It is my great desire to reform my subjects, and my great shame that I cannot reform myself.
Peter the Great (1672-1725, reigned 1682-1725) was the Russian tsar who had enough of Russia being a conservative Eastern realm, and decided to make it a European power.
He ascended the throne of Russia as a co-regent to his weak and retarded
brother Ivan V. After winning a battle for political dominance with his sister Sophia
, he triumphed as the undisputed leader of Russia. Then he left the country and travelled to the West to learn its science and technology, and returned as an accomplished ship-builder.
After winning some wars with Turkey and Sweden, Peter the Great annexed lands neighboring two seas, the Azov Sea and the Baltic Sea. Then he founded St. Petersburg, an European-inspired city that was meant to be a capital of the future Russian Empire.
Peter's reforms after that meant basically gradual dismantling of the old Muscovite Tsardom and the creation of a new state, the Russian Empire. He introduced a new legal mechanism, the Table of Ranks, that provided a chance for talented and lucky commoners to make it into nobility
, created many new noble bloodlines and conducted many other reforms.
Eventually, his claim of imperial status was recognized by foreign powers, and Russia officially became an empire in 1721. He died of cold after rescuing a soldier from one of early St. Petersburg many deluges caused by tidal activity and unpredictable winds. The Russian Empire founded by him was one of the world's superpowers until Red October
, and he was a cult figure in Russia until the late XIX century, when the more conservative Muscovite-esque political ideas reached dominance.
Had a dysfunctional relationship with his son Alexei.
Tropes about Peter the Great:
- Archenemy: Of Charles/Karl XII of Sweden (better known to fans of Sabaton as Carolus Rex). The two men spent most of Charles' adult life at war with each other, and there was no chance of peace between Sweden and Russia as long as both of them were alive.
- Bad Ass: He was fond of leading military campaigns from the front.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Egopolis: Subverted. At first, Saint Petersburg was dismissed as a pure vanity project by foreign observers. Very soon afterwards, it grew to be one of Europe's greatest cities.
- The Emperor: The first Russian ruler to adopt this title. The older title tsar was originally imperial, but later downgraded to an equivalent of king.
- Emperor Scientist: travelled to the Netherlands to learn Western science and engineering, which he later used to modernize Russia.
- Genius Bruiser: Apart from being physically strong, Peter was a capable student of many crafts and sciences.
- The Good King: Despite his personality flaws, he is generally considered to be the greatest of Russian leaders in terms of the sheer advancement (and shortage of systemic oppression and genocide on the side) he achieved for the nation.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: Learned all sorts of stuff in his travels. Shipbuilding, dentistry, western style executions...
- King Incognito: He went around Dutch shipyards in disguise to learn shipbuilding techniques—though some have claimed that, given his distinctive height, this may have been Everybody Knew Already. He also introduced a new Russian flag (the one still used today) inspired by the Dutch one.
- Knight Templar: he was obsessed with making Russia a European power. He was not going to stop to accomplish this goal.
- Large and in Charge: Played straight and subverted in the same time. He was very tall and very strong; however, he was gaunt and suffered from epilepsy.
- Modest Royalty: Apart from engaging in manual labour, Peter the Great preferred middle-class clothing and plebeian pastimes such as smoking and drinking. In general, he paid very little attention to social class, elevating talented people even of the lowliest origins.
- During the construction of St. Petersburg, he lived in a log cabin where he tended to a vegetable garden while his wife Catherine (who was herself the daughter of Lithuanian peasants and briefly succeeded him as ruler of Russia) did the cooking and looked after the children.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong
- Patron Saint: he named his city after St. Pete.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: he was an accomplished ship-builder and a good engineer. Also a good military leader.
- Shining City: he thought St. Petersburg would be one of these. Ironically, modern St. Petersburg is perhaps the most gothic City Noir in Russia. A city built by forced labor, with so many of the workforce who died there, couldn't become anything else.
- Sociopathic Hero: his goals were noble, his character... not so much.
- Training from Hell: his "entertaining regiments" fought real battles with live ammunition among themselves. The survivors formed the basis of the Imperial Russian Guards Regiments.
- Vodka Drunkenski: His love for drinking is legendary. Reputedly, he could drink a whole bucket of strong ale in less than an hour.
- We Have Reserves: Peter's strategy for dealing with Karl XII's better equipped, better led army.
- Walking the Earth: One of the most famous real life examples.