Peter the Great

11 Jul 2017

Born in 1672, Peter the Great is one of Russia’s most famous tsars. With the help of his half-sister Sophia he ruled for 12 years from 1682 until 1694 when he finally got rid of the pesky whisper in his ear that was his power hungry half-sister, forcing her into a convent. Free to rule the Russian empire alone Peter the Great went on to lead Russia into battle in the Crimea and Swedish Finland. He created Russia’s mighty fleet and founded St. Petersburg. In between all this hard work, Peter also got up to a lot of travelling, shipbuilding, torture and of course drinking. Here are just some of the wilder stories that surround Russia’s hard-partying tsar.

Boys will be Boys

Peter the Great was one of the tallest leaders of his time, towering over everyone else with a height of six foot seven inches (two metres). He was a natural athlete and reputedly so strong and skilled with his hands that he could twist a silver platter into a scroll and he used to sleep sitting up. Peter was also a natural craftsman and was constantly busy making things. After he died, hundreds of homemade items such as chairs, model boats and crockery were found in his various residences. Many of these items can still be viewed today at the cabin of Peter the Great and at his palace at Strelna.

One of his other hobbies was dentistry and it is said that after his death a sack full of teeth that he had pulled out was found, although its current whereabouts are not known. Quite the macho man, from an early age Peter was also obsessed with warfare. On his 11th birthday (one year after being crowned tsar) he was given real guns and allowed to form a mock regiment with his friends and servants. A few years later 24 people were killed during one of these ‘play’ battles!

Peter the Cruel

It was not always fun and games at the house of Peter the Great however. Despite his love of revelry and joking around, Peter also had a cruel side. Peter loathed his timid and secretive son Alexis and regularly beat the poor lad and threatened to kill him. In the end Peter demanded that Alexis enter a monastery but the wily prince ran away to Vienna instead.

After a long manhunt across Europe, he was eventually found and brought back to Russia. Even though he swore never to attempt to seize power, in 1718 talk was heard of Alexis boasting about all the things he would do as tsar. Peter in a rage rounded up many potential plotters and tortured them in the prison inside the Peter and Paul Fortress. Eventually he brought in his own son for torture too, before having him killed.

Peter was also notoriously strict, he demanded that every teacher at the naval academy carry a whip, with which to beat unruly pupils. During the building of his beloved city it is thought that at least 100,000 serfs and slave labourers perished under the poor conditions in which Peter forced them to work.


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Over a year ago
Floyd King Sr
This should be a movie
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