The Impact Of The Petrine Reforms In Russian History

1667 words - 7 pages

In Russian history, the eighteenth century was characterized by significant changes to the political, economical, social and cultural fabric of Russian life that shifted Muscovite Russia’s isolated position and mindset of the Middle Ages into modernization and westernization. The driving force of reformation is accredited to Peter the Great whose reign (1694 – 1725) ushered in European ideas, models, manners, and philosophies. Willingly accepted or not, government intervention was evident in almost all aspects of life. The Petrine reforms, although extensive and multi-faceted, can be generally catalogued into the following areas: military; administrative; ecclesiastical; economical and fiscal; cultural; and social. A synthesis of the reforms, and their effect on and significance to Russia, are examined here. The Muscovy past was irreversibly changed, but the Petrine reforms were not particularly a break from Russian tradition, as evidenced by institutions such as serfdom and the faith of the Old Believers. Instead, Peter initiated a shift towards a new perspective of consciousness that must be balanced between what worked and what did not for Russia and it’s population. However, the character of the reforms was not uniform and proved to be difficult to support in future years.
In the length of Peter’s reign, only one year was spent in peace when Russia was not at war (Ria p. 251). Starting with the war with Turkey in 1695, Peter would wage war against Sweden, Poland, or the Ottoman Empire throughout the era. Peter’s foreign policies were ambitious: he endeavoured to regain territories that were thought to be historically Russian such as the Baltic States, Poland, and Ukraine; sought access to international waterways; and aimed to extend and establish Russia’s boundaries for defence strategy as well as for a closer affinity with the Western world. Russia did indeed become a major player in the international arena and that was due to Peter’s creation and development of a standing permanent army and navy that were integral to forging Russia into a world power.
Peter’s military reforms were a break from Russia’s past traditions that were sweeping and affected the whole population. Traditionally, Russia relied on a militia offensive and then the more regimented and structured military unit, the streltsy, inducted by Ivan the Terrible. Along with his own personal interest, the Turkish wars and the magnitude of the Great Northern War (1700 -1721) with Sweden necessitated a permanent, self-sufficient army. In response to the wars, Peter mobilized a massive military force and established industry to supply this force. The introduction of life service among the gentry and conscription among other classes equipped Peter with the necessary man-power. The army was now permanent, and through the management of foreign officers, had a centralized system that relied on advancement by merit. Peter is also accredited with more or less creating the modern...

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