The size of Russia was the most important factor limiting the success of Peter the great’s economic reforms

Russia was and still is a large country and communication can be very difficult .I agree this can be seen as one of the most important factors that limited Peter the great’s economic reforms but there are many other factors which limited him too. What about serfdom this limited him from being seen as a strong leader and made Russia seem like it was still backward, didn’t this limit him more? Furthermore what about foreign competition between Russia and other European countries, many countries have already built up their industry and their imports and exports were seen to be much better, this may have limited Peter making most out of his reforms. There are many other reasons which could have limited Peter even more which could be more seen as greater limitations to his economic reforms.

Peter the great, after proving himself as an outstanding figure in Europe set about his economic reforms. Although he did have some success with these reforms there were many things that limited him. I agree to some extent that the biggest limitation to success was the size of Russia. Many of his economic reforms fell down due to this reason. Agriculture was one of Peter’s reforms which were really limited due to the size of Russia. Harsh climates in the Moscow made development difficult, corn harvests only gave yield of three or four metres although agriculture did increase due to Peter’s motivation in his reign. This was the same with development of iron industry communication between leading cities were very poor especially St Petersburg as canal systems leading up to her were very poor. Communication was one of the main problems in the size of Russia which was most obvious brake on Peter’s economic plans. Also existing roads limited him as they needed upgrading, new ones needed building and the canal system needed developing.

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The size of Russia also limited him with foreign trade as canal systems connecting to the sea were poor and exports were very hard to do until after the war with Sweden, which it did improve from the takeover of the Baltic Sea and the use of the provinces. Another reason for the sheer size of Russia limiting Peter was policies which were put in place by him during the time of his economic reforms. Communication between Peter and small towns was very hard meaning policies he had put in place were very hard to keep an eye on as transportation was very poor too. All these factors limited Peter as these all contributed to how the size of Russia really did limit him to successfully achieving what he wanted out of these economic reforms.

Even though I do agree to some extent the size of Russia did limit him the most, there were other factors which may have been more important to the limitations he faced. Serfdom was one of these. Serfdom was a law code which bound the peasant holding land from a lord, permanently to the state at which he worked. This law limited Peter as it showed Russia was still in political backwardness. The rest of Europe had moved on from serfdom while Russia was still in the grips of it.. Institution of serfdom tended to make lords indolent and therefore conservative. This hindered Peter from building up industry as he needed strong, good Russians to work in factories but if lords were letting off the serfs not doing work properly on land then people would come more easy going and not care if work isn’t up to scratch, which isn’t really a way to lead a country so he needed to crack down. Serfs could be transferred from lord to lord to work on land. This meant not allot of people or serfs for that matter were not working in industry, helping towards the limitation of economic reforms. On the contrary foreign competition could have hindered him Peter more than expected. Other European countries were already established their position in trade and Peter needed to show Russia was still here and standing. Yes they still were primarily exporter of raw materials but for the economic reforms to work he needed to beat stiff foreign competition overall. I don’t believe though this was the main limitation to his economic reforms but it did limit him to some extent.

Another factor which limited even more than the size of Russia could be Russia’s social structure. There was the rise in entrepreneurs which Peter encouraged after learning for how Britain works at the top and then you had the peasants down below. This structure limited him as you have the rich and the poor with totally different values. Most peasants lacked skilled labour meaning Peters economic reforms were limited as he needed more skilled workers for his reforms to work as a whole and for him to increase Russia’s standing in Europe even more. Although entrepreneurs could have helped Peter to increase Russian trade they could have limited him too. Entrepreneurs showed the inequality between them and the peasants. Even though there was all this enthusiasm for entrepreneurship it did remain limited but did show the instability of the social structure in Russia and how everyone is not really equal or have the same kind of rights. This includes the serf community who were bound to the government.

Overall I agree with the view that the size of Russia was the most important factor limiting the success of Peter the great’s economic reforms. Many reasons contributing the size of Russia limited Peter including the poor rivers and canal systems connecting to St Petersburg and Moscow. Although there were many other reasons including serfdom were important to influencing the success of the economic reforms, I believe the size of Russia limited Peter more as communication was hard between leading capitals and some economic changes could not really stretch across the whole of Russia as it was such a large country to sustain.


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