Birthday: May 13, 1221
Died At Age: 42
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: St. Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky
Born Country: Russia
Born in: Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia
Famous as: Prince of Novgorod
Spouse/Ex-: Paraskeviya (Alexandra) of Polotsk; Vasilisa
father: Yaroslav II of Vladimir
mother: Feodosia Igorevna of Ryazan
siblings: Afanasy Yaroslavich, Andrey II of Vladimir, Daniil Yaroslavich, Fyodor Yaroslavich, Konstantin Yaroslavich, Mikhail Khorobrit, Vasily of Kostroma, Yaroslav of Tver
children: Andrey of Gorodets, Daniel of Moscow, Dmitry of Pereslavl, Eudoxia Aleksandrovna, Vasily Aleksandrovich
Died on: November 14, 1263
place of death: Gorodets, Russia
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
City: Moscow, Russia
Who was Alexander Nevsky?
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev, and Grand Prince of Vladimir. He enjoyed military victories over Sweden and Germany, earning the reputation of a hero. He was posthumously beatified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. Nevsky, who was a grandson of Vsevolod III Yuryevich, was elected the Prince of Novgorod in 1236. Three years after becoming the prince, he married Paraskeviya, a daughter of the Prince of Polatsk. As a ruler, he continued to restore Russia by promulgating laws and building fortifications. He also changed the constitutional base of ruling in Novgorod to implement institutional sovereignty. Due to his bonding with Sartaq Khan, the son of Mongol ruler Batu Khan, Nevsky was proclaimed the Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1252. The prince died in 1263, at the age of 42. Shortly before his death, he had taken monastic vows and received the religious name of Alexis.
Childhood & Early Life
Alexander Nevsky was born on 13 May 1221, in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Vladimir-Suzdal, to Feodosia Igorevna of Ryazan and Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich.
He was the grandson of Vsevolod III Yuryevich aka Vsevolod the Big Nest. His maternal great-grandfather was Igor Glebovich, the second son of Gleb Rostislavich, Prince of Ryazan. His maternal grandmother was a daughter of Rostislav I of Kiev. Her name was Agrafena of Kiev.
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In 1236, Alexander was elected the prince of the city of Novgorod. On 15 July 1240, he attacked the Swedish army after they invaded Russia to seek revenge from the Novgorodians for intruding on Finnish tribes.
Following his win over the Swedes at the Battle of the Neva, the 19-year-old Alexander earned the nickname "Nevsky".
Alexander Nevsky conquered Germany in the Battle on the Ice fought largely on the frozen Lake Peipus. Besides winning over the Swedes and Germans, he also defeated the Finnic people and the pagan Lithuanians.
Following his father’s death in 1246, Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire appointed Alexander Nevsky the grand prince of Vladimir. The reason behind this appointment was the rivalry between Genghis Khan and Batu Khan, the latter of whom favored Nevsky.
Alexander Nevsky continued to restore Russia by promulgating laws and building fortifications. In 1251, he signed a peace treaty with Norway.
In 1256, he successfully defeated the Swedes after they attempted to block the Baltic Sea. Two years later, he helped force Novgorod to submit itself to the census carried out by the Mongols to levy taxes.
Nevsky proved to be a thoughtful politician. He managed to dismiss the Roman Curia’s efforts to cause a tiff between the Russians and the Golden Horde.
According to some sources, he himself went to the Golden Horde and exempted Russia from joining the Tatar army in its battles with other territories.
The prince fortified his power at the expense of the boyars. In 1259, he suppressed anti-Mongol uprisings.
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In 1262, he prevented reprisals after uprisings broke out against Golden Horde’s Muslim tax farmers. Nevsky also managed to attain an exemption for Russia men from being recruited for a planned invasion of Iran.
Death & Aftermath
Alexander Nevsky died on November 14, 1263, while returning home from a campaign. After his death, Russia fragmented into several battling territories.
His personal authority that was based on support from the boyars, princes, and Mongols failed to be transferred to his successors. However, some of his policies were continued by Daumantas of Pskov, his grandson-in-law, who was also canonization as a saint in the 16th century.
Canonization as a Saint
Alexander Nevsky tried to reduce the suffering of the general public by negotiating for them with the Great Khan.
The prince also earned support from the church that thrived under Mongol protection. For these reasons, he was given the status of a saint and was beatified by Russian cleric Metropolite Macarius in 1547. Macarius was himself canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988.
His relics were uncovered before the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. They were kept in Vladimir until 1723 and were later transported to Shlisselburg. In 1724, Nevsky’s relics were transferred to the Annunciation Church of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Saint Petersburg.
Nevsky’s principal feast day is celebrated on November 23 every year. Also, 30 August marks another feast day that was instituted in commemoration of enshrining his relics in the Annunciation Church.
The former prince is also remembered on 23 May with other saints Yaroslavl and Rostov.
Alexander Nevsky was much popular in northwestern Russia for being a great military commander who saved his country from the Germans and the Swedes. This led to the creation of the Order of Alexander Nevsky in 1725 after the war with Swedes concluded.
On 25 December 1881, a Bulgarian Order was founded to honor him. The order was, however, withdrawn after the People's Republic was declared.
During World War II in 1942, Nevsky was given a special honor by the Soviet Union politician Joseph Stalin who established a military order for him.
On 24 September 2008, a popular vote proclaimed him the main hero of Russia's history. In December that year, a television poll voted Nevsky the greatest Russian.
Family & Personal Life
In 1239, Alexander Nevsky married Paraskeviya, a daughter of the Prince of Polotsk. Together, they had five children, including Eudoxia Alexandrovna, Vasily Alexandrovich, Andrey of Gorodets, and Dmitry of Pereslavl.
The prince also had a second wife whom he married shortly before his death. The couple had a son named Daniel of Moscow.