Peter the Great

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Peter the Great ruled Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries after a long time of bad rulers in Russia. They were once ruled mostly by barbarians, but he wanted to westernize Russia, and open a window to the west. It was tough bringing Russia out of a time of religious rule and poverty. He ended up making Russia one of the greatest empires of the time by improving Russia’s army and navy, gaining a lot of land, and bringing major intellectual changes. They were a major Eurasian power.

Peter really took Russia out of a major dark age. The people were so attached to the Russian Orthodox Church that they didn’t know what to do without it. The former tsars also took money from the people, and only tried to benefit themselves, and not the people. He had to create a lot of things, not just improve. He needed to give people more of a sense of freedom, without the church. He aimed to give the people a lot more to live for. He brought new things from other nations, educated people, taught them skills to make money, and gave them independence from the Russian Orthodox Church (Greenblatt 32). Peter the Great changed the overall composure of Russia with his military, education and geographical changes and also westernization.

Peter the Great made a lot of army and navy improvements. There was completely no navy. He created Russia’s first naval base and commanded for a full size navy within eighteen months (Greenblatt 24). He also needed people to be educated in the strategies and operations of the navy. He couldn’t just have an army without any knowledge of it. He sent 50 noble families to Venice, Holland, and England to study shipbuilding, navigation, and seamanship (Greenblatt 26). Peter also went himself to Western Europe to learn about navy tactics, and to get technicians and shipbuilders to help his navy (Greenblatt 30). To make a good navy he also wanted to stop the dependence on foreign trade to build and supply his navy. He trained people in Russia to build grenades, make gunpowder, bullets and bombs. There were still certain supplies that had to be important but this was a major improvement from previous complete dependence. He also called for other supplies that couldn’t be imported: weapons that were built to have an advantage in Russia’s harsh, icy and snowy conditions (Hughes 72). To do all this he needed money. Because skills were being taught to be good at certain jobs, people were making money. So, he taxed the people to get money for military supplies, and the building of canals and roads for better military communications. There was also a large draft of peasants into the military (Crowely). The most controversial action Peter the Great took was the shaving of soldiers heads. This went against the laws of the Russian Orthodox Church (Greenblatt 32). Peter did not care about the church any more because he wanted his soldiers to have stealth and the most advantages they could in combat. I believe that improving Russia’s army, and creating a Russian military was Peter the Great’s most fantastic accomplishment. He brought it up from nothing and made Russia’s military one of the most powerful military’s in the world. He taught people military knowledge when no one wanted to learn. The concept of military improvement goes directly to proving my thesis because he really did improve the size and structure of Russia’s military.

Russia expanded greatly in Peter the Great’s era, mainly because of his military improvements. He first expanded south, but not much. He wanted to just obtain one main port to get trade started. His main goal was in the north west though. He wanted control of Sweden’s main ports in the Baltic Sea. Russia was lacking more main ports for trade and commerce. To do this, he had to start The Great Northern War against Sweden (Hughes 27). With Russia’s improvements in the military, Peter thought this wasn’t going to be a very hard war, but he was wrong. Sweden didn’t want give up their land, but...
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