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Lauren Gaertner

Mr. Fronk

AP World History



Peter the Great was unlike any Russian ruler before him. During his reign from 1682-

1725 he modernized Russia and transformed it into a major European power. He did this by first,

understanding Europe, then changing the economy Russia for the better, and finally forcing the

citizens of Russia to change their appearance and lifestyle. Peter the Great brought Russia out its

backwards state and helped to modernize and stabilize its economy.

The first step in Peter the Greats plan to modernize Europe was to understand it. He

traveled all throughout Europe learning trades, how government works, and living amongst the

people. In document 1, written by an English bishop, Peter the Greats thirst for European

knowledge is highlighted. In this document, it is evident that Peter had a great desire to learn

more about Europe, and he placed the immediate development of Russia on the backburner until

he acquired the knowledge he deemed significant. Also supporting Peter the Greats first step of

understanding Europe is document 3. It is a decree written by Peter the Great on increasing

foreign relations and trade. His audience is Russian citizens, as well as foreigners and artisans

and he encourages them to flock to Russia to help them develop. With the help of these

foreigners, Peter believed the modernization of Russia would be achieved a lot easier. Peter the
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Great wanted to get Europeans into Russia to help them develop their economy and change the

Russian citizens appearance and lifestyle, which were the next two steps in his plan.

After first understanding the European ways of life and government, Peter the Great set

out to accomplish the next step of his plan, transforming the Russian economy to be more like

Europes. In document 3, Peter the Great says that Russia has always tried to maintain internal

order, defend the state against invasion, and in every possible way to improve and extend trade.

But the thing Russia has now put an emphasis on increasing trade with foreigners, therefore

shifting the focus of the Russian economy onto other nations who are willing to trade, which

made the Russian economy more like Europes. Another piece of evidence that supports Peter

the Greats modernization of the Russian economy is document 5. Document 5 discusses Peter

the Greats request for the building of manufacturing plants and factories as are found in other

states. The author (Stature for the College of Manufacturers) s purpose is to spread the word

that Peter the Great wants factories built that produce European-like goods. With the production

of these factories, the Russian economy will start to lean more towards Europe and that it will

grow and prosper like Europes economy. Now with Peter the Greats understanding of Europe

and transforming the Russian economy to be more like Europe, he can accomplish the last step,

which is to change the Russian citizens appearance and lifestyle.

Once the Russian government changed the economy the last step was to get the Russian

citizens on board with European customs and clothing. First, in document 2, Peter the Great sent

out a decree requiring the children of the nobility to learn mathematics. Peter the Greats point of

view is that in order to acquire more knowledge, like the Europeans, the children will have to be

educated, so learning will be enforced. Also, in document 4 Peter the Great makes a change to
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the Russian citizens appearance. Document 4 is a decree from Peter the Great requiring all

Russian nobles and their wives to wear European clothing. This would be a major change for the

Russian people, as their style of dress would be drastically changed, and elements of their

tradition and customs were being forced out of them. Document 6 is similar to document 4

because in document 6 Peter the Great puts a tax on having a beard, and encourages all Russian

men to cut off their long beards. Having a long beard was an important tradition to all Russian

men, so when Peter the Great imposed this rule, the citizens were very upset. The reason for this

new rule was that European men did not have long beards, and Peter the Great wanted to be like

Europe, even if it meant ending hundred year old customs. The last piece of evidence, document

7, is a portrait of Peter the Great. The historical context of this picture is that it shows Peter the

Great as he would want the Russian males to be dressed and manicured. It shows the drastic

change in Russia because Peter the Great has no beard and is dressed in European clothing. This

picture emulates how different Peter the Great really was, and how he wanted his state of Russia

to be just like Europe.

Peter the Greats rule during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries made a huge

impact on Russia that can still be felt today. He changed the economy and lifestyle of Russia

drastically when he was the ruler. Due to Peter the Greats influence, Russia is similar to

Europes style of life today. In modern day Russia, men wear clothes similar to European and are

up to date on all the latest European fashion trends. The economy is similar, due to the fact that it

depends on trade with Europe and is strongly influenced by its trading partners. Vladimir Putins

government is similar to Peter the Greats in the fact that they were both the supreme leaders of

Russia, and their power in Russia was pretty much unchecked. Peter the Greats desire to

emulate strong relations with Europe is still relevant today. The European Union accounts for up
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41% of all of Russias trade (BBC News). Because of Peter the Greats understanding of Europe,

modernization of the Russian economy, and change in his citizens appearance and lifestyle

Russia is still impacted today.

Another example of one country being strongly influenced by another country or region

is Cuba being influenced by Russia, especially during the Cold War. Cuba and Russia were

known for their communist governments and their mutual disdain for the United States of

America. Russia gave its support of Cuba, and strengthened Cubas government and kept Fidel

Castro in power. Cuba was strongly influenced by Russia through their government and

economy. Between these two countries trade was especially strong during the Cold War. Russia

wanted to use Cuba, to be in close proximity to the United States if they wanted to fire a missile.

This is similar to the Europeans use of Russia to acquire rare goods and to trade with. Russia

wanted to be similar to Europe so it could maximize its profits and grow and develop

economically. This is similar to Cuba strengthening its Communist government in order to

prosper and receive more goods from Russia.

To conclude, Peter the Great changed Russia for the better by modernizing and

transforming it based on the success of the Europeans. He did this by first, understanding

Europe, then changing the economy Russia for the better, and finally forcing the citizens of

Russia to change their appearance and lifestyle. This modernization of Russia brought changes

that are still felt today by the Russian Federation. This exchange was similar to the interactions

between Russia and Cuba during the Cold War. Peter the Great made a world of differences in

Russia and brought them out of the dark and made them a more modern and prosperous