Russia History – Peter the Great and His Reforms Part II

By | February 16, 2022

According to themeparktour, the enormous expenses caused by the war forced Pietro to increase the taxes; salt and several other widely consumed goods were declared a state monopoly. On the other hand, Peter ordered the construction of roads and canals and gave a strong increase to the industry by lowering the duties on raw materials and, as a good mercantilist, keeping the duties on imports high. The whole state administration was modernized. The senate was established in place of the so-called duma of boyars.

An energetic blow was given by Peter to the old scholastic system almost entirely built on theological foundations; without letting himself be too frightened by the almost total lack of a suitable body of teachers, Peter instituted primary schools in which the first rudiments were taught; finally he increased the study of engineering, surgery and geometry. Numerous young people were sent abroad to further study the sciences.

A stranger to any consideration of religious and theological problems, Peter required from the Orthodox Church that same function of “utility” for the state that he asked of the army and the school. According to Peter, religion was “useful”, because without religion it did not conceive a “morality” of the vast popular strata; in the priests he could only conceive of state officials: instead he had seen them continually involved in the conspiracies of the strelcy, always willing to attribute every disaster to the indignation of God against the wicked emperor. In 1700 Pietro abolished the “patriarchy”; in 1721, with the constitution of the “holy synod”, the tsar transformed the clergy into an authentic organ of state: the members of the synod, with an oath, had to recognize him as the supreme judge; the bishops were transformed into true informers of their subordinates. These religious reforms of Peter the Great will acquire enormous importance also for the following two centuries, when the same enslavement of the clergy to the state will be required by Russian emperors who will not see this “dependence” as a function of grandiose transformations, but only of a property preservation of the existing order.

Overall, therefore, a policy of energetic renewal of Russian internal life, even if not always so totally new, as devoid of links with the past as has often been assumed. This internal remaking of the Moscow state was matched by a foreign policy of great style, which truly and definitively made Russia a European power.

The foreign policy of Peter the Great. – At the end of the century. XVII, the position of Russia in Europe was still uncertain. While the expansion to the east, in the Siberian steppe, had made progress in the course of about a century that by the end of the 17th century Russia was already the master of the immense northern territories of Asia and had already come into direct contact with China (the first treaty between the two empires dates back to 1689); while the colonization work proceeded with full success and while the cities were rising, one after the other, which would also later constitute the central nuclei of the Russian empire in Asia (foundation in 1587 by Tobolsk, in 1652 by Irkutsk), the expansion towards the Black Sea and the Baltic – the two outlets of the empire – had remained interrupted. Ivan IV’s efforts to secure domination of the eastern Baltic had failed; the last attempt against Crimea, made in 1687-1689, had also ended in failure. And it was precisely the task of Peter the Great to open the ways of the south and the west to Russia.

At first, his attention had been directed exclusively to the fight against the Turks and the Tatars, and specifically to the conquest of Azov. Thus began the offensive towards the south, Pietro tries to reach an agreement with the court of Vienna, where he actually goes, during his European travels, in 1698. But the negotiations fail and the coalition plans against the Turks vanish. Instead, both from the elector of Brandenburg and from the elector of Saxony and king of Poland, Augustus II, there are incitements and offers for an alliance against Swabia, which, with its possessions south of the Baltic, and with its dominance in the Baltic it has excited against itself the hostility of the other coastal states. Particularly important in this regard are Peter’s conversations with the King of Poland, in Rawa, in August 1698, immediately after the Tsar, in Vienna, had to be convinced of the impossibility of a coalition against the Turks: from them, Pietro definitively emerged convinced of the need for a fight against Sweden. A year later, on 11 November 1699, followed the treaty of alliance between Russia and Poland (preceded in turn, on 24 August, by a Russia-Denmark alliance); in 1700 the Nordic war began which saw the Russian-Polish-Danish triple fight against Sweden. from a Russia-Denmark alliance); in 1700 the Nordic war began which saw the Russian-Polish-Danish triple fight against Sweden. from a Russia-Denmark alliance); in 1700 the Nordic war began which saw the Russian-Polish-Danish triple fight against Sweden.

Russia History - Peter the Great and His Reforms 1