Table of contents:

Rogvolodovich, not Rurikovich: Why Prince Yaroslav the Wise did not love the Slavs and did not spare his brothers
Rogvolodovich, not Rurikovich: Why Prince Yaroslav the Wise did not love the Slavs and did not spare his brothers

In the official historiography, Yaroslav the Wise has long presented itself as an almost sinless ruler, the creator of legality in the Russian lands. In our time, he is already accused of sending several of his brothers to the next world in order to occupy the Kiev throne. But was it only the desire for power that drove Prince Yaroslav? If you look at the history of his family, then everything that happens is more like revenge … to his father. Bloody revenge for a bloody crime.

Viking time

The second half of the first millennium is the period when the Vikings and Russia (that is, the Scandinavians walking by sea or on oars) moved from robbery and service at foreign courts to seizing land in the south and establishing new dynasties. The power of immigrants from the north was established in Normandy (part of France), Friesland (modern Netherlands), on the Orkney Islands (now part of Great Britain), in the lands of the Ilmen Slavs and Finno-Ugrians (Ladoga and present-day Novgorod the Great), in Kiev and Polotsk. It is not surprising that the chronicler Nestor writes: the general name of the Russian land originated from the Varangians, they say. Before the newcomers from the north, such a word did not exist: there was no single common land and there was no one to name it after. This word then had nothing to do with modern Russians as a people.

Scandinavian drakkars sailed not only the seas, but also the rivers. Dane Wilhelm Thomsen argued that the word rus came from the name of the oarsmen among the Finns, through whose lands the Scandinavians penetrated into the Slavic lands. The chronicler Nestor also claims that the Russian land was named after the Varangians who ruled it. Painting by Konstantin Cherepanov

Although initially no less than three different Varangian families established power in the lands of the Eastern Slavs and Finno-Ugrians, over time all of them were seized by the family known to us as the Rurikovichs. However, it is possible that Rurik himself was not the founder of the dynasty - there is no exact historical evidence. But it is known that the grandfather and grandmother of Prince Vladimir bore the Scandinavian names Igor and Olga and are mentioned in more or less contemporary Byzantine papers.

The first of the foreign territories in the power of the Rurikovich was Kiev - it was also captured by Igor's mentor (and, possibly, uncle), Oleg. The one who is called the Prophetic. Vladimir continued the work of Oleg, capturing Polotsk, where the Varangian Rogvolod (Ryongvald) was the prince in the first generation. As a matter of fact, the same processes were going on in the Scandinavian lands: instead of many small princedoms, the kings tried to collect one large kingdom, so what was happening in the "Russian lands" was simply part of this big process.

Nobody knows who and how ruled the glades, Drevlyans, Slovenians and Krivichs before Prince Igor, Vladimir's grandfather. The new dynasty erased the memory of the Slavic predecessors. Prophetic Oleg in the painting by Viktor Vasnetsov

Vladimir also not so easily received his title of Grand Duke of Kiev, that is, the prince not only of Kiev, but also of the lands subject to him, which stretched north to Novgorod, to the northeast - to Rostov, that is, for the future Moscow. The vastness of the possession of the Rurikids exceeded any territory of the Western Scandinavian dynasties. Not wanting to share these territories, Vladimir's brother Yaropolk started a war with their common brother Oleg. While civil strife was going on, Vladimir urgently fled from Novgorod, where he reigned, for Varangian help and returned with an army of Scandinavians.

After killing his brother and seizing the Kiev throne, Vladimir moved to Polotsk. There he not only killed the prince and princess, but before their very eyes, he first raped their daughter and heiress, Rogneda. She was supposed to become the wife of his brother, which would allow the Rurikovichs to annex Polotsk to their lands - and as a result became the wife of Vladimir, and, I must say, Vladimir chose all his wives and mistresses for himself in approximately this way. Without asking for consent.

So, Rogneda did not forgive him. After many years, she tried to kill her husband, plucking up courage - but failed, and he almost killed her himself. Spared for the sake of common children, sending them away. The eldest son of Rogneda became the prince of Polotsk. His name was Izyaslav. And the third son's name was Yaroslav. And after many centuries he will be called the Wise.

Izyaslav protects his mother from Vladimir. In fact, since the prince had just spent the night in Rogneda's bed, both of them should not be so tightly dressed

When the family has problems

Vladimir differed from other Rurikovichs (or Igorevichs, or Svyatoslavichs) in that he was conceived from a Slavic slave. The Varangian nobility, who lived in full in the west of the lands of the prince of Kiev, he was a stranger, and they did not forget to remind him of this. When he himself wooed Rogneda, she laughed at his claims, calling him the son of a slave.

Vladimir was also raised by a Slav, the brother of his mother Dobrynya. By the way, it was his idea to rape Rogneda in front of his parents. Morals were wild, and perhaps both Dobrynya and Vladimir were psychopaths by nature. Although Vladimir received the Kievan throne thanks to the Scandinavian squad, he then relied on the locals, for whom he had to be more or less his own, and actively encouraged the Slavs and Finno-Ugric peoples. He was proud of his blood and regularly endowed all his sons with princely thrones in the lands subject to him. True, sometimes it looked like a link.

The princes of the ancient Russian lands from small nails represented their fathers in distant lands. Illustration by Denis Gordeev

Yaroslav, the son of Rogneda, as if Vladimir was not very successful. Although outwardly he, dark-haired, nosed, most likely resembled his father, he was lame and sullen in nature. At the age of about ten years, he turned out to be Prince of Rostov - that is, somewhere as far as possible from both his father and mother, literally on the outskirts. Naturally, in reality it was not Yaroslav who ruled, but the father's man, the Slavic warrior Budy.

Later, according to custom, Yaroslav became the prince of Novgorod - that was a sign that he would be able to inherit the Kiev throne in the future. However, in Novgorod, Yaroslav began to behave suspiciously. He refused to settle in the Gorodishche, where the Rurikovichs traditionally lived, and settled directly in the city, leaving from under the supervision of people loyal to Vladimir. He began to actively communicate with Varangian merchants. And, finally, he married a noble Norwegian woman named Anna, who had her own squad headed by a certain Eimund (possibly her relative). All this began to resemble the preparation of a coup based on the Norwegian diaspora of the Russian lands.

Vladimir himself once used the Varangians to stage a coup. Yaroslav's Norwegian squad made him nervous

The eldest son, Svyatopolk, also gave Vladimir a headache. His mother was the widow of Yaropolk, a Greek Christian woman, whom Vladimir, having killed his brother, dragged into his harem. Is it surprising that it was revealed that Svyatopolk entered into a conspiracy with his father-in-law, the Polish prince Boleslav, and he was preparing to enter the principality of Kiev with several hundred knights - and even for this he made peace with all his neighbors for the first time in many years? Svyatopolk was thrown into prison, but the heir was appointed not the next in seniority Yaroslav, but one of the younger sons of Vladimir - Boris. In fact, Yaroslav was informed by this that his conspiracy had been revealed.

Capture of the Kiev throne

Events further unfolded rapidly. Yaroslav refused to pay tribute to the prince of Kiev, which in fact was a declaration of the independence of the Novgorod principality. Vladimir sent Boris with his troops to conquer Novgorod. Boris was distracted by the raid of the Pechenegs - he had to fight. Meanwhile, Vladimir - perhaps from all these experiences due to ungrateful children - died, as his sister, daughter of Rogneda Predslava, immediately wrote to Yaroslav.

Svyatopolk buries Vladimir

The letter arrived just in time. The fact is that Eymund and his squad got into the habit of grabbing married ladies on the streets of Novgorod. Yaroslav could not do anything about it - he was not the owner of Eimund, and a riot broke out in Novgorod. But, as soon as the Novgorodians learned about the death of Vladimir, and everyone immediately reconciled. The holiday was too big to quarrel.

Meanwhile, in Kiev, the people celebrating the death of Vladimir released the traitor Svyatopolk from prison and told him, well, this Boris, rule us.From the reaction of the population of the two cities, one can easily guess how much Vladimir was loved by his subjects. Even after he, having been baptized, gave up old fun (and began new ones - in the war with pagan subjects), they did not forget the old one. Many women wept for dishonor in his harem.

Vladimir's fame with regard to his actions with women was so good that Princess Anna, whom he demanded as a trophy, attacking Byzantium, sobbed, intending to marry him, and argued that even death is better.But with her, Vladimir settled down

For Yaroslav, however, any son of Vladimir not from Rogneda was the son of Vladimir, not Rogvolodovich. Yaroslav himself, by all indications, sharply separated himself from the other Rurikovichs and adhered to his maternal origin, up to the constant preference for the Scandinavians in everything. Since Eymund more or less cooperated only with Anna, Yaroslav, Eymund and Anna, together with the Novgorod militia, moved to Kiev, collided with the German knights of Boleslav on the way and lost.

Boleslav, who in many ways resembled Vladimir, took both Anna and Yaroslav's sister Predslava into his harem and decided to rule Kiev himself. But the people of Kiev did not like this, and Boleslav with all the living and inanimate prey had to flee to Poland. Yaroslav became the prince of Kiev. But what happened to the other contenders for the Kiev throne - the sons of Vladimir Svyatopolk, Boris, Gleb and Mstislav? They all died mysteriously. Boris and Gleb were killed, Svyatopolk disappeared, on whom, of course, all the murders were hung. Mstislav, who first conquered Chernigov for himself, nevertheless recognized Yaroslav over himself, but soon died while hunting.

It wasn't just Robert Baratheon who died on the hunt

Secret Revenge Case

Since fratricides had already taken place on the lands subject to Kiev, no one was surprised when they announced that Svyatopolk had killed Boris and Gleb and fled to Poland. Yaroslav calmly continued to rule from Novgorod and secured the support of the Scandinavians by marrying the Swedish princess Ingigerda. The new princess was distinguished by good manners, she was kind - she constantly welcomed fugitive princes of different lands; after her they gave Ladoga as a dowry, from which Oleg's advance to the south once began, and Rogvolod's cousin with an army to keep Ladoga. But once Ingigerda showed herself not at all kind: she began to incite Yaroslav to kill Eimund.

Such a dislike for the Norwegian governor could, at first glance, be explained either by jealousy of Anna, who had been taken prisoner for a long time, or by the fact of the recent war between the Swedes and the Norwegians. But Eymund went out, reached Scandinavia and gave, so to speak, his own testimony.

The murder of Gleb

And according to these testimonies, it turned out that it was he, Eymund, who was already in the paid service of Prince Yaroslav (the money for his hiring after the hijacking of Anna was collected by all Novgorod), who killed Boris and Svyatopolk, the seed of Vladimir, those who were Rurikovich, and not Rogvolodovich. Probably Ingigerda tried to eliminate him precisely as an unnecessary witness threatening her husband's power. By the way, it is the fact that only after the clash with Boleslav Eimund began to get paid, but he collaborated with Yaroslav even before that, indirectly confirms the hypothesis that Yaroslav's first wife was a noble Norwegian.

Most likely, he killed Yaroslav and Gleb, and Mstislav. Death on the hunt - what could be more traditional? But at the same time, Yaroslav did not touch a hair from the head of the offspring of Rogneda, the Rogvolodovichs, who still ruled Polotsk, and never once encroached on the Polotsk lands. In this case, the successive murder of the sons of Vladimir, man after man, was the destruction of his seed for desecration of Rogneda - to which, by the way, all or almost all of the children and grandchildren of Rogneda ranked themselves as one, refusing to recognize themselves as Vladimir's successors.

Yaroslav did not touch the princes of Polotsk, although he killed all the other princes of Vladimirov's seed

Yaroslav took revenge on Vladimir for the murder of Rogvolod and his wife, for desecration of his mother, for the probable murder of his own son Izyaslav, both scary and sophisticated - not only trampling his offspring, but also elevating Rogvolodovich to the throne instead of one of the Rurikovichs. By the way, Yaroslav entered Kiev only after he killed Vladimir's last son, Mstislav. As if he gave a vow.

After his terrible revenge, Yaroslav ruled for a long time, raised many of his own and other people's children (yes, those endless princes who were given shelter by his wife, too), wrote a code of laws and consistently redrew his vast domains: he squeezed the Slavic population of the Novgorod principality to the east under the Scandinavians where the Slovenes, in turn, assimilated and squeezed out the Finno-Ugric local population, which too tenaciously held on to the ancestral faith unfavorable to the prince; fought with the Finno-Ugric peoples in the north; drove peasants from Poland for resettlement in their lands after the Pechenezh raids.

So they didn’t remember him by killing four of their brothers. As a matter of fact, since the annals are written by the victors, the murderer was the mysteriously disappeared Svyatopolk, whom, according to the chronicler, the Lord himself then punished with a terrible disease. And he became Cursed in the history of the Russian lands. And Yaroslav is Wise.

Yaroslav married his children with any foreigners, and never with the local Slavic nobility, as if after Vladimir the Slavs annoyed him. And for a long time then the rulers of the ancient Russian principalities took their wives either from their own, Rurikovich, or from distant lands - just not with the local nobility. German, Polish, English and Swedish: Where did the Russian princes look for wives?.

Popular by topic