A Power Struggle


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a power struggle Peter I (The Great)

Peter I, was born to Alexis Romanov and his second wife Natalia Naryshkina. Peter grew up in a turbulent period of Russian history. His fathers early death at the age of thirty-one left a bitter struggle for power between the family of Alexiss first wifes family, the Miloslavskaias, and Peters family. A brief period of reign by Peters half brother Fedor (1676-1682) was followed by his half sister Sofia assuming control of Russia as regent from 1682-1689. During this time Peter and his half brother, Ivan V, waited as co-Czars until they came of age.
Meanwhile Peter spent many of his formative years in the country estate of Preobrazhenskoe, just outside of Moscow. It was here that Peter fostered his love of warfare, and had his first contact with Westerners. Rather than being educated in the traditional manner, Peter was allowed to play war games. From an assortment of commoners, courtiers, and foreigners Peter formed two regiments, the Preobrazhenskii and Semenovskii, which he outfitted with real weaponry and drilled into what would later become his imperial guard. Also during this time, Peter developed two other passions. The first was sailing, which he first came in contact with by discovering an old English sailboat. The second was the love of all things Western, which came from his frequent visits to the nearby foreign quarter of Moscow.
By 1689 Peter had grown to the towering height of six feet seven inches, and was armed with a quick mind and boundless ambition. At this time Sofia attempted to murder Peter, but failed due to strong support for Peter from loyal Muscovites and foreigners. Shortly after assuming full power in 1695, Peter left on an unprecedented tour of Europe, in which he traveled undercover as a diplomat. Upon his return to Russia in 1698, Peter began his reign in earnest. Armed with much knowledge of the West, he started a series of military campaigns, enacted sweeping reforms, and nearly single handedly thrust Russia to the forefront of European power.
Peter is perhaps best known for his reforms that altered the face of Russia permanently. Peters hatred of traditional Muscovite custom prompted many of his reforms. Amongst reforms aimed at creating a Western culture were laws demanding men to be clean-shaven and all clothing and riding attire must be of German style. Peter also changed the calendar to the same style used in most of Europe.
Peters most influential reforms, though, dealt with the military. Peter essentially founded Russias military tradition. During his reign the Russian military increased from around 30,000 men in 1695, to nearly 300,000 men in 1725, and that included the newly formed navy. Peter was able to do this for a number of reasons. First he began mass conscriptions of both peasants and nobles. To logistically support the military, he completely restructured the government into a bureaucratic state with its capital in the newly built city of St. Petersburg. To pay for it he nearly tripled the taxes through various means. The most profitable tax was the head tax in which nearly every Russian male had to pay solely because they lived in Russia. To outfit the military, Peter created iron foundries and textile mills. To train it, he hired Western advisors to make up for the lack of Russian expertise. Nearly all of this was done to feed Peters imperial ambitions.
The most important part of Peters imperialism was the Great Northern War with Sweden, which lasted for nearly his entire reign. Through much difficulty Russia eventually won the war with the signing of the Treaty of Nystadt in 1721. Although Russia had really won the war in 1709 at the battle of Poltava, Sweden continued to fight because of support from France and Britain. The results of the war made Russia the most powerful country in Northern Europe, and the undisputed master of the Baltic Sea. The Great Northern War also, and more importantly, made Peter revered throughout Europe as a powerful, successful, and ultimately Western style leader of a respected nation.

Notes:


Bibliography:
Mackenzie, David, and Curran, Michael W., A History of Russia, the Soviet Union, and Beyond, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California, 1993
Dukes, Paul, The Making of Russian Absolutism, 1613-1801, Longman ... more

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Sir William Wallace


The Help of Sir William Wallace
Sir William Wallace is one of Scotlands greatest generals and was a great help towards the freedom of Scotland because he brought patriotism to the minds of his fellow Scotsmen in order fight for the freedom for which was nearly taken away by the their English neighbors.  He would ride through Scotland gathering clans both from the high and lowlands.  Over the years after his death, Scots have proclaimed Sir William Wallace as their countries hero and the man who made freedom run through the blood of so many who were by his side.
Hundreds of years before the time of Sir William Wallace, Roman troops tried to conquer parts of Scotland but failed.  The savagery of the Scots put the fear in the Romans and caused them to build Hadrians Wall.  The wall separated Scotland and England (which was part of the Roman Empire).  When the great empire fell to destruction by many Germanic tribes, Scots began to live a more peaceful life.  During the Norman conquest of 1066, a group of people called the Normans invaded England, killed many Anglo-Saxon and Celtic tribes, and took over the country.  England was now under Norman rule and would stay that way.  (Comptons Home Encyclopedia CD Rom)
In 1296, English troops invaded the lowlands of Scotland burning villages, killing innocent Scots, and trying to over rule the vast countrysides of the lowlands and the highlands.  The new ruler of England, King Edward I the Long Shanks, started all this.  


He believed that he should have control of the whole island itself.  His idea about conquering Scotland was that if he cant beat them out, then he could breed them out.  He brought the old English custom called Prima Noctes; if a woman is married in the country of Scotland, an English lord has every right to take her away from her husband for a few days and have his ways with her.  Clans of lowlanders came together to form an army.  It took awhile for the highlanders to know about this.  Conflicts brook out between the Scottish rebels and English troops.  Bows and arrows and other combat weapons were taken from the Scots except for their swords and axes.  (Comptons Home Encyclopedia CD Rom)
The answer to Scotlands problems came with the birth of William Wallace.  His exact date of birth is unknown but he was born in the 1270s.  As a young man, he quickly became educated by having his father, Malcolm Wallace, deciding for William to move to France with his uncle to have a better education.  At the age of 18, Wallace moved back to Scotland hoping to see his father and two brothers (Malcolm Jr. and John).  The hope of his would come to an end when he found out that his father and brothers were killed in battle during a revolt in Southern Scotland.  Anger immerged in the young Scotsman.  In the movie Braveheart, he had vengeance towards the English for the death of his wife, but that was all false.  He was never married. (Battle of the Clans on the History Channel)


At a bar (Town unknown) an English man started to insult Wallace causing the frustrating young man to kill him.  He was an outlaw after the incident. Wallace became revengeful to the English and traveled from town to town, village to village gathering a
band of followers and clans from both the highlands and the lowlands.  They began the struggle against the English rule of Edward I.  Gradually the number of Wallaces followers grew, as they all headed farther south from the highlands to fight the massive English army.  (Battle of the Clans on the History Channel)
September. 11, 1297, William Wallace and his army full of clans marched to attack English troops at Stirling.  They charged over the bridge leading to the city and clashed against the enemys forces.  Bloody it was, but it paid off.  They defeated and almost destroyed the English army at Stirling, and drove the enemy entirely out of Scotland.  This devastated and brought fear in the whole northern part of England.  As a reward for his victory, patriotism, and courage, Wallace became knighted and ... more

a power struggle

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