Historical persons that influenced me greatly – Peter the Great, Tsar and the first emperor of Russian Empire.
I chose this quite controversial character of Russian history due to his greatest will which alone, using only his will, turned an archaic feudal Moscovia into the Great Russian Empire, the biggest and the strongest country in the world. He is the symbol of what a man can do if he has a strong will.
The future emperor was born in 1672. Peter had quite a bad and stressful childhood which greatly affected his personality. He got a poor education, and when his sister Sophia took over the throne during a bloody riot, Peter and his mother were forced to move from Moscow. In this small village the young Peter created so called "Toy Army” which later turned into the elite regiments of the Russian Army. Besides, in Preobrazhenskoye Peter met many foreigners from Western Europe (Russians called them all "nemtsy” - Germans). Then he got in love with all European and got obsessed with an idea of creating a strong empire. After Peter took back the power and sent his sister to a monastery, he anonymously went on a trip to Europe (the Netherlands). When he returned from his journey, his personality was complete and he started to create his empire.
Peter the Great made the impossible. He managed to change the social life of the nobles completely. He created the European kind of thinking in Russia. He won two great wars and gained the access to the sea roots. He created universities and academies. He discovered new talents amongst both common and noble people and pushed them to the highest ranks of the government. Peter built a new city on swamps and moved the capital to it from Moscow.
Of course, Peter the Great was not an ideal person and was far from being a saint. He was a cruel man and an alcoholic; he did not have much respect to centuries of Russian traditions. He had two wives, one of which he sent to a monastery prison, and plenty of lovers. He even executed his own son for treason. But that was the influence of time he lived. Most of his contemporaries (kings, sultans and emperors) were even crueler than he was.
Peter was a man who was ahead of his time. He paid no attention to the origins of his friends and subjects. He toiled hard building houses and ships with peasants and serfs. He took part in battles as a common soldier. The emperor risked his life every day and was not afraid of getting sick in winter while chopping wood on the open air.
Few people know that Peter the Great got sick and then died because he dove into Neva in November to save a sinking man.
I am proud that he was an emperor of my country. In spite of all his bad features, Peter the Great was truly a man of great spirits and the strongest will.