Tsar Peter was born in 1672 to Tsar Alexis and Natalya. Peter the great was his self-given title, officially he was Peter I. Peter was one of the most controversial figures in Russian history. He achieved many fits but he did this through brutal techniques whereby he concluded that ruthless reform was necessary to overcome Russia’s backwardness (Dixon, 1999). In order for Peter to achieve power and become a Tsar in his own rights he had to go through various challenges.
He took over power, when he was only ten years old, from his brother Fedor who was an invalid. It was not as easy to rule because his half sister Sophia caused a revolution in order to wrest power from him. As a result of this revolt, Ivan, who was Sophia’s brother, was proclaimed co-Ruler with Sophia as Regent. This frightened Peter’s mother who feared for the safety of her children and moved them to a modest estate in the village of Preobrazhensky near Moscow. Peter spent the rest of his childhood and early years of his youth in that estate.
During the self imposed exile, Peter at seventeen discovered of a plot to kill him by his half sister Sophia hence leading to his fleeing to a monastery whereby he decided to mount a coup against her. This led him to ride into Moscow in triumph with his supporters cheering him in the streets asking for pardon for their support towards Sophia and her brother Ivan. Peter’s half brother Ivan denounced all claims to the throne and Sophia was sent to a convent for the rest of her life (Dixon, 1999).
When Peter took over power of Russian Kingdom, he forced his noblemen to change their way of dressing from the traditional Russian style to a more westernized way of dressing. He was a great lover of everything western and his attempt to convert the whole nation to abide by the domestic and foreign policy of being more European was not done in a polite way but rather in a forceful and sometimes bestial ways. This created a certain impression of revolutionary change Peter introduced changes in manners, for instance the ban on beards and cultural dress which was extended to the Russian population.
Women were also not spared especially in manners whereby they were treated as inferior to the men. Attempts were also made to improve the manners of the court and justice administration. Many Russians were sent to be schooled in the west. He also reformed the calendar plus simplified the alphabet. Although Peter sought to enforce all his reforms with equal severity, he was unable to eradicate the traditional corruption of officials or to impose Western ways on the peasantry. . “The reforms were sporadic and uncoordinated; many of them grew out of the needs of Peter’s almost continuous warfare” (http://www. nfoplease. com/ce6/people/A0860334. html, 2007 para. 5).
Peter was a great strategist when it came to waging war against his enemies. He formed a centralized government, modernized the army and created a navy. Army reforms supplemented other domestic reforms which were going on. He built both enlarged and professional army unit. He wanted a strong army that was to help him attain his foreign policies. He drew Russia into European affairs and helped to make it a great power. At some point he worked as carpenter in Holland and he even hired artisans from Europe to work in Russia.
In 1698 Peter started to modernize the armed forces, and launched domestic reforms. He considerably expanded European industrial techniques. Russia was almost continuously at war during Peter’s reign. In the 16th century and early 17th century Russia had fought periodically in the northwest against Sweden, in an attempt to have access to the Baltic Sea, and in the south against the Ottoman Empire (Dixon, 1999). To finance his huge military establishment, he created state monopolies and taxed every imaginable item.
He encouraged private industries and established state mines and factories to supply enough materials for war. Peter reformed the administrative sector of the state. “He introduced a supervisory senate and a new system of central administration and tried to reform provincial and local government. ” (http://www. infoplease. com/ce6/people/A0860334. html, 2007 para. 5). By the time Peter died on January 28, 1725 there had been no lasting improvements. This is due to the fact that Peter has to take some of the blame here.
He was an autocrat and he believed that everything should go through him. He was unwilling to delegate and allow people to take a decision making. He stifled initiative and such was his reputation, everybody worked in the way Peter wanted them to work. Few had the courage to buck the system in case they incurred the well-known wrath of the Tsar. Also He favored using the army for initiating policies rather than his civil service. The civil service was in place but it was never given the opportunity to function at its best.