Peter the Great

Emperor of Russia, 1672-1725

Peter the Great ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 1682 until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother. Through a number of successful wars he expanded the Tsardom into a much larger empire that became a major European power. He led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political systems with ones that were modern, scientific, westernized, and based on The Enlightenment. Peter’s reforms made a lasting impact on Russia and many institutions of Russian government traced their origins to his reign.

Source: Wikipedia

Peter I, the Great

Czar of Russia (1672-1725). Autograph manuscript signed ("Petr"). No place or date. 4to. 1 page (18 lines).
$ 88,280 / 80.000 € (62640/BN45821)

Curious list of planetary and astrological (zodiac) symbols, all annotated in Russian and signed by Czar Peter the Great, who may have been introduced to astrology and alchemy by his chief physician, the state councillor Robert Erskine (1677-1718), known for his Paracelsian leanings. "The extent of Erskine’s absorption in alchemical questions is demonstrated in a flurry of letters he received in August and September 1717 from Johannes de Wilde, a self-styled 'Philochimicus' in Amsterdam. De Wilde provides plentiful evidence of Erskine’s embrace of iatrochemistry.

On August 10, 1717, for example, de Wilde wrote that 'I have received by report that Your Excellency regards Arcana Medico-Chimica as of great value.' The 'philochimicus' then seeks to promote his alchemical adeptness by providing Erskine with a recipe for potable gold ('aurum potabile'). Rather than dismiss de Wilde as a charlatan, Erskine actually proposed to take him into service in St. Petersburg. According to de Wilde, the only reason he did not accept the offer was due to his suffering from 'fluxum haemorrhoidum'. Interestingly, de Wilde promoted his alchemical services in a variety of ways, ranging from offering to produce Johannes Baptista van Helmont’s 'aurum horizontale', to bolstering the Tsar’s treasury with gold and silver and to providing a 'delightful scent' of an 'aqua rosa' for Catherine, Peter’s wife" (R. Collis, Introduction to: A Curious Tsar. Peter the Great and Discovering Nature’s Secrets in Amsterdam. Exhibition catalogue, 2013). - A few paper flaws in the folds, but altogether well-preserved..

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Peter I, the Great

Letter signed.
Autograph ist nicht mehr verfügbar

In the present letter to Field Marshal Count Sheremetev, Peter I shows the extent to which he involved himself in military affairs, giving both tactical and strategic orders. One is for a small unit action and the other for the garrisoning of larger bodies; both were to be tied to international events to provide "disinformation" to the enemy. These instructions demonstrate how Peter the Great was able to think both tactically and strategically at the same time. Peter I orders Sheremetev to move the Cossack troops to the opposite bank of the Dnieper and to destroy their dwellings. He instructs that seized troops are to be garrisoned at the fortress, but in order to mislead the Turks, rumors are to be circulated that it is Menshikov's hired men who are settled there. The Polish senators should be told that the troops are garrisoned at the fortress provisionally until the King of Sweden reaches Turkey. The Field Marshal is also ordered not to stay in Poland too long. As to a request to be sent troops stationed at Riga for the winter, Peter advises that this will be impossible. - At the time this letter was written, Russia was at war with two countries - Sweden, since 1700, over Baltic territories, and Turkey, since 1710. Peter I directed most of the wars himself and also took part in some of the campaigns. Russia was victorious over the Turks in 1713, and over Sweden in 1721. - Numerals in red ink at foot of second page; browning, margin reinforced, some spotting. Letters signed by Peter the Great are extremely rare.