Since the reign of Peter the Great, emperor and reformer, the Russian elite have viewed themselves as being part of the West or "civilization". Their self-image came as a result of the rapid spread of Western culture and language, especially French, as well as the general cosmopolitan character of the European culture of the Enlightenment. Romanticism started to spread all over Europe, and Russians, like their European neighbors, started to perceive themselves as different from other Europeans. The rise of political terrorism and the first mass workers' strike following Russia's rapid industrialization clearly demonstrate that Russia's political and economic development have some apparent similarities to those of corresponding processes in the West. During the late nineteenth century, the specific perceptions of historical events held by Russian intellectuals, including their perception of the French Revolution, were also influenced by the practical absence of political life in Russia at that time.