François Lefort (fräNswä´ ləfôr´), 1656–99, Swiss soldier of fortune in Russian service, b. Geneva. He was one of the early boon companions of Peter I (Peter the Great) and remained Peter's favorite until his death. A drunkard and libertine, Lefort nevertheless had great influence. Some believe that he advised Peter's attack on Azov, helping in its capture from the Ottoman Empire (1696), and counseled Peter's apprenticeship abroad. Made a general and an admiral, Lefort helped to reorganize the Russian army and to create the Russian navy.