The Nativity Monastery in Vladimir was founded in 1191, about the same time as Assumption Cathedral and St. Demetrius Cathedral, the main sacred places of Vladimir.
By the end of the 12 century in the conditions of feudal division the Grand Duchy of Vladimir reached the peak of its power, so the Grand Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest decided to found the monasteries, which could spread their influence on the other Russian lands.
Within the walls of the Vladimir Kremlin there was built a rather modest monastery with a single-domed cathedral, which was consecrated in honor of the Nativity of Our Lady. For centuries the chronicles of the ancient Rus were kept at the Nativity Monastery. As is known, it was there that the monk Laurentius lived who was the author of the Laurentian Chronicle.
Since 1230 the monastery was headed not by hegumens but archimandrites, and the metropolitan Maximus even moved the primatial cathedra from Kiev to Vladimir in 1299. So the Nativity Monastery became the residence of the Russian Orthodox Church, that is, the center of the Russian Orthodoxy. However, this didn’t last for a long time. Moscow principality gained strength and under Ivan Kalita the metropolitan cathedra was moved to Moscow in 1328.
However, the Nativity Monastery in Vladimir remained one of the main monasteries in Russia up to 1561 when the rank of Lavra (monastery of the highest rank) was given to the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad.
The Grand Duke Alexander Nevsky was buried at the Nativity Monastery in 1263. But in 1720, after the Alexander Nevsky Lavra was finished in St. Petersburg, his relics were moved there, but the Nativity Monastery still remained the third important monastery in Russia.