The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; the designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the used term Reichswehr, was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors; this required the reinstatement of conscription, massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry. The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg, its campaigns in France, the Soviet Union, North Africa are regarded as acts of boldness.
At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy and logistics apparent. Cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht; the majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy, as part of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare. During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces had lost 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions.
The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes. The German term "Wehrmacht" stems from the compound word of German: wehren, "to defend" and Macht, "power, force", it has been used to describes any nation's armed forces. The Frankfurt Constitution of 1849 designated all German military forces as the "German Wehrmacht", consisting of the Seemacht and the Landmacht. In 1919, the term Wehrmacht appears in Article 47 of the Weimar Constitution, establishing that: "The Reich's President holds supreme command of all armed forces of the Reich". From 1919, Germany's national defense force was known as the Reichswehr, a name, dropped in favor of Wehrmacht on 21 May 1935. In January 1919, after World War I ended with the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918, the armed forces were dubbed Friedensheer. In March 1919, the national assembly passed a law founding a 420,000-strong preliminary army, the Vorläufige Reichswehr; the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were announced in May, in June, Germany signed the treaty that, among other terms, imposed severe constraints on the size of Germany's armed forces.
The army was limited to one hundred thousand men with an additional fifteen thousand in the navy. The fleet was to consist of at most six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers. Submarines and heavy artillery were forbidden and the air-force was dissolved. A new post-war military, the Reichswehr, was established on 23 March 1921. General conscription was abolished under another mandate of the Versailles treaty; the Reichswehr was limited to 115,000 men, thus the armed forces, under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt, retained only the most capable officers. The American historians Alan Millet and Williamson Murray wrote "In reducing the officers corps, Seeckt chose the new leadership from the best men of the general staff with ruthless disregard for other constituencies, such as war heroes and the nobility". Seeckt's determination that the Reichswehr be an elite cadre force that would serve as the nucleus of an expanded military when the chance for restoring conscription came led to the creation of a new army, based upon, but different from, the army that existed in World War I.
In the 1920s, Seeckt and his officers developed new doctrines that emphasized speed, combined arms and initiative on the part of lower officers to take advantage of momentary opportunities. Though Seeckt retired in 1926, the army that went to war in 1939 was his creation. Germany was forbidden to have an air force by the Versailles treaty; these officers saw the role of an air force as winning air superiority and strategic bombing and providing ground support. That the Luftwaffe did not develop a strategic bombing force in the 1930s was not due to a lack of interest, but because of economic limitations; the leadership of the Navy led by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, a close protégé of Alfred von Tirpitz, was dedicated to the idea of reviving Tirpitz's High Seas Fleet. Officers who believed in submarine warfare led by Admiral Karl Dönitz were in a minority before 1939. By 1922
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Barbara Radziwiłł was Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania as consort of Sigismund II Augustus, the last male monarch of the Jagiellon dynasty. Barbara, a great beauty and widowed, became a royal mistress most in 1543 and they married in secret in July or August 1547; the marriage caused a scandal. Sigismund Augustus, assisted by Barbara's cousin Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł and brother Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł, worked tirelessly to gain recognition of their marriage and to crown Barbara as Queen of Poland, they succeeded and Barbara's coronation was held on 7 December 1550 at Wawel Cathedral. However, her health was failing and she died just five months later. Though it was brief, her reign propelled the Radziwiłł family to new heights of political power and influence, her contemporaries viewed Barbara in a negative light, accusing her of promiscuity and witchcraft. Her life became surrounded by many myths, she was a heroine of many legends in a wide range of literary works. From the 18th century, the life of Barbara became romanticized as the great tragic love affair.
It has been used as an example of "love conquers all" with Bona Sforza acting as the chief villain. It caught public imagination and has inspired many artists to create poems, plays and other works; that made Barbara Radziwiłł one of the best known and most recognized women in the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland. Barbara was the youngest child of Jerzy Radziwiłł, Voivode of Trakai and Vilnius and Great Lithuanian Hetman, his wife Barbara Kolanka, daughter of Voivode of Podolia, her exact birth date is unknown. It is known that she was born on 6 December. Historians provide either 1520, as recorded in Radziwiłł genealogy found in Nesvizh, or 1523, as recorded on a plaque found in her tomb. Details of her education are unknown. From her correspondence, it is known that she could write in Polish. From a February 1549 letter it could be inferred that she understood at least some Latin, but her letters to Sigismund Augustus had not a single Latin phrase. According to her contemporaries, Barbara was beautiful.
Moreover, Barbara had an interest in fashion and cosmetics. In 1536, Stanislovas Goštautas, Voivode of Nowogrodek, canceled his betrothal to Anna Elżbieta Radziwiłł, elder sister of Barbara. Jerzy Radziwiłł offered the hand of Barbara though it was against custom for a younger sister to wed first; the wedding treaty was signed on 20 October 1536 in Radun'. Another plan to wed either Anna Elżbieta or Barbara to Ilia Ostrogski, the only son of Great Hetman Konstanty Ostrogski, fell through; the wedding of Barbara and Stanislovas Goštautas took place on 18 May 1537 in Goštautas' residence in Hieraniony. Her dowry included numerous silver and gilded tableware items, 24 fine horses, dresses of satin and damask decorated with gold and precious stones. In exchange, Stanislovas transferred property worth 8,000 kopas of Lithuanian groschens to Barbara, their marriage was childless. Stanislovas died unexpectedly after a brief illness on 18 December 1542. Stanislovas Goštautas was the last male member of the Goštautai family and, according to law regarding childless widows, the majority of his possessions were inherited by Sigismund I the Old, Grand Duke of Lithuania.
On 15 June 1543, Sigismund transferred the property to his son Sigismund II Augustus who visited Hieraniony in October 1543 to take over the estate. It is that it was when Barbara and Sigismund Augustus became lovers, though there is no evidence of the affair until after the death of Sigismund Augustus' first wife. In July 1544, Sigismund Augustus traveled to Brest and returned with his wife Elizabeth of Austria in October to Vilnius, where Barbara resided with her mother. On 15 June 1545, Elizabeth died from epileptic seizures. Sigismund Augustus and Barbara were free to enjoy each other's company – rumors spread about their romantic rendezvous and parties. Sigismund Augustus spent 223 days in 1546 hunting, it was said that Sigismund Augustus ordered construction of a secret tunnel connecting the Royal Palace with the nearby Radziwiłł Palace so that the couple could meet and discreetly. At the same time, Sigismund Augustus and his parents searched for a new bride. Sigismund I the Old contemplated a marriage to Anna Sophia, daughter of Albert, Duke of Prussia.
Other candidates included Anna d'Este of Duchy of Ferrara, widowed Anna of Lorraine, Princesses Mary I of England and Margaret of France. Sometime in 1547, Sigismund Augustus and Barbara wed in secret. Neither exact date nor circumstances are known; the Lithuanian Chronicles recorded the doubtful claim that Sigismund Augustus was forced into the marriage when he was caught with Barbara by the Radziwiłł cousins. According to research by Władysław Pociecha, the wedding took place between 26 July and 6 August, her cousin Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł was sent to Kraków to inform the Polish court that Sigismund Augustus and Barbara were married since 25 November 1545. It seems he failed the assignment and Sigismund Augustus had to travel to Poland himself, he departed Vilnius on 15 November. In a letter dated 20 November, courtier Stanisław Dowojno, starosta of Merkinė, informed Sigismund Augustus that due to the difficult journey Barbara had a miscarriage. If that indeed was true, not an elaborate intrigue by the Radziwiłłs, it would explain the secret marriage – an attempt to provide legitimacy to the child.
The Iron Curtain was the name for the non physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and its allied states. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union, while on the west side were the countries that were allied to the United States or nominally neutral. Separate international economic and military alliances were developed on each side of the Iron Curtain: The names of the nations caught behind the Iron Curtain were... Eastern Europe: Poland, Eastern Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria and the USSR, however two countries that were behind the iron curtain that are no longer on the map today are East Germany and Czechoslovakia Countries that made up the USSR were Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgystan, Lithuania and Kazakstan.
However two countries that were behind the iron curtain that are no longer on the map today are East Germany and Czechoslovakia The events that demolished the Iron Curtain started in discontent in Poland, continued in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Romania became the only communist state in Europe to overthrow its government with violence; the use of the term iron curtain as a metaphor for strict separation goes back at least as far as the early 19th century. It referred to fireproof curtains in theaters. Although its popularity as a Cold War symbol is attributed to its use in a speech Winston Churchill gave on the 5 March 1946 in Fulton, Nazi German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels had used the term in reference to the Soviet Union. Various usages of the term "iron curtain" pre-date Churchill's use of the phrase; the concept goes back to the Babylonian Talmud of the 3rd to 5th centuries CE, where Tractate Sota 38b refers to a "mechitza shel barzel", an iron barrier or divider: "אפילו מחיצה של ברזל אינה מפסקת בין ישראל לאביהם שבשמים".
The term "iron curtain" has since been used metaphorically in two rather different senses – firstly to denote the end of an era and secondly to denote a closed geopolitical border. The source of these metaphors can refer to either the safety curtain deployed in theatres or to roller shutters used to secure commercial premises; the first metaphorical usage of "iron curtain", in the sense of an end of an era should be attributed to British author Arthur Machen, who used the term in his 1895 novel The Three Impostors: "...the door clanged behind me with the noise of thunder, I felt that an iron curtain had fallen on the brief passage of my life". The English translation of a Russian text shown below repeats the use of "clang" with reference to an "iron curtain", suggesting that the Russian writer, publishing 23 years after Machen, may have been familiar with the popular British author. Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians used the term "Iron Curtain" in the context of World War I to describe the political situation between Belgium and Germany in 1914.
The first recorded application of the term to Communist Russia, again in the sense of the end of an era, comes in Vasily Rozanov's 1918 polemic The Apocalypse of Our Times, it is possible that Churchill read it there following the publication of the book's English translation in 1920. The passage runs: With clanging and squeaking, an iron curtain is lowering over Russian History. "The performance is over." The audience got up. "Time to put on your fur coats and go home." We looked around. The first English-language use of the term iron curtain applied to the border of communist Russia in the sense of "an impenetrable barrier" was used in 1920 by Ethel Snowden, in her book Through Bolshevik Russia. G. K. Chesterton used the phrase in a 1924 essay in The Illustrated London News. Chesterton, while defending Distributism, refers to "that iron curtain of industrialism that has cut us off not only from our neighbours' condition, but from our own past"; the term appears in England, Their England, an 1933 satirical novel by the Scottish writer A. G. Macdonell.
The iron curtain was down". Sebastian Haffner used the metaphor in his book Germany: Jekyll & Hyde, published in London in 1940, in introducing his discussion of the Nazi rise to power in Germany in 1933: "Back to March 1933. How, a moment before the iron curtain was wrung down on it, did the German political stage appear?"All German theatres had to install an iron curtain as an obligatory precaution to prevent the possibility of fire spreading from the stage to the rest of the theatre. Such fires were rather common because the decor was flammable. In case of fire, a metal wall would separate the stage from the theatr
A central heating system provides warmth to the whole interior of a building from one point to multiple rooms. When combined with other systems in order to control the building climate, the whole system may be an HVAC system. Central heating differs from space heating in that the heat generation occurs in one place, such as a furnace room or basement in a house or a mechanical room in a large building; the heat is distributed throughout the building by forced-air through ductwork, by water circulating through pipes, or by steam fed through pipes. The most common method of heat generation involves the combustion of fossil fuel in a furnace or boiler. In much of the temperate climate zone, most detached housing has had central heating installed since before the Second World War. Where coal was available coal-fired steam or hot water systems were common. In more recent times, these have been updated to use fuel oil or gas as the source of combustion, eliminating the need for a large coal storage bin near the boiler and the need to remove and discard ashes after the coal is burned.
Coal-fired systems are now reserved for larger buildings. A cheaper alternative to hot water or steam heat is forced hot air. A furnace burns fuel oil, which heats air in a heat exchanger, blower fans circulate the warmed air through a network of ducts to the rooms in the building; this system is cheaper because the air moves through a series of ducts instead of pipes, does not require a pipe fitter to install. The space between floor joists can be boxed in and used as some of the ductwork, further lowering costs. Electrical heating systems occur less and are practical only with low-cost electricity or when ground source heat pumps are used. Considering the combined system of thermal power station and electric resistance heating, the overall efficiency will be less than for direct use of fossil fuel for space heating. More and more buildings utilize solar-powered heat sources, in which case the distribution system uses water circulation. Alternatives to such systems are district heating. District heating uses the waste heat from an industrial process or electrical generating plant to provide heat for neighboring buildings.
Similar to cogeneration, this requires underground piping to circulate hot steam. The ancient Greeks developed central heating; the temple of Ephesus was heated by flues planted in the ground and circulating the heat, generated by fire. Some buildings in the Roman Empire used central heating systems, conducting air heated by furnaces through empty spaces under the floors and out of pipes in the walls—a system known as a hypocaust; the Roman hypocaust continued to be used on a smaller scale during late Antiquity and by the Umayyad caliphate, while Muslim builders employed a simpler system of underfloor pipes. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, overwhelmingly across Europe, heating reverted to more primitive fireplaces for a thousand years. In the early medieval Alpine upland, a simpler central heating system where heat travelled through underfloor channels from the furnace room replaced the Roman hypocaust at some places. In Reichenau Abbey a network of interconnected underfloor channels heated the 300 m² large assembly room of the monks during the winter months.
The degree of efficiency of the system has been calculated at 90%. In the 13th century, the Cistercian monks revived central heating in Christian Europe using river diversions combined with indoor wood-fired furnaces; the well-preserved Royal Monastery of Our Lady of the Wheel on the Ebro River in the Aragon region of Spain provides an excellent example of such an application. The three main methods of central heating were developed in the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. William Strutt designed a new mill building in Derby with a central hot air furnace in 1793, although the idea had been proposed by John Evelyn a hundred years earlier. Strutt's design consisted of a large stove that heated air brought from the outside by a large underground passage; the air was ventilated through the building by large central ducts. In 1807, he collaborated with another eminent engineer, Charles Sylvester, on the construction of a new building to house Derby's Royal Infirmary. Sylvester was instrumental in applying Strutt's novel heating system for the new hospital.
He published his ideas in The Philosophy of Domestic Economy. Sylvester documented the new ways of heating hospitals that were included in the design, the healthier features such as self-cleaning and air-refreshing toilets; the infirmary's novel heating system allowed the patients to breathe fresh heated air whilst old air was channeled up to a glass and iron dome at the centre. Their designs proved influential, they were copied in the new mills of the Midlands and were improved, reaching maturity with the work of de Chabannes on the ventilation of the House of Commons in the 1810s. This system remained the standard for heating small buildings for the rest of the century; the English writer Hugh Plat proposed a steam-based central heating system for a greenhouse in 1594, although this was an isolated occurrence and was not followed up until the 18th century. Colonel Coke devised a system of pipes that would carry steam around the house from a central boiler, but it was James Watt the Scottish inventor, the first to build a working system in his house.
A central boiler supplied h
The Russian Empire known as Imperial Russia or Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917. The third largest empire in world history, at its greatest extent stretching over three continents, Europe and North America, the Russian Empire was surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires; the rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Golden Horde, the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire. It played a major role in 1812–1814 in defeating Napoleon's ambitions to control Europe and expanded to the west and south; the House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov ruled from 1762. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean, into Alaska and Northern California in America on the east.
With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it included a large disparity in terms of economics and religion. There were numerous dissident elements. Economically, the empire had a predominantly agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs, Russian peasants; the economy industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways and factories. The land was ruled by a nobility from the 10th through the 17th centuries, subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III laid the groundwork for the empire that emerged, he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, laid the foundations of the Russian state. Emperor Peter the Great fought numerous wars and expanded an huge empire into a major European power, he moved the capital from Moscow to the new model city of St. Petersburg, led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political mores with a modern, Europe-oriented, rationalist system.
Empress Catherine the Great presided over a golden age. Emperor Alexander II promoted numerous reforms, most the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861, his policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. That connection by 1914 led to Russia's entry into the First World War on the side of France, the United Kingdom, Serbia, against the German and Ottoman empires; the Russian Empire functioned as an absolute monarchy on principles of Orthodoxy and Nationality until the Revolution of 1905 and became a de jure constitutional monarchy. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917 as a result of massive failures in its participation in the First World War. Though the Empire was only proclaimed by Tsar Peter I following the Treaty of Nystad, some historians would argue that it was born either when Ivan III of Russia conquered Veliky Novgorod in 1478, or when Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan in 1552. According to another point of view, the term Tsardom, used after the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547, was a contemporary Russian word for empire.
Much of Russia's expansion occurred in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian colonization of the Pacific in the mid-17th century, the Russo-Polish War that incorporated left-bank Ukraine, the Russian conquest of Siberia. Poland was divided in the 1790 -- 1815 era, with much of the population going to Russia. Most of the 19th-century growth came from adding territory in Asia, south of Siberia. Peter I the Great played a major role in introducing Russia to the European state system. While the vast land had a population of 14 million, grain yields trailed behind those of agriculture in the West, compelling nearly the entire population to farm. Only a small percentage lived in towns; the class of kholops, close in status to slavery, remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter converted household kholops into house serfs, thus including them in poll taxation. Russian agricultural kholops were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679. Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks.
His attention turned to the North. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport, except at Archangel on the White Sea, where the harbor was frozen for nine months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him to make a secret alliance in 1699 with Saxony, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark against Sweden, resulting in the Great Northern War; the war ended in 1721. Peter acquired four provinces situated east of the Gulf of Finland; the coveted access to the sea was now secured. There he built Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg, to replace Moscow, which had long been Russia's cultural center. In 1722, he tur