Grand Duke of Lithuania, King of Poland. He was born into the royal line of Jagiellon as the fourth son of Casimir IV Jagiellon, the Great Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. Upon the death of Casimir IV in 1492, he was Crowned the Grand Duke of Lithuania; upon the death of his older brother, John I Albert in 1501, he was crowned the King of Poland and Holy Polish Emperor. Since he, as a young man, had to depend on the Polish government for his income, he was literally financially destitute and in the position of a servant of the Polish government for his support until he was crowned. During his reign, he banned the Jewish residents from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and confiscated their possessions. On February 15, 1495, he married Helena Riurik, daughter of Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow in Vilnius, Lithuania. Although his bride did not offer much of a dowry, he loved her as she was very beautiful, well-educated and twenty years his junior. His father-in-law demanded that a Russian Eastern Orthodox Church be built for her to worship; later, this church developed into a community of this faith. Since Ivan III demanded many limitations from Helena, there were problems between his wife and his parents along with many of his subjects. In the end, she was never crowned his queen as she did not convert from the Russian Eastern Orthodoxy to Catholicism of Poland; she was referred to as “his wife” and not the Queen of Poland. This marriage gave Ivan III an opportunity to interfere in Lithuanian affairs by accusing Alexander of mistreating Helena, repressing Orthodox believers, and thus, declaring war upon his son-in-law’s country. Unlike like his father, Alexander was not a strong, successful ruler. The Russian forces battled his Lithuanian army at Battle of the Vedrosha River in 1500 with over 8,000 Lithuanians being killed, and many more were taken prisoner, including the king's noted military officer, Prince Konstantin Ostrogsk, who was held for three years. After the battle, the Lithuanians lost the possibility for military initiative and restricted themselves to defensive actions. Alexander employed his wife to appeal to her father, the Grand Duke Ivan II of Moscow, for peace. A six-year truce was granted, but Lithuania had to surrender about a third of its territory to the open the expansion of the Russian state. In June 1505, Alexander suffered a stroke which paralyzed his left side; that October, Ivan III died. The next spring, his health declined; he prepared for his younger brother, Sigismund I the Old, to become king, and he prepared for his wife after his death. Most sources state his had no heirs. In 1931, during the refurbishment of Vilnius Cathedral, his forgotten sarcophagus was discovered by Juliusz Klos and Professor Stanisław, and has since been put on display. Some sources say that he was the last monarch to use the Lithuania language. Today, there are coins with his profile and a goblet that survived her reign.
Bio by: Linda Davis