This king was great in front of the world but proved to be an 'executioner' for his son, no father can do such cruelty

Ananya Shroff
3 Min Read

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Peter's son had a different opinion

Jonathan Daly, a professor of Russian history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, argues that Peter was completely rebelling against traditionalist Muscovite political culture. However, Peter was greatly disappointed when his eldest son and heir, Tsarevich Alexei, grew up to think differently.

Alexei's mother, Eudoxia, was both pious and Orthodox. Peter kept his distance from his son, so Alexei was raised by his aunts. He was always surrounded by Moscow people who believed in less Westernization and a greater role for the Orthodox Church.

The distance between father and son was not seen before

Paul Bushkovich, professor of history at Yale University in New Haven and author of Peter the Great: The Struggle for Power, explains that as a teenager Alexei was hired into the logistics department of Peter's army. Alexei was nominally tasked with defending Moscow during Sweden's failed invasion of Russia in 1708. It was not realized at the time that there was any trouble between Alexei and Peter.

Alexey's marriage only made the situation worse

Alexey's marriage only made the situation worse

Around 1711 Peter arranged Alexei's marriage to a German princess named Charlotte. Though Charlotte was happy with her husband at first, after a while she found herself lonely and isolated. Not only this, she complained about Alexei's lack of love and excessive drinking through letters. However, Charlotte died in 1715 due to some complications after the birth of their second child. By then Alexei had begun an affair with a maid, Afrosina Fedorova.

A rift that will never heal…

A rift that will never heal...

The father-son relationship was broken forever in October 1715, when Peter wrote a letter to Alexei lamenting his lack of military ability and threatening to deprive him of the succession. Peter further stated that he would prefer to pass the crown to a worthy stranger rather than to his unworthy son.

In response, Alexei himself renounced his claim to the throne, saying that he felt unworthy. After this assurance, Peter worried that opponents would unite around his son, as Alexei had different views. So Peter ordered Alexei to either try for succession or become a monk.

If you did not obey orders, you were given the death penalty

If you did not obey orders, you were given the death penalty

At Peter's behest, Alexei agreed to go into a monastery. Instead, he borrowed money and fled the country in disguise. In 1716, he took refuge with his brother-in-law, the Habsburg emperor Charles VI, in Vienna, Austria. Unfortunately, Peter's agents managed to find Alexei.

In 1718 Alexei had to return to Russia. Peter then deposed Alexei. He was imprisoned, tried and tortured for plotting against Peter. According to some reports, he was flogged 25 times on 19 June 1718. Alexei died within a few days from the deep wounds.

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