March 01, 2006

The Battle on the Ice



April 5, 1242

One of the most famous battles in Russian history took place on April 5, 1242. On the frozen surface of Lake Chudskoe (a large body of water between Russia and present-day Estonia, called Lake Peipus by Estonians) the Novgorodians soundly defeated the forces of a Livonian knightly order that was attempting to extend its influence into Rus. A young prince by the name of Alexander led the Novgorodian forces. Two years earlier, this prince had been given the surname Nevsky, after he defeated the Swedes on the banks of the Neva River. At the time, no one would have guessed that this young, energetic, clever, and ferocious knight would become one of the best-known figures in Russian history.

Even during his lifetime, Nevsky enjoyed great renown. At a time when Rus had suffered one defeat after another by the Mongol Horde, someone who had defeated first the Swedes and then the Livonians was bound to garner great respect. Furthermore, Alexander, who became a Grand Prince in 1252, was able to establish good relations with the Horde, and that immediately gave him great authority in the eyes of his subjects.


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