Peter the Great

Tsar of Russia from 1689 to 1725, Peter the Great wanted to introduce Western ideas and customs into what he believed to be a backward country. Peter traveled the world, trying to find the best way of doing things, and gathering information on western ideas.  However, much of the Russian population had been very suspicious of the West. Topeter_der-grosse_1838 make things even more difficult, Peter’s father, Alexei I, had encouraged the shunning of Western dress and the embrace of facial hair among the men. Peter now told his subjects to embrace that which his father had shunned, ordering them to shave their beards or else pay a tax. Peter also wanted to update his military because Russia had suffered an embarrassing  defeat at the hands of the Swedish. Only 8000 Swedes defeated 40,000 Russians at a battle in 1700. Peter’s plans for the military would require funds. He dredged up old taxes and invented new ones in an attempt to raise money, which stressed the people even more. In 1709, Peter crushed a Swedish invasion with his new and effective military. He also further secularized the Eastern Orthodox Church by appointing a layman as administrator after the death of the Patriarch in 1700. Peter Eventually turned the control of the church over to a committee of clergymen in 1721. He was ruthless, torturing and killing anyone who stood in his way, including his only son that survived into adulthood. Peter the Great was a figure who wanted to bring Westernization to Russia, and would not allow anything to get in his way.

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