Alexander Nevsky (nĕvˈskē) [key] [Rus., = of the Neva], 1220–1263, Russian hero, grand duke of Vladimir-Suzdal. As prince of Novgorod (1236–52) he earned his surname by his victory (1240) over the Swedes on the Neva River. He successfully defended N Russia against its western neighbors by defeating the Livonian Brothers of the Sword (1242) and the Lithuanians (1245). After the Tatar invasion of Russia Alexander submitted to Tatar rule and was appointed (1252) grand duke by the khan. His submissive attitude toward the Tatars and his suppression of the anti-Tatar movements in Novgorod and other cities provoked much resentment among the local princes and the common people. However, he saved the principality from ruin by his cooperation with the invaders. Russian popular tradition made him a national hero, and he was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. The Order of Alexander Nevsky was instituted (1725) by Catherine I of Russia. Although abolished in 1917, it was revived by the Soviet government in 1942.
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