Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
Vienna and the Return to Moscow 1698

PETER arrived in Amsterdam to find his embassy surrounded by men and equipment. More than seven hundred officers, seamen, engineers, and artisans had been signed on and vast quantities of arms and equipment purchased. All were assembled awaiting transport, and ten ships had to be chartered to carry them all to Russia. The Royal Transport was also pressed into service; she sailed under the command of Captain Ripley1 for Archangel, carrying part of Peter's collection of instruments and curiosities.2

Peter himself was in no hurry to leave western Europe, and planned a leisurely journey back to Moscow with visits to Vienna and to Venice. He would have spent more time touring Holland, had not news from Moscow and from Vienna brought a note of urgency to his travels. From Moscow the news was of another streltsi revolt, which had arisen from his instructions, sent from England, that four streltsi regiments wintering in Azov were to move up to the Lithuanian frontier.

Several ministers wrote to Peter about this incident and their letters, which reached him in Amsterdam on 8 May, made him angry.3 It was not the revolt so much as the ministers' behaviour that angered him. Romodanovsky's letter showed that despite his instructions he had only carried out a perfunctory examination of the ringleaders. More serious, it showed that his ministers had been on the verge of panic because they had had no news from him and feared that he might be dead. Vinius had been so sure of this that

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