Peter the Great’s Second Voyage to Europe in the Letters of Baron P. P. Shafirov to Prince A. D. Menshikov (1716–1717)

  • Dmitry Redin
  • Dmitry Serov


This article examines correspondence between Baron P. P. Shafirov and Prince A. D. Menshikov from the spring of 1716 to the summer of 1717. These letters reveal the details of Peter I’s stay in Copenhagen, different German cities, and the Netherlands during his second European voyage. As one of the leaders of the Russian foreign ministry and a close companion of the tsar, Shafirov was at the centre of many of the political and domestic events that occurred during this tour. Like the majority of those surrounding the tsar, the baron unofficially informed A. D. Menshikov of all business requiring attention, since Menshikov was in charge of managing the Russian state during Peter’s absence. Published here for the first time, Shafirov’s letters come down to us in the form of copies made in Menshikov’s chancellery in February 1723: these are kept in fond 198 (A. D. Menshikov) of RGADA (Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts). The information in these letters is multisided. Firstly, one finds important military and political reports. While these historical narratives are rather well-known, Shafirov provides additional interesting details. Secondly, these letters are of interest because they provide news about the movement of Peter I and his wife, Tsarina Yekaterina Alekseevna, around Europe. Of particular note are the baron’s reports about the tsar’s serious illness in Amsterdam during the winter of 1716-17. The epistles also clarify the dates and routes that the tsar took, allow us to look at the climate in the countries where he stayed, and provide details about transport and communication links. Thirdly, and rather indirectly, the correspondence helps us to reconstruct the nature of the relationship between Shafirov and Menshikov and their families. All of these reasons make Shafirov’s letters a valuable historical source. Their significance is fully revealed when analysed alongside analogous documentation connected with Peter the Great’s second tour of Europe and the Great Northern War in general.


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How to Cite
Redin, D., & Serov, D. (2017). Peter the Great’s Second Voyage to Europe in the Letters of Baron P. P. Shafirov to Prince A. D. Menshikov (1716–1717). Quaestio Rossica, 5(2), 471-502.