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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)


Explore this Section:

The Petrine Era
The Founding of the Russian Navy

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.




The reign of Peter the Great (1682–1725) proved such a watershed in Russian history that it has become customary to speak of the pre-Petrine and post-Petrine eras. This division gained currency even during the lifetime of the great emperor, whose panegyrists described the period before 1700 as dark, "medieval," hidebound, and backward. Once Peter assumed sole power, orators and writers described Russia as enlightened, modern, and progressive, as having experienced a kind of resurrection.

St. Petersburg, Peter’s capital, whose construction he oversaw personally, became associated with the europeanized, bureaucratized state of the post-Petrine period, while Moscow, the old capital, housed those who idealized the traditions and customs of Old Russia. Indeed, after Peter and until the present day, intellectuals remain divided between those who relish the old way and call themselves Slavophiles and those who believe that Russia’s future lies within a European framework and call themselves Westernizers.