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Vladimir II Monomakh

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Vladimir II Monomakh
Seal of Vladimir II Monomakh
PredecessorSviatopolk II
SuccessorMstislav I of Kiev
Prince of Smolensk
Prince of Chernigov
PredecessorVsevolod I of Kiev
SuccessorOleg I of Chernigov
Prince of Pereyaslav
Grand Prince of Kiev
PredecessorSviatopolk II of Kiev
SuccessorMstislav I of Kiev
Born26 May 1053
Died19 May 1125 (aged 71–72)
Vladimir Vsevolodovich
FatherVsevolod I
MotherAnastasia of Byzantium
ReligionEastern Orthodox
Portrait in the Tsarsky titulyarnik, 1672

Vladimir II Monomakh (Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Мономахъ, romanized: Volodiměrŭ Monomakhŭ;[a] Christian name: Vasily;[1] 26 May 1053 – 19 May 1125) was Grand Prince of Kiev from 1113 to 1125.[2] He is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and is celebrated on May 6.[3]

Family background[edit]

In 1046, to seal an armistice in the Rus'–Byzantine War, the future father of Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich (born c. 1030), then a junior member of the princely Rurikids of Kievan Rus', contracted a diplomatic marriage with a relative of the reigning Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (r. 1042–1055), from whom Vladimir (born in 1053) inherited his sobriquet, Monomakh.[4] Contemporary Byzantine naming-practice allowed the adoption of a maternal surname if convention regarded the mother's family as of a more exalted origin than the father's.[5]

Vsevolod Yaroslavich, the fifth son of the grand prince of Kiev, Yaroslav I the Wise (r. 1019–1054), himself ruled as grand prince of Kiev from 1078 to 1093.


The Testament of Vladimir Monomakh to Children, 1125. Lithography of 1836.

In his famous Instruction (also known as The Testament) to his own children, Monomakh mentions that he conducted 83 military campaigns and 19 times made peace with the Polovtsi. At first he waged war against the steppe jointly with his cousin Oleg, but after Vladimir was sent by his father to rule Chernigov and Oleg made peace with the Polovtsi to retake that city from him, they parted company. Since that time, Vladimir and Oleg were bitter enemies who would often engage in internecine wars. The enmity continued among their children and more distant posterity.

In 1068 he allied with the Cuman chief Bilge-Tegin.[6] From 1094, his chief patrimony was the southern town of Pereiaslav, although he also controlled Rostov, Suzdal, and other northern provinces (see Principality of Pereyaslavl). In these lands he founded several towns, notably his namesake, Vladimir, the future capital of Russia. In order to unite the princes of Rus' in their struggle against the Great Steppe, Vladimir initiated three princely congresses, the most important being held at Lyubech in 1097 and Dolobsk in 1103.

In 1107 he defeated Boniak, a Cuman khan who led an invasion on Kievan Rus'.

In 1111, Vladimir, alongside Sviatopolk II, led an army at the Battle of the Salnytsia River [uk], where they defeated a Cuman army on the Salnytsia [ru] river. The site of this battle is probably at modern-day Izium.[7]

When Sviatopolk II died in 1113, the Kievan populace revolted and summoned Vladimir to the capital. The same year he entered Kiev to the great delight of the crowd and reigned there until his death in 1125. As may be seen from his Instruction, he promulgated a number of reforms in order to allay the social tensions in the capital. These years saw the last flowering of Ancient Rus, which was torn apart 10 years after his death.

Vladimir Monomakh was buried at Saint Sophia Cathedral. Succeeding generations often referred to his reign as the golden age of that city. Numerous legends are connected with Monomakh's name, including the transfer from Constantinople to Rus of such precious relics as the Theotokos of Vladimir and the Vladimir/Muscovite crown called Monomakh's Cap.

Marriages and children[edit]

Vladimir married three times. The 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus reported that, in what would have been his first marriage, Vladimir wed Gytha of Wessex, daughter of Harold, King of England, who had fallen at Hastings in 1066 and of Edith Swannesha. This marriage is not reported by any contemporary sources, and none of the Russian sources report the name or parentage of Vladimir's first wife. The "Testament of Vladimir Monomakh" records the death of the mother of Vladimir's son Yuri on 7 May 1107, but it does not mention her name. Most historians agree it was more likely Yuri's mother was Gytha, based upon Yuri's acceptable marriage age in 1108.

They had at least the following children:

A daughter has been attributed to either the first or the second wife:

Vladimir's second wife, Euphemia, is considered to have been a Byzantine noblewoman.[4] This marriage produced at least five children:

Vladimir's third marriage is thought to have been to a daughter of Aepa Ocenevich, Khan of the Cumans. Her paternal grandfather was Osen. Her people belonged to the Kipchaks, a confederation of pastoralists and warriors of Turkic origin.

However the Primary Chronicle identifies Aepa as father-in-law to Yuri Dolgoruki, with Vladimir negotiating the marriage in name of his son.[citation needed] Whether father and son married sisters or the identity of intended groom was misidentified remains unclear.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russian: Владимир Мономах; Ukrainian: Володимир Мономах, romanizedVolodymyr Monomakh


  1. ^ The Holy Russian Church and Western Christianity. London: SCM Press. 1996. p. 5. ISBN 0334030412.
  2. ^ Morby, John E. (2002). Dynasties of the world: a chronological and genealogical handbook. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780198604730.
  3. ^ "Владимир Мономах". Drevo (in Russian). Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b Kazhdan 1989, pp. 416–417.
  5. ^ Kazhdan 1991, p. 1398.
  6. ^ Pilipchuk 2017, 262
  7. ^ "Ізюм, Ізюмський район, Харківська область". Історія міст і сіл Української РСР (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  8. ^ Oleg Łatyszonek, Wczesnośredniowieczne księstwo grodzieńskie w historiografii ostatniego dwudziestolecia, p. 10.


  • Dimnik, Martin (2016). Power Politics in Kievan Rus': Vladimir Monomakh and His Dynasty, 1054–1246. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. ISBN 978-0-88844-202-4.
  • Kazhdan, Alexander (1989). "Rus'-Byzantine Princely Marriages in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries". Harvard Ukrainian Studies. 12/13. Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute: 414–429.
  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6

Further reading[edit]

  • Nenarokova, Maria (2008). "Vladimir Monomakh's Instruction: An Old Russian Pedagogic Treatise". In Juanita, Feros Ruys (ed.). What Nature Does Not Teach: Didactic Literature in the Medieval and Early-Modern Periods. Turnhout, Brepols. pp. 109–128.

External links[edit]

Vladimir II Monomakh
Born: 1053 Died: 1125
Regnal titles
Preceded by Grand Prince of Kiev
Succeeded by