Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

Excerpt

Peter the Great was one of the most creative, dynamic, and versatile rulers in history, and a man of exceptional character. Moreover, his reign is of paramount importance in the study of Russia. In fact, the eminent historian, Klyuchevsky, went so far as to state that "the whole essence of Russian history has been compressed into the single question of the significance of the work of Peter," and that question remains strikingly relevant to the understanding of Russia in the present century.

Nevertheless, few books have been published in English on the man and his work, and apart from B. H. Sumner's excellent but brief, Peter the Great and the Emergence of Russia (London, 1950), no worth-while study has been written in English since the biography by the American, Eugene Schuyler, was published in London in 1884. Even in Soviet Russia, where so much valuable work has been done in this field, historians, with one exception, have dealt only with aspects of Petrine Russia.

The present work is an attempt to portray Peter and his reign afresh, and particularly his transformation of Muscovy into the Russian Empire and, indeed, into modern Russia. It is based on Russian and contemporary sources. I have made full use of The Letters and Papers of Emperor Peter which reprints, in addition, all relevant material in the Russian State Archives. The first volume of this great compilation was published in 1889, and the latest in 1952, bringing the documents up to the end of the year 1709. Other contemporary material in Russian and English, together with the main secondary sources, is listed in the Bibliography.

I acknowledge my debt to the works of Bogoslovsky, Ustryalov, Solovev, and Klyuchevsky, on which I have leant heavily. Bogoslovsky's Peter I: Materials for a Biography (Moscow, 1940-48, 5 vols.), attempting as it does to give an almost day-by-day account of Peter's . . .

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