Vladimir the Great


Vladimir I or Volodymyr I ( orv, Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь, ''Volodiměrъ Svętoslavičь''; ''Uladzimir'', russian: Владимир ''Vladimir'', uk, Володимир ''Volodymyr''. See
Vladimir (name) Vladimir (russian: Влади́мир) is a male Slavic given name Given names originating from the Slavic languages are most common in Slavic peoples, Slavic countries. The main types of Slavic names: * Two-basic names, often ending in mir/m ...
for details. russian: Владимир Святославич, ''Vladimir Svyatoslavich''; uk, Володимир Святославич, ''Volodymyr Sviatoslavych'';
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and t ...
''Valdamarr gamli''; c. 95815 July 1015), called the Great, was
Prince of NovgorodThe Prince of Novgorod (russian: Князь новгородский, ''knyaz novgorodskii'') was the chief executive of Republic of Novgorod. The office was originally an appointed one until the late eleventh or early twelfth century, then became s ...
Grand Prince of Kiev Grand Prince of Kiev (sometimes Grand Duke of Kiev) was the title of the prince of Kiev (Kyiv) and the ruler of Kievan Rus' from the 10th to 13th centuries. In the 13th century, Kiev became an appanage principality first of the Grand Duke of Vladim ...
, and ruler of
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose of , and in and from the late 9th to the mid-13th century,John Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia'' (Penguin, 1995), p.16.Sviatoslav I of Kiev Sviatoslav I Igorevich ( Old East Slavic: Ст҃ославъ / Свѧтославъ Игорєвичь, ''Svętoslavŭ Igorevičǐ''; russian: Святослав Игоревич; uk, Святослав Ігорович, translit=Sviatoslav Ih ...
of the
Rurik dynasty The Rurik dynasty ( be, Ру́рыкавічы, Rúrykavichy; russian: Рю́риковичи, Ryúrikovichi, ; uk, Рю́риковичі, Riúrykovychi; literally "sons/scions of Rurik"), also known as the Rurikid dynasty or Rurikids, was a no ...
. After the death of his father in 972, Vladimir, who was then prince of
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

, was forced to flee to
Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to , , and , sometimes more narrowly to the , or more broadly to include , th ...

in 976 after his brother
murdered his other brother Oleg of Drelinia and conquered Rus'. In
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's fo ...

, with the help of his relative
Ladejarl The Earls of Lade ( no, ladejarl (singular), ladejarler (plural); Old Norse language, Old Norse variant of Lade: ''Hlaðir'') were a dynasty of rulers of Earldom of Lade, present day Trøndelag and Hålogaland in Norway from the 9th century to th ...
Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, he assembled a Varangian army and reconquered
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

from Yaropolk. By 980, Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan Rus', Rus realm from modern-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarians, Baltic tribes and Eastern nomads. Originally a follower of Slavic paganism, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988 and Christianization of Kievan Rus', Christianized the Kievan Rus'. He is thus also known as Saint Vladimir.

Rise to power

Born in 958, Vladimir was the natural son and youngest son of
Sviatoslav I of Kiev Sviatoslav I Igorevich ( Old East Slavic: Ст҃ославъ / Свѧтославъ Игорєвичь, ''Svętoslavŭ Igorevičǐ''; russian: Святослав Игоревич; uk, Святослав Ігорович, translit=Sviatoslav Ih ...
by his housekeeper Malusha. Malusha is described in the Norse sagas as a prophetess who lived to the age of 100 and was brought from her cave to the palace to predict the future. Malusha's brother Dobrynya was Vladimir's tutor and most trusted advisor. Hagiographic tradition of dubious authenticity also connects his childhood with the name of his grandmother, Olga of Kiev, who was Christian and governed the capital during Sviatoslav's frequent military campaigns. Transferring his capital to Pereyaslavets in 969, Sviatoslav designated Vladimir ruler of Novgorod the Great but gave Kiev to his legitimate son Yaropolk of Kiev, Yaropolk. After Sviatoslav's death at the hands of the Pechenegs in 972, a fratricidal war erupted in 976 between Yaropolk and his younger brother Oleg of Drelinia, Oleg, ruler of the Drevlians. In 977, Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many Norsemen, Norse leidang, warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod. On his return the next year, he marched against Yaropolk. On his way to Kiev he sent ambassadors to Rogvolod (Norse: Ragnvald), prince of Polotsk, to sue for the hand of his daughter Rogneda of Polotsk, Rogneda (Norse: Ragnhild). The high-born princess refused to affiance herself to the son of a bondswoman (and was betrothed to Yaropolk), so Vladimir attacked Polotsk, slew Rogvolod, and took Ragnhild by force, slaying her parents. Polotsk was a key fortress on the way to Kiev, and capturing Polotsk and Smolensk facilitated the taking of Kiev in 978, where he slew Yaropolk by treachery and was proclaimed knyaz of all Kievan Rus.

Years of pagan rule

Vladimir continued to expand his territories beyond his father's extensive domain. In 981 he seized the Red Ruthenia, Cherven towns from the Poles; in 981–982 he suppressed a Vyatichi rebellion; in 983 he subdued the Yatvingians; in 984 he conquered the Radimichs; and in 985 he conducted a military campaign against the Volga Bulgaria, Volga Bulgars, planting numerous fortresses and colonies on his way. Although Christianity had spread in the region under Oleg's rule, Vladimir had remained a thoroughgoing pagan, taking eight hundred concubines (along with numerous wives) and erecting pagan statues and shrines to gods. He may have attempted to reform Slavic paganism in an attempt to identify himself with the various gods worshipped by his subjects. He built a pagan temple on a hill in Kiev dedicated to six gods: Perun—the god of thunder and war, "a Norse god favored by members of the prince’s druzhina (military retinue)"; Slav gods Stribog and Dažbog, Dazhd'bog; Mokosh—a goddess representing Mother Nature "worshipped by Finnish tribes"; Khors and Simargl, "both of which had Iranian origins, were included, probably to appeal to the Poliane." Open abuse of the deities that most people in Rus' revered triggered widespread indignation. A mob killed the Christian Fyodor and his son Ioann (later, after the overall Christianisation of Kievan Rus', people came to regard these two as the first Christian martyrs in Rus', and the Orthodox Church set a day to commemorate them, 25 July). Immediately after the murder of Fyodor and Ioann, early medieval Rus' saw persecutions against Christians, many of whom escaped or concealed their belief. However, Prince Vladimir mused over the incident long after, and not least for political considerations. According to the early Slavic chronicle, the Primary Chronicle, ''Tale of Bygone Years'', which describes life in Kievan Rus' up to the year 1110, he sent his envoys throughout the world to assess first-hand the major religions of the time: Islam, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, and Byzantine Orthodoxy. They were most impressed with their visit to Constantinople, saying, "We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth… We only know that God dwells there among the people, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations."

Christianization of the Kievan Rus'

The Primary Chronicle reports that in the year 987, after consultation with his boyars, Vladimir the Great sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths. The result is described by the Nestor the Chronicler, chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Volga Bulgaria, Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them, only sorrow and a great stench. He also reported that Islam was undesirable due to its prohibition of alcoholic beverages and pork. Vladimir remarked on the occasion: "Drinking is the joy of all Rus'. We cannot exist without that pleasure." Ukrainian and Russian sources also describe Vladimir consulting with Jewish envoys and questioning them about their religion, but ultimately rejecting it as well, saying that their Destruction of Jerusalem, loss of Jerusalem was evidence that they had been abandoned by God. His emissaries also visited pre-schism Latin Rite Christian and Eastern Rite Christian missionaries. Ultimately Vladimir settled on Eastern Christianity. In the churches of the Germans his emissaries saw no beauty; but at Constantinople, where the full festival ritual of the Byzantine Church was set in motion to impress them, they found their ideal: "We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth", they reported, describing a majestic Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia, "nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it." Vladimir was impressed by this account of his envoys. In 988, having taken the town of Chersonesos Taurica, Chersonesos in Crimea, he boldly negotiated for the hand of emperor Basil II's sister, Anna Porphyrogenita, Anna. Never before had a Byzantine Empire, Byzantine imperial princess, and one Porphyrogenitos, "born in the purple" at that, married a barbarian, as matrimonial offers of French kings and German emperors had been peremptorily rejected. In short, to marry the 27-year-old princess to a pagan Slav seemed impossible. Vladimir was baptized at Chersonesos, however, taking the Christian name of Basil out of compliment to his imperial brother-in-law; the sacrament was followed by his wedding to Anna. Returning to Kiev in triumph, he Baptism of Kievan Rus', destroyed pagan monuments and established many churches, starting with a church dedicated to Basil of Caesarea, St. Basil, and the Church of the Tithes (989). Arab sources, both Muslim and Christian, present a different story of Vladimir's conversion. Yahya of Antioch, al-Rudhrawari, al-Makin, Shams al-Din al-Ansari al-Dimashqi, Al-Dimashqi, and ibn al-Athir all give essentially the same account. In 987, Bardas Sclerus and Bardas Phokas the Younger, Bardas Phocas revolted against the Byzantine emperor Basil II. Both rebels briefly joined forces, but then Bardas Phocas proclaimed himself emperor on 14 September 987. Basil II turned to the Kievan Rus' for assistance, even though they were considered enemies at that time. Vladimir agreed, in exchange for a marital tie; he also agreed to accept Christianity as his religion and to Christianize his people. When the wedding arrangements were settled, Vladimir dispatched 6,000 troops to the Byzantine Empire, and they helped to put down the revolt."Rus". ''Encyclopaedia of Islam'' In 988 and 991, he baptized Pecheneg princes Metiga and Kuchug, respectively.

Christian reign

Vladimir then formed a great council out of his boyars and set his Family life and children of Vladimir I, twelve sons over his subject principalities. According to the Primary Chronicle, he founded the city of Belgorod Kievsky, Belgorod in 991. In 992, he went on a campaign against the Croats, most likely the White Croats that lived on the border of modern Ukraine. This campaign was cut short by the attacks of the Pechenegs on and around Kiev. In his later years he lived in a relative peace with his other neighbors: Boleslav I of Poland, Stephen I of Hungary, and Andrikh the Czech (a questionable character mentioned in Primary Chronicle, A Tale of the Bygone Years). After Anna's death, he married again, likely to a granddaughter of Otto the Great. In 1014, his son Yaroslav I the Wise, Yaroslav the Wise stopped paying tribute. Vladimir decided to chastise the insolence of his son and began gathering troops against him. Vladimir fell ill, however, most likely of old age, and died at Berestove, near modern-day Kyiv. The various parts of his dismembered body were distributed among his numerous sacred foundations and were venerated as relics. During his Christian reign, Vladimir lived the teachings of the Bible through acts of charity. He would hand out food and drink to the less fortunate, and made an effort to go out to the people who could not reach him. His work was based on the impulse to help one's neighbors by sharing the burden of carrying their cross. He founded numerous churches, including the Church of the Tithes, (Church, or Cathedral, of the Tithes) (989), established schools, protected the poor and introduced ecclesiastical courts. He lived mostly at peace with his neighbours, the incursions of the Pechenegs alone disturbing his tranquillity.


The fate of all Vladimir's daughters, whose number is around nine, is uncertain. His wives, concubines, and their children were as follows: * Olava or Allogia (Varangian or Czechs, Czech), speculative; she might have been mother of Vysheslav while others claim that it is a confusion with Helena Lekapene ** Vysheslav (c. 977c. 1010), Prince of Novgorod (988–1010) * a widow of Yaropolk I of Kiev, Yaropolk I, a Greek nun ** Sviatopolk I of Kiev, Sviatopolk the Accursed (born c. 979), possibly the surviving son of Yaropolk * Rogneda of Polotsk, Rogneda (the daughter of Rogvolod); later upon divorce she entered a convent taking the Christian name of Anastasia ** Izyaslav of Polotsk (born c. 979, Kiev), Prince of Polotsk (989–1001) ** Yaroslav I the Wise, Yaroslav the Wise (no earlier than 983), Prince of Rostov (988–1010), Prince of Novgorod (1010–1034), Grand Prince of Kiev (1016–1018, 1019–1054). Possibly he was a son of Anna rather than Rogneda. Another interesting fact is that he was younger than Sviatopolk according to the words of Boris and Gleb, Boris in the ''Tale of Bygone Years'' and not as it was officially known. ** Vsevolod (c. 9841013), possibly the Swedish Prince Wissawald of Volhynia (c. 1000), was perhaps the first husband of Estrid Svendsdatter ** Mstislav, distinct from Mstislav of Chernigov, possibly died as an infant, if he was ever born ** Mstislav of Chernigov (born c. 983), Prince of Tmutarakan (990–1036), Prince of Chernigov (1024–1036), other sources claim him to be the son of other mothers (Adela, Malfrida, or some other Bulgarian wife) ** Predslava, a concubine of Bolesław I Chrobry according to Gesta principum Polonorum ** Premislava, (died 1015), some sources state that she was a wife of the Ladislas the Bald, Duke Laszlo (Vladislav) "the Bald" of the Árpád dynasty, Arpadians ** Mstislava, in 1018 was taken by Bolesław I Chrobry among the other daughters * Bulgarian Adela, some sources claim that Adela is not necessarily Bulgarian as Boris and Gleb may have been born from some other wife ** Boris and Gleb, Boris (born c. 986), Prince of Rostov (c. 10101015), remarkable is the fact that the Rostov Principality as well as the Principality of Murom used to border the territory of the Volga Bolgars ** Boris and Gleb, Gleb (born c. 987), Prince of Murom (1013–1015), as is Boris, Gleb is also claimed to be the son of Anna Porphyrogenita ** Stanislav (born c. 9851015), Prince of Smolensk (988–1015), possibly of another wife and the fate of whom is not certain ** Sudislav (died 1063), Prince of Pskov (1014–1036), possibly of another wife, but he is mentioned in Patriarch Nikon, Nikon's Chronicles. He spent 35 years in prison and later became a monk. * Malfrida ** Sviatoslav (c. 9821015), Prince of Drevlians (990–1015) * Anna Porphyrogenita ** Theofana, a wife of Novgorod posadnik Ostromir, a grandson of semi-legendary Dobrynya (highly doubtful is the fact of her being Anna's offspring) * a granddaughter of Otto the Great (possibly Rechlinda Otona [Regelindis]) ** Maria Dobroniega of Kiev (born c. 1012), the Duchess of Poland (1040–1087), married around 1040 to Casimir I the Restorer, Duke of Poland, her maternity as daughter of this wife is deduced from her apparent age * other possible family ** Vladimirovna, an out-of-marriage daughter (died 1044), married to Bernard, Margrave of the Nordmark. ** Pozvizd (born prior to 988), a son of Vladimir according to Hustyn Chronicles. He, possibly, was the Prince Khrisokhir mentioned by Niketas Choniates.

Significance and legacy

The Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine Rite Lutheranism, Byzantine Rite Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches celebrate the feast day of St. Vladimir on 15/28 July. The town Volodymyr (city), Volodymyr in north-western Ukraine was founded by Vladimir and is named after him. The foundation of another town, Vladimir, Russia, Vladimir in Russia, is usually attributed to Vladimir Monomakh. However some researchers argue that it was also founded by Vladimir the Great. St Volodymyr's Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Kyiv, is dedicated to Vladimir the Great, as was originally the Kyiv University. The Russian Empire, Imperial Russian Order of St. Vladimir and Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States are also named after him. The memory of Vladimir was also kept alive by innumerable Russian folk ballads and legends, which refer to him as ''Krasno Solnyshko'' (''the Fair Sun'', or ''the Red Sun''; ''Красно Солнышко'' in Russian). The Varangian period of Eastern Slavic history ceases with Vladimir, and the Christian period begins. The appropriation of Kievan Rus' as part of national history has also been a topic of contention in Ukrainophile vs. Russophilia, Russophile schools of historiography since the Soviet historiography, Soviet era. Today, he is regarded as a symbol in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. All branches of the economy prospered under him. He Money of Kievan Rus', minted coins and regulated foreign affairs with other countries, such as trade, bringing in Greek wines, Baghdad spices, and Arab horses for the markets of Kiev. File:1000 Vladimir 2.jpg, Vladimir the Great on the Millennium of Russia monument in
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

File:Владимир. памятник князю Владимиру и святителю Фёдору.jpg, Monument to Vladimir the Great and the monk Fyodor at Pushkin Park in Vladimir, Russia, Vladimir, Russia File:Vladimir by klodt.jpg, Monument to Volodymyr the Great in Kyiv File:Ruler of Ukraine statuette Volodymir bright.JPG, Statue of Saint Volodymyr, London, Statue in London: "St Volodymyr – Ruler of Ukraine, 980–1015, erected by Ukrainians in Great Britain in 1988 to celebrate the establishment of Christianity in Ukraine by St. Volodymir in 988" File:Statue Wladimirs des Heiligen in Danzig 1.JPG, St Vladimir in Gdańsk, Poland. Celebrated on 2015 on the occasion of the millennium since the death of the baptist of Kievan Rus. Built with the help of the Ukrainian community of Gdańsk and the Ukrainian diaspora of the world. File:Belgorod 8 (35226536836).jpg, St Vladimir the Great Monument in Belgorod, Russia File:Памятник Владимиру Великому (Москва) в день открытия.jpg, Vladimir the Great Monument in Moscow, Russia near the Kremlin

See also

* Order of Saint Vladimir * List of Russian rulers * List of Ukrainian rulers * Family life and children of Vladimir I * List of people known as The Great * Saint Vladimir Monument in Kyiv (1853) * Monument to Vladimir the Great, Monument to Vladimir the Great (Moscow) in 2016 * ''Prince Vladimir (film), Prince Vladimir'', Russian animated feature film (2006) * ''Viking (film), Viking'', Russian historical film (2016)



* Golden, P. B. (2006) "Rus." ''Encyclopaedia of Islam'' (Brill Online). Eds.: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill. *
Some historical analysis and political insights on the state affairs of Vladimir the Great

External links

* Velychenko, Stephen
How Valdamarr Sveinaldsson got to Moscow (krytyka.com)
9 November 2015. {{DEFAULTSORT:Vladimir 01 Of Kiev Vladimir the Great, Ukrainian saints Russian saints Grand Princes of Kiev Rurik dynasty Christian monarchs 11th-century Christian saints 950s births 1015 deaths Year of birth uncertain Christian royal saints Roman Catholic royal saints Princes of Novgorod 10th-century princes in Kievan Rus' Converts to Christianity from pagan religions Burials at the Church of the Tithes Ukrainian rapists Kievan Khagans