A new narrative of the fifty years of political struggles at the Russian court, 1671-1725. This book shows how Peter the Great was not the all-powerful tsar working alone to reform Russia, but that he colluded with powerful and contentious aristocrats in order to achieve his goals. After the early victory of Peter's boyar supporters in the 1690s, Peter turned against them and tried to rule through favourites - an experiment which ended in the establishment of a decentralised 'aristocratic' administration, followed by an equally aristocratic Senate in 1711. The aristocrats' hegemony came to an end in the wake of the affair of Peter's son, tsarevich Aleksei, in 1718. After that moment Peter ruled through a complex group of favourites, a few aristocrats, and appointees promoted through merit, and carried out his most long-lasting reforms. The outcome was a new balance of power at the centre and a new, European, conception of politics.
'... based on a massive amount of research in Russia and Europe and is a masterpiece of scholarship.' Contemporary Review '... an outstanding work of scholarship. The scale of the achievement is enviable: by scouring European archives and applying his forensic intelligence to a daunting range of published sources in several languages, Paul Bushkovitch has given us a wholly refreshing view of the politics of Peter's reign, rich in texture and all the more attractive for being expressed in plain English ... there is not a dull page in the book ... readers at almost every level of sophistication have much to learn from it.' Reviews in History