Peter the Great of Russia
In 1672, Russia was a weak nation. Its people knew little about the rest of the world. Most of the peasants lived in poverty. The ruler, called the czar, had complete control over the whole nation. This was Russian when Peter was born. His father, the czar, died four years later. Peter’s older half brother, Feodor, then became czar. The years, which followed, were hard for Peter.
When Feodor died, ten-year-old Peter became Czar. His older half sister, Sophia, was jealous of Peter. She began a plot to have him killed. She failed but Peter saw many people killed in the Kremlin. The sight was so terrible that he had nightmares for years. When the fighting ended, Sophia’s brother, Ivan, ruled with Peter. Actually Sophia told the boys what to do and say.
Peter began learning about war. He found soldiers who taught him how to train troops. Foreign sailors told him why Russian boats were so poor. While Sophia ruled, Peter built ships. He worked as a laborer, learning as he worked.
When he was 17, he decided it was his time to rule. With the help of some noblemen he took control of Russia. Sophia was sent to a convent. Her friends were beheaded or sent to Siberia. Ivan stayed in the palace until he died seven years later.
Peter now ruled alone. He hated the Kremlin where he lived in Moscow. He wanted excitement and beauty. None of these was found in Moscow. His thoughts turned to Western Europe. He decided to visit other nations. No other czar had ever left Russia before. In 1697, Peter and a number of Russians began a visit to the rest of Europe. The tour took over a year. Peter worked in shipyards. He visited factories, colleges, and museums. He learned about art, education, and manufacturing. Peter hated crowds. Yet, everywhere people wanted to see the 6 foot 7 inch czar. He avoided royal parties. Once he dressed as a servant at a party. The guests all pretended they did not recognize the giant footman.
When Peter returned to Russia, he was ready to make changes. He made the men shave their beards and wear short coats. Women were told to wear prettier clothing. People were ordered to have parties and dance. Schools and colleges were started. So were museums and theaters. Books and newspapers were printed. Young men were sent to visit other countries. Peter was making Russia part of the rest of the world.
Peter started new industries; mines were opened, new roads and canals improved transportation. He sent his soldiers to war to capture land along the sea. Then he built a navy. Trading ships used the new ports. Then he built a new city for the capital of Russia. Saint Petersburg was the new city on the Neva River.
Not all that Peter did was good. He took control of the Church. He made the lives of the peasants worse than before. Taxes were raised to pay for his projects. He had the power of life and death over all Russians. His son, Alexis, did not agree with all that Peter did. Peter felt that Alexis would change things one day. Therefore, he had Alexis killed. When his wife felt some of Peter’s reforms were bad, he drove her away. No one dared to question Peter the Great.
Peter always worked hard. He lived a simple life. His ideas brought Russia into the modern world. The changes he made helped Russia become a great nation. In 1725, he tried to save some drowning soldiers. He caught a cold. A short while later Peter the Great was dead.
Answer the following questions and then find the answers in the letter maze below.
What country did Peter the Great rule?
Where were some of his half sister’s friends sent for punishment?
What city was the capital before Peter built St. Petersburg?
What was the name of the palace in Moscow?
What was Peter’s half sister’s name?
What word means ruler of Russia?
What was the name of Peter’s son?
What was the name of Peter’s half brother who ruled with him?
What did Peter raise to pay for his projects?
What word means changes?
What word means a trip though other countries?
Where did Peter visit to study manufacturing?
What half brother was czar before Peter?
What did Peter order Russian men to remove?
What did Peter tell his people to do at parties?
R U S S I A S O P H I A
M S I B E R I A U O I K
O C R E F O R M S V A R
S O Z D A N C E A R L E
C R T A X E S N O U E M
O T O U R O D O E F X L
W X B E A R D S U O I I
R F A C T O R I E S S N
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