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Russia, having fallen behind in societal development, looked to the other, more prominent empires in Europe to elevate its status. To reform and modernize Russia, leader Peter the Great looked to European styles and customs to accomplish this. Seeking to modernize Russia, he travelled throughout Europe to learn their customs and implemented them onto his people, he promoted foreign relations and created factories to contribute to trade, as well as acted as an example for his people to follow.
In Peter’s
attempt to modernize Russia, he begins by travelling throughout Europe to learn their customs and traditions, and using what he learned, and implemented these new customs onto the people of Russia. These customs are things such as the education of Russian nobility and their children, forcing European dress, as well as forcing the removal of traditional Russian beards, punishable by tax. The efforts of Peter
are noted by Bishop Burnet of England, as he notes that Peter was “desirous to
understand our doctrin
e. . . resolved to encourage learning and to polish his people” (DOC 1). The
motives of Peter
‘s travels are made clear, as described, he sought to educate himself on the customs of
successful nations for the betterment of his people. The author of this document being Bishop Burnet of England is significant because, being an outside party not directly affiliated with Peter, he conveys with certainty that Peter
‘s motives were indeed for the betterment of his people as described in his own
personal account of Peter. The actions that Peter took in his reform of Russia are relayed more specifically in his various decrees, such as his requirement of education for Russian nobles, as he says that nobility should be educated in subjects such as mathematics (DOC 2). Another decree made by Peter relays his requirement of wearing western-style clothes, in which he declares that all men and women of societal importance should dress in a European style, and forbids the production and sale of traditional Russian clothing (DOC 4). The author of both documents 2 and 4 being Peter himself is significant because he is the direct source of these laws, creating a sense of transparency between him and his people and their understanding of the new laws. This transparency prevents uprisings or rebellions of his people, making his attempts at the modernization of Russia more effective. In addition to implementing laws on education and western-style clothing, Peter also ordered the men of Russia to shave their beards, which were a traditional Russian staple in order to offer a physical representation of the modernization of Russia (DOC 6). Men, if they still had their beards, were forced to pay a tax, and this ban on the traditional Russian beard caused mixed reactions, most of those upset

Claudia White Peter the Great DBQ Due 3/28/17 were older and more traditional, those accepting of the new rule were younger and more open to the new changes in Russia (DOC 6). Peter, in his efforts to display the modern nature of Russia, built the city of St. Petersburg in the Baroque style which was popular in Europe. The city eventually became a symbol for Russian power and acted as its capital. Peter, learning from his European travels, implemented various laws seeking to modernize Russia, such as requiring the education of nobles, forcing European dress and the shaving of traditional Russian beards, all of which signaled to other countries the upcoming prominence of Russia. Peter, in his mission to make Russia a national contender, promoted trade with foreign nations, and to improve their ability to trade, established factories to increase production. Peter made a decree on foreigners in which he promotes the presence of foreign trade partners for the betterment of Russia, in that foreigners will offer insight and knowledge to which Russia was previously ignorant (DOC 3). The author of this document being Peter himself offers a sense of transparency and clarity with the people of Russia, as seen with documents 2 and 4 the people are in direct communication with their leader and understand the motives behind his actions which are explicitly stated and are for the betterment of the
empire. This action on Peter’s part was very effective and red
uced the chance of rebellions or uprisings in this time of intense change. Peter
‘s efforts
to introduce Russia as a prominent trading empire are seen in his attempts to implement factories and manufacturing plants in Russia that focus on the production of goods using the natural resources present (DOC 5). The presence of these factories would increase
Russia’s ability to produce goods
for trade more effectively, allowing Russia to become a prominent trade partner in Europe. The presence of trade is a sign of great societal development, which Russia was lacking significantly before Peter
‘s efforts. The lack of societal development was si
gnaled by the presence of serfdom in Russia, at which point serfdom in other European countries was considered obsolete. This massive change from serfdom and slow societal development to becoming a prominent trading partner in Europe conveys the success of Peter
‘s rule and efforts to modernize Russia.
Lastly, in his efforts to modernize Russia and its people, Peter acted as an example for his people to follow. A portrait of Peter the Great from the Library of Congress depicts him in European dress and shaved face, following his own laws set forth about the requirement of western-style clothing and shaving of the traditional Russian beard (DOC 7). Peter following his own laws shows that he led by example for his people, making his rule and overall modernization of Russia more effective. The people of Russia looked to their leader, Peter for guidance and he, in European dress and lacking a traditional

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Claudia White Peter the Great DBQ Due 3/28/17 Russian beard, gave his people an example to follow, thus making his laws more effective, in turn making the m
odernization of Russia more effective. This “lead
example” mentality was also
reflected by Shah Abbas I, ruler of the Savafid Empire in modern-day Iran. Both rulers led by example for their people, and because of this mentality ruled during the prime of their respective empires. Peter and his tactic of leading by example, similar to Shah Abbas I, proved effective in leading his people to follow his laws, thus making his efforts of modernizing Russia more successful. Peter
‘s travels had a massive impact
on the modernization of Russia, and can be related to the impact of the voyages of Zheng He. Zheng He, under the command of Yongle during the early Ming Empire, voyaged through the Indian Ocean collecting tributary states for the Ming Empire. Throughout his voyages, Zheng He took detailed notes on the culture and beliefs of the various groups of people he encountered, which offered great insight into the other cultures and beliefs of the world at the time. The notes of Zheng He from his journeys and the insight they provided is similar to the insights Peter retrieved from his travels to Europe, which he the used in the refinement of Russia, which proved to be effective in making Russia a prominent figure in Europe during his reign. It is clear that Peter the Great made great strides in his efforts to modernize Russia, and did so effectively with the transparent nature of his laws to prevent uprisings or rebellions. The efforts he made were based off his travels through Europe, learning various customs and beliefs which he used in his efforts. Some of the most prominent changes he made were the requirement of education of nobles, western-style clothing, shaving of traditional Russian beards, as well as promoting foreign relations and the construction of factories to promote trade. Peter the Great was able to effectively accomplish all of
these in his efforts to modernize Russia with his “lead
example” mentality that has been echoed by
rulers around the globe

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