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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Peter the Great

Peter_the_Great_of_Russia_detail_1838This summer we’re writing about snippets of history in an attempt to improve our writing skills.  Today we moved from “Zolotaya Orda”, the Holden Horde territory of Genghis Khan, unifying lands under his rule in 1206, to “Pyotr Velee’kee”, known in English as Peter the Great.

The more I taught the kids about this iconic Russian tsar born in 1672, the more I realized they knew very little about him.  Pyotr Alexei’evich Romanov is generally depicted as a reformer who led a cultural revolution, Westernizing and modernizing Russia in so many ways.

He traveled through Europe, learning shipbuilding, and sitting for portraits.  His goal soon became bringing Russia out of a medieval existence… and ditching his wife from an arranged marriage at the age of 17.  Forcing her into a convent against her wishes, this was 1698, and the next time a Russian leader would divorce would be Vladimir Putin in 2013.

Worthy of note, Peter led Russia forward, while Putin is leading Russia backward.  Peter the Great, Putin the PeterthegreatDismal.  Both paths come with a price.

Pyotr Alexei’evich actually penalized his nobles who refused to embrace Western ways.  Those men who continued to wear long beards and traditional robes were taxed.  Sounds like point-counterpoint to President Putin who issues sanctions against dual passport holders who are not “Russian-enough”.

Tsar Peter the Great is credited with ending arranged marriages in Russia, as well as changing the old Russian calendar.  One day the year was 7207, the next day the year was 1700.  He created the Russian Navy and forbade men from seeking monastic life until reaching age 50, thus ensuring that his navy would have more sailors.

He was an amazing leader who began reigning at the age of 10, sharing the throne with his elder, fairly incompetent brother, and allowing their mother to eavesdrop, and give advice, from behind the sons’ dual-throne.  Peter the Great grew to 6’8” tall, truly remarkable in the 17th century, and it’s reported that he often experienced facial tics or even mini-convulsions.

Yet, he allowed nothing to hold him back.

What great things might we accomplish today, if we truly sensed our mission, and pursued it passionately?


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