Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI Reforms: Peter in Archangel 1702

SHORTAGE of skilled men was one of Peter's most persistent problems. His people, although unwilling, were adaptable and quick to learn, but few among them could command in the army, and few possessed the technical knowledge to direct canal and shipbuilding, iron foundries, and his numerous other undertakings. For these projects he had to rely on foreigners, and his demands constantly outstripped supplies. The seven hundred officers, seamen, engineers and artisans, engaged in England and Holland, and sent to Russia in the spring of 1698, had long since been absorbed. His need for skilled foreigners was greater now in 1702 than ever before. Replacements for the senior officers he had lost at Narva were most pressing. When he learnt that Patkul had resigned from the service of Augustus, he was quick to invite him to Russia.1

Towards the end of March 1702, Patkul arrived in Moscow where Peter at once invited him to join the Russian service. He was delighted when Patkul accepted, for his ebullient personality, eloquent tongue, exceptional ability, and his ready flow of practical ideas on most subjects made him invaluable not only as military adviser and commander, but also as a diplomatic representative. Soon afterwards Peter requested his views on army organization and Patkul submitted recommendations in which he particularly stressed the need to attract foreign officers by offering certain basic conditions.2 Peter was impressed and he adopted most of the proposals. Later Golovin was informing Patkul of Peter's desire to find an inspector of arsenals,

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