Yaroslav II of Vladimir

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Yaroslav II (Russian: Яросла́в II Все́володович), Christian name Theodor (Феодо́р) (February 8, 1191September 30, 1246), was the Grand Prince of Vladimir (1238–1246) who helped to restore his country and capital after the Mongol invasion of Russia.

Yaroslav was the fourth son of Vsevolod the Big Nest. In 1200, he was sent by his father to rule the town of Pereyaslav near the Kypchak steppes. Six years later, he was summoned by Halychian boyars to rule their city, but could not effectively claim the throne. Thereupon he was sent to take Ryazan, but the stubborn opposition of inhabitants led to the city being burnt. In 1209, Vsevolod sent Yaroslav to oppose Mstislav the Bold in Novgorod. After several battles, two princes made peace, whereby Yaroslav married Mstislav's daughter.

Upon his deathbed, Vsevolod the Big Nest bequeathed to him Pereslavl-Zalessky. In the conflict of his elder brothers Konstantin and Yuri, Yaroslav supported the latter. In 1215, he accepted the offer of Novgorodians to become their prince but, desiring revenge for their former treachery, captured Torzhok and blocked its supplies of grain to Novgorod. Several months later, he was defeated by his father-in-law on the Lipitsa River and had to retreat to Pereslavl.

In 1222, Yaroslav, finally enthroned in Novgorod, overran all of Estonia and besieged its capital Kolyvan. Two years later, he devastated Finland and baptised Karelia. His next ambition was to subjugate Pskov, but the Novgorodians refused to make war against its neighbour. Yaroslav departed in anger and seized the Novgorodian enclave of Volokolamsk. In 1234, he returned to Novgorod and several years later defeated its chief enemies—Lithuanians and Teutonic Knights. In 1236, he followed Danylo of Halych's advise and moved from Novgorod to Kiev, leaving his son Alexander as his representative in the north.

In 1238, when the Mongols first invaded Russia and his elder brother Yuri was killed in battle, Yaroslav left Kiev for Vladimir, where he was presently crowned grand duke. Yaroslav attempted to restore the cities of Vladimir-Suzdal after the Mongol ravages and fires. In 1243, he was summoned by Batu Khan to his capital Sarai. After lengthy conference, he returned to Vladimir with honours. Two years later, he was again summoned to the east, this time by Güyük Khan in Karakorum. There he was poisoned by the khan's wife and died a week after he had been allowed to return home.

By his third marriage to a princess of Ryazan, he had several sons. The eldest, Alexander Nevsky, began the line of princes of Moscow. The third, Andrew, founded the House of Nizhny Novgorod. Younger sons authored the princely dynasties of Tver and Galich.

Preceded by
Yuri II
Grand Prince of Vladimir
Succeeded by
Sviatoslav III