World Themes, Block 6
Was Peter "The Great" great?
The Russian empire was ruled by czars for several centuries. These czars had absolute power; they ruled as "gods on Earth." Some of these autocrats wielded their power for evil: Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible, the first Russian ruler to be crowned "czar," terrorized the people of Russia by slaughtering entire towns and cities. While the ultimate power that the czar receives can be used for harm, the power granted could likewise be used for the good of Russia. One such czar was Peter, often called "Peter the Great" because of the great advances he made in modernizing Russia and the important changes that were brought about under his reign. Peter "the Great" deserves the title of great.
Peter did much to increase the size and power of Russia, therefore modernizing Russia. According to a Russian historian, "He remade the Russian army on the up to date European armies of that day."
Before Peter was in power, Russia had had no standing army whatsoever. However, Peter created a strong and powerful military like the Western Europeans, allowing Russia to expand. By the end of Peters rule, the army had 210,000 men, 48 ships of the line, and 800 smaller vessels. With this powerful military Peter was able to accomplish what was good Russia. Peter, with this army, defeated the Swedes. In this effort, he gained a trading port, allowing for trade and communication with the Western Europeans. And while he was unsuccessful at gaining a warm-water port, his objective was completed by Catherine the Great shortly after. Russia gained power and more commerce by defeating the Swedes. Finally, Peter increased the power of Russia by developing the great city of St. Petersburg. Built on the...