Peter the Great, emperor of Russia, dies and is succeeded by his wife, Catherine. The reign of Peter, who became sole czar in 1696, was characterized by a series of sweeping military, political, economic, and cultural reforms based on Western European models. Russian victories in major conflicts with Persia and the Ottoman Empire greatly expanded Peter's empire, and the defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War won Russia direct access to the Baltic Sea. Here, Peter founded the new Russian capital of St. Petersburg, and Russia became a major European power--politically, culturally, and geographically. In 1721, Peter abandoned the traditional Russian title of czar in favor of the European-influenced title of emperor. Four years later, he died.