The Battle of Poltava is an important battle for the people of Russia as it was when Peter the Great defeated the Swedish army. If the battle, which took place on 27 June 1709, had gone the other way then it isn’t likely that we’d refer to Peter as Great and it’s not likely that the Russian Empire would have been as substantial as it is. But we might have had a lot more people speaking Swedish.
To make the whole thing even more complex, the Ukrainians like Ivan Mazepa, because he sided with the Swedes against the Russians. It was the beginning of the end for the Swedish Empire and they lost around 7,000 men, compared to the Russians who lost around 1,500 men.
The museum is located a bus ride away, which is another story, from the city centre and it is situated in what was once a hospital for veterans of the Russian-Turkish wars. It’s well laid out and is larger than I thought, with the admission price costing under £1, even with the photographic permit that I felt the need to buy.
A diorama of the battle scene. There was also a film showing on one of the TV screens in the museum which was the most graphic representation of war that I’ve ever seen. There were more stabbings, explosions and heads falling off than you could shake a stick at, although there were shaking lances in the film as well.
I’m slightly sceptical, but this is the clothing which allegedly belonged to Peter I, his caftan (tunic) and camisole (undercoat).
The death mask of Peter I.
And a painting of Peter 1.
These are the coats of arms for towns in the area, from top to bottom (and left to right), (i) Poltava, (ii) Hadyach, (iii) Lubny, (iv) Pryluky, (v) Pereyaslav and (vi) Myrgorod.
A cannon thing.
A map of the battlefield.
All in all, a well presented museum which had some interesting artefacts. I wasn’t entirely sure exactly where the battlefields were in relation to the modern geography, but they seemed to cover a bit of an area and the memorials we walked by to get to the museum suggested the approximate location.
The whole site was a scene of great pride for the Russians over the centuries, although it’s a more challenging site for the Ukrainians. It was though fascinating to see this area, as it’s one of those wars which changed the landscape of European politics and ultimately led to the expansion of the Russian empire at the cost of the Swedish empire.