The reign of Peter the Great (1682-1725), long regarded as the turning point in the Europeanization of Russia, witnessed the establishment of Russia's first modern navy, the Azov Sea fleet. Its creation evokes a fundamental question about the era: was Peter a reformer or a revolutionary? This three-part study examines Russia's maritime experience in the 17th and early 18th centuries in order to address this central question. The author argues that Peter's development of the navy was revolutionary in the scale and level of technology brought to fruition through the reform of existing political and social structures.
EDWARD J. PHILLIPS is currently serving as a special projects consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. He has been a lecturer and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and the University of Maryland at College Park.