The Death of Peter the Great: An Inevitable End or a Medical Error?




Peter I; the Blumentrost brothers; 18th-century treatment methods; mineral water; disease; emperor’s death


The disease and death of the first Russian emperor have repeatedly attracted historians’ attention, but issues related to the treatment of Peter I have not been adequately reflected in historical studies. The source base of this work consists of published sources: testimonies of contemporaries, both Russians and foreigners, letters of Peter I to Empress Catherine, and unpublished materials kept in the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (both official and private). These materials make it possible to largely reconstruct the treatment of Peter I carried out by I. L. Blumentrost, an archiater and court physician, and L. L. Blumentrost, his brother. The two brothers were supporters of treating the tsar, who had long suffered from “urine constipation”, with mineral water. To this end, they encouraged numerous royal trips to Olonets and Ugodsky Zavod. At the same time, as the head of the Medical Department, I. L. Blumentrost ignored the opinions of other doctors involved in the treatment of the tsar, such as those of the famous Moscow doctor N. Bidloo. Following the exacerbation of Peter I’s disease in the second half of January 1725, Blumentrost decided to involve a number of other doctors residing in St Petersburg and Moscow. However, they failed to save him. Some well-known European leading lights of medicine, such as Boerhave, indirectly acknowledged the fallacy of the treatment methods used by the Blumentrost brothers. The author concludes that in the public consciousness of a number of representatives of the Russian ruling elite, Peter I’s death was the Blumentrost brothers’ fault, which largely contributed to their disgrace in the early 1730s.

Author Biography

Alexey Morokhin

PhD (History), Associate Professor, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod.

23, Gagarin Ave., 603950, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0003-2000-3383


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How to Cite

Morokhin, A. (2020). The Death of Peter the Great: An Inevitable End or a Medical Error?. Quaestio Rossica, 8(4), 1393–1405.