Peter the Great
Peter the Great
•Born June 9, 1672
•1682 - 1694 Peter “rules” with
half brother Ivan under
Regency of half-sister
•1694 Peter takes sole control
(Ivan dies 1696)
•Reign = 43 years (1682-1725)
Peter the Great
Introduced new (Western) technologies to Russia
Successful in battle against the Turks
Successful in the Great Northern War vs. Sweden
Implemented several internal reforms
Modified government policies & strictly enforced them
Increase Russia’s territory (particularly access to Baltic)
Built St. Petersburg
Peter the Great
Peter the Great, like Louis XIV, learned at an early age to
be on guard against the Russian nobles and the army.
While a youth, he had to fight off the power of his halfsister Sophia, while sharing power with his half-brother
Peter the Great
Peter was enchanted with western culture and ushered
Russia into the modern age. His efforts to modernize
Russia met with stiff opposition from the church and the
boyars, and his own son thought of him as the anti-christ.
It has been said that Peter dragged Russia "kicking and
screaming into the modern era."
Peter wanted to equip Russia with
modern technology, institutions,
and ideas. He required Westernstyle education for all male nobles,
introduced so-called cipher schools
to teach the alphabet and basic
arithmetic, established a printing
house, and funded the Academy of
Sciences which was established
just before his death in 1725 and
became one of Russia's most
important cultural institutions.
He demanded that aristocrats acquire the dress, tastes,
and social customs of the West. The result was a
deepening of the cultural rift between the nobility and
the mass of Russian people.
St Petersburg
The best illustration of Peter's drive for Westernization, his
break with traditions, and his coercive methods was his
construction in 1703 of a new, architecturally Western
capital, St. Petersburg, situated on land newly conquered
from Sweden on the Gulf of Finland. Although St.
Petersburg faced westward, its Westernization was by
coercion, and it could not arouse the individualistic spirit
that was an important element in the Western ways Peter so
St Petersburg
Peter and Paul Fortress
A 20th century statue of Peter
inside the fortress
Notice the exaggerated features
Winter Palace
(summer palace)
View to the Gulf of Finland
Samson rending open
the jaws of the Lion
Reforms - Military
Established navy
Reorganized army
Drafted for lifetime
Officers from nobility
Nobility either military or civil servants
Reforms - Govt
In 1722 Peter
introduced the Table of
Ranks, which
determined a person's
position and status
according to service to
the tsar rather than to
birth or seniority. Even
commoners who
achieved a certain level
on the table were
Reforms - Govt
Peter tripled the revenues of the
state treasury through a variety
of taxes. He levied a capitation, or
poll tax, on all males except
clergy and nobles and imposed a
myriad of indirect taxes on
alcohol, salt, and even beards. To
provide uniforms and weapons
for the military, Peter developed
metallurgical and textile
industries using serf labor.
Reforms - Church
The Orthodox Church was
partially incorporated into
the country's
administrative structure.
Peter abolished the
patriarchate and replaced
it with a collective body,
the Holy Synod, led by a
lay government official.
Peter's reign raised questions about Russia's backwardness,
its relationship to the West, the appropriateness of reform
from above, and other fundamental problems that have
confronted many of Russia's subsequent rulers. In the
nineteenth century, Russians debated whether Peter was
correct in pointing Russia toward the West or whether his
reforms had been a violation of Russia's natural traditions.

Peter the Great