Alexander Nevsky

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Alexander Nevsky (Russian: About this sound Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский​ , Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskij; pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪrɐˈslavʲɪtɕ ˈnʲɛfskʲɪj]; 30 May 1220 – 14 November 1263, proclaimed "Saint"of the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolite Macariy in 1547 [1] ) was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Duke of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while employing collaborationist 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 the Great Prince Yaroslav, and his mother was Theodosia. As it was told by the prophet Isaiah: 'Thus sayeth 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 ..."[2]

Born in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Alexander was the fourth son of Prince Yaroslav 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 northwest lands from Swedish,German and Muslim 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 15 July 1240 and defeated them. The Neva battle of 1240 saved Rus' from a full-scale enemy invasion from the North. Because of this battle, 19-year-old Alexander was given the sobriquet "Nevsky" (which means of Neva). This victory, coming just three years 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.

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