Peter I took the imperial title. Russia became an Empire

2 November 1721

On August 30 (September 10), 1721 Russia and Sweden concluded the treaty of Nystad ending the Northern war that had lasted for 21 years. Russia had obtained the access to the Baltic Sea, annexed the territory of Ingria, a part of Karelia, Estland and Levonia. To mark the occasion the Senate and Synod decided to present Peter with the title of the All-Russian Emperor with the following wording: “as usually the Senate of Rome presented its emperors with such titles in public for their excellent deeds and written down on the statutes for the entire memory”.

On October 22 (November 2), 1721 in the Trinity cathedral of St.-Petersburg there was held a mass and after that the text of the treaty with Sweden had been read aloud. Theophan Prokopovich served a sermon describing all the eminent deeds of the tsar that allow him to be name the Pater Patriae, the Emperor and the Great. After that the senators came up to the tsar. The chancellor count G.I. Golovkin addressed Peter asking him to accept the title of the Pater Patriae, Peter the Great, the All-Russian Emperor. To the volley of hundreds of guns from the Admiralty Board, the Peter and Paul fortress and 125 galleys brought into Neva River Peter accepted a new title. According to a witness “everything seemed to be enveloped in flames and one could think that the earth and the sky were about to go to ruin”.  This way Russia became an empire.

Assumption of the imperial title had marked quite important changes in the international position of Russia. The first countries to acknowledge the new title of the Russian tsar were Prussia and Holland, then came Sweden (1723), Turkey (1739), the United Kingdom and Austria (1742), France and Spain (1745), the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1764). These acknowledgements of the imperial title of the Russian monarch meant the acknowledgement of the fact that Russia pretended to one of the leading roles in the world politics of the time.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Peter I (1672–1725) // The House of Romanov. The Zemsky Sobor of 1613 : [digital collection];

Complete collection of laws of the Russian Empire, since 1649. T. 6: 1720-1722. № 3840. St. Petersburg, 1830. С. 444