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: 














19th Century, Events

Battle of Waterloo

“Give me night or give me Blücher” 

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Prayer during Battle of Waterloo at about 5.45 om on 18 June.

The Battle of Waterloo is one of the three most famous battles together with the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600) and the Battle of Stalingrad (1943). The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo, which is now part of Belgium, but was then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The allied victory over Napoleon Bonaparte  brought an end to French domination of large parts of Europe and began a period of peace on the continent that lasted for nearly half a century. His defeat ended his rule of Emperor of the French, marking his end of his Hundred Days return from exile.

In 1814, twenty five years of war finally came to an end with the surrender of the Emperor Napoleon and his banishment to the Mediterranean island of Elba. The European powers began the task of restoring their continent to normality and peace.

On 1st March 1815 Napoleon escaped from Elba and landed in France. Nineteen days later he was in Paris and resumed his title as Emperor. His army rallied to him. The soldiers who had been captured during the years of fighting had been released enabling Napoleon to reform his Grande Armée.

The European allies reassembled their armies and prepared to resume the war to overthrow the Emperor yet again.


The Waterloo battlefield was very small in area even for the standards of those days. 

Napoleon had approximately 74,000 troops and 256 guns.

Wellington had about 68,000 men and 156 guns. In time Blücher and the Prussians would arrive on the field with three corps, being some 70.000 men.

Allied order of battle:

The Duke of Wellington
Prince Willem of Orange
Lieutenant General Sir William Hill
Lieutenant General Prince Frederich, Duke of Brunswick
Quartermaster General: Major General Sir George Murray
Adjutant General: Major General Sir Edward Barne

The historian Andrew Roberts notes that “It is a curious fact about the Battle of Waterloo that no one is absolutely certain when it actually began”. Wellington recorded in his dispatches that at “about ten o’clock [Napoleon] commenced a furious attack upon our post at Hougoumont”. Other sources state that the attack began around 11:30.

The battle on the 18th of June 1815, short and brief: 


General Cambronne is reputed to have answered a call to surrender with the words “The Guard dies but does not surrender”. Historian Peter Hofschröer has written that Wellington and Blücher met at Genappe around 22:00, signifying the end of the battle. Other sources have recorded that the meeting took place around 21:00 near Napoleon’s former headquarters at La Belle Alliance.

French casualties in the Battle of Waterloo were 25,000 men killed and wounded and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost about 23,000.

The Battle of Waterloo is famous for a number of reason. It is of historical importance because it definitively ended the series of wars that had convulsed Europe, and involved many other regions of the world, since the French Revolution of the early 1790s. It also ended the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte, imperian monarchist and one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history. Finally, it ushered in almost half a century of international peace in Europe.

Books and more (click on picture):


Battle of Waterloo Movie: