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Igor of Kiev

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Igor in the Radziwiłł Chronicle, 15th century
Prince of Kiev
SuccessorSviatoslav I
Prince of Novgorod
SuccessorSviatoslav I
RegentOleg (879–912)
Bornc. 877
IssueSviatoslav I

Igor (Church Slavonic: Игорь;[1][a] Old Norse: Ingvarr;[2] c. 877 – 945)[3][4][5] was Prince of Kiev from 912 to 945.[6] Traditionally, he is considered to be the son of Rurik, who established himself at Novgorod and died in 879 while Igor was an infant.[7] According to the Primary Chronicle, Rurik was succeeded by Oleg, who ruled as regent and was described by the chronicler as being "of his kin".[8]


Information about Igor comes mostly from the Primary Chronicle, which states that Igor was the son of Rurik:

6378–6387 (870–879). On his deathbed, Rurik bequeathed his realm to Oleg, who belonged to his kin, and entrusted to Oleg's hands his son Igor', for he was very young.

6388–6390 (880–882). Oleg set forth, taking with him many warriors from among the Varangians, the Chuds, the Slavs, the Merians and all the Krivichians. He thus arrived with his Krivichians before Smolensk, captured the city, and set up a garrison there. Thence he went on and captured Lyubech, where he also set up a garrison. He then came to the hills of Kiev, and saw how Askold and Dir reigned there. He hid his warriors in the boats, left some others behind, and went forward himself bearing the child Igor'. He thus came to the foot of the Hungarian hill, and after concealing his troops, he sent messengers to Askold and Dir, representing himself as a stranger on his way to Greece on an errand for Oleg and for Igor', the prince's son, and requesting that they should come forth to greet them as members of their race. Askold and Dir straightway came forth. Then all the soldiery jumped out of the boats, and Oleg said to Askold and Dir, "You are not princes nor even of princely stock, but I am of princely birth." Igor' was then brought forward, and Oleg announced that he was the son of Rurik. They killed Askold and Dir, and after carrying them to the hill, they buried them there, on the hill now known as Hungarian, where the castle of Ol'ma now stands.[9]

Little is known about him between the years 912 and 941 due to a gap in the chronicle record.[7]

Igor twice besieged Constantinople, in 941 and 944, and although Greek fire destroyed part of his fleet, he concluded a favourable treaty with the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII (945), the text of which the chronicle has preserved. In 913 and 944, the Rus' plundered the Arabs in the Caspian Sea during the Caspian expeditions of the Rus', but it remains unclear whether Igor had anything to do with these campaigns.

Prince Igor Exacting Tribute from the Drevlyans, by Klavdiy Lebedev (1852–1916).

Igor was killed while collecting tribute from the Drevlians in 945. The Byzantine historian and chronicler Leo the Deacon (born c. 950) describes how Igor met his death: "They had bent down two birch trees to the prince's feet and tied them to his legs; then they let the trees straighten again, thus tearing the prince's body apart."[10] Igor's widow Olga avenged his death by punishing the Drevlians. The Primary Chronicle blames his death on his own excessive greed, indicating that he tried to collect tribute for a second time in a month. As a result, Olga changed the system of tribute gathering (poliudie) in what may be regarded as the first legal reform recorded in Eastern Europe.


Drastically revising the chronology of the Primary Chronicle, Constantin Zuckerman argues that Igor actually reigned for three years, between summer 941 and his death in early 945. Zuckerman argues that the 33-year reign attributed to Igor in the Chronicle is the result of its author's faulty interpretation of Byzantine sources.[11] Indeed, none of Igor's activities recorded in the Chronicle is dated before 941.

Referring to the Ioachim Chronicle, Vasily Tatishchev argues that the Swedish princess Efanda, whose existence has been questioned by many historians, was Igor's mother. According to Tatishchev, the name "Ingor" comes from the Finnish (Izhora) name Inger.[12] Tatishchev also gives Igor's birth dates from various manuscripts: 875 in the Schismatic manuscript, 861 in the Nizhny Novgorod manuscript, 865 in the Orenburg manuscript.


  1. ^ Russian: Игорь Рюрикович; Ukrainian: Ігор Рюрикович, romanizedIhor Riurykovych


  1. ^ Клосс, Борис (15 May 2022). Полное собрание русских летописей. Том 1. Лаврентьевская летопись (in Russian). Litres. p. 42. ISBN 978-5-04-107383-1.
  2. ^ Winroth, Anders (1 March 2016). The Age of the Vikings. Princeton University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-691-16929-3.
  3. ^ Войтович, Леонтій Вікторович (1992). Генеалогія Рюриковичів і Гедиміновичів. p. 16. ISBN 5-7702-0506-7.
  4. ^ Biographical Index of the Middle Ages. Walter de Gruyter. 1 March 2011. p. 571. ISBN 978-3-11-091416-0.
  5. ^ Hanak, Walter K. (10 October 2013). The Nature and the Image of Princely Power in Kievan Rus', 980-1054: A Study of Sources. BRILL. p. 20. ISBN 978-90-04-26022-1.
  6. ^ Rosser, John Hutchins (2012). Historical Dictionary of Byzantium. Scarecrow Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-8108-7567-8.
  7. ^ a b Langer, Lawrence N. (15 September 2021). Historical Dictionary of Medieval Russia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-5381-1942-6.
  8. ^ Franklin, Simon; Shepard, Jonathan (6 June 2014). The Emergence of Russia 750-1200. Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-317-87224-5.
  9. ^ The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text (PDF). Translated by Cross, S. H.; Sherbowitz-Wetzor, O. P. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Crimson Printing Company. 1953. pp. 60–61. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  10. ^ Tarasenko, Leonid (27 February 2008). "Korosten (Iskorosten): A small town with a great history". geocities.com. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  11. ^ Zuckerman, Constantin (1995). "On the Date of the Khazars' Conversion to Judaism and the Chronology of the Kings of the Rus Oleg and Igor: A Study of the Anonymous Khazar Letter from the Genizah of Cairo" (PDF). Revue des études byzantines. 53 (1): 237–270. doi:10.3406/rebyz.1995.1906. ISSN 0766-5598. Retrieved 5 July 2016.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Tatishchev. The History of Russia. Part 1, Chapter 4


Igor of Kiev
Born: 9th century  Died: 945
Regnal titles
Preceded by Prince of Kiev
Succeeded byas regent