Peter I: Great sovereign or bawdy and drunkard?
Peter I: Great sovereign or bawdy and drunkard?

After the labors of changing Russia, Peter the Great had fun, arranging grandiose drunkenness. The rest of the tsar, as well as his reforms, the subjects looked on with horror …

According to legend, Prince Vladimir, choosing a religion for Russia, refused the offer to accept Islam, which had forbidden alcohol, justifying this with the words: "Russia is the merriment of drinking, we cannot be without it." And, perhaps, none of the Russian rulers followed this rule as diligently as Peter the Great. The fact that the Russian tsar liked to drink something stronger did not surprise anyone. No secret was made of this. There are even known letters that Peter wrote from the Great Embassy, ​​where he said that "other state affairs … and I am correcting for Khmelnitsky."

Peter spent his youth in a German settlement, so it is not surprising that the young tsar liked the life of Europeans, who paid less attention to church prohibitions and age-old ceremonies. The Russian monarch was greatly impressed by carnivals and festivities that ridiculed Catholic rites. Returning from Europe, the first thing Peter did was to establish the "Most sensible, most drunken and extravagant cathedral."

At first, the meetings of the closest royal friends, who, under the leadership of the monarch, got drunk to an unconscious state, were so jokingly called. Soon, in the All-Sity Cathedral, its own hierarchy arose, parodying the original Catholic Church, and after a while it became an evil caricature of Orthodoxy and the structure of the Russian state. At the head of the cathedral was "the most joking prince-pope and patriarch," who was elected from among the members of the cathedral for life and by voting behind closed doors.

This was clearly seen as a parody of the election of the Pope by the conclave. For all the years of the existence of this mockery of the church, the tsar himself never once tried to preside over his cathedral, he was an ordinary protodeacon in it. The supreme jester title was held by Matvey Filimonovich Naryshkin, Nikita Moiseevich Zotov and Pyotr Ivanovich Buturlin.

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The tsar and the members of the council did not make any secret of their entertainment. On the contrary, many of the "rituals" of the Most Hellish Cathedral were accompanied by processions, first in Moscow, and then in St. Petersburg. The townspeople easily recognized in the dress and behavior of the "Sobornyans" an evil mockery of the Orthodox Church. The active participation of the tsar in this blasphemy greatly undermined his already low authority among the people and served as confirmation of rumors that Peter Alekseevich was the embodiment of the Antichrist.

Not everyone attending the councils got drunk half to death. Among the drunks there were also those who soberly remembered and recorded all the drunken chatter. Polish historian Kazimierz Waliszewski wrote that “Shutov's cardinals were strictly forbidden to leave their boxes until the end of the conclave. The servants assigned to each of them were instructed to get them drunk, induce them to the most extravagant antics, obscene tomfoolery, and also, they say, untie their tongues and call them to frankness. The Tsar was present, listening and making notes in a notebook. " So the saying "What's on the mind of a sober, then a drunk on the tongue" was actively used in the days of Peter the Great.

Why was such a blasphemous parody of the church created? Peter's contemporaries argued about this. Some, like Franz Villebois, believed that Peter wanted to break the old system with the help of such tricks. The Frenchman put these binges on a par with shaving beards, orders to dress in European dress and the forcible sending of noble children abroad to study. Villebois believed that all this destroyed the old traditions.

Historian Igor Andreev wrote that, first of all, “the wild orgies of the All-Sense Cathedral needed Peter to overcome his own insecurity and fear, relieve stress and throw out destructive energy”. Disputes about whether the general soldering of the inner circle was simply the entertainment of Peter the Great, in which, as in many of his affairs, he absolutely did not know the measure, or whether this obscenity pursued some other goals, are still going on.

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