Voltaire and Peter the Great

‘The story of Charles XII,’ wrote Voltaire, ‘was entertaining; that of Peter instructive.’ A. Lentin describes a unique example of early modern Franco-Russian relations.

Voltaire’s interest in Peter the Great was first aroused in 1717, when, as a young man of twenty-two, he saw the Russian monarch strolling informally in the streets of Paris. ‘Neither he nor I,’ recalled Voltaire years later, ‘had any idea that I should one day be his historian.’

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