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Birth of the Empire - Peter the Great

The First Years of Peter's I Reign

After the August coup d'etat in 1689, the supporters of seventeen-year-old Tsar Peter Alekseevich (who formally ruled together with his brother Ivan till 1696) came to the power in the country. There were P. K. Naryshkin, T.N. Streshnev, B.A. Golitsyn and others among them.

Important posts were held by the relatives of E.F. Lopukhina - the first Peter's wife (they married in January, 1689). Having left them to rule the country, young tsar spent his time in war games, with the help of foreigners in Russian public service, living in Nemetskaya Sloboda(Kukuya).

Peter surrounded himself by the gifted, energetic helpers and specialists, especially military specialists. Among the outstanding foreigners there were the closest tsar's friend F. Lefort, the experienced General P. Gordon, the talented engineer Y. Bruce and others. Among the Russians there were, forming the group of devoted associates, who subsequently made brilliant careers in politics - A.M. Golovin, G.I. Golovkin, brothers P.M. and F.M. Apraksins, A.D. Menshikov.

With their help Peter's 'potesnhy' army (the base for the two famous in future regiments - Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky) was holding maneuvers in Preobrazhenskoe village. Special attention was paid by Peter to Russian sea-faring. In May 1692 his first 'poteshny' ship (Tsar himself took part in its building) was launched on the Pereyaslavskoye Lake.

In 1693-1694 in Archangelsk the first Russian sea-ship was built and another one was ordered in Amsterdam. It was the ship made in Holland where the Russian red-blue-white flag was raised for the first time in real sea campaign arranged by Peter in July 1694.

Azov Campaigns and "The Great Embassy"

Peter's 'military games' served to the serious aim - Russia needed access to the sea. Archangelsk seaport couldn't provide the year-round commerce because of the short winter navigation. That's why the access to the Black Sea was of great importance to the country. Thus Peter returned to the idea of the Crimean campaigns, in which Prince V.V. Golitsyn sustained a defeat.

After the three-month siege of Azov (spring-summer, 1695) Peter had to retreat. It was impossible to lay the siege to the fortress both from the land and from the sea without the fleet. The first Azov campaign was defeated. In winter 1695-96 the preparation to the second campaign started. The first Russian Fleet was building in Voronezh. By the spring two ships, 23 galleys, 4 fire-ships and 1300 boats were made, using which 4 000 Russian force laid the siege to Azov in May of 1696. After the sea blockade on the 19th of July the Turkish fortress surrendered. The convenient harbour for the fleet had been found in Taganrog, and building of the seaport began. However, there was not force enough to fight Turkey and The Crimea. Peter ordered to build new ships (52 crafts in 2-year time) on landowners' and merchants' money.

Meanwhile, it was necessary to find allies in Europe. So the idea of 'The Great Embassy' (March 1697-August 1698). Its formal aim was to visit the capitals of some European countries to enter into the alliance against Turkey. General-Admiral F.Y. Lefort, General F.A. Golovin, the head of Embassies' Department and the scribe of Boyars' Council P.B. Vosnitsin were appointed The Great Ambassadors. The Embassy included 250 people, with 35 volunteers, who went to study handicrafts and military sciences, and Tsar Peter himself was among them, under the name of Peter Mikhailov. The main aim of the Embassy was to learn the politic relationship between European countries, to study foreign handicrafts, way of life, culture, military order and other things. During 1,5 year abroad Peter and The Embassy visited Kurlandia, Brandenburg, Holland, England and Austria, met with Princes and Monarchs, studied shipbuilding and other crafts. Having received the news from Moscow about the Strelets' Rising in summer 1698, Peter had to come back to Russia.

International relations in Europe at that time didn't allow to continue war with Turkey, so soon (January 14, 1699) Russia together with the other countries-members of The Holy League, had to sign the armistice in Carlovtsy. However 'the Great Embassy' was a real school for Peter. He used this experience when carrying out the reforms in foreign and domestic policy. The decision to start war against Sweden for the Baltic coast and access to the sea came to Peter after his journey to Europe.

By the beginning of the XVII century Russian foreign policy had changed its direction from South to North, and at the same time every sphere of life in the country - from diplomatic and military efforts to Europeanization of the Russian traditional way of life - was undergoing serious changes. Preparations to war with Sweden had become the starting point for the deep politic and social-economic reforms, which characterize the epoch of Peter's I reign.

Some reforms were carried out for years, others - in a hurry. But on the whole, they were forming the system of extremely centralized absolutists state, the head of which was the 'absolute monarch, who doesn't have to be responsible for his deeds to anyone in the world', as wrote Peter I. The reformations were carried out according to the Tsar's Decrees, and during the first quarter of the XVIII c. their number amounted to more than 2,5 thousand.

Reforms in Russian Economics in the first quarter of XVIII.

Main economic conception of that time was mercantilism, which consisted of development of domestic trade along with active foreign trade balance. Encouragement of 'useful and necessary' (from the government point of view) kinds of production and trades was combined with the forbidding and limitation producing 'unnecessary' goods.

Development of industry was dictated by the needs of the war only and was of special Peter's concern. During the first quarter of the XVII c. about 200 manufactures appeared, on the contrary with 15-29 manufactures before the Peter's reign. The prior attention was paid to metallurgy with its center move to Ural. Iron-producing and copper-smelting factories provided Army and Fleet orders. Demidov's Neviansky and Tobolsky plants were founded, in St. Petersburg Sestroretsky plant (more than 600 workers) was producing weapons, anchors, nails.

From 1700 to 1725 the amount of cast-iron smelted increased from 150 to 800 poods a year. The Arsenal and The Admiralty dockyard (in Peter's life-time 59 large and over 200 smaller ships were built there) grew in the capital. In 1704 the first silver-smelting plant was built in Nerchinsk (Zabaikalye). In Moscow and in other central regions of Russia cloth mills, sail and linen manufactories, tanneries were appearing, they provided The Army with uniform, and the Fleet with sail-cloth. By 1725 there appeared 25 textile mills, rope-yards and powder-mills in the country. For the first time paper-mills, cement mills, sugar-refinery, and even wall-paper factory had been built in Russia.

The success of the Russian metallurgy in Peter's epoch could be proved by the following: instead of 35 thousand poods of iron imported from Sweden, by 1726 Russia was able to transport more than 55 thousand poods of iron for export, only through the Baltic ports. Since 1712 import of weapon from Europe had been forbidden, and by 1714 the number of iron and copper cannons accounted for several thousands. By the end of Peter's reign export of Russian goods twice exeeded import (4200 rubles and 2100 rubles). At the same time high customs (of 40% in foreign currency) reliably protected domestic market.

As the industrial production was growing, the feudal exploitation grew harder, and involuntary labour was widely used: serfs, bought (session) serfs, state serfs, who were given to the manufactury as constant sourse of workers. The Decree from 18 January 1721 and the subsequent decrees(such as the one from May 28, 1723) allowed the private manufacturers to buy the whole villages, so that all the villagers could work at the factory at any time.

The reforms also touched upon the sphere of small productions of goods, supported the development of crafts, and some farmers works (such as producing linen). In 1711 trade schools were established. According to the Decree from 1722 all the craftsmen with their elected Head were assigned to the certain shop in accordance with their specialization, where they became masters and apprentices. The total number of the craftsmen living in the cities and towns of Russia in 1720s accounted for 16 thousand, including 6,8 thousand craftsmen working in 146 Moscow shops. The establishment of the shop system illustrated the government protection to the development of crafts and their regulation.

During the reign of Peter I agriculture was developing slowly, in an extensive way. However, there were some attempts to reforms, too. According to The Decree from 1721, more modern equipment was to be used when collecting crops. New cultures of plants were cultivated - tobacco, grape, fruit trees, herbs, new breed types of cattle were brought.

In the field of foreign and domestic trade, thanks to the government monopoly of the supply and sell of the main goods (salt, flax, fur, lard, caviar, bread, wine, wax etc.) the exchequer was being filled considerably. The establishment the merchant's companies and extension of commerce with foreign countries were being encouraged. At the same time importance of the richest merchants of 'The Trade Hundred' was reducing. Moscow, Astrakhan, Novgorod, and the large fairs - Makarievskaya on the Volga river, Irbitskaya in the Siberia, Svinskaya in Ukraine - were the trade centers, besides, on the trade road crossings there were a number of smaller fairs. Peter's government paid much attention to development of the water ways - the main means of transport of that time. A number of canals - Volga-don, Vyshnevolotskoy, Ladozhsky canals - was being built, works on the Moscow-Volga Canal had been started.

Financial Policy

The characteristic features of the financial policy during the reign of Peter I was oppressive tax system. Russia waged war, carried out active foreign and domestic policy, all these required an appropriate country budget, which was provided by extending of indirect and increasing direct taxes.

To cover the growing needs of the country there were new and new taxes invented by so called 'pribylschiks' led by A. Kurbatov: bath-hoses, fish, honey, horses and even beard taxes. By 1724 there were about 40 kinds of different indirect taxes. As an addition to those the state trade brought considerable income.

Alongside with these indirect taxes, there were direct taxes: recruit, dragoon, ship and special 'duties'. To cut expenses coins of the less weight were made and the content of silver in them was reduced, that saved considerable amount of money for the country. But still, that was not enough for the developing country, so the problem led to the reform of the tax system - establishment of poll-tax. From 1718 to 1724 the census was taken in Russia, 5,6 million of men were counted and taxed: landowner's peasants were to pay 74 kopeks, government peasants - 1 ruble 14 kopeks, craftsmen and merchants - 1 ruble 20 kopeks.

By the end of the reign of Peter I the income of the country had grown four times and constituted 8,5 million rubles, half of which were brought by poll-tax.

Reorganization of State Government

Strengthening of absolutists monarchy required fundamental reorganization and extreme centralization of the system of government, its local, central organs and organs of the highest level.

In 1699 Boyars' Council was changed by Close Office, since 1708 it was called 'Councilia of Ministers'. It became a predecessor of Governing Senate, which was a higher government establishment with judicial, administrative, and sometimes legislative prerogatives. It was founded in 1711 and consisted of nine Senators appointed by Peter himself. Three of them were representatives of the aristocracy, other three - former members of Boyar Council and last three - nobles.

Senate Office with the ober-secretary as the Head was responsible for the record keeping. At first the functions of Senate were broad and different. The duties of Local and Rank Departments were transmitted to Senate, it was in charge of the income and the expenditure of the country and of the appearance of the noble at public service. It was also an organ of inspectorate for the complicated bureaucratic system. To carry out this function, there were posts of fiscals (provincial and city) established in the center and in the regions of the country, who reported about offences against the low, bribery, embezzlement of public funds and the other similar actions, causing damage to the country.

Execution Department (a special judicial department) consisted of four judges and two senators. Though Senate was the main controlling organ, its activity were also under control. The new regulation from 1722 about Senate assigned its status of The Empire Higher State Establishment. Peter used Senate to rule the country. But it was engaged with too much routine everyday work. So it was time for fundamental change in the system of central government organs.

Instead of complicated and slow apparatus of Departments (more than 50) and Offices with their vague functions and parallelism at work, the project of establishing Central Departments with well-defined duties was worked out. The Reform of 1718-1720 annulled Departments and Offices and introduced Collegiums. Unlike Departments, in the new organs decisions were made collectively. Eleven Collegiums with strictly defined functions were introduced. The most important of them were Collegiums of Foreign and Military (the Army and The Fleet separately) Affairs.

Collegiums were not in charge of every sphere of government. Different special Departments were responsible for palace affairs, building, medicine etc. During Peter epoch politics investigations were carried out by Preobrazhensky Department (Secret Office - since 1718) under the leadership of Prince F. U. Romodanovsky. At first each Collegium was regulated by its own standing orders, but in 1720 'General Regulations' (consisting of 56 chapters) were published and it defined their general organization and the order of activity.

According to this document an office of each Collegium consisted of president, vice-president, four-five advisers and four assessors, and detailed regulated staff of officials. Subsequent development of officialdom found its place in Peer's 'table of Ranks', 1722. the new law devided public service into civil, military and court service. Fourteen ranks of officials were defined. Everyone who had obtained eighth rank became a hereditary noble. Offices from fourteenth to ninth brought nobility, but only personal.

The new system of extreme bureaucratization of the country changed fundamentally the nobility, having included in to it those from the other social groups. During Peter's reign hundreds of thousands of serfs were given from government and court to personal possession. As for the attracting the nobles to public service, the Decree from March 23, 1714 about primogeniture helped considerably.

Along with strengthening of the central management apparatus the Reform of the local establishments was carried out. In 1708-1715 the system of province government was introduced. Originally the country was divided into eight provinces: Moscow, Ingermanland (Petersburg - later), Smolensk, Kiev, Azov, Kazan, Archangelsk and The Siberia Provinces. Later Voronezh, Riga, Nizhny Novgorod, an Astrakhan Provinces were added to them. Petersburg and Azov were governed by general-governors - Menshikov and Apraksin. The others were ruled by governers, who had the full administrative, police and judicial power. To help the governors, there were officials who were engaged with certain spheres, such as judicial (landrichter), military (ober-commandant), money and food. Administrative units (uyezds) were now governed by commandants, nut voevods. Since 1713 a governor had a council consisting of eight-twelve landrats, elected by the nobles, but next year landrats became assigned officials, who governed new administrative-territorial units.

In 1719 Peter returned to the problem of local administration. According to the new Decree, the country was divided into 50 provinces with a voyevoda in authority. Bigger Provinces remained, but governers were engaged with military and judicial affaires. As for the territorial matter, a governor ruled only a province of the chief town. Provinces in its turn were divided into districts, which were ruled by land captains. Except all these, judicial organs were added to the complicated system of local establishment. In 1719 lower (provincial and town) and higher courts were introduced. Governors were in charge of higher courts. However, by 1722 lower courts were annulled, and higher courts had existed only till 1727. So the attempt of separation of court from administration failed.

The Church and Abolition of Patriarchate.

The Church remained the greatest feudal landowner in Russia, and by the end of XVII century still preserved some politic independence, incompatible with developing absolutism. In 1700 Patriarch Adrian died, Peter decided not to assign new Patriarch. Temporarily, Ryazan Metropolitan Stephan Yavorsky was assigned as the Head of the Clergy, but without powers of Patriarch.

Though formally acting Patriarch still was to call bishops for Councils, but these meetings were merely formal events. The office of Patriarch was abolished and its functions were transmitted to restored in 1701 Monastic Department led by boyar I.L. Musin-Pushkin and the scribe E.Zotov. Revenue and Palace Departments were submitted to this Department.

The income brought by economic activity of the monasteries and other establishments of the Church, was generally used for the needs of the country. Thus, from 1701 to 1711 the Exchequer received from monasteries' lands more than 1 million rubles.

At the same time the Government limited the number of monks, didn't allow them to move from one monastery to another, regulated the staff of monasteries. The Church was to organize and to keep Primary schools and almshouses for cripples invalids and retired soldiers.

At last, on January 25, 1725 Peter established 'The Church Regulations', worked out by his supporter Pskov bishop Pheophan Prokopovich. In accordance with the new law the fundamental reform of the Church was carried out, which completely submitted the Church to the State. Patriarchate in Russia was abolished, and to rule the Church the special Clergy Collegium was established, which soon (February, 14) was transformed into The Holy governing Synod in order to obtain more authority. It was in charge of purely religious affairs: interpretation of the religious dogmas, directions about prayers and church service, censorship of the religious books, fight against heresies, regulation of educational establishments etc. The Synod also had a function of the Religious Court. The Office of The Synod consisted of twelve higher church officials, assigned by Tsar, to whom they swore an oath.

On May 11, 1722, to control the activity of Synod Peter chose from his closest officers and assigned as chief-prosecutor I.V. Boldin, there were Synod office and church fiscals ('inquisitors') in his charge. All the property and finances of the church, its lands and serfs were in charge of Monastic Department. It was submitted to Synod, which was transformed into Synod camer-bureau. Thus, Peter completely submitted the Church to his power.

Creation of the Regular Army and Navy

Many of Peter's reforms were aimed to fundamental reorganization of the military forces of the country: creation of the regular Army and building of powerful home Navy. The 'poteshny' regiments of 1687 were nothing but the core of the new Army. They became some kind of school of fighting training for new units.

Reorganization of the Army already started in 1698, when Strelets regiments were being disbanded and regular regiments were being created. The experience of recruitment of soldiers and dragoons, gained in the second half of the XVII, was used when completing new regiments. In accordance with the new recruitment system, the soldier staff was recruited from peasants and other tax estates, and officers - from the nobles. The Decree from November 19, 1699 provided for completing of 30 infantry regiments. And the Decree from 1705 completed the system of recruitment.

As a result, from 1699 to 1725 there were 53 recruitments to the Army and the Navy (23 main and 30 additional recruitments). They gave more than 284 thousand people, called up for life military service. In 1699, apart from two Guards' regiments, 27 infantry and 2 dragoon regiments were created, but by 1708 Peter's Army had 52 infantry (with 5 Grenadiers among them) and 33 cavalry regiments. After the winning the battle of Poltava, the Army staff was decreased: nearly 100-thousand Army consisted of 42 infantry and 35 dragoon regiments. Nevertheless, the new table (1720) defined 51 infantry and 35 cavalry regiments, which, by the end of Peter's reign constituted the 130-thousand Army of three branches of the service - infantry, cavalry and artillery. Apart from those, about 70 thousand people comprised garrison hosts, 6 thousand - land-militia and more than 105 thousand - Cossack and other irregular units.

To teach soldiers and officers, in addition to 'Military Regulations'(1698), a number of different precepts were worked out: 'Preparations to a battle', 'The rules of a battle', 'Military articles' etc. At last, issued in 1716 'Military Regulations' generalized 15-year experience of constant armed fight. In 1698-1699 the bombard school, attached to Preobrazhensky regiment, was founded in order to teach officers, and in the beginning of the new century mathematic, navigation, artillery, engineering, foreign languages and even surgery schools were being established. In 1720s 50 garrison schools were preparing non-commissioned officers. There was a common practice to send young nobles abroad to take some training course on military science. At the same time, the Government refused to hire foreign military specialists.

Together with creation of the regular Army, the Navy was being built in the South as well as in the North. The main efforts were concentrated on the creation of the Baltic Fleet. In 1708 the first in the Baltic sea 28-cannon frigate was launched, and in 20 years Russian Navy was the most powerful Fleet in the Baltic: 32 battleships (from 50 to 96 cannons), 16 frigates, 85 galleys and other smaller boats. The Fleet staff was also completed with recruits (for the first time - in 1705). To teach navigation a number of instructions were made, among which there were 'The Navy Regulations' and 'The Admiralty Regulations' (1722). In 1715 in St. Petersburg the Navy Academy, training the naval officers, were founded. In 1716 the preparation of the naval officers in naval cadets company started.

The Strelets' Rising of 1898

Peter's reforms required enormous efforts on the side of practically every estate of Russia and were accompanied by increasing of the yoke of the serfdom. It brought to the outcry of all the levels of Russian society. The reign of Peter The Great was accompanied by numerous riots. Often those riots were led by that part of boyars, clergy, merchants, men in service, whose interests were in the contrast with Tsar's reforms. In the first years of Peter's reign conservative powers grouped around Tsarevna Sophia and the Miloslavskys and used Strelets' discontent for their own purpose. In the period of transition to the regular Army Strelets as men of service were not required by absolutism. Being deprived of their original rights and means of subsistence, they accused Peter and his reforms of it, and thus rose up in revolt many times.

The riot, raised in 1698 in Peter's absence, was the most dangerous. Four Strelets' regiments had moved from Polish boundaries to Moscow, but were met at New Jerusalem by two Guards and Butyrsky regiments led by boyar A. Shein and General P. Gordon. The onslaught of devoted to Peter forces made the strelets surrender. After the investigation, 130 Strelets were hanged, 140 were lashed with a whip and the others were exiled. Peter, who urgently returned from abroad, demanded re-investigation of the Strelets' case. According to his order, more than a thousand of strelets were returned from exile and were executed at public. Tsarevna Sophia, who had supported the riot, was made a nun and imprisoned in a convent. In fact, Strelets' host was liquidated.

'The Case of Tsarevich Aleksey'.

After Sophia was removed, the opposition concentrated around Tsarevich Aleksey, son of first Peter's wife Evdokia Lopukhina, who was by force made a nun. Being afraid of his father, in 1716 Aleksey ran away from Russia and moved to Austria. Austrian emperor Carl concealed Tsarevich, first, in the Tyrol, then in Naples. But with the help of Peter's diplomat Count P.A. Tolstoy and Guard officer A. Rumyantsev, he was returned home. In 1718 the investigation began. Having been tortured in Petropavlovskaya fortress Aleksey pleaded his guilty in treason and gave away his accomplices, who were executed soon. On June 24, 1718 the special trial sentenced Tsarevich Aleksey to death, but he died in a casemate under obscure circumstances. The case of Tsarevich Aleksey became the reason for issuing of the Decree 'Truth of the Monarch Will', which grounded the right of a monarch to assign a successor using his own discretion. In 1722 Peter signed the Decree about succession, but he died before he assigned his own successor.

The Astrakhan Revolt. Uprising under K.Bulavin's Leadership

The Astrakhan Revolt. The Revolt under leadership of K. Bulavin.

The Astrakhan Revolt.

One of the great revolts of trades-people was the Astrakhan Revolt of 1705-1706, caused by unbearable burden of taxes and introduction of foreign way of life by force. On July 30, 1705, at night risen trades-people, soldiers and workers broke in Astrakhan Kremlin and killed voyevoda N. Rzhevsky; 300 nobles and governing people were executed in the town. Insurgents shared the property among each other. The rebels established the system of elective organs under the leadership of Yaroslavl merchant Y. Nosov. Soon the troops of insurgents moved to neighboring towns of Caspian region, one thousand troops of astrakhans moved to take Tsaritsin.

To stop the riot the Government called for the Don Cossacks troop and Kalmyk taysha (Prince) Ayuka. These measures helped to localize the revolt. Soon, the troop of Government forces led by the field marshal B.P. Sheremetev was sent to suppress the riot, and in March, 1706 it took the town after a fighting. A few hundreds of Astrakhan rebels were sent to Moscow. For two years they were tortured in Preobrazhensky Department, many of them died during the investigation. Those who survived were executed in 1707.

The Uprising under the leadership of K. Bulavin.

In 1707-1708 a new powerful movement, which covered the Don, Slobodskaya Ukraine and Povolzhie, started. It was caused by the searching expedition led by Prince Y.V.Dolgoruky, who had returned more than 3000 fugitive serfs. The cruelty of the search roused the indignation of Cossacks. The former ataman of Bakhmut Cossacks K. Bulavin became the leader of the rebels. In September 1707 they defeated Dolgoruky's troop and started to gather fugitive serfs into the host. Tsars' Government demanded from the ataman of the Host of the Don L. Maksimov to stop the riot. After the defeat of Shoulgin town the rebels had to hide in Zaporozhian Host.

In spring, 1708, having been back to the Don, Bulavin continued fighting. Its center was in Pristansky town on Hoper. At the same time the riot spread to the neighboring to the Don southern districts of Russia. On March 22-23, the council of the rebels decided to go to Chercassk, and then to The Asov. At the end of April 7-thousand Bulavin's troop approached the capital of the Don; with support of ordinary Cossacks, who gave him a troop, K. Bulavin took the town and executed Cossacks' authorities. On May, 9 he was elected to be ataman of the Host of the Don. Troops of Bulavin's allies - I. Pavlov, I. Nekrasov and others -took several other towns in the south of Russia, took Kamyshyn and Tsaritsin, laid siege to Saratov, fought on Southern Donets, and as for Bulavin, he himself laid siege to Azov, but soon had to retreat.

At that time 32-thousand government force under leadership of Prince V.V. Dolgoruky was sent to the Don. This news strengthened already existing disagreement among Cossacks. As a result the plot was devised and on July 7, 1708 Bulavin was killed. But the riot didn't stop. The troops of atamans, sharing Bulavin's ideas - N. Goliy, S. Bespaliy, G. Starchenko and others - continued armed fighting in Povolzhie and Ukraine, remained in the upper reaches of the Don. In this period the riot covered 60 districts, and only at the end of 1708 the authorities managed to suppress its main centers. In the first decade of the XVII century riots among inhabitants of Povolzhie and Priuralie (the Bashkirs, the Mari, the Tatars, the Chuvashes), caused by unprecedented arbitrariness of Peter's administration and local feudal lords, and by forcible conversion to Orthodoxy, almost didn't stop (for example, the armed fighting of the Bashkirs in 1705-1711). There were indignation among workers at manufactures and different factories (for example, at Ural metallurgic factories) in Peter's epoch, too.

Foreign Policy. The Northern War.

In epoch of Peter The Great the priority of the Foreign Policy of Russia was the fight for access to the Baltic sea, and it was realized as the long, lasting during almost all Peter's reign, Northern War with Sweden (1700-1721).

To unleash war against Sweden, Russia had to make peace with Turkey. To accomplish this task the Embassy of the scribe E.I. Ukraintsev was sent to Constantinople, where the armistice for 30 years was signed on July 13, 1700. As soon as the news about the armistice reached Moscow (August 8, 1700) Peter declared war to Sweden.

By this time Swedish king Carl XII defeated Denmark and moved to the Baltic States. In October Russian forces laid siege to Swedish fortress Narva. On October 19, 1700 they received a sudden devastating blow from 12-thosand troop under the leadership of Carl XII and were defeated. To the great extent it happened due to the betrayal of foreign officers under leadership of Duke Sh. de Croa and the lack of skill of Russian regiments. At that time Peter was in Nizhny Novgorod. The Narva defeat made international status of Russia worse. Believing Russia to have lost the war completely, Carl XII concentrated on the fight against Poland.

In 1704 the Russian took Narva and Derpt (Yuriev), forced the Swede back to Revel (Tallinn) and Riga. As a result Russia obtained strong position in Eastern Baltic states, access to the sea and suggested peace to Sweden, but got the refusal. In 1704 under the Swede's pressure S. Leschinsky was enthroned in Poland. It made Peter help August II with his armed forces (on August 19, 1704 Peter I and August II signed a new Russia-Poland treaty in Narva). 60-thousand Russian Army under the leadership of Menshikov acted in Poland and Lithuania. Despite all these, forces of August II were defeated, and on September 24 he signed disgraceful separate peace treaty with Sweden, moreover, he refused Polish throne and alliance with Russia.

In summer, 1708 Carl XII moved to Russia. Having defeated Russian forces in Golovchino in July 1708, he took the crossing over the Dnepr.The crushing defeat of 16-thousand corps near the village Lesnaya on September 28, 1708 became fatal for the Swedes. More then 9 thousand people were killed or injured. This battle took most of Carl's reserves, ammunition and considerably weakened his forces. Soon after Lesnaya 13-thousand corps of General Lubeker tried to attack St. Petersburg from Finland, but Admiral Apraksin, the Head of the city defense, managed to parry this attempt successfully and defeat the Swedes, who lost almost one third of the personnel.

In winter 1708/1709 in Ukraine Carl's force appeared in an extremely hard situation. Carl XII laid siege to the fortress Poltava, which lasted for three months. Peter decided to give a general battle. On June 24, 1709 the famous Battle of Poltava took place. Swedish forces were completely defeated by Russians.

8 thousand Swedish soldiers and officers were killed and 3 thousand people were captured, Russians lost 1,5 thousand people. In three days (on June, 30) retreating, left by its King Swedish Army led by Lewengoupt surrendered to pursuing it 9-thousand Menshikov's corps near Perevolochna on Dnepr. Swedish King and hetman Masepa ran away to Turkey.

The Victory of Poltava changed the course of the war. Denmark and Saxony renewed the alliance with Russia, and then Prussia and Hanover joined them. So far as Sweden refused peaceful proposal of Russia concerning its rights of the possessing the lands near the Finnish Bay, Peter operated actively in Poland (Menshikov) and in the Baltic States (Sheremetev). In 1710 the Russian forces took the fortress Elbing, and after the siege Swedish garrisons of Riga, Vyborg, Pernov, Revel and other fortresses surrendered. Thus, the Baltic States were cleaned from the Swedes.

On November 10, 1710 Turkish Sultan declared war to Russia, having demanded Azov back and liquidation of the Russian Fleet. At the end of February 1711, after unsuccessful diplomatic efforts, Peter had to accept Turkish challenge.

On July 9, 1711 38-thousand Russian Army was surrounded by 135-thousand Turkish Army and 50-thousand host of Crimean Khan at the river Prut. Turkish janissaries attacked Russians but met severe resistance on the Russian side and had to retreat, having lost about 8 thousand people. Russians lost half of that amount but they were in dangerous condition, too.

Peter agreed to negotiate with Turkish vizier Mekhmed-pasha. In accordance with the peace treaty, signed on July 12, 1711 in Prut, Russia returned Azov, destroyed fortresses Taganrog and Kamenny Zaton on Dnepr, removed the armed forces from Poland. But the Army was saved; peace on the southern boundaries was restored.

In 1712 Russian forces together with Danish and Saxon Armies operated successfully in Pomerania (Poland). In spring, 1713 with the help of galleys Russians occupied Helsingfors (Helsinki), and in summer Swedes left Abo. But Swedish Fleet was still in the Baltic. On July 1714 Russian Fleet led by F.M. Apraksin defeated the great Swedish squadron near the Cape Gangut (peninsula Hanko). Thanks to this victory Russia was able to transmit operations to Swedish territory; soon Russians took Aland isles, and stepped on the Swedish coast.

England, Hanover, Holland and Denmark decided to use Russian success and concluded an alliance with Russia against Sweden. In fact, England and Holland didn't want Sweden to be defeated completely and Russia to have strong position on the Baltic. So, the coalition broke up, and on August 4, 1717 Russia-France alliance was concluded. In May 1718 Aland Congress opened, and the negotiations on Russia-Sweden peace treaty started. But sudden death of Carl XII, who was killed in an accidental clash in Norway, interrupted the negotiation. New Swedish Queen Ulrika-Eleonora and her advisers were hoping to conclude the alliance with England and were delaying the finishing of the war.

English squadron appeared near Russian coast in the Baltic. In reply, in 1719 Russian forces landed in Sweden and, having made some successful operations, came back, and Peter's Fleet won the battle of Saaremaa island. In July 1720 rowing fleet commanded by M.M. Golitsin gained the victory of the Grengam isle, having taken 4 Swedish frigates. In spring 1721 Russian forces landed near Stockholm in order to press on Swedish government. International situation contributed to it, too: position of Russia in Poland became stronger, and on November 5, 1720 the 'eternal peace' treaty with Turkey was signed. At last, after the long negotiations on August 30, 1721 in Finnish town Nishtadt the Russia-Sweden peace treaty was signed. The Northern War was finished.

Russia received Ingerman-landia, a part of Karelia, Estlandia and Liflandia including Riga, Derpt, Narva, Vyborg, Korela, the isles Dago and Esel in the Baltic, having paid for territorial acquisition 2 millions efimkas(silver rubles). Russia became the great European country.

On October 22, 1721 at the ceremonial session of the Senate the title of the emperor was given to Peter by the Chancellor G.I. Golovkin. By this act Russia was declared to be the empire, and its ruler - to be the head of the powerful state, entered the unity of the world states. The Eastern direction of the foreign policy was of the great importance too. On September 12, 1723 in St. Petersburg the peace treaty with Persia was signed, according to which eastern and western coasts of the Caspian sea with Derbent and Baku and provinces Gilyan, Mazenderan, Astrabad were included into the Russian empire; Russia and Persia concluded defensive alliance against Porta. According to the Istanbul treaty (June 12, 1724) Turkey admitted all the Russian acquisition in Pricaspie and refused its claims to Persia. Thus, the defense of southeast boundaries of Russia was made stronger, and its international prestige grew higher.

Culture in the Epoch of Peter The Great

Development of trade and industry, creation of the regular Army and Fleet, introduction of the completely new structure of official-bureaucratic apparatus of absolutism and other reforms required total reconstruction of the educational system, training of the great number of skilled specialists.

In 1699 Cannon-founders' school was founded in Moscow, and in 1701 the 'School of Mathematic and Navigation Sciences' was opened in the building of Sukharevskaya Tower. It became the predecessor of the Navy Academy, established in 1715 in St. Petersburg. During Peter's reign Medicine School (1707) was opened, engineering, shipbuilding, navigators', miners' and crafts schools were established. In province Primary education were represented by three types of school: 46 diocesan schools, teaching clergymen; 42 counting schools, teaching local petty officials; garrison schools, teaching the children of soldiers. In addition to it in 1703-1715 a special general school - pastor E. Gluk's 'gymnasium', teaching mostly foreign languages - worked in Moscow.

Civil education required new teaching books. In 1703 'Arithmetic, i.e. the science of counting:' by L.F. Magnitsky was published, in this book letter numerals were changed with Arabic ones. Some time later Magnitsky and English mathematician A. Farwarson published 'Tables of logarithms and sinuses'. F.P. Polikarpov, G.G. Skornyakov-Pisarev, Ph. Prokopovich and others contributed a lot to the writing and publishing of new teaching books, textbooks and other educational supplies.

Simultaneously publishing started to develop very fast. In 1708 Peter I established new civil font instead of church Slavonic. New printing houses were opened in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities. More then 600 titles of books and other publications, a great number of which were translated from foreign languages, were published during Peter's reign.Development of typography triggered the beginning of organized book trade, and in 1714 The State Library was opened in St. Petersburg, which became the base for the Library of the Academy of Sciences.In December 1702 the first Russian newspaper 'Vedomosti' started being issued.

Great success was achieved in the field of geodesy, hydrography, cartography and prospecting of mineral wealth. Russian sailors-hydrographs did a lot to map the Asov, the Caspian, the Baltic and the White seas. The expeditions to Siberia, Far East and Middle Asia, accomplished by V. Atlasov, I. Evreinov, and F. Luzhin, D.G. Messershmidt, F. Benevin, I. Unkovsky and others, were marked by considerable geographic achievements. Three weeks before he died, in January 1725, Peter signed an edict about the first Kamchatka sea expedition under the leadership of V.I. Bering and A.L. Chirkov to find out where Kamchatka 'meets America'. This expedition lasted from 1725 to 1730.

Geological research was of a great scale at that time. During Peter's reign prospecting of coal was began near Moscow, in Donbass and Cusbass, the prospecting of oilfields near Ukhta and in Western Siberia. G.V. Gennin, V.N. Tatischev, Y.V. Bruce contributed considerably to development of mining and metallurgy.

Russian inventors gained considerable success.

In the first quarter of the XVIII century a number of valuable works on Russian history were written.

On the Peter's I initiative scientific collections were being collected. In 1718 the Decree issued, which obliged people to present 'human, as well as cattle, animal and bird freaks', as well as 'old inscriptions made on stones, iron or copper, or old uncommon weapon, dishes and everything, which is very old and extraordinary'. From this moment organization of domestic museum management studies began. In 1719 Kunst-camera (cabinet of curiosities) was opened for public, collection of 'rarities' of which became the base for the collections of the future museums: the Hermitage, Artillery Museum, Naval Museum and others.

As a result of achievements in the field of science and education, according to Peter's Decree (January 28, 1724) Academy of Sciences was established in St. Petersburg. (It was opened only after Peter's death in 1725). Academy of Sciences was not only the scientific center, but also the base for training scientists. Soon University and a gymnasium, attached to it, were opened.

The most important social, economic and politic events in Russian public life of that time were reflected in literature and social and political journalism. In 1717 in St. Petersburg the work concerning the reasons of the war with Sweden, prepared by vice-counselor P.P. Shafirov according to Peter's order, was published. It was the first in Russian history serious diplomatic treatise about the priorities of the foreign policy of the country. The works of outstanding natural-born scientist I.T. Pososhkov (1652-1726), and first of all his the most famous work 'Book about poorness and wealth', represented economic field.

Pheophan Prokopovich (1681-1736), one of the main supporters of the Church Reform, was one of the brilliant orators, writers, church and public figures of Peter's epoch. Another outstanding church figure was Metropolitan Stephan Yavorsky (1658-1722) - acting Patriarch in 1700-1721.

The attempts to creating Public theatres in Moscow and St. Petersburg were made at that time. The first Russian dramas were written then: 'Vladimir' (tragicomedy by Ph. Procopovich), 'The Glory of Russia' (the play by F. Zhukovsky) and others.

In the first quarter of the XVIII century in the field of graphic art civil painting, especially portraits, was developing. Among outstanding portraitists of the time were I.N. Nikitin (1690-1742), A.M. Matveyev (1701-1739), and among the masters of engraving was I. Adolsky. The works of engravers - A.F. Zubov, A.I. Rostovtsev and P. Pikar - depicted the architectural image of both Russian capitals.

The spreading of sculpture compositions, which was new for Russian culture, was expressed in creation of palace parks ensembles, for example the Great Cascade of Petergoff palace (architect J.B. Leblond)

During Peter's reign the transition to regular urban planning was realized, large architectural ensembles, more of civil than of religious character, were built. The most expressive example of urban planning of that time was building of St. Petersburg. The complex of buildings and constructions of Petropavlovskaya Fortress, Peter's I summer palace (architect D. Tresini), the building of Twelve Collegiums (architects D. Tresini and M.G. Zemtsov), Admiralty (architect I.K. Korobov) became the distinguished monuments of architecture. Sukharev and Menshikov Towers (architect I.P. Zarudny) were built in Moscow.

In Peter's epoch Russian traditional way of life underwent fundamental change. Rationalism and European high life customs step by step were taking place of patriarchal way of life. In 1718 Peter I issued an Edict about 'assemblies' with obligatory presence of women. Assemblies were held not only for entertainment, but also for business meetings. The Edict contained the detailed plan of organization of assemblies - dances, games etc. The use of foreign words, mostly French words, in speech was encouraged.

Peter's transformations in the sphere of culture, way of life and customs were of pronounced political character, and were conducted by force. The interests of the state, which was developed according to the strict monarch plan, were of the main Peter's concern when performing those reforms. The introduction of European customs by Decrees, tearing apart with ancient Russian cultural traditions was to emphasize the difference of principle of The Russian Empire - the great state of the European type, creation of which took only a quarter of the century.

Russian Empire
Birth of the Empire - Peter the Great
Epoch of Palace Revolution
Russia in the second half of XVIII century
Epoch of Alexander I Reign
Nikolai`s Russia
Epoch of Great Reforms
Alexander III Government
Russia in XIX-XX centuries.First World War

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