Alexander Nevsky – Russian leader
Alexander Nevsky was the Russian leader, prince of Novgorod and grand prince of Vladimir. He was an outstanding military leader and statesman. He protected Russia against European invasion during the Middle Ages. Alexander defeated the Swedes at the Neva River. His heirs ruled Russia until 1917.
Alexander was the son of Yaroslav Vsevolodovich, Prince of Pereiaslavl and Novgorod. In 1236 his father moved to Kiev and Alexander succeeded him as prince of Novgorod. Alexander Nevsky knew Latin and Greek, and one of his favorite books in his childhood was biography of Alexander the Great.
Alexander had to guard the western frontiers from the Swedes and the Germanic Sword Knights of Livonia. On July 15, 1240 Alexander defeated the Swedes at the mouth of the Neva River.
On April 5, 1242 he trapped the Sword Knights on the ice of Lake Peipus, and destroyed most of their force.
In 1242 Yaroslav recognized Mongols’ sovereignty over Russia and pledged his allegiance to the Mongol Khan. Four years later Yaroslav died and Alexander succeeded him in Kiev. Alexander’s brother Andrei ascended the throne of Vladimir.
In 1252 Andrei refused to pledge allegiance to the new great Khan and was driven out of Russia. Alexander became grand prince of Vladimir.
Russian Orthodox Church enjoyed considerable freedom and influence under the Mongols, and Alexander was supported by church.
Alexander died on November 14, 1263.
He is one of the most popular rulers in Russian history, a savior of Russia, and a saint. In 1547 the Russian Church canonized him.
The Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded in 1710 in St. Petersburg. The Order of Alexander Nevsky was established in 1725. It is one of the highest Russian military decorations. A triumphal arch was erected in his memory in 1836 in St. Petersburg.
In 1937, Sergei Eisenstein made a classic film about Nevsky.
Several Russian naval vessels were named for him.