Bitter opposition to change, to new ideas, to foreign influences of all kinds, had been a force in Russia long before Peter was born. Xenophobia had been endemic in Muscovite society for generations. The Raskol of the 1650s and 1660s and its consequences were the clearest of all proofs of the ingrained conservatism inevitable in such an environment. But both Peter’s tastes and many of his policies were so uncompromising a break with the past, so gross a challenge to convention and traditional ideas of propriety, that they could not but intensify his subjects’ resistance to change. Consorting with foreigners, travelling abroad, working with his own hands at a bewildering variety of trades, wearing foreign dress, despising the traditional costume of his subjects and the beards so dear to almost all of them, disliking Moscow and the Kremlin, passionate in his love of the sea which the great majority of Russians had never seen, he flouted in almost all the externals of life the accepted view of how a tsar should behave. In his creation of a great army and the new navy, in the building of canals, harbours and the new capital, he imposed on Russia burdens unheard-of under his predecessors, burdens which no tsar of the true stamp, it was felt, would have asked his people to bear. Emotional rejection of foreign models and influences, genuine fear of the implications for Orthodoxy of many of Peter’s policies, desperation engendered by the suffering resulting from the tsar’s demands: all these generated opposition. In the extreme form of active revolt this showed itself relatively rarely. The streltsy outbreak of 1698, the rebellion in Astrakhan in 1705–6, the Cossack rising led by Bulavin in the following year and a peasant revolt in the Volga basin in 1709–10, which spread to a considerable area of central Russia, are the only important 165examples. But plots, abuse of the tsar as hopelessly corrupted by foreign influences, as an impostor, even as Antichrist, continued throughout much of Peter’s reign, particularly in its first half. These were, besides, only the outward signs of a continual groundswell of discontent which seemed at times to threaten the overthrow of all the tsar’s painfully won achievements. One aspect of the reign, therefore, a negative and often bloody but nonetheless fundamental one, was a constant struggle to crush opposition, to force on a recalcitrant society changes and sacrifices which it was deeply unwilling to make.