Peter the Great: A Russian Hero
Sergius Yakobson describes the victor in the struggle for power within Russia, a Tsar who guided the medieval Russian state into modern times.
No other personality in Russian history has so often been the subject of scholarly research, of polemical pamphlets and historical novels, as the first Russian Emperor. But seldom, too, have the opinions of scholars, writers and publicists been so divergent in judging the actions and services of this man to the Russian state. To his contemporaries Peter the Great proved to be an enigma, and so he remains to their descendants.
To his close collaborators Peter was at least a demigod, called to awaken his fatherland to new life. A much wider circle of his subjects, however, saw in him the Antichrist, and prepared themselves for the Day of Judgement. Later generations have seen Peter the Great as a democrat aiming at the equality of all men, as a revolutionary who had wilfully destroyed ancient Russia, or as a reactionary serving the ends of capitalism. Finally, a quite new interpretation was offered by a modern historian, Arnold Toynbee, in his widely read work, A Study of History.
To Toynbee Peter is a mechanically minded barbarian, yet a man in advance by two hundred years of his contemporaries, a prototype of the present–day western man, with an American vitality, impatience of pomp, delight in manual skill, and – as he says – an American ruthlessness. Toynbee did not hesitate to place Peter the Great in the same portrait gallery as Edison, Ford, Rhodes and Northcliffe.
The approximate 1,100 years of Russian history fall into four periods, each with different town as its spiritual centre – Ancient Russia around Kiev, the Russia of the Middle Ages around Moscow, the new Imperial Russia around St Petersburg, and the U.S.S.R. again around Moscow. And the age of Peter was to form a definite link between two great epochs, representing the final chapter in Muscovite Russia's history and the first page in the history of Imperial Russia.
In the second half of the seventeenth century Muscovy was suffering from a severe internal crisis. In the sphere of the state, it was the struggle between the outmoded medieval social structure and the power of the Tsar, aimed at absolute authority. In religion, the struggle for authority between church and state bitterly divided the Russians into two camps.
The new culture, streaming into Russia from western Europe, found itself in fierce conflict with the old, partly Asiatic one of medieval Russia – for so long hermetically sealed against the outside. Gradual enslavement of the Russian lower classes – principally peasants – led to large–scale social conflicts and uprisings. Army reform finally became the order of the day; the interference of Muscovy's privileged military units with national policy posed a threat to the state.
It was to the credit of Peter the Great that, faced with these many problems – long clamouring for solution – he dared to deal with them all at once. He was skilled, above all, in speeding up the hitherto leisurely tempo of Russian national life. There have been only a few rulers in Russia's history whose childhood environment and experiences have been so significant in later development as those of Peter the Great. Born in 1672, he was the only child of Tsar Alexis' second marriage. From earliest childhood, he was both witness to and object of an ugly struggle for power in the state.
When only ten years old, Peter was made Tsar by a coup d'etat, his mother's party thereby passing over his elder half–brother who was physically and mentally deficient. But a month later, the Moscow garrison, stirred up by the opposing party, mutinied. Wild bands of soldiers forced their way into the palace, ransacked the private apartments of the Tsar's family and before the eyes of Peter murdered many of his close relatives and counsellors.
The boy and his mother were themselves in danger of their lives. As a consequence of these terror–ridden days, Peter suffered his whole life from a nervous facial twitch, often causing him to appear disfigured. The blood bath of May, 1682, also left deep marks upon his character.
The suspicion and cunning of his later years can be traced back to these experiences. The rise of the military ended with a victory for Peter's enemies, and he now had to share the Russian throne with his idiot half–brother, Ivan. Actually, neither ruled except in name; the real power was held exclusively by their ambitious elder sister, Sophia.
Peter spent the next seven years in the country near Moscow, rather than in the palace of the Tsars in the Kremlin. Very seldom did he appear for state receptions in the Kremlin. In fact, he grew up apart from all government business, and completely left to himself. His mother, who loved him dearly, was not sufficiently educated to attend to his upbringing.
Then, too, there was a lack of suitable teachers. Thus, Peter remained only half educated. He was not particularly interested in reading, and throughout his life was constantly at war with spelling. But – of greater importance for these and later days – he was endowed with an open mind and a healthy instinct for life.
This gifted boy was, above all, interested in things military. On his estate he built fortifications and practised cannon firing with the help of his playmates. His friends were not young nobles, but children of humble birth, and from them Peter found his toy regiments on the lines of West European troop formations. It was from these same childhood playmates of Peter's that the first modern Russian guard regiments were to grow. It was upon these fellow soldiers, too, personally devoted to him, that Peter could rely in later internal struggles for power and reform, and for his future foreign triumphs.
In addition to his interest in the military, the zeal of this practical youth was directed toward navigation. Reportedly the young Tsar's imagination was first caught by an ancient English boat which he discovered in a back yard, and which is still on show in a Leningrad museum. This interest of Peter was to show great results even in his lifetime, when the Moscow Tsardom–formerly an inland state–became a sea power.
These hobbies – the army and the fleet – required that Peter learn a number of allied crafts. Since there were no efficient technicians among the Russians at the time, he was brought together with foreign craftsmen. Instead of being exposed to an exclusive religio–moral education, enjoyed by former Tsars, young Peter employed foreigners who initiated him into the mysteries of European techniques. The ice between Moscow and western Europe was thereby broken once and for all.
During all these occupations – a mixture of serious work and recreation – heavy clouds of a fresh conflict were gathering. His elder sister, Sophia, was still regent in Moscow and, as the day of Peter's majority drew near, it became clear that a clash was inevitable. In 1689 the storm burst. Fetched from his bed, in the night, by his party followers, the youth was warned of a threat of murder.
Although we cannot say with certainty that this warning was based on truth, Peter believed it. Clad only in a night shirt, he fled to a neighbouring monastery and begged the abbot for protection. This time the military were on his side, and Peter was victorious. His sister was forced to make way for him and retire to a convent. Henceforth Peter was recognized as the absolute Tsar of Russia.
But even now Peter was not prepared to trouble himself with state business. Leaving it all to his mother and her relatives, he devoted himself again to the hobbies that he could now pursue more extensively than ever. With his troops, he carried out great manoeuvres, in which there were even dead and wounded. He journeyed to the northern port of Archangel where he had his first view of open sea–the White Sea. And dauntless, he navigated it alone. He now became a constant guest of the foreign colony in a Moscow suburb.
There, his new friends and counsellors – soldiers, technicians, merchants, craftsmen – mostly adventurers or ne'er–do–wells, were trying their luck in distant Moscow. In this motley company the Tsar spent days and nights, free from all ceremony and convention. Sharing the joys and sorrows of the colony, he joined in its festivities, and attended the funerals of its humblest members.
There he was exposed to the many facets of European civilization – religious tolerance, emancipation of women, and so forth. He learned the Dutch language, fencing, dancing and, beyond all reasonable measure, he learned to drink and smoke. He loved this world of freedom, of endless merry–making, of rowdy and often vulgar pleasures.
The society of orthodox Moscow took exception to this way of life and to the conduct of the young Tsar. Peter was reproached for breaking tradition, for infrequent attendance at church and, above all, for familiarly consorting with foreign heretics. The importance of this chasm between the Tsar and his people is fully understood when one remembers that the patriarch – the head of the Russian church – had now on his deathbed exhorted the Russians to destroy the heretics' churches and drive the foreigners from their posts.
But Peter troubled himself little with the talk in the city, the hatred of foreigners and the conflict with old Moscow. In a coarse and unpleasant way, he often made fun of his backward contemporaries. For instance, he organized 'Fools' Weddings,' at which his court had to ride on oxen, goats, pigs, and dogs behind the bridal pair in their brilliant state coach, while the highest nobles of the land marched on foot.
It was only after the death of his mother in 1694 that Peter, now aged twenty–two, took the management of state affairs into his own hands, and the next few years brought early justification of the unusual occupations of his early days. For many centuries Russia had been cut off from the Black Sea by the Tartars and Turks; but, with the conquest of the Turkish fortress of Azov, Peter could now in 1696 temporarily assure Russian entrance into this sea. And this victory was made possible by the fleet that Peter had built.
But this success was to be only the beginning. Already Peter was dreaming of setting all Christians free from the Turkish rule. For this he proposed building more ships and bringing about a European coalition. As for practical measures, fifty young men were sent by him to study navigation in western Europe. But because it was his nature to understand how all things worked, he would not remain behind, and himself decided to go abroad. The motto of his mission was: 'I am among the pupils, and seek the teachers.'
Peter's decision created new consternation in Moscow. Never before had a Russian Tsar left his country. Again Moscow was seething and once more, just in time, a conspiracy against the Tsar's life was uncovered, and the guilty ones executed.
Peter remained in western Europe a year and a half, the most important times being five months spent in Holland and roughly four months in England. His landing in January 1698 was the first visit to England of a Russian Tsar. He did not come as a refugee, as John the Dread and Boris Godunov had once feared to come, but neither in an ermine cloak as he is representedinRneller's painting in Kensington Palace. To the displeasure of William III the Tsar wore the blouse of a Dutch sailor on the voyage.
Every day of the Tsar's stay in England was fully occupied in seeing something new, something practical, which could be put to good use in Russia later on. Followed by thousands of curious eyes, Peter visited all the places of interest in London and its environs – Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and Greenwich Observatory.
Above all, he was interested in the Mint, just installed in the Tower at the direction of Newton, and the munitions factories at Woolwich. He attended a sitting of the House of Lords, sought out a Quaker meeting, climbed the Monument and visited the University of Oxford. A few years later, one of his adherents actually presented him with a plan for founding, in each of the eight Russian provinces, a university with a library resembling the Bodleian at Oxford.
The chief purpose of Peter's stay in England, however, was to study English shipbuilding. Peter, called the Carpenter of Zaandam, after crossing the channel intended to become an English shipping engineer. In fact, soon after his arrival, the Tsar turned his back on London and went down to Deptford on whose wharves he could study, undisturbed, the progress of English techniques.
As guest of the King, he was also allowed to watch fleet manoeuvres near Portsmouth. When, in April 1698, Peter finally started on his homeward journey, he did so on a yacht presented to him by William III.
The Treasury was also faced with other, though less significant, expenses. A bill for Peter and his suite of twenty–one persons was presented by the hotel in Godalming where he stayed on his journey to Portsmouth. Attesting to the capacity of the Russian seventeenth–century appetite, it read as follows:
Breakfast: ½ of a sheep, ¼ of a lamb, 10 fowl, 12 chickens, 3 quarts of brandy, 6 quarts of rum, 7 dozen eggs.
Dinner: ½ a hundredweight of beef, 1 sheep of equal weight, ¾ of a lamb, ½ a calf, 8 fowl, 8 rabbits, 2½ dozen bottles of white wine and 1 dozen bottles of red wine.
The brief excursion to England made a deep and lasting impression on Peter. His law of 1714, introducing the right of primogeniture into Russia, is ascribed by scholars to the experience gained in England. Nothing, however, is more revealing than his confession that he would have gladly exchanged his crown for the hat of an English admiral.
Events at home forced Peter to cut short his foreign travels and return in haste to Moscow. Taking advantage of his continued absence and consequent discontent among the people, his sister had stirred up a new military insurrection. The revolt was crushed in sanguinary fashion by Peter.
The Streltsy regiments, those unruly troops of the old Muscovy state, were now forever disbanded. The rebels were hanged by the hundreds on Moscow's Red Square where Lenin's mausoleum now stands. It was a victory for the growing authority of the Tsar–who reportedly took a personal part in the executions –over the practice of military intrusion in questions of state.
Immediately after his return from Europe, Peter carried out the first of his reform measures. At a reception, with his own hands, he began to cut off the beards of his courtiers. He later turned this noble function over to his court jester.
This beard–clipping caused the greatest protest in Moscow, not for aesthetic reasons nor because of its infringement on personal liberty – there could be no such issue in the Moscow of the time – but rather on religious and ethical grounds. With the beard, one was assumed to be made in the likeness of God. Without it, one was relegated to the level of animals.
The next ukase decreed the wearing of Hungarian dress by all Russians – male and female – with the exception of clergy and agricultural labourers. Models to be inspected and copied were everywhere displayed. Then, even tobacco smoking, previously forbidden by the Russian church as objectionable to God, was introduced by Peter. And finally he changed the calendar.
Up to 1700, Russia had reckoned time from the creation of the world. The result of all these measures was great unrest among the orthodox masses. Peter was accused of betraying the heritage and religion received from his ancestors. Suspicion became more and more rampant that the true Tsar had been detained abroad and a heretic sent to Russia in his place.
But once Peter was bent on reform, there was no turning back. These reforms, however, were not to be carried out in accordance with a previous plan. Rather, they were to be forced upon him by the necessities of the hour. Peter's Russia had for decades waged exhausting wars, repeatedly bringing her near collapse. Only through continuous measures of innovation could the Russian state survive.
Peter had gone abroad intent upon forming a European coalition against the Turks in the south. The plan, however, proved impossible to carry out, and Peter, instead, came home as an ally of the Polish King against Sweden in the north. For many centuries Russia had striven, with little success, for possessions on the Baltic coast. The achievement was to be the test of Moscow's political maturity; without the Baltic, Russia could not become a great European power.
In 1700, Peter renewed this struggle for the Baltic. 'I am', he professed, 'not seeking land, I am seeking water.' In the end he achieved this goal, though it took him twenty–one years to do it. The grim war, with the Tsar as his own commander in chief, brought impressive results. By 1703, he was able to begin the building of his new capital, Petersburg, on the newly won territory in the Neva marshes. The emergence of this city cost the lives of thousands of workers. But Peter was determined to leave Asiatic Moscow, even if the way out was strewn with corpses.
The biggest battle of the 'Northern War' was –paradoxically – fought in the south, at Poltava in the Ukraine. Only by flight into Turkish territory could the Swedish King, Charles XII, escape with his life. It was the young warrior's first great defeat, but it by no means spelled the end of the war. On the contrary, during the next few years there was danger of its spreading to the whole of Europe. More than once, Great Britain risked being drawn in on the side of the Swedes.
In the years 1716 to 1720, the 'Baltic' issue was fought by England and Russia with all the weapons of diplomacy and publicity. To keep Russia within bounds in the north, the government of George I concluded an alliance with France in November, 1716. In the succeeding years it further tried to arouse Prussia, the Emperor, and even the Turks, against Russia. The Tsar meanwhile on his side approached Spain and, in collusion with Cardinal Alberoni, intrigued against England throughout Europe.
But even that was not enough. In a bitter pamphlet, the Russian Ambassador in London accused the King of betraying the interests of his English subjects. With the Tsar's help, there was a plan to depose George I, marry his rival, James Stuart, to Peter's thirteen–year–old daughter, and proclaim him James III. In the 'Stuart Papers' one can now follow in detail the relations – at the time strenuously denied – between the Tsar and the Old Pretender.
But George I was not to be left behind. Certain sources preserved in the Record Office reveal that he endeavoured to create difficulties for the Tsar, using the dangerous weapon of an alliance with the separatists in the Ukraine. It is significant that the diary of Hetman Philip Orlik, successor to Mazepa, calls George I 'the Protector of the Cossack nation'.
In 1721, Sweden was at last forced to lay down arms. It was Peter's greatest victory. With the whole of the Baltic coast from Finland to Riga now in the possession of Russia, she was at last assured a direct access to European markets, and Europe was obliged to recognize her as a great European power. After the victory over the Swedes, Peter took the title of Russian Emperor. But even this new dignity did not prevent his expressing his joy by dancing on the tables at the celebrations of peace in St Petersburg.
In Peter's foreign policy, the genius of organization and foresight were to be seen. There were three points of capital importance which he desired for Russia: the mouth of the Don in the south, giving access to the Black Sea; the river Neva in the north, giving access to the Baltic, and the river Amur in the far east giving an approach route to the Pacific and China. He failed to secure the Don estuary, but gained the Neva in 1721.
And the same Danish Captain Bering, commissioned by Peter to examine the [geographical relationship between Asia and America, was also to bring up the Amur question. By sending Russian troops to Bukhara and Khiva, Peter hoped to bring these two central Asiatic Khanates under the Russian protectorate.
Significantly, the same day on which one ukase flung open Russia's gates to western European craftsmen, another one commissioned four Russian boys to begin learning Japanese. And finally, besides Europe, Asia and America, Africa became part of Peter's far–flung foreign schemes.
Only two years after the defeat of the Swedes in December, 1723, two Russian warships lying in the roadstead before Reval in the Baltic were ordered to set out on a long sea journey. This was to be kept a closely watched secret, especially from Great Britain. The ships were to sail under the trading flag, and only at sea were the two captains to learn of the destination of their mission.
It was, astonishingly enough, Madagascar in Africa, with whose presumed king Peter now wished to establish lasting friendly relations. According to the Tsar's plans, this visit was to be only the beginning. Later, a representative of the 'highly esteemed King and Owner of the glorious Island of Madagascar' or the King himself were to come to St Petersburg to conclude a friendship pact. And should there be no king in Madagascar, the Tsar considered establishing a Russian colony there, under a governor appointed by himself.
What was the object of this tentative and bizarre approach of Peter to Africa? Briefly, Peter regarded Madagascar as an important junction on the sea–route to India, a land coveted by all of Europe. From very early days Russia had sought to enter into relations with the land of India. Indeed, the merchant Nikitin of Tver was the first Russian to succeed in getting there as early as the middle of the fifteenth century, and there were many attempts afterwards to keep contact with the country.
Still, all Russian efforts to ensure a trade route to India overland or along the rivers, through central Asia, proved unsuccessful. But was it not true that, thanks to Peter's newly created fleet, a sea route to India was now open to Russia? We hear of Peter's fantastic plans to reach India in 1720 by way of the Arctic Ocean.
And thus his extraordinary undertaking, a few years later, to land in Madagascar represented just one more expedient. It was an ingenious scheme, but since one of the Russian frigates began to leak immediately upon reaching the open sea, Peter's dream to exploit India through Africa led to nothing.
Under Peter it was an altogether new Russia that presented herself to her European contemporaries. Decades of war brought to Russia important accessions of territory. On the other hand, the continuous demand for fresh recruits for the army and for new sources of revenue finally destroyed old Muscovite Russia.
This involved reform of the entire state structure. The whole country was now divided into provinces called gubernii. Since Peter was often absent from the capital – spending time with his armies – he created the senate as the highest administrative body to represent him in St Petersburg.
And, as a link between these gubernii and the senate, he organized a number of special 'colleges' from which in the nineteenth century the Russian ministries were to spring. The statesmanship employed by Peter in all these matters is astonishing; the features of the administrative structure of the Russian empire set up by him and his collaborators remained nearly intact until the beginning of the twentieth century.
Through Peter's reforms absolutism in Russia was considerably strengthened. It rested upon two main pillars – the Guards, that is the military elite; and the bureaucracy. Since there was no room for any sort of popular representation in this military, bureaucratic state, the earlier national assemblies were no longer summoned by the Tsar.
From what levels of society were the new Russian bureaucracy, soldiers and officers of the Guard recruited? Peter's wars and reforms had radically changed the social structure. The power of the venerated boyar families was at last crushed. The new Russian aristocracy was created by Peter to be a nobility of service, and admission to this group was open to people of humble birth, a truly revolutionary approach.
By attainment of a certain grade in military or civil service a man could raise himself to the ranks of the nobility. Birthright no longer counted, it was personal service that set the standard. At the same time, Peter set this aristocracy some new and difficult tasks.
Military service was now for life. The young noble no longer began his army career as an officer, but as a common soldier. Finally, the nobleman was now forced to acquire hitherto unheard–of knowledge; any young sprig who by his fifteenth year had not mastered arithmetic and geometry was forbidden to marry.
Russian merchants comprised another social class whose life was greatly affected by Peter's reforms. Since Peter was the child of a mercantile age, he tried hard to promote Russian trade and foster native industry. He represented Russian mercantile interests abroad, imposed protective tariffs, built canals, and promoted mining.
In the early eighteenth century fears were openly expressed that Russia might become a serious rival to England in the production of iron. At Peter's death there were as many as 240 factories in Russia, where there had formerly been only very few. Though Peter made every effort to encourage private initiative, he repeatedly urged the state to participate in commercial enterprises.
The condition of the Russian peasantry under Peter deteriorated badly. Not only did the peasants bear all the burdens of the war – as soldiers and victims of heavy taxation – but their relationship to the land–owners moved ever closer to slavery. No peasant from now on could leave his squire's estate without written permission. Thus, his freedom of movement disappeared. A special ukase from the Tsar allowed the sale of peasants in complete family units, though selling of individuals was forbidden.
The social and political status of the Russian clergy under Peter also changed for the worse. Church lands were withdrawn from ecclesiastical administration, and the number of religious houses limited. As a rationalist, Peter regarded the monks as idlers: they might better take care of the sick and destitute, he thought. In his determination to break the political influence of the church, Peter tried to make it a hierarchical servant to the imperial power.
He set aside the office of Patriarch in Moscow, and handed the leadership of the Russian church to a new, purely bureaucratic institution – the Holy Synod in St Petersburg. Thus, the reign of Peter saw the supreme authority of the Tsar exerted over not only the whole political structure, but over ecclesiastical matters as well.
Of especial importance, finally, were the Tsar's reforms in the realm of culture. He initiated the change in the Russian calendar, which was completely executed only after the fall of the monarchy. Peter further changed the Russian spelling – the former customary marking of word – accents disappearing.
Above all, Peter aspired, in his own words, to 'convert beasts into men'. He set the Russian woman free from her Asiatic seclusion. He worked hard to introduce the western European salon into Russia; he founded art galleries, museums, and above all the first Russian schools.
Under Peter, the first Russian newspaper began to appear. Further, the Tsar had a number of books printed in Holland–in the Russian language. These were mostly translations of technical works for the use of his subjects. This well–meaning plan, however, had its limitations. The work that found the most interested purchasers was one on correct behaviour – a sort of 'what is not done' of the time.
Herein the Russian nobleman was taught table manners, rules for walking, sitting, greeting, speaking, use of his handkerchief and his hat. And he learned for the first time that things so long taken for granted, such as spitting, wiping the mouth with a hand, licking the fingers, were not done by gentlemen. But among this seemingly semi–barbaric company of ignorant illiterates the great reformer planned to found a Russian Academy of Sciences.
Still, the achievement of his last plan had to wait for Peter's successors, for while working at it Peter died at the age of fifty–three. His death was attributed to a cold caught while sailing on the Baltic Sea whose conquest he had fought for so long and so stubbornly. He was mourned by only a small number of close collaborators, his guards and foreigners living in Russia. He left behind him a Russia, fermenting – it is true – but inwardly strengthened. Most of the conflicts mentioned here earlier had been dealt with successfully.
The state had been triumphant all the way – over medievalism, forces of reaction, claims of the boyars, mutiny of the old army and the presumptions of power of the Russian church. It was the peasant problem alone for which Peter had found no solution. This most populous of classes had been delivered into exploitation by the land–owners – a fact with evil consequences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The style of the Tsar's private life – unpredictable and tempestuous – added more fuel to the grumblings of his subjects. In 1698 his first wife, Eudoxia – the beautiful daughter of a prominent boyar – was made to retire to a monastery and take the veil. Her successor was a woman of low origin, 'a soldiers' tart and laundress', who was later to become Empress Catherine I. Having lived in sin with her since 1703, the Tsar married her publicly only as late as 1712.
But the most dramatic and repulsive chapter of the Tsar's private life was the confrontation between father and son. Tsarevich Alexis, the only surviving child born to Peter and his first wife, was in all respects the opposite of the Tsar. A dreamer, in love with Russia's past, he despised the military pursuits of his father, preferring to spend time on religious problems and meditation. Peter intensely disliked his presumptive heir.
The very idea that Alexis, regarded as the epitome of all opposing evil forces, could succeed him as ruler of all Russia tormented him. Thus, he tried to force Alexis to become a monk, thereby renouncing his hereditary rights. Alexis fled abroad, going as far as Naples, finally returning home, lured by his father's promises to pardon him and leave him unmolested.
But events took an opposite turn. Charged with high treason, Alexis was brought to trial, repeatedly tortured and finally, on July 7th, 1718, condemned to death. Three days later, however – prior to the execution – the incarcerated twenty–eight–year–old son of Peter the Great was flogged to death in the Peter and Paul fortress.
Under Peter, Russia had become a member of the European family of nations. She had at last achieved internal reforms, based on corresponding institutions in Europe. And if, on the other hand, the Europeanization of Russian life was a slow and difficult process, this was due less to faults in Peter's personality than to geographic location of Russia on the borders of Asia.
As for the Tsar, he was a mixture of an enlightened European despot and the transitional Russian of his time. He was still pretty much the barbarian; he used violence to achieve his ends. But, he was a genius who, through his own strength, and despite all opposition, tried to drag with him the Russian colossus from Asia. He knew his aims and his duty. The famous words of the Tsar, as he addressed his army, are perhaps the best illustration of this attitude: 'Do not think of Peter, if only Russia remains alive.'