Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias (1672-1725), Peter the Great in paintings. When people met with the Peter I – we read in the “History of Peter” (1703) – they fell on the knees before him. The streets of St. Petersburg were dirty, swampy and not paved, Peter the Great in order to prevent them from “soiling in the mud” forbade kneeling, and those who did not listen to him, got under severe punishment.
With the founding of St. Petersburg, 750 miles of winding land route had been laid, between the two capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. It took foreign ambassadors 5 weeks to traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg, due to dirt and broken bridges, they had to wait for 8 days for horses at the stations. Peter wanted to straighten this path, reducing it to 100 miles. He had already built 120 miles of new road from St. Petersburg to Moscow, but then gave up, unable to cope with the Novgorod forests and swamps.
With the founding of St. Petersburg, of course, he had the idea to link the new capital of the waterway with the interior regions. To take a boat on the Moscow River and land on the Neva without transplantation has become a dream of Peter. With peasant Serdyukov he walked through deaf remote spaces of Novgorod and Tver regions, explored rivers and lakes and began constructing Vyshnevolotsk shipping system, a breakthrough channel connecting Tvertsa tributary of the Volga and the River Tsna which form its extension creates Mstino lake, comes out of it and flows into the Il’men. In 1706, 4-year-old work, conducted by 20 thousand workers, had been completed.
In 1704, after long siege Narva had been finally conquered after attack, angry Russian soldiers could not be stopped from the robbery until the emperor himself ran to them with a drawn sword, he killed some of them, and thus stopped their fury, and brought town in an appropriate order. Then Peter came to the castle, where Swedish commandant Horn was brought to.
Emperor in anger gave him a slap and said, “You, you’re the one to blame for the fact that so much blood was spilled needlessly! You would already have had to put up the white flag when you could not hope for help and had no other way to protect the city”. Then he threw the bloody sword on the table, and said: “Here is my sword, it has not Swedish, but Russian blood on it. I’ve saved poor people from violence, bloodshed, to which they were unnecessarily exposed owing to you”.
At Poltava … a nine-year stone fell from the shoulders of Peter: Russian army destroyed the Swedish army, ie 30,000 emaciated, portages, demoralized Swedes, who were brought here by 27-year-old Scandinavian tramp. Peter celebrated Poltava as magnanimous victor, seated at his dining table captive Swedish generals, drank to their health, as his teachers
Peter himself participated in the battle of Poltava, not avoiding the danger: one bullet shot him in the hat, the other got into the saddle, and the third damaged gold cross hanging on his chest. At this very time, encouraging his men, he said the famous words: “You are fighting not for Peter, but for the state, entrusted to Peter … and know about Peter, that he doesn’t care about his life, long life to Russia, glory, honor and welfare to it!”
A. Prokhorov. Peter the Great in the presence of Prince Menshikov returns sword trapped in the battle of Poltava to Swedish Field Marshal Count Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld.The Battle was a disaster for the Swedish army and Rehnskiöld was captured by the Russians. He remained in Russian captivity until 1718.
When in 1711 on the Prut River, surrounded by 10,000 Turks, Peter was trapped in his own camp and could not get anywhere for provisions, and except a miracle, nothing could save him and the army of the situation, he sat in his tent to write a letter, sealed it, and asked one of officers if it was possible to deliver it through the Turkish army to St. Petersburg.
Officer, who knew all the roads and passages in those places, assured the emperor that His Majesty may rely on him and the letter would be delivered to St. Petersburg. Relying on this assurance, the emperor kissed his forehead and said: “Let God help you”. The officer on the ninth day arrived safely in St. Petersburg and gave the letter to the full Senate meeting.
To the surprise of senators, the royal letter read: “Please be informed that I with all army without any fault or negligence on our part, are surrounded on all sides by the Turkish army, which is four times stronger than our, we are deprived of all the ways to obtain provisions, so that if not special help of God, nothing else can help. Soon all our people will die or be imprisoned. In the latter case, do not consider me the king and do not execute orders, which then may be, from me to you would be sent, even though they actually were written by my hand, while I did not come back to you. Well if I die and you will get the correct news of my death, then elect the most worthy of you to become my successor“.
Russian people saw in the king the enemy of good morals; Russian Tsar was annoyed with his people, but insistently made people go along the road he saw for them, using his power. One gave him hope for success – vintage submission, eternal loyalty to royal power, servile fear and patience, which astounded all foreigners, the patience which the Russian people proved during the past centuries, either the Mongol yoke, or any arbitrary despots.
Dutch paintings appeared on the banks of the Neva in 1716, long before the Hermitage museum was founded. This year for Peter I in the Netherlands were purchased more than one hundred twenty paintings, and after that almost the same number of paintings were bought in Brussels and Antwerp. Somewhat later, the English merchants sent to the king one hundred nineteen still works. Peter’s favorite subjects were scenes from the life of the Dutch men and women, and favorite artist – Rembrandt.
Another portrait painted by Dutchman Charles Moore in 1717, when Peter went to Paris to hasten the end of the Great Northern War and to prepare the marriage of his 8-year-old daughter Elizabeth with 7-year-old French king Louis XV. Parisians observer that Peter acts like lord, well learned his imperious role with the same insightful, sometimes a wild look, and at the same time a politician who knew how to get along nicely at a meeting with the right person. Peter was already aware of his value so that he neglected decorum: when leaving Paris apartment sat quietly in a foreign coach, he felt the owner everywhere – on the Seine and on the Neva.
Peter almost did not know the peace: all his life he fought with someone, his sister, Turkey, Sweden, Persia. Since the autumn of 1689, when ended the reign of the princess Sophia, from 35 years of his reign, only one year 1724 passed peacefully.