Yuri II was the son of Grand Prince Vsevolod III of Russia. He came to the throne in 1212 on his father's death and like his father, ruled from the city of Vladimir to the north instead of the traditional southeastern Russian capital of Kiev.

Before his father's death, Yuri had been made heir to Vladimir rather than his older brother Konstantin, a source of great friction between the two. It took until 1217 before Yuri and Konstantin actually made peace (some listings consider Konstantin to have been in effect Grand Prince for a couple of years) and Konstantin's descendants were granted the right to rule the city of Rostov.

Yuri's reign was quite difficult; the Poles, Hungarians/Magyars, Polovtsi and Bulgars all pressed in on Russia and Yuri barely managed to fight them off for the years of his reign. A new enemy emerged in the 1220s and 1230s -- the Mongols, or Tatars, from the east, conquering all that they could reach under the rule of Genghis Khan and his successors. In 1238, the Mongols reached Vladimir and Yuri died in battle with them. He was succeeded by his brother Yaroslav II.

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