Vladimir the Great
|St. Vladimir the Great|
|Reign||11 June 980 – 15 July 1015|
|Coronation||11 June 980|
|Predecessor||Yaropolk I of Kiev|
|Successor||Sviatopolk I of Kiev|
|Reign||969 – c. 977|
|Predecessor||Sviatoslav I of Kiev|
|Successor||Yaropolk I of Kiev|
Rogneda of Polotsk
a granddaughter of Otto the Great
|Izyaslav of Polotsk
Yaroslav the Wise
Mstislav of Chernigov
Maria Dobroniega of Kiev
|Father||Sviatoslav I of Kiev|
|Mother||Malusha (probably of Northern origin)|
|Died||15 July 1015 57)
Berestove (today a part of Kiev)
|Burial||Church of the Tithes, Kiev|
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: What's with the random Britannica quote dropped in? And the unreferenced sections? And the poor sources?. (August 2012)|
Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great (Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь Old Norse as Valdamarr Sveinaldsson, Russian: Влади́мир, Vladimir, Ukrainian: Володимир, Volodymyr, Belarusian: Уладзiмiр, Uladzimir; c. 958 – 15 July 1015, Berestove) was a prince of Novgorod and grand prince of Kiev, ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015.
Vladimir's father was the prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty. After the death of his father in 972, Vladimir, who was then prince of Novgorod, was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 after his brother Yaropolk had murdered his other brother Oleg and conquered Rus. In Sweden with the help from his relative Ladejarl Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, assembled a Varangian army and reconquered Novgorod from Yaropolk. By 980 Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from modern day Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarian, Baltic, and Eastern nomads. Originally a Slavic pagan, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988, and Christianized the Kievan Rus'.
Way to the throne 
Vladimir, born in 958, was the natural son and youngest son of Sviatoslav I of Kiev 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 Prekrasa, 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. After Sviatoslav's death (972), a fratricidal war erupted (976) between Yaropolk and his younger brother Oleg, ruler of the Drevlians. In 977 Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many of the Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod, and on his return the next year 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 (Norse: Ragnhild). The high-born princess refused to affiance herself to the son of a bondswoman, but Vladimir attacked Polotsk, slew Rogvolod, and took Ragnhild by force. Polotsk was a key fortress on the way to Kiev, and the capture of Polotsk and Smolensk facilitated the taking of Kiev (978), where he slew Yaropolk by treachery, and was proclaimed knyaz of all Kievan Rus.
Years of pagan rule 
|Saint Vladimir of Kiev|
Icon of Saint Vladimir, Novgorod, 16th century
|Prince of Novgorod
Grand Prince of Kiev
|Honored in||Roman Catholicism
|Attributes||crown, cross, throne|
Vladimir continued to expand his territories beyond his father's extensive domain. In 981, he conquered Cherven towns from the Poles; in 981-982 he suppressed 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 Bulgars, planting numerous fortresses and colonies on his way.
Though Christianity grow in the region under Olga's rule, Vladimir had remained a thoroughgoing pagan, taking eight hundred concubines (besides numerous wives) and erecting pagan statues and shrines to gods. He may have attempted to reform Slavic paganism by establishing the thunder-god, Perun, as a supreme deity. "Although Christianity in Kiev existed before Vladimir’s time, he had remained a pagan, accumulated about seven wives, established temples, and, it is said, taken part in idolatrous rites involving human sacrifice."
“In 983, after another of his military successes, Prince Vladimir and his army thought it necessary to sacrifice human lives to the gods. A lot was cast and it fell on a youth, Ioann by name, the son of a Christian, Fyodor. His father stood firmly against his son being sacrificed to the idols. More than that, he tried to show the pagans the futility of their faith: ‘Your gods are just plain wood: it is here now but it may rot into oblivion tomorrow; your gods neither eat, nor drink, nor talk and are made by human hand from wood; whereas there is only one God — He is worshiped by Greeks and He created heaven and earth; and your gods? They have created nothing, for they have been created themselves; never will I give my son to the devils!’”
An open abuse of the deities, to which most people in Rus' bowed in reverence in those times, triggered widespread indignation. A mob killed the Christian Fyodor and his son Ioann (later, after the overall christening 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, July 25).
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 called Tale of Bygone Years, which describes life in Kyivan Rus' up to the year 1110, he sent his envoys throughout the civilized world to judge at 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, as the result of a 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 amusingly described by the chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them; only sorrow and a great stench. He also said that the Bulgars' religion of Islam was undesirable due to its taboo against alcoholic beverages and pork; Vladimir said on that 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 (who may or may not have been Khazars), and questioning them about their religion but ultimately rejecting it, saying that their loss of Jerusalem was evidence of their having been abandoned by God. Roman Catholic missionaries came too and so did Orthodox.. Ultimately Vladimir settled on Orthodox 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." If Vladimir was impressed by this account of his envoys, he was yet more so by political gains of the Byzantine alliance.
In 988, having taken the town of Chersonesos in Crimea, he boldly negotiated for the hand of the emperor Basil II's sister, Anna. Never before had a Byzantine imperial princess, and one "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 off to a pagan Slav seemed impossible. Vladimir, however, was baptized at Cherson, taking the Christian name of Basil out of compliment to his imperial brother-in-law; the sacrament was followed by his wedding with Anna. Returning to Kiev in triumph, he destroyed pagan monuments and established many churches, starting with the splendid Church of the Tithes (989) and monasteries on Mt. Athos.
Arab sources, both Muslim and Christian, present a different story of Vladimir's conversion. Yahya of Antioch, al-Rudhrawari, al-Makin, Al-Dimashqi, and ibn al-Athir all give essentially the same account. In 987, Bardas Sclerus and 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 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.
Christian reign 
He then formed a great council out of his boyars, and set his twelve sons over his subject principalities.
In 992 he went on a campaign against the Croats, most likely the White Croats (an East Slavic group unrelated to the Croats of Dalmatia) 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, Andrikh the Czech (questionable character mentioned in 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 the Wise stopped paying tribute. Vladimir decided to chastise the insolence of his son, and began gathering troops against Yaroslav. However, Vladimir fell ill, most likely of old age and died at Berestovo, near Kiev.
The various parts of his dismembered body were distributed among his numerous sacred foundations and were venerated as relics.
The fate of all Vladimir's daughters, whose number is around nine, is uncertain.
- Olava or Allogia (Varangian or Czech), speculative she might have been mother of Vysheslav while others claim that it is a confusion with Helena Lekapena
- Vysheslav (~977-~1010), Prince of Novgorod (988–1010)
- a widow of Yaropolk I, a Greek nun
- Sviatopolk the Accursed (~979), possibly the surviving son of Yaropolk
- Rogneda (the daughter of Rogvolod), later upon divorce she entered a convent taking the Christian name of Anastasia
- Izyaslav of Polotsk(~979, Kiev), Prince of Polotsk (989–1001)
- Yaroslav the Wise (no earlier than 983), Prince of Rostov (987–1010), 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 that he was younger than Sviatopolk according to the words of Boris in the Tale of Bygone Years and not as it was officially known. Also the fact of him being the Prince of Rostov is highly doubtful although not discarded.
- Vsevolod (~984–1013), possibly the Swedish Prince Wissawald of Volyn (~1000)
- Mstislav, other Mstislav that possibly died as an infant if he was ever born
- Mstislav of Chernigov (~983), Prince of Tmutarakan (990–1036), Prince of Chernigov (1024–1036), other sources claim him to be son of other mothers (Adela, Malfrida, or some other Bulgarian wife)
- Predslava, a concubine of Bolesław I Chrobry according to Gesta principum Polonorum
- Premislava, (? – 1015), some source state that she was a wife of the Duke Laszlo (Vladislav) "the Bald" of 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 were born from some other wife
- Boris (~986), Prince of Rostov (~1010–1015), remarkable is the fact that Rostov Principality as well as the Principality of Murom used to border the territory of Volga Bolgars
- Gleb (~987), Prince of Murom (1013–1015), as Boris, Gleb is being also claimed the son of Anna Porphyrogenita
- Stanislav (~985–1015), Prince of Smolensk (988–1015), possible of another wife and a fate of whom is not certain
- Sudislav (?-1063), Prince of Pskov (1014–1036), possible of another wife, but he is mentioned in Nikon's Chronicles. He spent 35 years in prison and later before dying turned into a monk.
- Sviatoslav (~982–1015), Prince of Drevlians (990–1015)
- Anna Porphyrogenita
- a granddaughter of Otto the Great (possibly Rechlinda Otona [Regelindis])
- other possible family
Significance and legacy 
One of the largest Kievan cathedrals is dedicated to him. The University of Kiev was named after the man who Christianized Kievan Rus. There is the Russian Order of St. Vladimir and Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the feast day of St. Vladimir on 15 July.
His memory was also kept alive by innumerable Ukrainian and Russian folk ballads and legends, which refer to him as Krasno Solnyshko, that is, the Fair Sun. With him the Varangian period of Eastern Slavic history ceases and the Christian period begins.
See also 
- List of Ukrainian rulers
- List of Russian rulers
- Family life and children of Vladimir I
- List of people known as The Great
- List of Catholic saints
Vladimir I of Kiev
RurikovichBorn: 958 Died: 1015
|Prince of Novgorod
Yaropolk I Sviatoslavich
|Grand Prince of Kiev
|Titles in pretence|
Oleg of the Drevlyans
|Prince of Kiev
- Harvard Ukrainian studies, Vol. 12–13, p. 190, Harvard Ukrainian studies, 1990
- Companion to the Calendar: A Guide to the Saints and Mysteries of the Christian Calendar, p. 105, Mary Ellen Hynes, Ed. Peter Mazar, LiturgyTrainingPublications, 1993
- National geographic, Vol. 167, p. 290, National Geographic Society, 1985
- Vladimir I (Grand Prince of Kiev), Brittannica Encyclopedia
- Den hellige Vladimir av Kiev (~956–1015), Den katolske kirke website
- Volodymyr the Great, Encyclopedia of Ukraine
- Saint Volodymyr the Baptizer: Wetting cultural appetites for the Gospel, Dr. Alexander Roman, Ukrainian Orthodoxy website
- Ukrainian Catholic Church: part 1., The Free Library
- Vladimir I, Encyclopædia Britannica
- Den hellige Vladimir av Kiev (~956–1015), Den Katolske Kirke
- Janet Martin. Medieval Russia. Cambridge University Press. 1995. pp. 5, 15, 20.
- John Channon, Robert Hudson. The Penguin historical atlas of Russia. Viking. 1995. p. 23.
- Moss, 18. He also explored many other replacements for his pagan beliefs before settling on Christianity.
- Moss, 18.
- Ibn al-Athir dates these events to 985 or 986 in his The Complete History
- "Rus". Encyclopaedia of Islam
- 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.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Some historical analysis and political insights on the state affairs of Vladimir the Great (Russian)
- Moss, Walter G. (2002) "A History of Russia Volume I: To 1917" (London: Anthem Press).
|Prince of Kiev and Novgorod