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Grand Princes of Tver (Великое княжество Тверское) 1247–1485

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The Grand Princes of Tver (Тверь).

From Yaroslav to Mikhail III the Exile


The Grand Duchy of Tver (Russian: Великое княжество Тверское), north of Moscow, was a powerful medieval state. The first written record of Tver is dated 1135. Originally a minor settlement of Novgorodian traders, it passed to the Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1209. In 1247, Alexander Nevsky granted it to his younger brother Yaroslav Yaroslavich, from whom a dynasty of local princes descended. Four of them were killed by the Golden Horde and were 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 young cities, so the outcome of their rivalry was far from being certain.

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 Dmitry "the Terrible Eyes" succeeded him, and, concluding an alliance with the mighty Grand Duchy of Lithuania, managed to raise Tver's prestige even higher. Exasperated by Dmitry's influence, Prince Ivan Kalita of Moscow engineered his murder by the Mongols in 1326. On hearing the news of this crime, the city revolted against the Horde. The latter joined its forces 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 Kholmsky, asserted their claims to the grand ducal throne. The claimants were backed up by Moscow and eventually settled at the Moscow Kremlin court. During the Great Feudal War in Muscovy, Tver once again rose to prominence and concluded defensive alliances with Lithuania, Novgorod, Byzantium, and the Golden Horde. Grand Prince Boris of Tver sent one of his men, Afanasiy Nikitin, to search for gold and diamonds as far as India. Nikitin's travelogue, describing his journey from 1466 to 1472, is probably the first ever firsthand account of India by a European.

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.

Grand Princes of Tver

Yaroslav of Tver, 1247–1271

Sviatoslav of Tver, 1271–1285

Michael the Saint, 1285–1318

Dmitry the Terrible Eyes, 1318–1326

Alexander I of Tver, 1326–1328

Konstantin of Tver, 1328–1338

Alexander I of Tver, (2nd time) 1338-1339

Konstantin of Tver, (2nd time) 1339-1346

Vsevolod of Tver, 1346–1349

Vasily of Kashin, 1349–1368

Mikhail II of Tver, 1368–1399

Ivan of Tver, 1399–1425

Alexander II of Tver, 1425

Yury of Tver, 1425

Boris the Great, 1425–1461

Mikhail III the Exile, 1461–1485

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