Today in World History: February 8th

On this day in 1725, Peter I “the Great” of Russia died. He ascended as Tsar of Russia in 1682 at the age of ten, and after sharing the throne with his half-brother, Ivan V, until he died in 1696 on this day. Peter the Great then promptly expanded his empire, transforming it into a major European power, expanding its borders almost to their current size.

 

This image show the borders of Russia in the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s, progressively lighter.

He expanded the Russian army, industrializing it and the rest of his territory so he could match up to the prowess of other nations, such as Great Britain and France. He instituted many reforms, moving Russia into the industrial age by creating scientific institutions that still exist in Russia today. He reformed the cultural aspect of Russia as well, making it fit better with the rest of the ideas from the Enlightenment, which at the time was taking Europe by storm, changing event the way rulers thought about their methods. Even Marie-Antoinette, the ill-fated French Queen, had a cottage in the woods where she would practice the ideas of Voltaire, living in a mock modest lifestyle. He led Russia to several victories, but succumbed at the age fifty-two to a gangrene-infected bladder, after ruling for more than forty-two years.

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”

-Voltaire

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