Peter DID intentionally burn huge swaths of his country on a rather regular basis as part of his strategy to grind Charles XII’s invasions to a halt. Sometimes, it worked. It is always astounding to me how much random crap you had to put up with as an eighteenth century commoner. At any time, somebody in a nice coat could come up to you, kidnap you for the army or burn down your house and tell you to live in the woods for a winter or two, and you pretty much had to take it.
The Russian nobles felt a bit of the squeeze too, but had their own methods of getting around Peter’s notions. Feigning insanity was a popular choice, like an entire nation of Maxwell Q. Klingers… One wonders how many great madmen of Russian literature were just trying to avoid the head tax…
If you’re in the market for a web-comic not about Prussian monarchs (Euclid knows why you would be, but let’s just say you are), I’ve been going through Adagissimo recently, and have found it thoroughly delightful. Every person who has ever been in grad school owes it to themselves to check it out and remember the Deep Deep Pain of those days past.
– Count Dolby von Luckner