Urbanism and Social Transformation in Peter the Great's Russia
Voytko, Eric Scott
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Few figures loom as large over the history of Russia as Peter I. From the moment he accepted the throne as sole ruler in 1696, he embarked on an ambitious campaign of modernization, disrupting the culture of a country mired in traditions he considered hopelessly out of date. The young emperor’s transformations of Russia’s military forces, administrative structure, religious culture, and social and political practices have been well documented. His reign also produced a dramatic shift in the country’s architectural culture towards more Western idioms. Existing scholarship has too often permitted the architectural and urban aspects of Peter’s reforms to be divorced from social and political changes in Russian society. This study proposes that these architectural and urban transformations might be better understood as integral parts of his comprehensive program of reform. Following a method drawn from Spiro Kostof, this study asserts that reforms in Russia’s architecture and urbanism in Moscow and Saint Petersburg influenced other aspects of society in turn, and thus formed a reciprocal relationship with reforms in those areas.
- Architecture