The Empire of Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 601 pages of information about The Empire of Russia.
a vast realm containing one hundred and thirty-five thousand square miles and almost embraced by the Gulfs of Bothnia and of Finland, then belonged to Sweden.  Peter fitted out an expedition from St. Petersburg for the conquest of that country.  With three hundred ships, conveying thirteen thousand men, he effected a landing in the vicinity of Abo notwithstanding the opposition of the Swedish force there, and, establishing his troops in redoubts with ample supplies, he returned to St. Petersburg for reinforcements.  He soon returned, and, with an army augmented to twenty thousand foot and four thousand horse, with a powerful train of artillery, commenced a career of conquest.  The city of Abo, on the coast, the capital of Finland, fell unresistingly into his hands with a large quantity of provisions.  There was a flourishing university here containing a valuable library.  Peter sent the books to St. Petersburg, and they became the foundation of the present royal library in that place.

The tzar, leaving the prosecution of the war to his generals, returned to St. Petersburg.  Many and bloody battles were fought in those northern wilds during the summer, in most of which the Russians had the advantage, gaining citadel after citadel until winter drove the combatants from the field.

With indefatigable zeal Peter pressed forward in his plan to give splendor and power to his new city of Petersburg.  One thousand families were moved there from Moscow.  Very flattering offers were made to induce foreigners to settle there, and a decree was issued declaring Petersburg to be the only port of entry in the empire.  He ordered that no more wooden houses should be built, and that all should be covered with tile; and to secure the best architects from Europe, he offered them houses rent free, and entire exemption from taxes for fourteen years.  The campaign of another summer, that of 1714, rendered the tzar the master of the whole province of Finland.

In the autumn of this year, Charles XII., escaped from Turkey, where he had performed pranks outrivaling Don Quixote, and had finally been held a prisoner.  He traversed Hungary and Germany in disguise, and traveling day and night, in such haste that but one of his attendants could keep up with him, arrived, exhausted and haggard, in Sweden.  He was received with the liveliest demonstrations of joy, and immediately placed himself again at the head of the Swedish armies.

The tzar, however, conscious that he now had not much to fear from Sweden, left the conduct of the desultory war with his generals, and set out on another tour of observation to southern Europe.  The lovely Catharine, who, with the fairy form and sylph-like grace of a girl of seventeen, had won the love of Peter, was now a staid and worthy matron of middle life.  She had, however, secured the abiding affection of the tzar, and he loved to take her with him on all his journeys.  Catharine, though on the eve of

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The Empire of Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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