There are very good reasons for calling “the most excellent and great sovereign prince Pyotr Aleskeyevich, leader of all the Russias” czar Peter the Great. It is impossible to exaggerate the lasting impact of his transformation of 18th-century Russia from a medieval society locked into ancient traditions into a country that came to play a leading role in world science, art and ideas. And, as we hear in this three-part documentary produced to mark the 300th anniversary of Peter’s “Great Embassy” to Europe, the Netherlands played a key role in helping Czar Peter bring Russia into the modern West. During his visits to Holland, Peter studied ship-building, city-planning, hydraulic engineering, science, dentistry, anatomy, fortress building and even fashion. And all this resulted in a radical transformation of Russia and Russians, a modern navy, and a magnificent new capital Peterburg, complete with canals.
Produced and presented by Dheera Sujan
First broadcast August 3 + September 13 + 27, 1996