Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXII
The Aftermath of Poltava 1709-1711

NEWS of the Russian victory resounded throughout Europe. It was unexpected and its full significance was as yet imponderable. But most governments were quick to grasp the fact that a new power had arisen, changing the old balance of Europe. For the first time in history Russia had emerged as a major factor in European affairs. Peter had proved his new army and was building a navy, a force which Russia had never before possessed; with a navy and his new ports he threatened to dominate the Baltic. Suddenly western Europe as a whole watched the Tsar with suspicion and fear, an attitude which was to condition their policies in the years ahead.

The intoxication of victory did not distract Peter for long. He knew that Sweden would not readily capitulate, despite this overwhelming defeat. Meanwhile there was also the danger that Charles might advance into Poland or the Ukraine with Turkish, Tatar, and Cossack troops, and arouse the Ottoman Porte to declare war on Russia. With this in mind Peter was eager to revive his Northern alliance and to strengthen his foothold on the Baltic. He would then force the Swedes to sign a permanent peace, after which he could give his full attention to internal reforms. Later he would turn southwards again and compel the Turks to admit his ships to the Black Sea.

Reaching Kiev on his way from Poltava into Poland, Peter attended a service of thanksgiving in the Cathedral of St. Sophia. There the preacher was a certain Feofan Prokopovich1 who in his

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