I love to find the small areas of history that few people know about. A Medieval Russian butt kicker by the name of Alexander Nevsky isn’t exactly something that is taught in public schools. The few Americans that give two cents about ole Nevsky are one that have seen the old movie. The movie was filmed right before the Russians signed the peace treaty with Nazi Germany, so the movie wasn’t shown in Russia…until Germany attacked Russian and then the movie was shown in every Ruskie theater. After all, it’s a story about brave Russians fighting off a Germanic invasion. Germans are the bad guys in a lot of movies. Hmmm…funny.
Alexander Nevsky was a prince of Novgorod at a time when Russian was in a pretty bad shape. The Mongols and their Golden Horde were pulling an extortion racket on Russia, forcing the to pay protection money or they’d break Russia’s knees. Unfortunately the protection money didn’t work against Europeans because they were constantly threatened by Swedes. Nevsky, while still a young man, led a preemptive attack against the Swedes and basically caught them with their pants down at the battle of Neva. He was 19 at the time and earned him a nickname after the battle, “Nevsky.” This gained him some street cred with the Russians and the city of Novgorod asked him to come and be their leader. Impressing a whole city of Russians has to be a pretty big achievement.
Then, in a story that would be repeated a few more times, western Europe decided to invade Russia. That’s worse than dealing with a scicilian, when death is on the line.
This time, the part of “Idiot” was played by a Germanic order of murderous monks, the Livonian Order of Teutonic knights. These guys spent their days praying, practicing and killing. Not necessarily in that order. These guys were seriously high speed, low drag dedicated killaz.
Alexander Nevsky then has to argue with the local nobles to convince them that they might want to try defending themselves instead of hiding under their beds. He assembles all his comrades and they bring their comrades and they pull out all their Glocks from their waistbands and get ready for a rumble.
Alexander notices that these mean helmeted Germans are a bit arrogant so he calls them bad names to tick them off and lures them to an icy lake. The Livonian killer monks follow the Vodka drinking knights onto the lake and they begin to throw down.
Well, the Russians start beating the Germans pretty soundly and the Germans fall back to a rather unfortunate side of the lake…the side where the ice was thin. The ice broke and the local Russians were picking out frozen Germans for the next few years when they went fishing. What was impressive about the battle was that the Russians were just a bunch of peasants fighting on foot against fully armored and highly trained knights. Superior equipment and numbers just aint enough to defeat the Russians no matter what time period. Isn’t that right Napoleon? Hitler? Eh? Suckers. At least these Teutonic monks didn’t have to worry about not having proper winter clothing. Have to look on the bright side, right?
Meanwhile, Rome kept trying to muscle in on their turf to convert them to Catholicism, but by this time the Russians were fully converted to Orthodoxy so they told the Pope to bugger off. Alexander made nice nice with the Khan of the Golden Horde so if Catholic Europe tried that crap again, they’d get a beat down, Mongol style.