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Peter the Great

"I have conquered an empire but I have not been able to conquer myself." - Peter the Great

Russia's goverment under Peter the Great was an absolute monarchy*. He was the sole leader of Russia, and his word was law. Peter also believed he had divine right**, and used it to help justify his claim to the throne.

*Absolute monarchy - A government ruled by a king or queen with unlimited power. The ruler controls all aspects of society. **Divine right - The idea that a monarch is God's representative on Earth, and is therefore answerable only to God.

Biographical details

Peter the Great was born in Moscow on May 30, 1672. He was the grandson of Michael Romanov, a czar of Russia. When he turned 10 years old, he became czar himself but due to political issues, he was forced to rule with his brother Ivan under the support of Sofia, his sister. Sofia was overthrown in 1689 and was banished to a convent. Shortly after, his brother Ivan died. This left Peter as the monarch of Russia.

Once Peter became the sole monarch, he strived to make Russia a major power and competitor in Europe. In order to do this, he hired many European ship builders, architects, craftsmen, and merchants to work in Russia. Also, he decided to take a tour of Europe to learn all that he could. Unlike many other rulers, Peter had the humility to learn. This enabled him to gain much knowledge for his reforms to be carried out.

After he returned to Russia, he set his mind on a seaport. He believed that in order to be a major power, Russia had to have an opening to the Baltic Sea so that trade could occur. In order to construct this seaport, he needed a chunk of land. Because of this, he started a war with Sweden that lasted 21 years. After this war resolved, Peter had the land to start the construction of what was to become St. Petersburg. In the process of building the city, many people died.

After the completion of the city, Peter forced nobles to come and live in the city. This helped to populate the city. In addition to his cultural reforms, Peter also carried out political reforms. Among these were establishing a governmental institution called the Senate, which was made up of ten ministries called kollegii. Peter also brought about a new poll tax. This helped supply funding for an active foreign policy and it boosted trade and manufacturing. Peter the Great died on January 28, 1725 and he was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral. To this day people bring flowers to his tomb.

Effects of Peter the Great

There were many effects of Peter the Greatís rule on Russia. One was that Russia became a major power in Europe. Also, St. Petersburg provided a seaport that made it easier for Russia to conduct trade. This was necessary for the growth of Russiaís economy. Peter also formed a new style of government. Along with this, a new poll tax came into effect. Peter also created an organized army and navy to defend Russia. All in all, Peter made Russia prosper.

Peter the Great's Major Accomplishments:

  • Hired European architects, craftsmen, engineers and merchants
  • Gained access to the sea
  • Built St. Petersburg
  • Westernized Russia
  • Reorganized the government
  • Built a Russian army and navy
  • Boosted national manufacturing and trade