemies, such as the Streltsy he moved on.

Starting with the importing various boat makers, blacksmiths, artists, craftsman of all sort, etc. He started to increase the production in Russian. In the meantime he started to send people from Russia to study other languages, such as french. Before these reforms Russian diplomats were people that were paid with items and didn’t have a job. If a person was needed to be sent to Poland he would be paid in fur and he would do his job and sell the fur afterwards, sometimes they didn’t even know the language, Russia didn’t have diplomats at the time. Peter made sure to professionalise this profession as much as he can. He sent people to each country to study so he can later use them.

He started to introduce western dresses in his court and for the aristocracy to adapt the modern clothing style. He also wanted them to share their beard, either he would do it for them or tax them. This is a display of power as well. This means that I could do anything for you, if not suffer the consequences.

Peter wanted to gain naval power, this is why he started to build boats. The problem with Russia is that they don’t have a good sea they can use at the time. The black and Caspian were controlled by the Ottomans and the Baltic by Sweden. First he fought off the Crimean Khan that were supported by the Ottomans. His objective was to capture Azov so that Russian could get out on the sea. His first campaigns for Azov were a fail. With the ships he built he launched a campaign again and managed to take Azov away from the Turks. Russia’s first navy was born.

The Europe Journey

Facing the great power of the Ottoman Empire was something that Peter couldn’t currently achieve. He made a hidden journey that lasted 18 months in Europe. The problem here was that everyone knew who he was because Peter was 2 meters tall. He started to negotiate with the other European monarch, but they had no effect. This delegation was also known as the “Grand Embassy”. He visited a good part of Europe, he also learned shipbuilding.

While away there were a couple of rebellions, such as the one from the Streltsy. He crushed it and made a good stamp for the current time being. He then moved the new year celebration to January the 1st, from September the 1st. He enforced the nobles to arranged marriages for a better balance in Russia. But all of the beard cutting, new clothing, etc. reforms made a lot of people mad. They wanted to bring back the old traditional way of life and rule. This will still stay years after Peters death.

The North War

While the peace with the Ottoman empire was in motion Peter went north. He wanted the Baltic and to gain control. If he capture the Baltic sea this would give Russia the perfect trade route. But the Swedish Empire was controlling it and a war had to take place. Current king of Sweden was Charles XII. But the Swedes also had other enemies, such as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark-Norway.

The first Battle of Narva in 1700 was a crushing defeat. Russia back away to regroup while Sweden turned against Polish-Lithuanian union. In the meantime Peter founded St. Petersburg which was part of the Swedish Empire. This city was a coastal city in the Baltic. He made it capital for the Russian Kingdom.

When the Swedish king defeated Poland he turned to Russian again. In 1708 he invaded and Peter was again defeated. But the events turned and the next battle Peter was victorious. Charles march was a failure and he retreated. But instead of running back home he attacked Ukraine. After a year of roaming across a battle broke loose, the Swedes were defeated and had to retreat, but in the Ottoman empire. He started another war with them but it was a disaster.

He also made a senate of 10 influential characters. This organ of the state would be very functional and would rule when the monarch is absent. Also it had the power to submit laws, but it needed the monarch signature meaning the king had the control. Looking at the war of the north Peter made Russia reach a much better sea and established a massive city. This made Russia establish a good merchant economy. Also he pushed back to Livonia and took most of Finland. He made them Russian provinces. The war didn’t end until Charles XII died and a peace was signed.

Looking back at what Peter achieved we can see that he left some serious marks and also that he modernized Russia. This made the kingdom to evolve with the other European kingdoms and put it on the map. The next time someone would write them a letter they would know who is the ruler.