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Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)


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Russia's Globalization:
A Key

Events marked Russia Symbol are specific to Muscovy/Russia's internal development.
Those marked World Symbol are important world historical or cultural events.
Engagement Symbol indicates specific points of sociocultural or military engagement between Muscovy/Russia and foreign powers or individuals.

   Peter the Great and his Legacy (1682-1762)
Engagement Symbol   Russian Conquests, 1734: A German Depiction
    Russian Conquests, 1734: A German Depiction
NYPL, Slavic and Baltic Division

Russia Symbol   Peter’s Triumph
    Peter’s Triumph
NYPL, Map Division
Russia Symbol   A Mature Peter
    A Mature Peter
NYPL, Slavic and Baltic Division

Engagement Symbol   Russians Learn the Art of French Fortifications
    Russians Learn the Art of French Fortifications
NYPL, Slavic and Baltic Division

World Symbol   Mapping Muslim Kingdoms
    Mapping Muslim Kingdoms
NYPL, Map Division

World Symbol   India’s Mughal Treasure-House
    India’s Mughal Treasure-House
NYPL, General Research Division

The door had opened to international influences that would inevitably transform the realm, particularly during the reign of Peter I, "the Great" (1682–1725). Rarely has a ruler left so deep an imprint upon his country; so great was his impact that it has become common to divide Russian history into the pre-Petrine and post-Petrine eras.

Peter devised a plan to bring his realm up to the technological and cultural standards of western European countries. After his first journey to northern and western Europe in 1697/98, he ordered men of the upper classes to shave their beards, don western attire, send their sons abroad for schooling, and free their wives and daughters from seclusion so they might attend Peter’s western-style social events. Influenced particularly by the Dutch and English, he secularized the monarchy, refashioned the army and created a navy, reorganized the administration, transformed industry, ordered translations of major western works, started a newspaper, and founded the Russian Academy of Sciences, among other reforms and innovations. As for architecture and the fine arts, many of the practitioners working in Russia were Italian or French. He moved his capital from the ancient city of Moscow to the newly founded (1703) city of St. Petersburg, symbolizing Russia’s europeanized identity and imperial pretensions.

Using both diplomacy, and the firepower of his new army and navy, Peter expanded his realm in every direction and brought it enhanced status and respect within the family of nations. After Russia’s victory in the Great Northern War with rival empire Sweden (1700–1721), Peter declared his state an empire, and its ruler an emperor. Russia engaged in active cultural, commercial, and political contacts with European states.

Since the formation of their first polities in the ninth century, the East Slavs and Russians had interacted commercially and culturally with peoples of the east, especially with those of West Asia, encompassing the ancient territories of modern-day Turkey, Iran, northern India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Central Asian Republics. The Ottoman Turks’ geographical proximity, along with their domination of the Balkan peninsula and the Black Sea, made intense relations with their Slavic neighbors inevitable. Early in his reign, Peter the Great managed to establish a foothold in the region with the conquest of the town of Azov on the Don River. However, it would be many decades before Russia could claim dominance of the vital Black Sea.

By the time of Peter’s death, and during the reigns of his immediate successors, the splendor and ceremony characteristic of the wealthiest and most powerful absolute monarchies in the rest of Europe were painstakingly imitated, and sometimes even surpassed, at the Russian court. Peter's projects came at great expense – measured in both money and lives – but the goals and aspirations of this ruthless visionary overrode any human cost.