Mikhail was the son of Grand Prince Yaroslav III of Russia, and came to the Grand Prince's throne in 1304 on the death of his cousin Andrei III. He had previously been prince of the city of Tver, and it was not a foregone conclusion that he would be the next Grand Prince. On Andrei's death, Mikhail and his cousin the later Yuri III of Moscow both went to see the Mongols who ruled over Russia to ask to be confirmed as Grand Prince. Mikhail got there first and gave a lot of gifts to the Khan, and received the title (the Mongols didn't much care who ruled as long as they got their tribute).

Yuri was never completely happy with this, and eventually rose up against Mikhail in 1317. Yuri was defeated at the battle of Bortenevo, but Mikhail made the mistake of capturing Yuri's wife, the Khan's sister, and keeping her as a hostage. When she died in captivity, the Mongols were suddenly willing to support Yuri, and they defeated Mikhail and executed him. Yuri III became Grand Prince.

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