By the grace of God, the most excellent and great sovereign prince Pyotr Alekseevich the ruler of all the Russias: of Moscow, of Kiev, of Vladimir, of Novgorod, Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan and Tsar of Siberia, sovereign of Pskov, great prince of Smolensk, Tversk, Yugorsk, Permsky, Vyatsky, Bulgarsky and others, sovereign and great prince of Novgorod Nizovsky lands, Chernigovsky, of Ryazan, of Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersky, Udorsky, Kondiisky and the sovereign of all the northern lands, and the sovereign of the Iverian lands, of the Kartlian and Georgian Kings, of the Kabardin lands, of the Circassian and Mountain princes and many other states and lands western and eastern here and there and the successor and sovereign and ruler.
Named after the apostle, and described as a newborn as "with good health, his mother's black, vaguely Tatar eyes, and a tuft of auburn hair", from an early age Peter's education (commissioned by his father, Tsar Alexis of Russia) was put in the hands of several tutors, most notably Nikita Zotov, Patrick Gordon, and Paul Menesius. On 29 January 1676, Tsar Alexis died, leaving the sovereignty to Peter's elder half-brother, the weak and sickly Feodor III of Russia. Throughout this period, the government was largely run by Artamon Matveev, an enlightened friend of Alexis, the political head of the Naryshkin family and one of Peter's greatest childhood benefactors.
This position changed when Feodor died in 1682. As Feodor did not leave any children, a dispute arose between the Miloslavsky family (Maria Miloslavskaya was the first wife of Alexis I) and Naryshkin family (Natalya Naryshkina was the second wife) over who should inherit the throne. Peter's other half-brother, Ivan V of Russia, was next in line for the throne, but he was chronically ill and of infirm mind. Consequently, the Boyar Duma (a council of Russian nobles) chose the 10-year-old Peter to become Tsar with his mother as regent.
This arrangement was brought before the people of Moscow, as ancient tradition demanded, and was ratified. Sophia Alekseyevna, one of Alexis' daughters from his first marriage, led a rebellion of the Streltsy (Russia's elite military corps) in April–May 1682. In the subsequent conflict some of Peter's relatives and friends were murdered, including Matveev, and Peter witnessed some of these acts of political violence.