Little Bits of History

St. Alex

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 21, 2012

Alexander Nevsky

May 21, 1725: Catherine I of Russia begins the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. The Imperial Order was planned by Emperor Peter I or Peter the Great, Catherine’s husband. She was his second wife and he married her twice; once in secret and again for the public. They had nine children together and helped to bring Russia into the modern era. She was named co-ruler of Russia in 1724 and when Peter died in early 1725 without naming a successor, she took over rule. The new order was established to distinguish Russian citizens for exemplary service to their country. It was abolished in 1917 after the Bolshevik Revolution and reinstated as the Order of Alexander Nevsky, a military decoration now, in 1942.

Alexander Nevsky was the Grand Prince of Novgorod and Vladimir, the latter was one of the most powerful Rus states in the late 12th century. He was Russia’s “knight in shining armor” and his valor was only surpassed by his virtue. He was only four when Ghengis Khan first rolled into Western Europe. While conquered by the Khan, the land was left mostly free, but heavily taxed. Nevsky was still a teen when his father became Grand Prince of Kiev. Alexander was thus left in charge of Novgorod.

The Germans and Swedes were invading, encouraged by the Roman Catholic Pope who hoped to convert the area to Roman Catholicism. Nevsky was pivotal to the defense of the area. Fierce battles were fought on the shores, but the invaders were repelled. He impressed the Khan with his courage, bowing before him and refusing to bow to any other gods. Nevsky was glorified or made a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. His feast day, November 23, is the date on which he died.

A movie was made about his life in 1938. Aleksandr Nevskiy was written by Sergie M. Eisenstein and Pyotr Pavlenko. The title role was played by Nikolai Cherkasov. Produced by Soviet Russia, it ran for 112 minutes, but only 90 minuets for the French version. Filmed in black and white by Mosfilm, the movie was made in Moscow. One particularly chilling scene was inspired by D.W. Griffith’s film Way Down East. During a battle scene, Nevsky is chased over a large river of melting ice, heading toward a waterfall.

God is not in might but in Truth. ‘Some trust in princes and some in horses, but we will call upon the Lord our God.’  – Alexander Nevsky

O King, I bow before you because God has favored you with authority, but I shall not bow before any created thing. I serve the One God. Him alone do I honor and Him alone do I worship. – Alexander Nevsky

I haven’t come to Novgorod as a lover, but as a military commander! – Alexander Nevsky, from the movie

The strength of a sword is measured by the arm that wields it! – Alexander Nevsky, from the movie

Also on this day:

And leave the driving to us! – In 1914 Carl Wickman begins busing.
Amelia – In 1932, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
Bobby Franks – In 1924, Loeb and Leopold committed a murder.

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