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Ryzhenko Pavel Viktorovich  Triptych
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Title: Alexander Nevsky
Ryzhenko Pavel Viktorovich
Triptych "The sun of the Russian land."
Alexander Jaroslavovich Nevsky. 2008-2009
Oil on canvas 
170x400 cm
Private collection

Alexander Nevsky (Russian: Àëåêñà́íäð ßðîñëà́âè÷ Íǻâñêèé​ , 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) was the Grand Prince of Novgorod and 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
"By the will of God, prince Alexander was born 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 ..."
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 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' a full-scale enemy invasion the North. Because of this battle, 19-year-old Alexander was given the name of "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.

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

Alexander’s victory was a significant event in the history of the Middle Ages. Foot soldiers of Novgorod had surrounded and defeated an army of knights, mounted on horseback and clad in thick armour, long before Western Europeans learned how foot soldiers could prevail over mounted knights. Nevsky's great victory against the Livonian Brothers apparently involved only a few knights killed rather than hundreds claimed by the Russian chroniclers; decisive medieval and early modern battles were won and lost by smaller margins than is seen in contemporary conflicts. Strategic considerations aside, Alexander's victory was an important milestone in the development of Muscovite Russia.
After the Livonian invasion, Nevsky continued to strengthen Russia’s Northwest. He sent his envoys to Norway and, as a result, they signed a first peace treaty between Russia and Norway in 1251. Alexander led his army to Finland and successfully routed the Swedes, who had made another attempt to block the Baltic Sea 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 Russia and the Golden Horde, because he understood the uselessness of such war with the Tatars at a time when they were still a powerful force. Historians seem to be unsure about Alexander’s behavior when it came to his relations with Mongols. He may have thought that Catholicism presented a more tangible threat to Russian national identity than paying a tribute to the Khan, who had little interest in Russian religion and culture. It is also argued that he intentionally kept Russia as a vassal to the Mongols in order to preserve his own status and counted on the befriended Horde in case someone challenged his authority (he forced the citizens of Novgorod to pay tribute). Nevsky tried to strengthen his authority at the expense of the boyars and at the same time suppress any anti-Muscovite uprisings in the country (Novgorod uprising of 1259).

According to the most plausible version, Alexander’s intentions were to prevent scattered principalities of what would become Russia repeated invasions by the Mongol army. He is known to have gone to the Horde himself and achieved success in exempting Russians fighting beside the Tatar army in its wars with other peoples. The fact that the Muscovite state was still no match for the Army of the Golden Horde (Mongols) must be taken into account when Alexander's actions vis-à-vis the Horde are considered.

Some historians see Alexander's choice of subordination to the Golden Horde and refusal of co-operating with western countries and church as an important turn to the east for the Russians.
Grand Prince of Vladimir
Thanks to his friendship with Sartaq Khan, Alexander was installed as the Grand Prince of Vladimir (i.e., the supreme Russian ruler) in 1252. A decade later, Alexander died in the town of Gorodets-on-the-Volga on his way back Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde. Prior to his death, he took monastic vows and was given the religious name of Alexis.

the Second Pskovian Chronicle:

"Returning the Golden Horde, the Great Prince Alexander, reached the city of Nizhniy 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 12 November, [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 Gorodets, Alexander was laid to rest in the city of Vladimir, in the Great Abbey at The Church of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God.

Marriage and children

According to the Novgorod First Chronicle, Alexander married first a daughter of Bryacheslav Vasilkovich, Prince of Polatsk and Vitebsk, in 1239. Her name is not given in the chronicle. Genealogies name her as Paraskeviya or Alexandra. Possibly birth and marital names respectively. They had at least five children:
Vasily Aleksandrovich, Prince of Novgorod (c. 1239–1271). He was betrothed to Princess Kristina of Norway in 1251. 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 – 27 July 1304
Daniel of Moscow (1261 – 4 March/5 March 1303).

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