Peter the Great.

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Peter the Great

Peter the Great, tsar and later emperor of Russia is coupled to the Westernization of Russia and its rise as a great power.

Peter was born in Moscow through the second marriage of his father, Alexis I. Alexis I. ruled Russia from 1645 to 1676, and in his first marriage had produced 13 children, but only two had survived him. After his wife died in 1669 Alexis married Natalia Naryshkin in 1671, and the next year Peter was born, a strong and healthy child. Fyodor III, after succeeding his father as tsar, died without an heir in 1682. A harsh struggle for the throne between the two families, the Naryshkins and Miloslavskys, resulted. The Naryshkins gained an early victory, and nine year old Peter was announced tsar in April of 1682. His mother became regent because of Peter's youth, while relatives and friends secured leading positions in the state.

On the other hand, the Miloslavsky party, as early as May, led by Alexis's clever and determined daughter Sofia, Peter's half-sister, inspired a rebellion of the streltsy (musketeers who made up Russia's top military corps). The streltsy murdered the primary members of the Naryshkin clique - witnessed by Peter in some cases - and the Miloslavskys seized power. At the request of the streltsy, the boyar duma declared Ivan senior tsar and permitted Peter to be junior tsar. Shortly after, with the validation that the sickly and deficient Ivan was unable to rule, Sofia was made regent.

From 1682 to 1689 Sofia and her associates governed the Russian state, then known as Muscovy.

This time against Sofia's regency, a new rebellion of the streltsy inspired a final confrontation between the Miloslavsky and Naryshkin parties in August 1689. Peter's rallied support was such that Sofia submitted to her brother.