18th Century, Symbols Objects and Art

Tsar Peter the Great’s Shtandart

“He who rules the persian gulf and the warm waters of south , can rule the world.”

– Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich 

300 years ago, on the 24th of April 1703 to be exact, the frigate Shtandart became the flagship for the new Imperial Russian Navy as commanded by Tsar Peter I, also known as Pyotr Alexeyevich or Peter the Great.


While visiting Holland in 1697, the Tsar studied shipbuilding in Zaandam  and Amsterdam.  Thanks to the mediation of Nicolaas Witsen, mayor of Amsterdam and expert on Russia, the Tsar was given the opportunity to gain practical experience in the largest shipyard in the world, belonging to the Dutch East India Company, for a period of four months. The Tsar helped with the construction of an East Indiaman especially laid down for him: Peter and Paul. During his stay the Tsar engaged many skilled workers such as builders of locks, fortresses, shipwrights, and seamen—including Cornelis Cruys, a vice-admiral who became, under Franz Lefort, the Tsar’s advisor in maritime affairs. He later put his knowledge of shipbuilding to use in helping build Russia’s navy.

During the Second Azov campaign of 1696 against Turkey, the Russians employed for the first time 2 warships, 4 fireships, 23 galleys and 1300 strugs, built on the Voronezh River.


The Shtandart was built in five months by the Dutch shipwright Vybe Gerens, under direct supervision of the Tsar, who provided his own technical designs and drawings.

When a replica was constructed by a small group of sailing enthusiasts led by Vladimir Martus in 1994 it took five years before it was launched at the Petrovsky Shipyard in St Petersburg on September 4, 1999.

Peter the Great became first captain on the Shtandart, first under the pseudonym Peter Mihajlov, for 16 years. In the great cabin there is a compass hanging over a table which can only be read from its underside. A Russian legend relates that this compass hung over Peter’s hammock and that when he woke up, he always checked the compass to ensure that the frigate was on course.

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The Shtandart continued service until 1719, when Peter decreed the frigate to be preserved forever as the first ship of the Russian Navy and a monument of the art of shipbuilding.

Captains of the Shtandart:

Peter Mikhailov – Russia -1703
P. Grey – England – 1704
Jan Delang – Holland – 1705
F. Vilimovsky – Russia – 1706-1707
Shonvick – Holland – 1708-1709
Henry Vessel -Norway -1712
B. Edwart – England – 1713


The name of the Shtandart comes from Peter the Great’s new trade route , which included access to the Balctic Sea. At the time of the Shtandart’s reconstruction the Baltic Sea was dominated by the Swedish Empire. A plan to take control of the Baltic Sea away from Sweden was revived after Peter’s Grand Embassy ended in 1698. In 1703 Peter changed his standard by adding the fourth map of the Baltic to the previously existing maps of the three Russian seas. The name refers more directly to a naval ensign created for the new Baltic Fleet, of which the Shtandart was the first ship.

Books on more on Peter the Great (click picture):


Documentary about Peter the Great’s Navy: