Peter the Great – History of Russia in 100 Minutes (Part 11 of 36)

Peter the Great – History of Russia in 100 Minutes (Part 11 of 36)


Until the 1700’s, Russia was, technologically, way behind the rest of Europe. One could say Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) dragged the country, kicking and screaming, out of the Middle Ages. His reforms made Russia an international player for the first time in history. BACKGROUND
Peter wanted to change Russia’s backwardness. His goal was a technologically advanced country,
and for that, he turned his eyes to the West. He also wanted to introduce Western culture
and mentality into Russia. For that, he was hailed by the Westernizers
(in contrast to the Slavophiles), in Russian cultural history. GREAT NORTHERN WAR
In order to open up the, “ …window to Europe,” Peter needed access to the ports
of the Baltic Sea to participate in international trade and he also needed a navy to protect
them. After an extensive army reform, ship-building
and industrialization, Russia broke Sweden’s domination over the Baltic Sea in the Great
Northern War. In 1709, Peter defeated Swedish armies in
the decisive Battle of Poltava on the soil of Ukraine. Peter also conquered the Eastern coast of
the Baltic Sea, where many important port towns were situated. REFORMS
Apart from the military industry, Peter also revolutionized Russian society. He made Russian nobility look, and act, like
Europeans. The most important examples for his reforms
came from the Netherlands and Sweden. He made a universal, “Table of Ranks,”
that allowed anyone to ascend the social ladder. The Boyar Duma was replaced by the, “Governing
Senate,” (the inner circle of the Tsar). They introduced new taxes and subdued the
church directly under the state. The first hospitals and museums were introduced. In 1703, Peter began the construction of his
new capital, Saint Petersburg, partially on the remains of the small Swedish town of Nyen
near the Baltic Sea. Most of the new capital was situated in the
middle of a swamp. The construction was undertaken by peasants
who emptied the swamp, an operation that cost tens of thousands of lives. Thus, it is said, “… the city was built
on bones.”

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