Online project on the Presidential Library’s portal spotlights books the Russian emperor was reading

20 September 2022

Marking the year of the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great, the Presidential Library and the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences (BAN) present the electronic exhibition Library of Peter the Great prepared jointly by the institutions.

The collection of manuscripts, books and graphics collected during the life of the emperor provided the basis for the first public library of our country he created. Today, users of the Presidential Library’s portal have an opportunity to see individual unique copies from this collection.

Peter's library is conditionally divided into two parts. The first one is the books that he inherited: from his father, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, brothers and sisters. The second one is the sovereign's own books, which, in turn, can also be divided into books made by order of Peter (primarily translations), purchased publications and gifts (donated copies).

Books that belonged to Peter's closest relatives are presented as part of an electronic exhibition in the Manuscripts section. Among them are the works of Simeon Polotsky The Russian Eagle and Multicolored Vertograd, Greetings by Karion Istomin, the manuscript The Brightest Star and other publications of the 17th century. Among the handwritten books donated to Peter are the Treatise on Military Affairs by Doroteo Alimari, written in Venice in 1699, or Greetings to Peter I in the event of the Poltava victory (1709) with colorful pictures of the triumphal gates.

For the tsar-reformer, the book was, first of all, a source of knowledge. The Books section, among the numerous publications on navigation and shipbuilding, features note a copy of the Naval Dictionary, printed in Amsterdam in 1702 - the engravings depict 88 flags, including three Moscow flags. Books on architecture occupied a special place in Peter's library. For example, the collection contains a wonderful copy of Architecture, published in Venice in the 16th century. The author of the book, Leon-Baptiste Alberti, is an Italian scientist, one of the greatest art theorists of the 15th century.

The emperor understood the importance of carrying out cartographic and hydrographic work for the implementation of his plans in foreign and domestic policy. The Library of the Academy of Sciences has a collection of handwritten maps and plans of the 18th century. About 900 depository items are maps from the personal collection of the tsar. Some of them are available in a separate section within the framework of the electronic exhibition Library of Peter the Great.

The collection of books by Peter I arrived at the Library of the Academy of Sciences immediately after his death in 1725. For many years, the specialists of the BAN has been painstakingly studying, restoring and systematizing this collection, unique in its diversity and content. A separate section of the electronic exhibition is devoted to the history of the collection.

Virtual projects are an actively developing area of activity of the Presidential Library, thanks to which the collections of the electronic repository are constantly entered with unique materials.

More than forty virtual projects are available today. One has opportunity to learn about them on the Presidential Library’s portal in the section Exhibitions at the link