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 History Illustrated history of St. Petersburg: Page 2 


The beginning...

The lands along the Neva River have belonged to the Ancient Russian state since at least the 9th century. However, throughout history these lands have had a mixed population of Slavs, Finns and other ethnic groups. From at least the ninth century this area was part of of Novgorod. Novgorod was an important center of international and domestic trade and craftsmanship. Novgorod merchants traded with Western and Northern Europe and later with the towns of the Hanseatic League. All that trade went through the Neva River and through Lake Ladoga. In 1240, when most of Southern and Central Russia was fighting the Mongol invasion, a Swedish force landed at the banks of the Neva River.


The Novgorod troops of Prince Alexander went out to meet the foe and on July 15, 1240 fought the battle of Neva (Nevskaya Bitva). The Russians successfully launched a surprise attack and were victorious. This battle became a symbol of Russia's dramatic fight for independence and Prince Alexander was given the name Alexander Nevsky (i.e. Alexander of Neva). Prince Alexander was then declared a Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church for his efforts to protect Russia and its Christian faith. Old picture of battle at Neva river (Later, in the 18th century, he was proclaimed the patron saint of St. Petersburg - Peter the Great's "paradise" on the Neva).

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