While thus employed, the stern, indefatigable tzar was pressing forward the building of his fleet on the Don for the conquest of the Black Sea, and was unwearied in his endeavors to promote the elevation of his still semi-barbaric realms, by the introduction of the sciences, the arts, the manufactures and the social refinements of southern Europe.
CONQUESTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF PETER THE GREAT.
From 1702 TO 1718.
Peter takes Lake Lagoda and the Neva.—Foundation of St. Petersburg.—Conquest of Livonia.—Marienburg Taken by Storm.—The Empress Catharine.—Extraordinary Efforts in Building St. Petersburg.—Threat of Charles XII.—Deposition of Augustus.—Enthronement of Stanislaus.—Battle of Pultowa.—Flight of Charles XII. to Turkey.—Increased Renown of Russia.—Disastrous Conflict with the Turks.—Marriage of Alexis.—His Character.—Death of his Wife.—The Empress Acknowledged.—Conquest of Finland.—Tour of the Tzar to Southern Europe.
Charles XII., despising the Russians, devoted all his energies to the humiliation of Augustus of Poland, resolving to pursue him until he had driven him for ever from his throne. Peter was thus enabled to get the command of the lake of Ladoga, and of the river Neva, which connects that lake with the Baltic. He immediately laid the foundations of a city, St. Petersburg, to be his great commercial emporium, at the mouth of the Neva, near the head of the Gulf of Finland. The land was low and marshy, but in other respects the location was admirable. Its approaches could easily be defended against any naval attack, and water communications were opened with the interior through the Neva and lake Ladoga.
Livonia was a large province, about the size of the State of Maine, nearly encircled by the Gulf of Riga, the Baltic, the Gulf of Finland and Lake Tchude. The possession of this province, which contained some five hundred thousand inhabitants, was essential to Peter in the prosecution of his commercial enterprises. During the prosecution of this war the small town of Marienburg, on the confines of Livonia, situated on the shores of a lake, was taken by storm. The town was utterly destroyed and nearly all the inhabitants slain, a few only being taken prisoners. The Russian commanding officer saw among these captives a young girl of extraordinary beauty, who was weeping bitterly. Attracted by such rare loveliness and uncontrollable grief he called her to him, and learned from her that she was born in a village in the vicinity on the borders of the lake; that she had never known her father, and that her mother died when she was but three years of age. The protestant minister of Marienburg, Dr. Gluck, chancing to see her one day, and ascertaining that she was left an orphan and friendless, received her into his own house, and cherished her with true parental tenderness.