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Peter the Great

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

What made Peter great? This was the first question that popped into my head when I saw the statue in Deptford.

Modern statue to Peter the Great
Statue (Chemiakin 2000) at mouth of Deptford Creek - Peter the Great - Tsar of Russia

The reason why he is called ‘Peter the Great’ is because he successfully developed Russia into a world power[1]. Peter inherited a deprived country from his father Czar Alexis in 1682, and this led to Peter wanting a better world for his subjects. Peter had a plan for Russia. He wanted a modern and technologically advanced society. This was achieved through reformation and the country began to experience change that was felt by all. He westernised the army, dissociated schools with religion, controlled the Orthodox Church and introduced new administration[2].

These reforms were transformative for Russia and if it was not for Peter’s education in the Western world, he would have not been exposed to this. He studied in England and while there he learnt about the science of shipbuilding[1]. The statue was a gift from the Russian people to commemorate Peter’s visit to England in 1698. While travelling the west he stayed in Deptford for four months in Sir John Evelyn’s house[2]. This visit is what sparked him to reform Russia and the statue memorializes this transformation. In 1704 the Great admiralty yards opened in Russia, this cemented Russia place as a shipbuilding power[3].

Peter the Great statue is an important part of Greenwich’s history and is an example of Greenwich’s history with the world as well. It shows that Greenwich ways of living impacted a world leader and inspired him to reform to be like that. Thus, it deserves to be an object because it symbolises Greenwich’s world status.

[1] James Cracraft, The Revolution of Peter the Great (Cambridge, Massachutes: Harvard University Press 2003) 134. [2] Editors, “Peter the Great Biography,”, last modified October 18, 2019, last accessed May 13, 2020, [3] Edward J. Phillips, The Founding of Russia's Navy: Peter the Great and the Avoz Fleet, 1688-1714, (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press 1984) 55. [4] Terence Jenkins, Another Man's London, (London, England: Acorn Independent Press) 40. [5] Fred M. Walker, Ships and Shipbuilders: Pioneers of Design and Construction, (London, England: Seaforth Publishing 2010) 22.


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