While Peter the Great was ruling Russia he wanted to modernize/westernize his country, a country he saw as backward, superstitious and closed to the world. He ordered men to shave their beards and cut their long hair. If anyone did not comply they would have to pay a tax. Western dress was also greatly encouraged. Peter introduced new technologies, scientific discoveries and modern ideas to Russia. His main focus, though, was on the military. After having suffered a humiliating defeat by the Swedes, Peter endeavored to improve and expand the Russian army.
Peter’s goal may seem a good one, but the effects on Russia were not. The people suffered under a tax burden and had to put up with conscriptions. Defying Russian traditions and the Church not only angered the people but eroded Russian culture. His treatment of his first wife and son were truly barbaric. He divorced his wife and forced her into a convent. Later she was falsely accused of adultery and punished. His son was suspected of forming a plot to overthrow him. When he was captured he was tortured and imprisoned. He later died in his cell due to his injuries. Because of the way Peter the Great treated his family and country I would describing his rule as barbaric and ruthless.