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Saint Alexander Nevsky
Brak obrazka
Born: 5 June, 1221 in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia
Died: 14 November, 1263 in Gorodets, Russia
Nationality: Russian
Occupation: Ruler of Russia
Titles: Prince of Novogrod, Vladimir
Father: Yaroslav Vsevolodovich
Mother: Fedosia Igorevich of Ryazan
Siblings: Fyodor Yaroslavich (Winter, 1219 - 5 June 1233), Andrei II of Vladimir (c. 1222 - 1264), Mikhail Khorobrit, Daniil Yaroslavich (d. 1256), Yaroslav of Tver (d. 9 September 1271), Konstantin Yaroslavich, Maria Yaroslavna (born 1240), Vasily of Kostroma (1241 - 1276), Afanasy Yaroslavich, Eudoxia Yaroslavna, Iuliana Yaroslavna.
Wives: Paraskeviya or Alexandra (married in 1239), Vasilisa
Children: Vasily Aleksandrovich (c. 1239 - 1271), Eudoxia Aleksandrovna, Dmitry of Pereslavl (c. 1250 - 1294), Andrey of Gorodets (c. 1255 - 27 July 1304), Daniel of Moscow (1261 - 4 March/5 March 1303).
Illegitimate children: none or unknown
Religion: Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Notable events: The Neva battle of 1240, Battle of the Ice on April 5, 1242
Alexander Nevsky

Alexander Nevsky (Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский in Russian; Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskij) (May 30, 1220 - November 14, 1263) was the Grand Prince of Novgorod and Vladimir (Vladimir-Suzdal) during one of of the most trying crises in the history of the Novgorod Tribunal.

Alexander was the son of Yaroslav and grandson of grandson of Vsevolod III Yuryevich, and rose to become a legend for his victories over the German invaders, while employing shrewd conciliatory policies towards the powerful Golden Horde.

Great victories[]

From Tales of the Life and Courage of the Pious and Great Prince Alexander found in the Second Pskovian Chronicle, circa 1260-1280, comes one of the first known references to the Great Prince:

"By the will of God, prince Alexander was born from the charitable, people-loving, and meek Great Prince Yaroslav, and his mother was Theodosia. As it was told by the prophet Isaiah: 'Thus sayest the Lord: I appoint the princes because they are sacred and I direct them.'

"...He was taller than others and his voice reached the people as a trumpet, and his face was like the face of Joseph, whom the Egyptian Pharaoh placed as next to the king after him of Egypt. His power was a part of the power of Samson and God gave him the wisdom of Solomon...this Prince Alexander: he used to defeat but was never defeated..."

Born in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Alexander was the fourth son of Prince Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich and seemed to have no chance of claiming the throne of Vladimir. In 1236, however, he was summoned by the Novgorodians to become kniaz' (or prince) of Novgorod and, as their military leader, to defend their lands from Swedish and German invaders. After the Swedish army had landed at the confluence of the rivers Izhora and Neva, Alexander and his small army suddenly attacked the Swedes on July 15, 1240 and defeated them. The Battle of Neva saved Russia from a full-scale invasion. Because of this battle, the 19-year-old Alexander was given the name of "Nevsky" (which means of Neva). This victory, coming just a year after the disastrous Mongol invasion of Rus, strengthened Nevsky’s political influence, but at the same time it worsened his relations with the boyars. He would soon have to leave Novgorod because of this conflict.

After Pskov had been invaded by the crusading Livonian Knights, the Novgorod authorities sent for Alexander. In spring of 1241 he returned from his exile, gathered an army, and drove out the invaders. Alexander and his men faced the Livonian heavy cavalry led by the Magister of the Order, Hermann, brother of Albert of Buxhoeveden, on the ice of the Lake Peipus and defeated them on April 5, 1242.


After the Livonian invasion, Nevsky continued to strengthen Russia’s Northwest. He sent envoys to Norway and, as a result, they signed a first peace treaty between the Rus and Norway in 1251. Alexander led his army to Finland and successfully routed the Swedes, who had made another attempt to block the Baltic from the Russians in 1256.

Nevsky proved to be a cautious and far-sighted politician. He dismissed the Roman Curia’s attempts to cause war between Novgorod and the Golden Horde because he understood the uselessness of war with the powerful Tatars. Nevsky tried to strengthen his authority at the expense of the boyars and at the same time suppress any anti-Muscovite uprisings.

Grand Prince of Vladimir[]

Thanks to his friendship with Sartaq Khan, Alexander was installed as the Grand Prince of Vladimir (i.e., the supreme ruler of the Russias) in 1252. A decade later, Alexander died in the town of Gorodets-on-the-Volga on his way back from Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde. Prior to his death, he took monastic vows and was given the religious name of Alexis.

From the Second Pskovian Chronicle:

"Returning from the Golden Horde, the Great Prince Alexander, reached the city of Nizhney Novgorod, and remained there for several days in good health, but when he reached the city of Gorodets he fell ill...

Great Prince Alexander,who was always firm in his faith in God, gave up this worldly kingdom...And then he gave up his soul to God and died in peace on November 12, [1263] on the day when the Holy Apostle Philip is remembered...

At this burial Metropolitan Archbishop Cyril said, 'My children, you should know that the sun of the Suzdalian land has set. There will never be another prince like him in the Suzdalian land.'

And the priests and deacons and monks, the poor and the wealthy, and all the people said: 'It is our end.' "

Though he died in Gorodents, Alexander was laid to rest in the city of Vladimir, in the Great Abbey at The Church of the Navitity of the Holy Mother of God.

Marriage and children[]

Alexander married first Paraskeviya, a daughter of Bryacheslav Vasilkovich, Prince of Polatsk and Vitebsk, in 1239. They had five children:

  • Vasily Aleksandrovich, Prince of Novgorod]] (c. 1239 - 1271). He was betrothed to Princess Kristina of Norway in 1251, but the marriage contact was broken. Kristina went on to marry Felipe of Castile, a son of Ferdinand III of Castile and Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen.
  • Eudoxia Aleksandrovna. Married Konstantin Rostislavich, Prince of Smolensk.
  • Dmitry of Pereslavl (c. 1250 - 1294.)
  • Andrey of Gorodets (c. 1255 - July 27, 1304.)
  • Daniel of Moscow (1261 - March 5 March, 1303.)

He married a second wife named Vasilisa shortly before his death. They had no known children.

Alexander's legacy[]

Veneration of Alexander Nevsky as a saint began soon after his death. The remains of the prince were uncovered in response to a vision, before the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, and found to be incorrupt although he would not be canonized until 1547. In time, Alexander Nevsky's legend would spread beyond the borders of Russia.

External links[]