Puslapio vaizdai

Finally, through the aid of the French envoy, Campredon, who offered the mediation of France, Bruce and Ostermann were sent, in April, 1721, to Nystadt, where they met Count Lilienstedt and Baron Stroenfeld, on the part of Sweden. In spite of the operations in the Baltic, discussion went on, and on the 10th of September, 1721, a peace was signed on the conditions on which Peter had insisted. He kept Livonia, Esthonia, and Ingria, part of Kurland with the district of Viborg, surrendered the rest of Finland, and paid two millions of thalers.

In a letter to Prince Basil Dolgorúky, at Paris, Peter said: "All students of science end their course in seven years, but our school has lasted three times as long twenty-one years. However, thanks to God, it has finished so well that it could not have been better." He was on his way to Viborg to examine the boundary in dispute, when he received the news. He immediately returned to St. Petersburg, and the salutes and music from his boats announced to the inhabitants the end of the war. Immediately upon landing he went to church to give thanks, and his friends surrounded him and begged him, in commemoration of the event, to take the rank of admiral. Casks of brandy were brought out on the place in front of the church, the Tsar mounted a platform, and in a few words told the crowd of the happy event, seized a glass, and drank it off to the prosperity of the people. Cannons were fired from the fortress, and muskets by the regiments drawn up on the place. Twelve dragoons, with white heralds' wands, with banners and laurel crowns in their hands, rode through the city, and with blasts of trumpets announced the peace everywhere. On the 21st of October a great masquerade began, which lasted several days. Peter was like a child, and danced on the table and sang songs. On the last day of October, the Tsar announced to the Senate a general amnesty, and on the same day the Senate begged him to accept the appellation of Father of his country, the title of Emperor, and the surname of The Great.

* Prussia and Holland immediately recognized the imperial title. Other countries, though some of them had previously translated Tsar by Emperor, made delays and difficulties, chiefly to please the German Emperor. The new title was formally recognized by Sweden in 1723, by Turkey in 1739, by England and the German Emperor in 1742, by France and Spain in 1745, and by Poland not until 1764.



THE earlier changes made by Peter in the Government were rather of form than of substance. The names of some departments and of some officials were changed, but their duties and the method of fulfilling them remained nearly the same. The old official hierarchy gradually died out. Its members were not renewed. Instead of boyárs, voievodes, and diaks, Peter appointed ministers, governors, and secretaries. But when the brunt of the war was over, and the Tsar could turn his attention more to internal affairs, he planned changes which affected every branch of the administration, and entered into almost every detail of daily life. Without reviewing the particulars of all these changes, it is sufficient to say that they were made in imitation of foreign models-some German, some Polish, and many Swedish,—for after the war Peter was seized with admiration for the Swedish form of government,-that they were made without the slightest regard to the habits and usages of the Russian people, and that they were enforced by the most severe and tyrannical measures. Although in certain cases the elective principle was recognized, the tendency of all the changes introduced by Peter was to strengthen the central and autocratic government at the expense of local institutions. What little had still remained of self-government was entirely swept away. The result of Peter's reign was to strengthen despotism, and to give it a force which has enabled it to last even to the present day. Peter and his assistants had so little belief in the necessity of progressive development, and so little knowledge of the needs of the country, that his innovations were in many cases only tentative, and in the course of a few years his measures received many changes of form and principle. However useful his institutions were to carrying out his plans for a powerful empire, in many cases they were injudicious, and have been detrimental to the interests and progress of the country. To take but one or two instances, such were the passport system, the poll-tax on the peasantry, and the scale of official ranks. The aim of the great reforms made in Russia since Peter's day has been to get rid of institutions introduced by Peter or strengthened by his measures.

The old council of boyárs gradually gave place to the council of ministers,


and this, in turn, was absorbed by the re-organization, large sums were necessary, Senate, an institution established in 1711, and to increase the revenue he desired to on the very day of the proclamation of increase the wealth of the country. He the war against Turkey-to supply the place interested himself in manufactures and of the Tsar and act in his stead when he trade, though little in agriculture, but such was absent from the seat of government. was the want of knowledge of that time that It was composed at first of nine members, scarcely anything was touched that was not and it had in every respect full power of harmed. The constant interference with government and administration, though one the regular channels of trade, the diversion of its chief attributes was to collect as of men from their regular work to building much money as possible, for, as Peter towns and digging canals, the attempts to said, "Money is the artery of war." In create new industries, all had an injurious 1717, all of the ministries or departments effect. The newly invented revenuewere re-organized and turned, on the Swe- providers" indeed discovered many new dish plan, into boards or commissions subjects of taxation, but the result was the called colleges. The old system of sending oppression and impoverishment of the pecvoievodes with great powers to govern the ple. With the heavy taxes, with the forced provinces was given up, and the whole labor, with the recruiting, the peasant and country was divided into nine govern- merchant scarcely knew how to gain their ments, and these into provinces, the govern- daily bread. Yet Peter succeeded in bringors of which reported directly to the Senate. ing the revenue of Russia at one time to This institution did much for centralization ten millions of rubles. This was by no and to break down local self-government. means all that was collected from the peoIn order to reduce the influence of the ple. There was great exaction and extorold nobility, which had been always more tion of all kinds, and much of the money or less hostile to the new institutions, Peter paid in stuck to the pockets of the officials made service to the state obligatory, and on its way to the central treasury. One invented that "table of ranks" which made of the great wants of Peter was men who honors and titles dependent on good would carry out faithfully what he ordered. and efficient service. In the church, there The prevailing dishonesty distressed him, were changes of great importance. When and he devised a system of fiscal agents the Patriarch Adrian died, no man could who in reality were nothing more than spies, be found whose views exactly suited those and even to this day, in the parlance of the of the Tsar, and the place was therefore common people, a spy is called a "fiscal." left unfilled for a time, and the management These were insufficient, and other spies had of ecclesiastical affairs was placed in the to be sent to watch them. The practice of hands of Stephen Yavórsky, Bishop of denunciations of all kinds was encouraged Riazán. Subsequently Peter found that, to such a degree that it seemed that the with the opposition which existed everyaim of the Government was to make every where to the changes which he had made, individual a spy upon his neighbor. Yet, in to appoint a new Patriarch, who by custom spite of this, men who were favorites of the and law had a power in some respects Tsar, most intimate in his councils, and most almost equal to that of the Tsar, would active in carrying out his plans, were somebe to give a rallying point to all his ene- times the worst in this respect. Menshikóf mies, especially to the clergy. He there- fell several times into disgrace, but such was fore abolished the patriarchal office, and his power over his friend that by the sacrisubstituted therefor the Holy Synod. The fice of a large amount of money he obtained numerous monasteries with which Russia pardon. Not so with others. Prince Gagwas endowed were placed under the strict- árin, the governor of Siberia, in spite of the est regulations. Their immense property great service which he had rendered to the was practically confiscated and applied to Government, was hanged at St. Petersburg charitable uses, small sums being granted for peculation. Kurbátof, one of the most for the support of the monks and nuns, zealous revenue agents of the Tsar, fell into who were greatly hindered in accepting nov- disgrace for the same cause, and died before ices, and who were confined more strictly his case was decided. The vice-chancellor to their monasteries. Shafirof-partly, indeed, through the hatred of Menshikóf-was brought to trial for illegal acts, and was condemned to death, but received a commutation of sentence

The greatest need which Peter had was money. For his fleet, for his army, for the war, for the carrying out of his system of

when he had already placed his head upon the block. Even Nesterof, the Ober-fiscal, the man who for so many years had punished others for corruption, was himself found guilty of the same crime and executed in 1724. Peter, who loved such spectacles, stood at the window of one of the ministries. The old Nesterof, seeing him, bowed, confessed his guilt, and begged for mercy. But the Tsar was inexorable. Nesterof had first his legs and arms broken on the wheel, his head was then struck off and exposed on a stake, and his body placed on a wheel for days.

One new institution came into being, one which has left an impress on Russian life not yet effaced-the Secret Chancery of Preobrazhensky. In the old time, the Streltsi at Moscow had been charged with the preservation of the public order. They were They were the police of the city. After the dissolution of the Streltsi, the police duties devolved chiefly on the Preobrazhensky regiment, and drunkards and other disturbers of the peace were arrested and taken to the post in the square of the Kremlin, or to the headquarters at Preobrazhensky. The procedure was usually simple. After hearing the prisoner's statement and what little evidence the soldiers who arrested him could produce, Prince Ramodanófsky either imprisoned him for further investigation, had him stripped and beaten, or dismissed him at once if innocent-on payment, however, of a sum of money as expenses for his arrest. The business of the tribunal at Preobrazhénsky constantly increased, and included not only police matters, but crimes, and even treasonable acts. By a decree of October, 1702, this tribunal was legalized, and it was ordered that any person who cried out "word and deed "* should be sent before it. These terrible words brought about the arrest of all persons present or concerned, and the application of the most fearful torture. The Secret Chancery of Preobrazhensky was subsequently transferred to St. Petersburg, and continued to have exclusive charge of the secret police of the state. In that way, it was the lineal ancestor of what was subsequently known as the Third Section of His Imperial Majesty's Chancery. It is pleasant to know that the numerous pages of its blood-stained records

*“Word and deed of the Tsar " was the accepted

term for denouncing high treason, even before the compilation of the code of the Tsar Alexis, but its origin is unknown.


during Peter's reign show but few cases of real crime against the Tsar, and sad to see what numbers of men and women were tortured for chance and sometimes ill-understood words and expressions, or on the denunciation of some personal enemy.

We remember what dissatisfaction greeted the first innovations of Peter. Nevertheless, the distasteful changes continued. The war began; taxation and recruiting bore heavily on all classes, but especially on the peasants. After the Streltsi had been crushed, there was nothing about which an organized opposition could be grouped; there were no natural leaders or parties who could take up the cause of the people. The protests against the despotism of Peter took the form either of dissent or of rioting and brigandage. The Cossacks and half-wild people on the southern and eastern frontiers received accessions of strength in many men animated by fanaticism and embittered by persecution. In the more central districts of Russia, the discontent showed itself in violent and "unseemly" speech, in rumors and predictions, which, though comparatively harmless, were pursued and punished. What sort of "unseemly" talk was current, we can learn from the abundant records of the tribunal of Preobrazhensky. Every denunciation was followed by a rigid investigation, and every investigation, whether it showed guilt or innocence, was attended by inhuman tortures. A peasant, for example, groaned out: "Since God has sent him to be the Tsar, we have no happy days. The village is weighed down with furnishing rubles and half-rubles, and horses and carts, and there is no rest for us peasants." A boyár's son complained : "What sort of a Tsar is he? He has forced us all into the service, he has seized upon our people and peasants for recruits. Nowhere can you get away from him. Every one is lost. He even goes into the service himself, and yet no one kills him. If they only killed him, the service would stop, and it would be easier for the people." Some peasant women and soldiers' wives cried out: "What sort of a Tsar is he? has completely ruined the peasants, carried off our husbands to be soldiers, and left us and our children orphans, to pass all our lives in weeping." A serf said: "If he astonished that people have not put him lives long he will ruin all of us. I am out of the way before now. He rides about early and late at night, with few


people and alone. It is not a good time | the throne, the midwives had changed the for the Germans now, because his father-infant for a boy from the German suburb— in-law Lefort is dead. What sort of a Tsar is he? He is the deadly enemy of the peasants, and if he rides long enough about Moscow he will lose his head one of these days." A beggar said: "The Germans have got the better of him. One hour strikes, all is well. Another strikes, there is groaning and weeping. Now he has even attacked God-he has taken the bells out of the churches."

The change in the popular feeling toward the sovereign was very perceptible. In the time of the Tsar Alexis the people had many causes for discontent, but they threw the blame on Plestchéief, Morózof, and other boyárs and ministers of the Tsar, whom they considered to be the real causes of their troubles. Peter was no longer the demi-god who remained quietly in his palace or appeared only in state, ready to interfere to protect his people against the rapacity and the injustice of the boyárs. He had too often been seen in the streets and neighborhood of Moscow consorting with foreigners. He had shown his personal will too often during the executions of the Streltsi, at Voronezh and elsewhere, for the people not to understand that the government was different, that the Tsar was the life and soul of it. Their blame, then, was directed against him alone. The popular mind needed some explanation of this strange phenomenon, and the first was ready to hand: "The Germans had got around him-had bewitched him." Following German fashions, he had ordered them to cut off their beards. He would probably go still farther. "The Tsar had traveled beyond the sea, and had fallen in love with the German faith. He was going to compel the monks to drink milk on Wednesdays and Fridays." But the explanation of German influence did not seem sufficient. The popular imagination embroidered on this, and began to inquire whether, after all, Peter was the real Tsar, the son of Alexis. In 1701, Prince Basil Sontsef was executed for two murders and two robberies. Surely his crimes were enough, but he had committed even a greater one. He had said that the Princess Sophia had called Peter "son of a Strelets." But this accusation explained nothing. At last the popular fancy hit on what seemed sufficient. Peter was the son of a German, and a changeling. The real child of the Tsaritsa Natalia was a girl, and as she greatly wished an heir to

even for the son of Lefort. But the legend did not stop here. The Tsar had gone abroad, rumors had come of the unpleasantness at Riga. It was said that the foreigners had killed him, and sent one of their own men back to Russia to take his place, and to turn all the orthodox away from Christianity. This fancy took the form of a fairy tale:

"When the Tsar and his companions were beyond the sea, he went into the German lands, and was in Stekólme, the realm of glass [Stockholm]. Now the realm of glass in the German land is ruled by a woman, and that woman made mock at the Tsar, and put him on a hot frying-pan, and then, taking him out of the frying-pan, had him thrown into prison. When it was the name's-day of that woman, her princes and boyárs asked her for the sake of this feast to let out the Tsar. She answered:

let him out at your request.'

"Go and look; if he is still turning around, I will

"The princes and boyárs went and looked at the Tsar, and said:


He is weak, O mistress!' "Then she said:

"Since he is weak, bring him out.'

"So they brought him out and set him free. Then he came to our boyárs, and our boyárs crossed themselves, made a cask and nailed it full of nails, and wished to put him into that cask; but one of the Streltsi found it out, and, running up to the Tsar's bed, said:

"Olord Tsar, get up and go away! You know nothing of what is to be done with you.'

Strelets lay on the bed in his place, and the boyárs "And the Tsar got up and went away, and that came, and, dragging that Strelets from the bed, put him into that cask, and rolled him into the sea.'

[ocr errors]

This story leaves it uncertain what became of Peter, but evil tongues set afloat a rumor that he had been killed abroad. "This is not our lord-he is a German. Our Tsar was nailed up in a cask by the Germans and thrown into the sea."

The opponents of the innovations went still farther. The Dissenters, and, in general, the religiously disposed Russian peasantry, were greatly given to apocalyptic teachings and to explanations of the Biblical mysteries. They had seen the fulfillment of prophecies in Nikon and Alexis, and were ready to be convinced that Peter, with the changes which he had made in the sacred and established order of things, was the true Antichrist.

The fate of one expounder of the doctrine of Antichrist created much sympathy. In the year 1700, information had been given to the tribunal of Preobrazhénsky that a scribe named Gregory Talítsky had used all sorts of injurious and unseemly epithets

about the Tsar, and was engraving some boards in order to print a pamphlet and distribute it among the people. He fled, but was soon caught. On the application of torture, he confessed to having written a letter to the effect that the last times had now arrived, that Antichrist was come, and to having advised the people to refuse to obey the Tsar, who was Antichrist, or pay the taxes, and to having recommended them to search for Prince Tcherkásky, who wished good to the people. Among his accomplices were Ignatius, Bishop of Tambóf, who had encouraged him to write and print pamphlets, and Prince Iván Havánsky, who blamed himself for having taken part in one of the revels of the court where sport had been made of religion, and where he himself had acted the part of a metropolitan. Talítsky and his most faithful supporter were slowly burned, or rather smoked to death, as Vockerodt tells us. Others were knouted and sent to Siberia, and the Bishop of Tambóf was degraded and imprisoned for life in the Solovétsky monastery. Prince Havánsky died from his tortures before the end of the trial. Stephen Yavórsky tried to refute the teachings of Talítsky in a pamphlet called "The Signs of the Coming of Antichrist "; but, as usually happens, his arguments-which Vockerodt calls very weak-were read only by those who had no need of being convinced. The Government circulated the story that Talítsky had recanted at the stake, but the belief of many ignorant men was not shaken. The fame of Talítsky as a martyr, added to the reputation which he was said to have gained, during the torture, in a dispute with the Bishop of Riazán, spread among the people. Persons of higher rank, even Peter's son Alexis, were interested in him, and in after years Peter's daughter Elisabeth collected documents with regard to this affair.

Menshikóf, as Peter's special favorite, was said to have abandoned Christianity and to be surrounded by swarms of devils. The little cross pricked into the left-hand of the recruits to mark them was everywhere called the seal of Antichrist. The inhabitants of whole villages fled to the wastes of the north, east, and south-east, and lived in the woods and on the steppes to avoid contact with unholiness.

A curious specimen of the apocalyptic teachings of the Dissenters of this time is to be found in an old manuscript from the Solovétsky monastery, preserved at Kazán:

all Russia.

"The Apostle says, first comes a falling away, then is revealed the man of sin, the son of perdifrom the holy faith by the Tsar Alexis in the year tion, the Antichrist. First came the falling away 666,* the number of the beast, thus fulfilling the prophecy. And after him there reigned on the throne his first-born son Peter, from his second and unlawful marriage. He was consecrated to the throne of all the Russias by the Jewish laws from head to foot, showing that he is the false Messiah and the false Christ, as the Sibyl prophesied about him that a Jewish Tsar will reign. And that false all, persecuting and torturing all orthodox ChrisChrist began to set himself up and be called God by tians, destroying their memory from the face of the earth, spreading his new Jewish faith throughout In the year 1700, to the accomplishment of his wickedness, and on the festival of the circumcision of Christ, he called together a heathenish court and erected a temple to the heathen god Janus, and before all the people practiced al sorts of magic rites, and all called out,' Vivat! vivat! the new year!' and he sent to all parts of the realm the command to feast for the new year, thus breaking the laws of the Fathers, who in the first Ecumenical Council commanded the feast of the new year to be on the 1st of September. In the calling himself Father of the country, Head of the year 1721 he took upon himself the patriarchal title, Russian Church, and Autocrat, having no one on an equality with himself, taking craftily to himself not only the power of the Tsar, but also the authority of God, and claiming to be an autocratic pastor, a headless head over all opponents of Christ-Anti

christ. Therefore must we conceal ourselves in the deserts, just as the Prophet Jeremiah ordered the children of God to flee from Babylon. The years of the Lord have passed; the years of Satan have come."


THE LAST YEARS, 1722-1725.

It would seem as if the internal affairs of

the Empire, and the great changes which he was trying to effect in the organization of the Government, were insufficient for Peter's active nature. The ink on the peace of Nystadt was hardly dry when the Tsar turned his attention to Asiatic affairs, and intervened in the Persian difficulties. Hussein IV. was one of those weak, negligent Asiatic despots, addicted to the pleasures of the harem, who by some fatality of the East seem destined to succeed the fierce, vigorous conquerors who established empires. Already Candahar had fallen away from his sway, and the ruler of Afghanistan had founded an independent monarchy. The

[blocks in formation]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »