Peter the Great
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Peter I the Great (9 June [O.S. 30 May] 1672 – 8 February [O.S. 28 January] 1725) ruled Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May [O.S. 27 April] 1682 until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his weak and sickly half-brother, Ivan V. Peter the Great carried out a policy of Westernization and expansion that transformed the Tsardom of Russia into the 3-billion acre Russian Empire, a major European power.
In 1724, Peter had his second wife, Catherine, crowned as Empress, although he remained Russia's actual ruler. All of Peter's male children had died—the eldest son, Alexei, had been tortured and killed on Peter's orders in 1718 because he had disobeyed his father and opposed official policies. At the same time, Alexei's mother Eudoxia had also been punished; she was dragged from her home and tried on false charges of adultery. A similar fate befell Peter's beautiful mistress, Anna Mons, in 1704.
Peter the Great had two wives with whom he had fourteen children; just three of them surviving to adulthood. His eldest child and heir, Alexei, was suspected of being involved in a plot to overthrow the Emperor. Alexei was tried and confessed during the tortured questioning conducted by a secular court, where he was convicted and sentenced to be executed. The sentence could only be carried out with Peter's signed authorization, and Alexei died in prison as Peter hesitated before making the decision. Alexei's death most likely resulted from the injuries suffered during his torture.
In popular culture
Peter has been featured in many books, plays, films and games including the poems The Bronze Horseman, Poltava and the unfinished novel Peter the Great's Negro, all by Alexander Pushkin. The former dealt with a famous equestrian statue, raised in Peter's honour. Alexey Nikolayevich Tolstoy wrote a biographical historical novel about him, named Pëtr I, in the 1930s, which, along with its adaptations, became a major influence on Peter's subsequent portrayals.
- There is a 1976 film, Skaz pro to, kak tsar Pyotr arapa zhenil (How Tsar Peter the Great Married Off His Moor), starring Aleksey Petrenko as Peter, and Vladimir Vysotsky as Abram Petrovich Gannibal. Much of the film shows Peter's attempt to build the Baltic Fleet.
- The 2007 film, Sluga Gosudarev, depicts the unsavoury brutal side of Peter during the campaign.
- Peter was played by Jan Niklas and Maximilian Schell in the 1986 NBC miniseries Peter the Great.
- A character based on Peter plays a major role in The Age of Unreason, a series of four alternate history novels written by American science fiction and fantasy author Gregory Keyes. Peter is one of many supporting characters in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle - mainly featuring in the third novel, The System of the World.
- Government reform of Peter I
- History of the administrative division of Russia
- Reforms of Peter I of Russia
- Russian battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy, a Russian Navy battlecruiser named after Peter the Great
- Russian history, 1682-1796
- Tsars of Russia family tree