After the victory in the Northern War (1700-1721) and the conclusion of 30 August (10 September) 1721 in the city of Nishtadt peace treaty between Russia and Sweden, the Senate and the Holy Synod decided to present the title of Emperor of Russia to Tsar Peter with the following wording: “as usual from Roman of the Senate for the noble deeds of the emperors, such titles were publicly presented to them as a gift, and signed on statutes for memory to the eternal birth ”. 2 November 1721 Mr. Petr Alekseevich, upon the request of the senators, assumed the title of Great, father of the Fatherland, emperor of All-Russia, and the Russian state became an empire. Thus, the results of the victory over the mighty Swedish kingdom, the creation of an absolutist state and recognition of the authority of Western Europe by the countries of Western Europe were officially consolidated. Holland, Prussia and Sweden recognized the new status of Russia during the life of Peter, the Ottoman Empire in 1739, England and Austria in 1742, Spain and France in 1745 and, finally, Poland in 1764.
During the reign of Peter Alekseevich (from 1682 to 1725 a year) many important events occurred. As A.S. Pushkin quite correctly noted: “And Peter the Great, who alone is the whole world история! " The Streletsky riot of 1682 and the influence of the German settlement had a great significance on the formation of Peter's personality. After the removal from power of Sophia in 1689, Peter began to rule on his own. In the years 1695-1696. two Azov campaigns were committed, as a result of which Russia gained construction experience fleet and entrenched on the shores of the Sea of Azov, capturing the strong Turkish fortress of Azov. This strengthened Russia's position in the southern strategic direction. True, in 1711, as a result of the unsuccessful Prut campaign, Peter had to return Azov to the Turks.
The victory over the Swedes in the bloody and protracted Northern War (1700-1721) returned to the Russian state access to the Baltic Sea. This step strengthened the military-strategic and economic position of the state. In 1703, Peter Alekseevich founded a new capital of the state - St. Petersburg. As a result of the Caspian (Persian) campaign in 1722-1723, the Russian state acquired the territories on the southwest coast of the Caspian Sea. In September 1723, the Persians signed an agreement that recognized the western and southern shores of the Caspian Sea for Russia with the cities of Baku and Derbent and the regions of Gilan, Mazandaran and Astrabad. However, after the death of Peter, the government of Anna Ioannovna considered that this region was unpromising and it was abandoned. In addition, the development of areas in the East continued. Omsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Semipalatinsk and other fortified cities were founded, Kamchatka was annexed to Russia.
On the initiative of Peter Alekseevich, a whole series of reforms was carried out (many were not completed), which affected almost all spheres of the life of the state and society — from military affairs and industry to religion, everyday life, the way of life of people. For the modernization of the country was used the experience of Western European countries in military affairs, in the development of the economy and culture. In Russia, recruitment duty and compulsory military service of the nobility was introduced, a strong Baltic fleet was built, and the process of creating a regular army was completed. A number of reforms were carried out in the field of public administration: in 1711, a supreme body of state power and legislation was established - the Governing Senate; 1717 — 1721 was created by the executive bodies of the board — collegiums (Foreign Affairs, Military Collegium, Admiralty Collegium, Patriotic Collegium, Commerce College, Berg Collegium, Manufactory Collegium, Yustitz College, etc.); in 1701, the patriarchy was abolished and from 1721, it was replaced by the highest state body of the church and administrative authority - the Most Holy Governing Synod, the church was completely subordinated to the state; as the supreme control bodies, the posts of procurator-general and ober-procurator were established, which were directly subordinate to the sovereign; To solve urban affairs, the Chief Magistrate was created, to which the city magistrates of all cities submitted; 1708 — 1715 a regional reform was carried out, the first 8 provinces were created, headed by governors, endowed with full judicial and administrative power, which also had military functions.
A judicial reform was carried out in the country, a series of financial reforms, a reform of autocracy — the king in 1722 issued a decree on the succession to the throne, major changes occurred in the field of estate politics, education and science. Virtually no area of life, which did not affect the reforms of Peter.
In Russian historiography, Peter Alekseevich is considered one of the most prominent statesmen who determined the direction of development of the Russian Empire. At the same time, there is no unity in the assessment of its activities. Some researchers praise Peter the Great, considering the shortcomings of his rule insignificant. The latter focus on his criticism, emphasizing the cruelty of his methods, the extreme stress of human and material forces, the insignificance of foreign policy successes, excessive enthusiasm for European orders and westernization of Russia, the division of Russian society into two "people": "gentlemen" (nobility educated on the basis of European) culture and the rest of the population. Still others - they can be called “objectivists”, they recognize the merits in the activities of Peter Alekseevich, but at the same time show many of the shortcomings of his reforms.
Among the "panegyrist" Mikhail Lomonosov, who admired the acts of Peter. V.N. Tatishchev, an active participant in Peter's transformations, a political figure and historian, glorified Peter and his era. In the works of Prince M. M. Shcherbatov, along with the praises of Peter Alekseevich’s reforms aimed at the economic and cultural development of the state, as well as his successes in foreign policy and military affairs, there is also a social and political criticism. Shcherbatov directly accuses Peter I of humiliating the former significance of the aristocracy, of the ancient boyars and infringement of their legitimate rights and privileges. In addition, Shcherbatov accuses Peter of violating the moral purity of patriarchal relations, introducing Western norms.
A prominent writer, publicist and historian of the late XVIII century. and the first quarter of the XIX century. N. M. Karamzin also saw in the Tsar-reformer more greatness than all the rest. He highly appreciated the personal qualities of the emperor, called him "a great husband." In his opinion, the victory in the Northern War, Peter's activities in the field of economics and education put the Russian state on a prominent level in the political system of Europe. At the same time, Karamzin saw a flaw in that he “appropriated European customs” and “a passion for new customs for us violated the limits of prudence in him”. The historian expressed his opposition to such measures of Peter as the elimination of the patriarchate, the subordination of the church to the state, the transfer of the capital from Moscow to Petersburg, the breaking of old customs.
It is interesting to note that the views of the great Russian writer A.S. Pushkin and the early Slavophiles - I. V. Kireevsky and A. S. Khomyakov, in assessing Peter's reform, have more similarities than discrepancies. In Notes on the Russian Nobility, Alexander Pushkin emphasized the idea that “Peter I was both Robespierre and Napoleon. (Revolution embodied), ”and the attitude towards both French leaders born of the French Revolution was negative at that time in Russian society. Robespierre was hated for his cruelty and ruthlessness, Napoleon in noble Russia was considered a tyrant and a villain for the conquering wars in Europe unleashed by him, and for the invasion of Russian lands, the common people considered him an antichrist. Pushkin planned to write the history of Peter the Great (it was not completed) and for this he re-read all the documents relating to the life of the great reformer, all his writings about him, was admitted to the imperial archive. Tsar Nicholas was supportive of the writer and allowed him into the “holy of holies,” Pushkin gained access to the affairs of the first wife of Tsar Evdokia Fedorovna, Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, also the affairs of the former Secret Chancellery. As a result, the writer became a major expert on the epoch of Peter, even the historian M. P. Pogodin, consulted Pushkin, regarding him in this area as an indisputable authority. Pushkin, having studied a lot of documents, tried to objectively convey the era of Peter, showing not only the merits, but also the shortcomings of the historical activities and the personality of Peter I. Therefore, after the death of Pushkin, Emperor Nicholas familiarized himself with the unfinished work about the reformer tsar, can not be published because of many indecent expressions at the expense of Peter the Great ".
Slavophiles believed that Peter put a lot of effort to eradicate the traditions of "Holy Russia", strengthened the stratification of society, led to the formation of an abyss between the nobility and the common people. The early Slavophiles condemned the cruelty and fury with which Peter's reforms were carried out. Pushkin and the Slavophiles noted that the decree on the succession to the throne (1722) destroyed all legality in the order of succession to the throne, and after Peter’s death, Russia was abandoned to the arbitrariness of the palace groups fighting for power. In Russia, the problem of power and imposture arose again, as during the Time of Troubles. In general, Slavophiles believed that independent Russian life reached its greatest development in the era of the Moscow kingdom, and Tsar Peter violated this gradual, evolutionary ascent of Russia. Peter, with his violent reforms, introduced alien, opposite to the beginnings of Western (German) culture to Russia. The reformer turned the right course of life of the people on the false road of borrowing. Peter did not understand the precepts of past generations, changed the past of the Russian state, did not understand the Russian "national spirit". Therefore, in order to remain faithful to the Russian national spirit and return to its roots, Russia must renounce foreign European principles.
According to K. S. Aksakov, as a result of Peter's reforms, there was a split in Russian society, the cultural class was culturally separated from the people (Zemstvo). In addition, the state began to actively intervene in the moral, economic and everyday foundations of the people, which adversely affected the general state of the Russian state and the life of the people. At the same time, the Slavophiles highly appreciated Peter as a person, recognized the benefits of some of his reforms, but on the whole considered his actions not national and harmful in their very being.
The opinion of the Slavophiles was not shared by the Westerners. So, they call supporters of the “European way” in Russia of the 1840 — 1860 era. (A.I. Herzen, N.P. Ogarev, T.N. Granovsky, V.G. Belinsky and others). Peter I, in their eyes, was a true “creator of Russia.” Westerners believed that before Peter the Russian people were not "historical." Ancient Russia, which did not know the western (German) civilization, and did not have its own, was a “non-historical” state, devoid of development, condemned to eternal stagnation. Thanks to the energetic transformations of Peter I in the West, the idea of personal development, individualism, was borrowed. Historian KD Kavelin believed that Russia had exhausted ancient Russian life by the end of the 17 century, having survived before the state crisis. Peter brought the Russian state out of the crisis to a new path. Russia, before the start of its reforms, reached complete insolvency - cultural, economic and administrative, it could be saved only by fundamental reforms. The state has come to a complete decomposition, incredible efforts and extreme measures were required to save it. This made Peter Alekseevich.
Thus, the Westernizers believed that Peter's transformations were historically necessary, and were closely connected with the previous era (its negative side was the crisis of the whole system). The “Asian country,” as Belinsky called it, Tsar Peter, with his reforms, introduced him to a high European civilization, instilled ideas of humanity, humanism, and created the foundations for progress. Before Peter, the Russian people had neither history nor intelligent life.
SM Soloviev, when the 200 anniversary of the birth of Peter I was celebrated, spoke with famous public readings about the converter of Russia. The historian emphasized the organic and historical readiness of Peter's reforms. For him, the king was the benefactor of Russia, the true representative of the people. The student of Solov'ev - V. O. Klyuchevsky was also a supporter of Peter’s activities, but sometimes allowed himself to criticize his individual activities, began to emphasize elements of randomness and unplannedness in Peter’s reforms.
The disciple of Klyuchevsky, P. N. Milyukov (the future leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party), argued that Peter’s reforms were an expression of the logic of Russia's internal development, and were a process prepared by the course of development of Russia, and not planned by the tsar himself. In addition, the reforms were developed collectively, the influence of Peter was limited, the ultimate goals of the reforms were only partially realized. Miliukov also noted the “price” thanks to which Russia was elevated to the rank of a great European power — the ruin of the country and the reduction of the population.
Most historians of the Soviet era as a whole evaluated Peter’s activity positively, although they noted serfdom methods, repression, overstrain of the country's resources, the severity of wars and reforms for ordinary people. N. I. Pavlenko, E. V. Tarle, V. I. Buganov and others noted that the reforms of Peter the Great were a serious step towards progress. This viewpoint also prevails in modern Russian historiography. Although some researchers have subjected Peter to sharp criticism. So, A. Burovsky calls the tsar-reformer a "possessed sadist" and a "bloody monster", believing that most of the positive activities (including the creation of a regular army) were carried out before Peter. His actions only ruined and drained Russia, stopping its ascent, throwing it back.
2 November 1721. Peter I assumed the title of Great, Father of the Fatherland, Emperor of All-Russia, and Russia became an empire
- Alexander Samsonov