Peter the Great

(Peter I of Russia)


Peter the Great was a reformer who redesigned the Russian navy, educational system, and government to suit his view of what a progressive Russia should be. He started several wars, which eventually resulted in a greatly expanded Russia. His mistress, Catherine, later became Catherine I of Russia, also a great leader. Although Peter was a reformer, he was not an idealist. The attempts of his half-sister Sophia to seize the reins of power early on gave Peter a close-up view of the ruthlessness that categorizes most political monarchies. This ruthlessness would also mark Peter as a ruler; it is most notable in his torture and execution of his eldest living son Alexei, on suspicion of treason. Peter I is also famous for his incognito tour of Europe, where he learned practical skills such as ship-building, and his founding of the city of St Petersburg.

Key events during the life of Peter the Great:

Born June 9th, son of Alexis I of Russia.
Tsar Alexis dies, crown passes to Peter's elder brother, Feodor III.
Death of Feodor III. Peter I chosen as Tsar instead of his older brother Ivan V, with his mother acting as Regent.
April-May, uprising of the Streltsy places Sophia Alekseyevna (Peter's older half-sister) in power.
Declared co-ruler of Russia with Ivan V, with Sophia acting as Regent.
Arranged marriage to Eudoxia Lopukhina. They had two children.
Sophia overthrown and incarcerated in convent. Peter and Ivan continue to co-rule.
Death of mother Natalya.
Death of Ivan V; Peter I now sole ruler of Russia.
Capture of Azov from the Ottomans.
Travels incognito in Europe to seek help of European monarchs against the Ottomans, but is unsuccessful.
Uprising of the Streltsy in favour of Sophia. Sophia's supporters executed and Sophia forced to become a nun. Founding of first Russian naval base, Taganrog. Eudoxia divorced.
Institution of the Julian Calendar.
Russia declares war on Sweden, seeking to acquire control of the Baltic Sea. Battle of Narva, Russia defeated.
Founding of St. Petersburg. Takes Martha Skavronskaya as a mistress; she converts to the Orthodox Church and takes the name Catherine.
Secretly marries Catherine, they eventually have 11 children.
Russo-Turkish War. Russia defeated and forced to cede territory.
Formally marries Catherine I in St. Petersburg.
Institutes mandatory education for children of nobility and minor government officials between ages 10-15.
Death of Tsarevich Alexei by torture on suspicion of conspiracy against the crown. Alexei's son would later become Tsar Peter II.
End of Great Northern War. Russia defeats Sweden.
Proclaimed Emperor of all Russia on October 22nd. Proclaims that no man may become a monk before the age of fifty.
Establishes Order of Ranks.
Russo-Persian War.
Catherine crowned Empress of Russia.
Death of Peter the Great, February 8th.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Early Years of Peter the Great  in  The Story of Russia  by  Robert van Bergen
How the Tsar Regained a City  in  The History of Russia  by  Nathan Haskell Dole
Stories of Peter the Great  in  Old Time Tales  by  Lawton B. Evans
Peter the Great  in  Famous Men of Modern Times  by  John H. Haaren
Boyhood of Peter the Great  in  Historical Tales: Russian  by  Charles Morris
Window Open to Europe  in  Historical Tales: Russian  by  Charles Morris
Buffooneries of the Russian Court in  Historical Tales: Russian  by  Charles Morris
How Peter the Great Learned Shipbuilding  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge
Peter the Great Founds St. Petersburg  in  European Hero Stories  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

Peter the Great
 in Peter the Great

Peter Among the Shipping
 in Peter the Great

Peter turning Executioner
 in Peter the Great

The Czar’s visit to Alexis in Prison
 in Peter the Great

Peter the Great
 in The Story of Russia

His third and greatest enemy, Czar Peter of Russia
 in Historic Boys

Peter the Great
 in Famous Men of Modern Times

Peter the Great as a shipwright in Holland
 in Famous Men of Modern Times
Peter the Great
Peter the Great
 in Back Matter
The life of Peter the Great saved at the Foot of the Altar
The life of Peter the Great saved at the Foot of the Altar
 in Back Matter

Peter the Great
 in Historical Tales: Russian

Peter the Great
 in European Hero Stories

Peter the Great Learning ShipBuilding
 in European Hero Stories

Short Biography
Catherine I Wife of Peter the Great who rose from a low station to help Peter govern Russia, and succeeded him on his death.
Louis XV Indulgent and dissolute monarch of France, whose corrupt reign set the stage for the French revolution.