Peter the Great was a keen amateur doctor and dentist. He once saw a tooth being pulled out of a person's mouth and became obsessed with carrying out random dental checks on his subjects. His 250 courtiers were unwilling victims, having any suspect tooth whipped out at a moments notice. Sections of gum would often accompany the extracted chomper as the tsar did not know his own strength or the minimum force required to undergo such a process. He carried a small bag of the pulled teeth around with him wherever he went as proof of his 'ability'.

Peter the Great's willingness to act as an untrained dentist was proved when a courtier came to him and asked him for his help. The courtier said that his wife had a terrible ongoing toothache, but that she was afraid of dentists. He asked the tsar to trick the woman into getting close enough to the wannabe dentist so that she could have her tooth removed. Peter the Great complied, valiantly fighting against the screaming and panicked woman, eventually getting the offensive tooth. Later it was learnt that there had been nothing wrong with the tooth at all; the courtier had been fighting with his wife and wanted to teach her a lesson. The tsar was pleased with his efforts nonetheless.

As well as being an incompetent dentist, the tsar was a budding anatomist. After eating a huge meal while visiting Holland he watched the dissection of a human cadaver. Intrigued, he was outraged when his two attendants didn't share his love of all things medical, and forced them to take a bite of the dead person's flesh.

No one dared to turn Peter the Great down when he "offered" a free medical service; as a result botched operations and autopsies abounded. Upon the death of Tsarina Martha Apraxina, widow of his half brother Theodore III, Peter the Great conducted an autopsy to discover if the 49 year old woman was a virgin as rumour had it. On anther occasion he drained 20 lbs (approximately 9 litres) of water from the dropsical wife of a Russian merchant. A short time later she died and the tsar was furious about rumours which claimed that he was to blame. The subsequent inquest proved, strangely enough, that Peter the Great had nothing to do with the death.

The tsar built a Museum of Curiosities to house his exhibits of freaks and medical oddities. Included in the museum were:

The museum was cared for by a badly deformed dwarf who was added to the collection upon his death.

One of Peter the Great's favourite exhibits was a pickled penis which had been donated by the Prussian King FrederickWilliam, owner of the Potsdam Giant Guards, another group of 'freaks'. For a hilarious joke the tsar asked his wife to kiss the phallus; she turned him down, but then changed her mind when the other alternative to the kiss was to have her head cut off.

Information from The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics, by Karl Shaw