Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Peter's Western Tutelage Begins 1689-1693

ON 6 October 1689, Peter returned to Moscow. The bells of every church rang out to welcome the Tsar back to his capital, and for the Muscovites it was a great occasion. But the significance of their welcome was lost on Peter, whose mood was remote from that of his subjects. He returned to Moscow with reluctance. In part this was due to the deep aversion from the city that he had felt since the streltsi revolt; in part it arose from the fact that he was not interested at this time in ruling as supreme autocrat. Five years were to pass before he took into his own hands the reins of government, and in the meantime he left state matters to the small group of ministers whom he had appointed while at Troitsa Monastery.

Even now at the age of seventeen, Peter was a magnificent figure of a man. He was tall, nearly seven feet in height, and massively built. His face was round, his eyes open and intelligent, and his features were good; indeed, he would have been strikingly handsome had it not been for a certain distressing twitching of the side of his face and a habit of rolling his eyes, both marks of the horror he had experienced during the streltsi revolt seven years before. Already, too, he was beginning to display the two characteristics which were to mark the man and his reign; first, his energy which was dynamic and unquenchable, and, second, the grand scale on which he planned, laboured, and played.

At this time, unconcerned about the government of his country,

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