Grand Duke of Vladimir and Kiev, 1252 to Nov. 19, 1263; b. May 30, 1220. The son of Grand Duke Yaroslav II, Alexander proved to be the most outstanding of the Russian princes at the beginning of the Mongol domination of Russia. His father made him Prince of Novgorod in 1228, and from there Alexander witnessed the conquest of Russia by the Mongol armies of Batu Khan (1237–42). The mongol invasion completely destroyed the southern part of Russia (Kiev and Chernigov) and a great part of east Russia (Riazan); but northern Russia, centered around Novgorod, was protected by swamps and woodland and fared better, becoming the pivot of consolidation for whatever survived the Mongol disaster. On the western borders of Novgorod Alexander was eminently successful in repulsing the attacks of Swedes, Lithuanians, and the Livonian Knights—it was his victory over the Swedes on the Neva River that gained him the surname Nevski (of the Neva). Recognizing, however, the hopelessness of any open resistance to the overwhelming power of the mongols, Alexander remained a loyal vassal of the Mongol Empire, and discouraged all insubordination and rebellion; he was thus able to reduce further Mongol ravages and to protect his people. He journeyed to the court of the Great Khan in Mongolia and to the Golden Horde, settling disputes and pleading the cause of his country. In 1252 the Great Khan appointed him Grand Duke of Vladimir and Kiev and thus the senior Russian Prince. He is venerated as a saint in the Russian Church.
Feast: Nov. 23 and Aug. 30.
Bibliography: v. o. klÎuchevskiĬ, A History of Russia, tr. c. j. hogarth, 5 v. (New York 1911–31) v.1. a. palmieri, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912—) 2:261–262. n. de baumgarten, "Généalogies des branches régnantes des Rurikides du XIIIe au XVIe siècle," Orientalia Christiana 35 (1934) 5–150.
[o. p. sherbowitz–wetzor]