Peter I Czar of Russia
- Category : Notable-Famous-Royal-family
- Type : PE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 2
Russian royalty, Czar from age ten until his death. At a seminal time in their history, Peter the Great took the Russian people from the Middle Ages into the modern world. He raised his country to a world power, becoming well-noted for gaining access to the sea for Russia and Westernizing Russian customs and institutions.
Receiving the title of "Peter the Great" by historians, he was known for brutally overriding all adversaries, including the execution of his own son who opposed him, and driving his last wife away.
Born the 14th and youngest child of his father, Czar Alexis, by his second wife, Natalya Naryshkin, he acceded to rulership with his half brother, Ivan V, and half sister, Sophia, acting as regents in 1682. A virtual exile, Peter spent most of his childhood in a suburb of Moscow with playmates from all levels of society and many foreign lands. With his talent for leadership he organized military games, anticipating a future reign which consisting of almost constant battles and wars. Probably due to the bloody scenes during the coup attempt that followed, Peter suffered hysteria and alcoholism in his later years.
Sophia attempted a coup against Peter in 1689. She was overthrown and sent to a nunnery. A tireless, ruthless man, impatient and hasty with a murderous temper, he was a complex individual who could show both cruelty and kind solicitude. He was totally dedicated to the self-defined task of transforming Russia. Enamored of boats and the sea, he wanted to build a navy. Traveling extensively in Western Europe to learn various trades such as shipbuilding, watch repair, gunnery and anatomy, he took these skills back to Russia and began his pursuit of access to a seaport.
Peter instituted vast changes of dress and beard trimming for his nobles; taxation reforms making peasants and nobles more tied to the system than ever; to coinage, the alphabet and the calendar; modernization of the army; building schools, factories, museums and hospitals. Wishing to provide land-locked Russia with a sea port, Peter tried to make alliances with the Europeans, but in the end made war on the Turks at the port of Azov on the Black Sea which later had to be returned as he couldn't protect it. After battling Charles XII of Sweden, he gained access to the Baltic Sea and a strip of land on the Gulf of Finland, selected a cold marshy area and built his crowning achievement, St. Petersburg, founded 5/02/1703. Wresting land from the swamps at the expense of many thousands of peasants' lives, the city was known as the Venice of the North because of its canals and beautiful buildings. After more years of war with Sweden, Peter claimed victory 7/08/1709. His first biographer was Voltaire.
Peter married Eudoxia Lopukhina and had children. He took a mistress, Martha Skavronskaya, who later became Catherine I when he married her in 1712. She was crowned Czarina in 1724. They had at least two children. Just before taking ill, Peter had Catherine's lover executed and upon his death, she succeed to the throne with her children reigning after her.
Powerfully built, Peter stood 6' 7", had regular features and a ruddy complexion. He suffered from epilepsy, but was less mentally incapacitated than his half-brother and half -sister. He was sexually promiscuous and probably suffered damage to his spinal cord in middle life due to syphilis. During the last decade of his life, attacks of bronchitis and the constant grimacing and shaking of his head became more noticeable. He passed a large bladder stone in 1724 after which his urinary function improved for a time. In early November 1724 he caught a chill while helping to rescue some shipwrecked sailors. During New Years Eve celebrations after a drinking bout, he went to bed and never got up again. His bladder was greatly distended and had to be tapped, but his suffering continued as infection spread to his thighs and produced suppurating sores. On 1/22/1725 he made his confession and received the Eucharist. His hand failed when he tried to write a will and he was not even able orally to name a successor. Lying unconscious, he died in the early morning hours 1/28/1725 OS. His body was embalmed and lay in state in the palace until 2/10/1725, then it was moved to the central position in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, covered with an imperial mantle. On 6/01/1731 his body was consigned to the vault below where it still reposes.