When someone thinks of Russia their thoughts are often gravitated to sputnik, the fairy tale of Anastasia, or the ever so classic Sarah Palin quote; where she exclaims that she can see Russia from her house. One doesn’t necessarily think about how Russia came to be. At the core of the Russian Empire is Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Both rulers were able to increase the size of Russia and westernize the empire.
Peter the Great was a Tsar of Russia. He was from the Romanov Dynasty and served as Tsar from 1689 to 1725. He was very young when he became Tsar, so his half-sister Princess Sofia acted as his regent. Becoming a Tsar very young required Peter to grow up very quickly, and that he did. He learned skills in blacksmithing, carpentry, shipbuilding, and other types of practical skills. While Peter was obtaining these skills, his regent Princess Sofia was trying to seize complete control of the government. Only in his teens Peter was able to rally enough support to send her to a nunnery and take control of Russia (Bulliet).
Peter’s main concerns when it came to Russia was to expanded and modernize it. His first order of business was to obtain the Black Sea. He formed a Navy and went on a crusade against the Ottoman Empire. With the expansion underway it was now time for Peter to work on modernizing his empire. He took a disguise and headed to Europe to see for what it was; a modernized country. While in Europe he was exposed to many different ideas but none stuck with him more than the idea of trade, “Trade generated money to spend on weapons” (p 572). For the trade to happen he had to break the control that the Swedish had on the Baltic Sea. He took hold of the Baltic Sea in 1721. He now had a direct route between Russia and Europe. It was on this land that he built St. Petersburg, “his window to the west” (Bulliet 572).
Along with enhancing the trade and expanding the land, Peter also wanted to open his people’s eyes to...