Peter the Great was the czar of Russia from 1682 to 1725. His impact on Russia was profound and lasting; the country had become a great power—and a European power—by the time he died. He had effected these changes with the help of his "foreign teachers."
A precocious youth, Peter was not educated in a royal palace. Because of political rivalries, he grew up near a German colony. He made lifelong foreign friends, such as Patrick Gordon of Scotland and Francois Lefort of Geneva. He came to like and admire foreign ways. He had a predilection for military affairs and an interest in carpentry and sailing.
His unusual upbringing prepared him well for his time in Europe (1697–98). Under the name of Pyotr Mikhaylov, he worked as a carpenter and built ships in Holland and England. He even drank beer with common sailors. While in Europe, he hired skilled foreigners who would work for him in Russia.
After returning to Russia, Peter changed the country in many ways. He was no saint, however: he personally supervised the torture and murder of his own son.