Prince Alexander Nevsky (1220-1263), a great Russian military commander, played an outstanding role in the Russian history when his country was attacked by the Catholic Western Europe and Mongol Tartars.
Alexander was born in Pereslavl-Zalessky. At the age of 14 the prince made his first military campaign against the Livonian Germans, at the age of 20 he, along with a small force, defeated Swedish knights at Neva and he gained his title of Nevsky. Two years later the famous Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus took place. The prince refused a demand from the pope to enter Catholicism and made the invaders sign a treaty of peace which helped to preserve the Russian land and religion.
Alexander Nevsky, never lost a battle in his life, however, he also proved his diplomatic talent as he submitted to the inevitable rule of the Golden Horde, thus preventing ruinous attacks of Mongol Tatars on Rus. The great Russian prince was canonized in 1547.
Pleshcheyevo Lake is one of the biggest lakes in European Russia and there, in 1152, the Russian Prince Yuri the Long Arms founded the town of Pereslavl-Zalessky.
Peter the Great chose this lake for building the shipyard that constructed the first “toy” fleet. Peter himself supervised all shipbuilding works; among them the construction of the shipyard itself, as well as studying the shipbuilding skills learnt from Dutch craftsmen. Peter even did the work of a basic carpenter.
In the summer of 1692 the 100 ship fleet was launched on the lake with each ship armed with artillery and manned with crew. The Pereslavl-Zalessky “toy” fleet was an important first step on the long journey towards the creation of the regular Russian Navy. Only two of the ships which witnessed how Russia came into being as a sea power, have survived. One of them is the boat of Peter the Great in St-Petersburg, and the other is the boat “Fortune” from the “toy” fleet in Pereslavl-Zalessky.