Peter I the Great
1672 - 1725
Peter was born in Moscow. He was joint czar with his mentally retarded half-brother,
Ivan, under the regency of their sister, Sophia (1682-9). On Ivan's death (1696) Peter
became sole czar.
Peter the Great, established Russia as a major European power through a rapid program of Westernization. During his travels abroad Peter had himself trained as a gunnery expert and shipbuilder.
Resistance to his sweeping reforms was broken without scruple and old Russian traditions were prohibited. All classes of society suffered from the impact of the reforms and the brutality of their implementation; his own son, Alexis, died under torture (1718), suspected of leading a conspiracy against his father.
Peter fought major wars with the Ottoman empire, Persia, and in particular Sweden. Against Sweden Peter fought a long 21-year Northern War. After a great victory at Poltava over Swedish forces he gained access to the Baltic Sea. There he founded the city of St.Petersburg as his 'window to the West' and made it Russia's capital.
After 1721 Russia supplanted Sweden as the major power in the Baltic. Peter failed to nominate a successor, and was succeeded by his wife, Catherine I.
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