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Peter the Great is arguably the most famous leader in Russian history. He was born in 1678, and was the son of the Emperor Alexis. At eighteen years of age he became the active ruler of Russia, reigning from 1696 until his death in 1725.
At that time Russia was one of the few European countries without a navy. Peter felt that for Russia to progress it must have a navy and he must be at its head. Thus, he thought that he ought to know about the building of ships as well as their management. He determined to go to Holland and learn the art of shipbuilding. Putting the affairs of his empire in charge of three nobles, he left Russia and went to Amsterdam, the most important city of the Netherlands.
After visiting Amsterdam and examining its shipping and its docks he went to a little town called Zaandam. There he became a workman in a yard where ships were built for the famous Dutch East India Company. He lived in a little cottage near the yard and cooked his own food. When he had thoroughly mastered the art, he returned to his own country where he began the building of the Russian Navy. With the first fleet of ships Peter attacked and captured the Turkish port city Azov. This not only gave Russia a port in the Black Sea, but also marked the beginning of Russia’s turning into a maritime power.
Toward the close of his reign Peter visited the town of Zaandam in Holland where he had learned the trade of shipbuilding. There he found some of his old work companions, and was delighted to hear them salute him as Peter Bass, the name by which they had known him nearly twenty years before. He went to the little cottage in which he had lived. It is still carefully preserved. In one room are to be seen the little oak table and three chairs which were there when Peter occupied it. Over the chimney-piece is an inscription which every boy who is making his way up in the world might well take for his motto, "To a great man nothing is little". Though he was the ruler of millions of people he was proud of being a workman and of being able to do things for himself.
Which word best describes Peter the Great?