The fortress was established by Peter the Great on May 16 (by the Julian Calendar, hereafter indicated using "(J)"; May 27 by the Gregorian Calendar) 1703 on small Hare Island by the north bank of the Neva River, the last upstream island of the Neva delta. Built at the height of the Northern War in order to protect the projected capital from a feared Swedish counterattack, the fort never fulfilled its martial purpose. The citadel was completed with six bastions in earth and timber within a year, and it was rebuilt in stone from 1706-1740.
From around 1720, the fort served as a base for the city garrison and also as a prison for high ranking or political prisoners. The Trubetskoy bastion, rebuilt in the 1870s, became the main prison block. The first person to escape from the fortress prison (now an important destination for tourists) was the anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin in 1876. Other people incarcerated in the "Russian Bastille" include Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Tsarevich Alexis, Artemy Volynsky, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Alexander Radishchev, the Decembrists, Grigory Danilevsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Bakunin, Nikolai Chernyshevsky and Josip Broz Tito.
Russian Revolution and beyond
During the February Revolution of 1917, it was attacked by mutinous soldiers of the Pavlovskii regiment on February 27 (J) and the prisoners were freed. Under the Provisional Government hundreds of Tsarist officials were held in the Fortress.
The Tsar was threatened with being incarcerated at the Fortress on his return from Mogilev to Tsarskoe Selo on March 8 (J), the threat was not followed through and he was placed under house arrest. On July 4 (J) when the Bolsheviks attempted a putsch the Fortress garrison of 8,000 men declared for the Bolsheviks. They surrendered to government forces without a struggle on July 6 (J).
On October 25 (J), again, the Fortress quickly came into Bolshevik hands. Following the ultimatum from the Petrograd Soviet to the Provisional Government ministers in the Winter Palace, after the blank salvo of the Cruiser Aurora at 21.00, the guns of the Fortress fired 30 or so shells at the Winter Palace. Only two actually hit, inflicting minor damage, and the defenders refused to surrender – at that time. At 02.10 on the morning of October 26 (J) the Winter Palace was taken by forces under Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, the captured ministers were taken to the Fortress as prisoners. The city of St Petersberg was renamed Leningrad not long after.
Red Alert universe
By the time of the Third World War, the Fortress still stood tall in Leningrad. The Fortress was a symbolic monument to many of the USSR as well as the city of Leningrad but it still had some military value. When the Empire of the Rising Sun invaded the Soviet Union they managed to push as far as Leningrad. The city came under siege and Premier Cherdenko ordered a new but tactically brilliant commander to guide Soviet commando Natasha Volkova to the Peter and Paul Fortress and defend the site from Imperial assault. With help from the Fortress defenders, they saved the Fortress, and the city by extension, from the Imperial navy.
As the war continued, Cherdenko had the Peter and Paul Fortress converted into a shuttle launch facility. For protection, it was made invulnerable by seven Iron Curtain constructed throughout Leningrad. Also several V4 Rocket Launchers, Kirovs and Tesla Tanks were specifically placed at the Fortress as its last line of defense. The war however was turning against the Soviets. With the Empire knocked out of the fight and the resurgent Allies discovering the Soviets' treachery, they converged to Leningrad and breached the Fortress defenses. The Fortress itself was destroyed before it could launch Cherdenko into space.