Considered to be one of the greatest heroes of medieval Russia, then known as Rus, Alexander Nevsky served as the Grand Prince of Novgorod and Vladimir in the 13th Century, and was later canonized for his military victories.
Alexander, born in 1220, was the fourth son of the prince of Vladimir and therefore seemed to have little chance to inherit the throne. However, he was elevated to the status of prince for Novgorod and served as their military leader against several invasions by Swedish, German and Muslim forces. In 1240, he routed the Swedish army at Neva and gained the name "Nevsky" (literally, of Neva), but was soon required to leave Novgorod for political reasons.
Less than a year later, he was summoned yet again by the leaders of Novgorod and sought to defend the region from the Livonian Knights, a branch of Germany's Teutonic Knights. Nevsky managed to do so, defeating an army of heavily-armored knights with his own forces comprised largely of simple foot soldiers.
By 1251, Alexander had sent envoys to Norway to secure a peace treaty with the nation and, within the next five years, managed to defeat the Swedish army in Finland.
Now, it must also be noted that virtually all of this occurred during the period of Russia's occupation by the Mongolian Golden Horde, with whom Alexander had a fairly good relationship. In fact, it was largely a result of his friendship with Sartaq Khan, a great-grandson of Genghis Khan, that he acquired the position of Grand Prince of Vladimir. Khan and Nevsky eventually became sworn brothers (or "anda"), while Batu Khan actually adopted Nevsky as a son.
"Fun" Fact: Nevsky's cousin, once-removed, was married to Sartaq's daughter Theodora. Their descendants include Ivan IV.
Unit 5 Recording:
Игровые Ситуации from Page 151, 5-16, Number 3 (with Collin Dougher)