Peter I of Russia

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Peter I the Great or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov (Russian: Пётр Алексе́евич Рома́нов, Пётр I, Pyotr I, or Пётр Вели́кий, Pyotr Velikiy) (9 June [O.S. 30 May] 1672 – 8 February [O.S. 28 January] 1725)[1] ruled Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May [O.S. 27 April] 1682 until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his weak and sickly half-brother, Ivan V.

He carried out a policy of modernization and expansion that transformed the Tsardom of Russia into a 3-billion acre Russian Empire, a major European power.



Early years

From an early age his unique education (commissioned by Tsar Alexis I) was put in the hands of several tutors; most notably Nikita Zotov, Patrick Gordon and Paul Menesius. On 29 January 1676, Tsar Alexis died, leaving the sovereignty to Peter's elder half-brother, the weak and sickly Feodor III. Throughout this period, the government was largely run by Artamon Matveev, an enlightened friend of Alexis, the political head of the Naryshkin family and one of Peter's greatest childhood benefactors. This position changed when Feodor died six years later in 1682. As Feodor did not leave any children, a dispute arose between the Naryshkin and Miloslavsky families over who should inherit the throne. Peter's other half-brother, Ivan V, was the next for the throne, but he was chronically ill and of infirm mind. Consequently, the Boyar Duma (a council of Russian nobles) chose the ten-year old Peter to become Tsar, his mother becoming regent. This arrangement was brought before the people of Moscow, as ancient tradition demanded, where the people ratified it. But one of Alexis' daughters from his first marriage, Sophia Alekseyevna, led a rebellion of the Streltsy (Russia's elite military corps). In the subsequent conflict, some of Peter's relatives and friends were murdered, including Matveev, and Peter witnessed some of these acts of political violence.[2]

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