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Peter the Great

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Peter the Great
By: Sundeep Vaswani

Pyotr Alexeevich, or Peter I the Great, was born on May 30, 1672 to Tsar Alexi the First and his second wife Natalya Kryillovna Naryshkina. He started out sharing ruling power with his half-brother Ivan, and gained full power to the throne when he was 24. Peter the Great was a good ruler because he tried to modernize, or westernize, Russia with his government, military and domestic reforms, even though some of these reforms stuck when he died. Peter thought that the government was in a dire need of reform. He tried to reform all aspects of the government, from local government, to the provincial government, all the way to the central government (Site 4, Paragraph 1). He first started with the local government. He tried to limit the power of the provincial government by letting the towns elect own officials, collect revenue and stimulate trade. The towns were governed by the elective board, which replaced the old system of sheriffs. (Site 4, paragraph 2). To improve the provincial government, Peter, in 1702, divided Russia into 8 guberniia, which was led by a gubanator, who had full power of his own guberniia and had to answer to Peter. Each guberniia was then broken down into districts called uzeda. By 1718, the number of guberniia increased to twelve and was broken down into forty uzedas. (Site 4, paragraph 3). When it came to the central government, he had a council, which was broken down in 40 departments. However, this system was ineffective because responsibilities between the departments. In 1711, a nine-council was established with a chief executive and a high council. (Site 4, paragraph 4). In some ways, these reforms were major achievements because Russia had a barely functioning government. However, little change happened after Peter’s death in 1725. This was due to Peter being an autocrat and believing that everything had to go through him. Everyone had to work the way Peter wanted them to work because they were afraid to go against his system (Site 4, Last Paragraph). In fact, in 1698, Peter went to shut down the Streltsi rebellion and hung 2 rebels to teach the other insurgents a lesson. (2). Peter the Great tried to reform the domestics, which includes the church, education, and economy, in hope to push Russia into the modern era. By increasing the industrial and agricultural aspect in Russia, Peter hoped that the extra riches would go to the military. He did not gain as much revenue as he hoped for, but it was enough to help boost a period of economic growth in Russia. While reforming the economy, Peter wanted to reform the church for a couple reasons. The church had a large source of wealth, as well as land and power. When the head of the church died in 1700, Peter did not replace him, but instead handed the responsibility to a branch of the government. For Russia to be a superpower, the education aspect had to be modernized. Peter thought a proper education for soldiers and officers could vastly improve the military, so he opened up schools that taught subjects such as math, science, artillery, and navigation. Peter also encouraged young nobles to travel abroad and learn through experience. As the population got educated, they started to forget Russian traditions. (Site 3, 4, 7). Through his military reforms, Peter the Great modernized Russia’s army and navy. Peter both united and increased the size army. Before Peter, the Russian force was an amateur force. It was basically villagers, or local militia, going off into battle to defend Russia lead by village leaders with little to no knowledge on military strategy. In 1699, Peter took two professional army units systems, the Streltsy and Crossacks, into one single army. Anyone, from serfs to nobles, could enlist into the army. He was strict and savage with the soldiers in their training, education, and perseverance, so that they could be up to with the European armies Peter also essentially created the Russian Navy. The navy was first based in the mouth of the Don River and then expanded to the Baltic Sea. Having no expertise, Peter brought in foreign experts to help train the crew. To help pay for the military, he first had a direct tax on the population, due to households combining together into one ‘house’. To fix this, Peter created the soul tax, where the village had to pay extra of a male tries to skip the tax. This caused neighbors to watch each other, to make sure they didn’t skip. By Peter’s death in 1725, the Russian army had enough expenditure and was a force to be reckoned with. (Site 5). Peter the Great tried to reform many aspects of Russia in hope to westernize Russia. In theory, many of these reforms should have worked, but didn’t to a problem that occurred. Overall, Peter the Great is a good ruler because he tried to implement changes in Russia.

Sources Used: 1. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Peter_de_Grote.jpg 2. http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/mod/petergreat.asp 3. http://salempress.com/store/samples/great_events_from_history_seventeenth/great_events_from_history_seventeenth_reforms_peter.htm 4. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/peter_the_great3.htm 5. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/peter_the_great1.htm 6. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/peter_the_great2.htm 7. http://www.humanities360.com/index.php/an-overview-of-peter-the-greats-domestic-policy-13286/

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