1. Peter the Great ruled the Russian Empire in the 17th century, and he was inarguably a controversial figure.
On the one hand, he’s largely credited with bringing Russia into the modern age.
On the other hand, he did whatever the hell he wanted whenever he wanted to do it. Like having a 300-strong child army, complete with barracks, military officers, and artillery, as a boy.
On the other other hand, he also tortured his firstborn son, who he suspected of treason, to such an extreme degree that he later died of it in jail (more on that later).
So, controversial guy, for sure.
2. When Peter the Great was still a teen tsar, he had a posse.
Not like your posse, and not even like Bieber’s posse. Teen tsar posses came in XXXL.
3. There were anywhere from 80 to 200 of these guys, and they called themselves “The Jolly Company”.
Not exactly “the wolfpack”, but still an awesome name for a posse.
4. The Company would roam the Russian countryside, barging in on noble families and partying their butts off, and pretty much daring anyone to look at them sideways about it.
5. Eventually they grew too big and settled their noble pub crawl down in Moscow, usually at the home of Lieutenant General Franz Lefort, a close friend of Peter’s.
When Lefort raised the extremely legitimate concern of not being able to afford constantly hosting 300+ roaringly drunk dudes in his home, Peter responded by building him a new dining hall.
When that grew too small, he built Lefort a brand new mansion that could hold up to 1500 people at a time, essentially saying, “I hear your complaint, and I recognize its validity. I just don’t care.”
Lefort’s new, bigger home became the de facto clubhouse for the Jolly Company, even when Lefort wasn’t there.
6. As they grew bigger, Peter started assigning party titles to his bros, which they used to address each other mid-party.
A boyar (one step below a prince) named Ivan Buturlin was named “The Polish King” (because nothing says “cultural sensitivity” like calling your very drunk friend the King of Poland), and his child army’s “Generalissimo”, Fyodor Romodanovsky, became “Your Majesty”.
7. Peter took these party titles so seriously that he would introduce Romodanovsky (“Your Majesty”) as the Tsar of Russia to defeated armies.
8. When Peter turned 18, he upgraded the “company” to a “synod”, calling it The All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters.
The party went as legit as a party could get. It grew to include every single man of power within Peter’s government and men of the Russian Orthodox church as well. They named their own “Prince-Pope” and had bishops, archimandrites, priests and deacons – a literal church of partying.
As well as a college of party cardinals – partynals, if you will (which we will).
9. In 1695, rather than participate in the traditional Russian Orthodox Epiphany baptismal ceremony, Peter elected a new party-pope.
He intentionally had the celebration for his new Pope on the same day he was supposed to be being baptized by actual priests. Pretty much exactly the kind of tact you’d expect from someone who loved alcohol with a religious reverence.
Hank / Creative Commons / Via: gimmeapabst
10. Though only a lowly deacon in his party church, Peter the Great was still in charge and used his power to create rituals and customs.
And they weren’t nice. Everyone was always drunk, and they routinely tortured victims for entertainment.
Peter even laughed while he had his own son tortured and maimed, and threw a huge party the same night his heir died of injuries in jail.
11. The Synod continued to do whatever the hell they wanted until Peter’s death in 1725.
Their debauchery and sadism was so great that many devout Orthodox Russians believed him to be the literal Antichrist.
12. So the next time someone claims they’ve figured out who the Antichrist is…
…ask if their Antichrist has literally created their own church, told God just where he could stick his baptismal font, and laughed while ordering their oldest son to be tortured to death.
While calling it “partying”.
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