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Tver

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Tver's coat of arms depicts grand ducal crown placed on a throne.

Tver (Russian: Тверь) is a Russian city, center of Tver Oblast. Formerly the capital of a powerful medieval state and the model provinical town of Imperial Russia, it has a population of 453,000 (as of 2003). Tver is located at Template:Coor dm, at the confluence of Volga and Tvertsa rivers.

Contents

Medieval origins

The first written record of Tver is dated to 1164. Originally a minor settlement of Novgorodian traders, it passed to the Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1209. In 1246, Alexander Nevsky granted it to his younger brother Yaroslav (+1271), from whom descends a dynasty of local princes. Four of them were killed in the Golden Horde and proclaimed saints by the Russian Orthodox church.

Formerly a land of woods and bogs, the Tver principality was quickly transformed into one of the richest and most populous Russian states. As the area was hardly accessible for Tatar raids, there was a great influx of population from the recently devastated South. By the end of the century, it was ready to vie with Moscow for supremacy in Russia. Both Tver and Moscow were the young cities, so the outcome of their rivalry was far from being certain.

Grand princedom

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17th-century icon of St Michael of Tver, slain by the Mongols, holding the town of Tver in his hands.

Mikhail of Tver, who ascended the throne of Vladimir in 1305, was one of the most beloved of medieval Russian rulers. His policy of open conflict with the Golden Horde led to his assassination there in 1318. His son Alexander "the Terrible Eyes" succeeded him, and, concluding an alliance with the mighty Lithuania, managed to rise Tver's prestige even higher.

Exasperated by Alexander's influence, prince Yury of Moscow engineered his murder by the Mongols in 1327. On hearing the news of this crime, the city revolted against the Horde. The latter joined its forced with Muscovites and brutally repressed the rebellion. Many citizens were killed, enslaved, or deported. This was the fatal blow to Tver's pretensions for supremacy in Russia.

In the second half of the 14th century, Tver was further weakened by dynastic struggles between its princes. Two senior branches of the ruling house, those of Kashin and Kholm, asserted their claims to the grand ducal throne. The claimants were backed up by Moscow and eventually settled at the Kremlin court.

During the Great Feudal War in Muscovy, Tver once again rised to prominence and concluded defensive alliances with Lithuania, Novgorod, Byzantium, and the Horde. Grand Prince Boris of Tver sent one of his men, Afanasiy Nikitin, to search gold and diamonds as far as India. Nikitin's travelogue, describing his journey from 1466 to 1477, is probably the first ever first-hand account of India by an European. A monument to Nikitin was opened on the Volga embankment in 1955.

Later history

At last, on September 12, 1485, the forces of Ivan the Great seized the city. The principality was given as an appanage to Ivan's grandson, only to be abolished several decades later. Last scions of the ruling dynasty were executed by Ivan the Terrible during the Oprichnina.

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Tverplaza.jpg
Following a great fire of 1763, the city was rebuilt in Neoclassical style.

The city's decline was not irrevocable, however. With the foundation of St Petersburg, Tver gained importance as a principal station on the highway (and later railway) from Moscow to St Petersburg. It was much visited by Russian royalty and nobility travelling from the old capital to the new one and back.

Under Catherine the Great, the downtown was thoroughly reconstructed. Crumbling medieval edifices were razed and replaced with imposing Neoclassical structures. The most important of these are the Travel Palace of the Empress (designed by the celebrated Matvey Kazakov), and the Ascension church (designed by Prince Lvov and consecrated in 1813).

In 1931, the city was renamed Kalinin, after a notable Soviet leader Mikhail Kalinin. A last vestige of pre-Petrine epoch, the Saviour Cathedral, was blown up in 1936. The Wehrmacht occupied Kalinin for 2 months in 1941, leaving the city in ashes. The historic name of Tver was restored in 1990.

Apart from the suburban White Trinity Church (1564), there are no ancient monuments left in Tver. The downtown is graced with Catharinian and Soviet edifices, bridges and embankments. Tver's most notable industry is a railroad cars plant, opened in 1898.

External links

nds:Twer ja:トヴェリ os:Тверь ru:Тверь

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