The first chapter in the reign of Tsar Peter I, who was later honored by posterity with the title “Great”, did not lead contemporaries to believe that they were dealing with a leader who would bring about a major shift for the country. His brother and predecessor had died without appointing an heir, which had the influential families of the Tsar’s court at each other’s throats. Finally, Peter I and his brother Ivan V captured the throne as co-monarchs, with their sister Sophia governing the country until the boys reached adulthood. Sources describe Sophia as a smart and talented but unattractive and immoral woman who had no desire at all to give up any authority. But Peter, already dissatisfied with his sister’s governance, began to demand power more loudly and forcefully. In 1689, he successfully removed Sophia as regent, and had her locked in a monastery for the rest of her life. Since his brother Ivan was a sickly, nearsighted man with a speech impediment who spent most of his time praying and with his wife, Peter became the single most powerful person in Russia. After Ivan’s death in 1696, he became the country’s sole ruler.
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