Concept

Life of Alexander Nevsky

Résumé
Life of Alexander Nevsky (Житие Александра Невского, Zhitiye Aleksandra Nevskovo) is a Russian literary work of the late 13th and early 14th centuries. It describes the life and achievements of Alexander Nevsky, a Russian ruler and a military leader, who defended the northern borders of Rus against the Swedish invasion, defeated the Teutonic knights at the Lake Chud in 1242 and paid a few visits to Batu Khan to protect the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality from the Khazar raids. The work is filled with 'patriotic spirit' and achieves a 'high degree of artistic expressiveness' in its description of Alexander's heroic deeds and those of his warriors. Iurii Begunov (1965), basing himself on thirteen stand-alone manuscripts, dated the first redaction of the Life of Alexander Nevsky to the 1280s, hypothesising that it had been composed in the Rozhdestvensky (Nativity) monastery in Vladimir-on-Kliazma. Begunov reasoned that during this recension, a passage was added mentioning that metropolitan Kirill II of Kiev declared that "the sun has set in the Suzdalian Land" at Nevsky's funeral. According to scholar Donald Ostrowski (2008), the original text of the Life of Alexander Nevsky was a secular military narrative, written by a layman in the late 13th century, who made no mention of "the Suzdalian Land", nor of "the Rus' Land". Some hagiographic motifs would be inserted by a cleric a century later, but still no reference to "Suzdalian/Rus' Land". Ostrowski argued that the earliest redaction of the Life should be dated to the mid-15th century, because it used the Novgorod First Chronicle Older Recension as a source. It would be this editor who added an allusion to Volodimer I of Kiev's conversion of "the Rus' Land", and two mentions of "the Suzdalian Land", one of them the setting sun passage.
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