Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Peter I

Peter I., Alexeievich, or The Geeat (1672-1725), Czar of Russia, was born at Moscow. He succeeded his half-brother Feodore, son of the Czar Alexis by his first wife, in 1682; but the intrigues of his sister Sophia, who excited a rising of the Streltzi, or militia, compelled him to share the sovereignty with his brother Ivan, a weak and incompetent youth, Sophia herself acting as regent. The training he received from the Genoese Francis Lefort convinced him of the backward and uncivilised condition of Russia; and, after the death of Ivan and the forced retirement of Sophia to a convent (1696), he set to work to raise his country to the level of the other states of Europe. In the formation of an effective army and navy he was much assisted by the counsels of Lefort. The first step in furtherance of his great scheme - the acquirement of an extensive sea-board - was the capture of Azov from the Turks in 1696. Desirous of seeing lands more civilised than his own, he travelled in Prussia, Holland, and England (1697-98), setting out in the disguise of a member of the Russian embassy, and working for some time at Amsterdam and Zaandam as a common labourer in a shipyard. From London he went to Vienna to study the tactics of the imperial army, and was about to visit Italy when a fresh rising of the Streltzi called him back to Russia. In 1700 he engaged in a war with Sweden, in which he was aided by Poland and Denmark. His forces suffered a terrible reverse at Narva (1703), and were defeated in many subsequent battles; but the victory of Pultowa (1709) compelled Charles XII. to seek refuge in Turkey, and in 1710 Peter gained possession of tl u Baltic provinces and part of Finland. Meanwhile he had founded the city of St. Petersburg (1703), which was to become the centre of the renovated empire. In 1711 he was drawn into a, disastrous war with Turkey, and was obliged to restore Azov as the price of peace. In this year occurred his marriage with the notorious Catherine II. (q.v.). A second tour in Europe, in which he was accompanied by the empress, was followed on their return by the trial and condemnation of his rebellious son Alexis, who favoured the reactionary party in Russia (1718). He is now known to have died in prison from the effects of repeated torture. The war with Sweden, in the course of which Peter gained many advantages, ended with the Peace of Nystad (1721), Sweden renouncing all claim to Livonia, Esthonia, Ingria, Carelia, Viborg, and the neighbouring islands. The character of Peter the Great presents an extraordinary combination of apparently contradictory traits. A man of brutal passions and the lowest tastes, he nevertheless laid the foundations of Russia's greatness, not only by establishing her military, and naval power and promoting foreign trade, but by his efforts to raise the tone of social intercourse, his zeal on behalf of education, and his encouragement of letters, science, and art. A so-called "will" of his, urging his successors to extend their empire, and therefore the basis of much of the traditional fear of Russian advance, is generally supposed to be spurious and to have been.the invention of Napoleon I. in order to excuse his war with Russia in 1812.