Bringing Light to the Tartar: Visions of Peter the Great’s Russia through English Eyes

The proposed paper makes use of English representations of the Russian Orthodoxy as a lens for examining sixteenth and seventeenth-century Anglo-Russia relations. Peter the Great’s three month stay in England during 1698 was the culmination of over a century of exchanges. I argue English civil and religious figures perceived and approached Peter as a potential convert to English forms of governance and reformed religion. This outreach to Peter was part of a larger civilizing mission whereby England commercial interests gained access to Russia and Russia received English and Dutch military expertise because of her strategic position in relation to the Ottoman Empire and Catholic powers. Russia, during this period, was a site for exploitation and a gateway to China and I will particularly examine the role of key European intellectuals who corresponded regarded their hopes and aspirations for Peter, Russia, and the Far East.