PETER THE GREAT'S REFORM The reign of Alexis' invalid son Theodore (1676-1682) was a sort of prologue to Peter the Great's reform. The leading part fell, under Theodore, as well as during the minority of Peter (1682-1689), to a well educated boyar, Prince Basil Golitsyn. He was the favourite of Theodore's energetic sister Sophia who broke the tradition of seclusion of Russian women. After Theo dore's death Sophia, with the help of the streltsi, made her brother Ivan a second Tsar at the side of Peter and assumed the regency. Peter (ten years old) was left to himself and amused himself in the neighbouring village of Preobrajenskoye with technical and mechanical arts as applied to military games. He surrounded himself with lads of his age who soon became his first regular soldiers. The ill success of Golitsyn's much vaunted expeditions to Crimea (1687 and 89) gave Peter the chance to overthrow Sophia. to send her to a convent and exile Golitsyn. However, as Tsar, Peter continued his free life of sport. He now became a habitue of the "German suburb," where he made acquaintance with many foreign specialists. A Swiss adventurer, Franz Lefort, initiated him into the pleasures of debauchery and became his best friend. He also encouraged Peter to extend his playing at soldiers to a real campaign against Azov. During two difficult campaigns (1695-96) Peter learnt chiefly the insufficiency of his knowledge, and Lefort urged him to complete his military and naval education abroad. Peter followed the advice : he joined his embassy in the capacity of a private working man and visited Germany, Holland and England (1697-98). He was forced to return speedily to Russia to stifle the new rebellion of the streltsi fostered by Sophia's agents.
Russia in Europe.—He then made peace with the Porte (1699), and on the following day declared war on Sweden and invaded Livonia. This "Northern War" lasted until 1721, and it proved to be the chief factor in Peter's military, financial and administrative reforms. Independently from these reforms made necessary by the war, Peter directly after his return from western Europe forced his subjects to shave their beards (which was felt as an unbearable religious offence) and to dress as foreigners.
The Old-Believers ("schismatics") especially saw in it a proof that Peter was the expected Antichrist.
Peter's army was crushed by Charles XII. at Narva (1700). But while Charles was engaged in defeating Peter's allies, Den mark and Poland, Peter called up the yearly levies, created a new standing infantry, cavalry and artillery, occupied Livonia, Estonia and the mouth of the Neva, where he founded his new capital, St. Petersburg, on May 1,17°3. The "window to Europe" was thus opened. To cover his new and enormous expenses, he acquired the habit of taking money wherever he found it. He thus completely destroyed the old system of central administra tion, the "prikazes," and he distributed instead the financial re sources of Russia directly among his generals by dividing Russian territory in eight "governments." Each "government" (gubernia) had to pay for the upkeep of a certain number of regiments. Rus sia thus received in 1708-12 its first regular division into provinces. Charles XII. made the mistake of advancing from Poland to the south of Russia, instead of proceeding straight against Mos cow. The Cossack hetman Mazeppa promised to help him, but was unable to raise the Ukraine. He joined Charles with an in significant force. At Poltava (June 27, 1709) Charles was de feated by Peter and fled to Turkey. The Poltava battle produced a strong impression abroad : Russia was becoming a European state. Russian soldiers restored (August 11) the Polish throne, drove the Swedes from Pomerania and appeared in the middle of Germany. The young Russian fleet won a naval victory over the Swedes at Hango-Udd. Peter married his niece, Anne, to the duke of Courland ( 17i o) and another niece, Catherine, to the duke of Mecklenburg (1716). He favoured Prussia at the ex pense of Denmark and Hanover. A Russian army landed near Stockholm (1719 and 172o). In 1721 peace was concluded at Nystadt ; Russia received Ingermanland, Estonia and Livonia, also parts of Karelia and Finland. After that Peter accepted the title of emperor.