Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich
Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich (Kiev, 1139–1198) was a Rus’ prince (a member of the Rurik dynasty). He was prince of Ropesk (c. 1146–1166), of Starodub (1166–1176), and of Chernigov (1176–1198). When he became a monk before his death, he took the name Vasily.
His early life
He was the second son of prince Vsevolod II Olgovich of Chernigov (who later became Grand Prince of Kiev) by his wife Maria Mstislavna (a daughter of grand prince Mstislav I Vladimirovich of Kiev). His father died on August 1, 1146; and he probably became the prince of Ropesk (a town, located southwest of Starodub, which lay on the river Irpa, a tributary of the Snov River).
When the wife of grand prince Izyaslav III Davidovich of Kiev (whose husband had been expelled from Kiev by prince Yaroslav Volodimerovich of Halych on December 22, 1158) came to Ropesk, Yaroslav showed every courtesy, although Izyaslav III Davidovich had declared war on the Olgovichi (the ruling dynasty of Chernigov).
In 1162, the younger brother of grand prince Rostislav I Mstislavich of Kiev, Vladimir Mstislavich seized Sluchesk which was the domain of the Olgovichi. By capturing the town, he transgressed against prince Svyatoslav II Olgovich of Chernigov (Yaroslav’s paternal uncle) whose right Rostislav Mstilavich had pledged to defend. The grand prince of Kiev therefore sent a number of junior princes, including Yaroslav, to expel his brother; on seeing their large force Vladimir Mstislavich sued for peace and went to his brother in Kiev.
On February 15, 1164, Svyatoslav II Olgovich died, and Yaroslav’s brother, Svyatoslav III Vsevolodovich assumed control of Chernigov. The latter relinquished Novgorod-Seversk (today Novhorod-Siverskyi in Ukraine) to their cousin Oleg Svyatoslavich; in doing so, Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich bypassed Yaroslav who, as Oleg Svyatoslavich’s genealogical senior, had prior claim to the town.
Sometime in the spring in 1166, prince Svyatislav Vladimirovich of Vshchizh died, and he evidently had no sons. Svyatoslav III Vsevolodovich as the senior prince of the Olgovichi held the authority to allocate the dead prince’s domains, and he gave Starodub to Yaroslav. However, their cousin, prince Oleg Svyatoslavich of Novgorod-Seversk challenged the senior prince’s preferential treatment of his own family. The citizens of Starudob also invited Oleg Svyatoslavich to rule them which shows that they preferred him to Yaroslav. The latter sent troops to Starodub which were commanded by the posadnik appointed by him to administer the town, and his troops arrived ahead of Oleg Svyatoslavich. Meanwhile, Oleg Svyatoslavich fell ill and he had to sue for peace; Svyatoslav III Vsevolodovich therefore gave him four unidentified towns, which implies that these did not include Starodub.
On seeing how the Olgovichi were living in strife, the nomads attacked merchants coming from the Greeks. That winter the Olgovichi led more campaigns against the nomads: Yaroslav, for his part, destroyed the camp of Khan Beglyuk. At the beginning of 1168, grand prince Mstislav II Izyaslavich of Kiev summoned the princes of Rus' to join him against the Cumans; the Olgovichi sent Yaroslav, his brother Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich, as well as their cousins Oleg and Vsevolod Svyatoslavich. On March 11, the princes reached the Cuman camps on the rivers Ugla and Samara, but the tribesmen had fled abandoning their wives, children, and possessions. The grand prince of Kiev, however, alienated all the princes because, without informing them, he allowed his men to plunder the camps secretly at night.
During the remainder of the year animosity towards Mstislav II Izyaslavich grew; that winter prince Andrey I Yurevich of Suzdalia sent his son Mstislav Andreyevich with troops from Suzdalia to attack him in Kiev. Andrey Yurevichi’s alliance was made up of eleven princes including two Olgovichi, but Yaroslav and his brother Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich remained loyal to Mstislav Izyaslavich. Unfortunately for the latter, no allies came to his aid when Andrey Yurevich’s alliance attacked. On March 8, 1169 the strong army of Andrey Yurevich took “the mother of Russian cities”, as Kiev was known, and sacked it mercilessly. Mstislav Andreyevich appointed his uncle Gleb Yurevich to Kiev. Nevertheless, when the dethroned grand prince attacked Kiev in February 1170, Yaroslav and his brother sent troops to him. Finally, Mstislav Izyaslavich died on August 19, and his death terminated the political alliance that had been centered on him.
In 1171, prince Oleg Svyatoslavich of Novgorod-Seversk (Yaroslav’s cousin) summoned his brothers-in-law, the Rostislavichi of Smolensk, to help him wage war against the Chernigov lands. Oleg Svyatoslavich and his brothers attacked Starodub (Yaroslav's town), while prince Yaroslav Izyaslavich of Lutsk and the Rostislavichi were plundering the towns of Yaroslav's brother. However, Oleg Svyatoslavich and his brothers failed to take Starodub, and they concluded peace.
Prince of Chernigov
On July 22, 1176, Yaroslav’s brother Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich occupied Kiev and promoted Yaroslav to Chernigov. On November 8, Yaroslav gave his daughter as wife to prince Vladimir Glebovich of Pereyaslavl; their marriage was an alliance which the senior branch of the Olgovichi formed with the dynasty of Suzdalia.
On January 16, 1180, Oleg Svyatoslavich (Yaroslav's cousin) died; soon after his death, Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich summoned Yaroslav and their cousins Igor and Vsevolod Svyatoslavich (the dead prince’s brothers) to Lyubech and concluded an agreement. The evidence that the Olgovichi parted amicably bespeaks their unity of purpose.
At the beginning of 1181, Yaroslav's brother, who had been expelled from Kiev, launched a campaign against prince Vsevolod III Yurevich of Suzdalia. Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich commanded Yaroslav and Igor Svyatoslavich to remain behind and defend Chernigov against the Rostislavichi.
On February 23, 1184, Khan Konchak with his Donets Cumans pillaged the Pereyaslavl lands. Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich (who had regained Kiev) and prince Rurik Rostislavich of Belgorod rode against the raiders. Yaroslav advised them not to pursue the nomads but to organize a summer campaign; they heeded his counsel and returned home. That summer Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich launched a major campaign against the Cumans, but Yaroslav absented himself from the campaign; it is difficult to know whether Yaroslav was shirking his military obligations or dutifully remaining behind to defend Chernigov.
In 1185, Khan Konchak, who was about attacking Rus’, sent envoys to Yaroslav proposing peace. Yaroslav sent a certain Olstin Oleksich to negotiate, and consequently refused to join the new campaign of Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich and Ryurik Rostislavich, because he did not want to endanger his boyar.
On April 1185, Igor Svyatoslavich invited Yaroslav to a campaign against the Cumans, but Yaroslav did not go in person or send his sons; instead, he dispatched Olstin Oleksich along with the Kovui (the pagan auxiliaries fighting in the service of the Olgovichi) of the Chernigov lands. After learning of his cousin’s defeat at the Kayala River, Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich asked Yaroslav for troops. On this occasion, Yaroslav seemingly complied even though his druzhina or part of it, had been massacred at the river Kayala. Yaroslav assembled a contingent and waited at Chernigov but we are not told if he joined his brother - the chronicler’s silence suggests that he did not. After Igor Svyatoslavich had escaped from captivity, he visited Yaroslav and Chernigov and asked for military aid. Yaroslav, we are told, was delighted to see Igor and promised to send reinforcements.
In 1186 (probably on March 25), grand prince Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich consecrated the Church of the Annunciation that he himself had built in Chernigov. Since a prince had to obtain the approval of the local ruler to build a church in his domain, Yaroslav had obviously granted his brother that permission.
In the winter of 1187, Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich himself traveled to Chernigov to assemble the dynasty’s troops in order to lead a campaign against the Cumans who had pillaged the district of Tatinets, a ford on the Dnieper River. Although Yaroslav joined the expedition and he went as far as the river Samara, but after reaching the river and fulfilling his promise, Yaroslav insisted on returning home.
His brother died during the last week of July, 1194. Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich’s last official act was to summon Rurik Rostislavich which confirms that he had pledged to designate him as his successor. Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich’s death changed the order of seniority among the Olgovichi: Yaroslav became the new senior prince of the dynasty, and his nephews became answerable to him. Yaroslav asserted his authority over the Olgovichi by demanding the usual oaths of allegiance from them.
In 1195, prince Roman Mstislavich of Volodymyr-Volynskyi commenced to conspire against his father-in-law, grand prince Rurik Rostislavich. Roman Mstislavich turned to Yaroslav who agreed to join him. When Rurik Rostislavich learnt how his son-in-law had persuaded Yaroslav to seize Kiev, he informed prince Vsevolod III Yurevich of Suzdalia that they were planning to wage war on all the Monomashichi (the descendants of grand prince Vladimir II Monomakh). Rurik Rostislavich also denounced Roman Mstislavich who rode to the Poles, and asked the grand prince of Kiev for clemency. As a result, Yaroslav found himself on a war footing against an allegedly united House of Monomakh.
Rurik Rostislavich conferred with Vsevolod Yurevich and prince David Rostislavich of Smolensk, and they commanded Yaroslav to promise not to seize their patrimonies of Kiev and Smolensk from them, their children, or any other member of the House of Monomashichi. Yaroslav agreed to honor the first demand: the Olgovichi would not attempt taking Kiev from Rurik Rostislavich or Vsevolod Yurevich; he refused, however, to abjure the claims of future generations of Olgovichi. He sent Igumen Dionisy to ask for peace; and his messenger persuaded Vsevolod Yurevich to cancel his attack.
While Igumen Dionisy was negotiating with the prince of Suzdalia, Yaroslav arranged a separate pact: he asked Rurik Rostislavich not to attack the Chernigov lands before they decided with Vsevolod Yurevich and David Rostislavich. It appears that the grand prince of Kiev also promised to give Yaroslav Vitebsk, a domain that the Rostislavichi controlled. Even so, it was David Rostislavich and not Rurik Rostislavich who had the authority to allocate Vitebsk and the former refused to approve the latter’s allocation. Therefore, Yaroslav and his brothers sent troops to attack prince Vasilko Bryacheslavich of Vitebsk who was David Rostislavich’s son-in-law. Yaroslav appointed Oleg Svyatoslavich (his nephew) as commander-in-chief.
Before reaching Vitebsk, the Olgovichi pillaged the lands of Smolensk. David Rostislavich retaliated by sending his nephew Mstislav Romanovich to confront the invaders. The two sides clashed on March 12, and Mstislav Romanovich defeated Oleg Svyatoslavich’s troops; however, the princes of Polotsk who had come to Oleg Svyatoslavich’s assistance defeated Mstislav Romanovich’s men and took him captive. Oleg Svyatoslavich informed his uncle that vanquished Smolensk militiamen told him that the people of Smolensk were unhappy with David Rostislavich. He, therefore, also advised Yaroslav to come to win the honor for the dynasty. The Olgovichi immediately set out for Smolensk, but Rurik Rostislavich sent messengers to intercept Yaroslav. After hearing Rurik Rostislavich’s threat, Yaroslav returned to Chernigov.
Shortly afterwards, Vsevolod Yurevich instructed Rurik Rostislavich to initiate attacks against Chernigov and promised to bring reinforcements. The grand prince of Kiev therefore led raids against the Chernigov lands, but waited in vain all summer for the prince of Suzdalia. Yaroslav sent envoys to Rurik Rostislavich and offered to release Mstislav Rostislavich and underscored his good will by waiving the ransom usually demanded for a captive’s release. However, nothing came of Yaroslav’s offer because the two princes mistrusted each other; Yaroslav even blocked the roads when the messengers of Ryurik Rostislavich wanted to travel through Chernigov lands to Vsevolod Yurevich.
In the autumn of 1196, prince Roman Mstislavich of Volodymyr-Volynskyi came to Yaroslav’s aid raiding the domains belonging to David Rostislavich and Rostislav Rurikovich (respectively the brother and son of Rurik Rostislavich). In the meantime, Vsevolod Yurevich accompanied by the princes of Ryazan, Murom, and the Cumans, worked his way south towards Chernigov. Yaroslav placed his nephews Oleg and Gleb Svyatoslavich in charge of defending Chernigov against the grand prince of Kiev, but ordered his remaining two nephews, Vsevolod and Mstislav Svyatoslavich, to accompany him against the princes of Suzdalia and Smolensk.
Yaroslav sent messengers to Vsevolod Yurevich proposing peace, and the latter also sent envoys to negotiate with Yaroslav. Vsevolod Yurevich modified the terms of the Rostislavichi: he demanded that Yaroslav release Mstislav Romanovich and break his alliance with the prince of Volodymyr-Volynskyi. Moreover, Vsevolod Yurevich also demanded that the Olgovichi expel his nephew Yaropolk Rostislavich from Chernigov. Yaroslav refused to break his pact with Roman Mstislavich, but he agreed to release Mstislav Romanovich and to evict Yaropolk Rostislavich. Content with Yaroslav’s reply, the prince of Suzdalia sent his men to seal the agreement.
In 1196, Vsevolod Yurevich refused to grant the Novgorodians their request to replace his appointee Yaroslav Vladimirovich with his son or some other prince. The Novgorodians evicted Vsevolod Yurevich’s man on November 26 and sent a delegation to Yaroslav in Chernigov, who promised to give them his younger son Yaropolk Yaroslavich. The latter arrived in Novgorod at the end of March 1197; however, after six months the Novgorodians expelled Yaropolk Yaroslavich and recalled Yaroslav Vladimirovich.
In 1197, the princes of Ryazan resolved to create an autonomous eparchy, although Ryazan had been under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Chernigov. Consequently, the Olgovichi lost their last formal hold on their distant relatives in Ryazan.
Marriage and children
- Prince Rostislav Yaroslavich of Snovsk (June 24, 1171 – after 1212 / before 1223);
- Prince Yaropolk III Yaroslavich of Novgorod (? – after 1214 / before 1223);
- Unnamed Yaroslavna, wife of prince Vladimir Glebovich of Pereyaslavl.
|Ancestors of Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich|
- Dimnik, Martin. The Dynasty of Chernigov - 1146-1246.
- Charles Cawley (2009-03-14). "Russia, Rurikids - Grand Princes of Kiev, Princes of Chernigov, descendants of Sviatoslav II, Grand Prince of Kiev (fourth son of Iaroslav I)". Medieval Lands. Foundation of Medieval Genealogy. Retrieved 2009-04-10.
- Vernadsky, George. Kievan Russia.
- The chroniclers neglect to reveal the identity of Yaroslav’s wife, but the Lyubetskiy sinodik calls her Irene; Dimnik, Martin op. cit. 121.
- Dimnik, Martin: The Dynasty of Chernigov - 1146-1246; Cambridge University Press, 2003, Cambridge; ISBN 978-0-521-03981-9.
- Vernadsky, George: Kievan Russia; Yale University Press, 1948, New Haven and London; ISBN 0-300-01647-6.
(Part of the Principality of Chernigov)
|Prince of Ropesk
|Prince of Starodub
Svyatoslav III Vsevolodovich
|Prince of Chernigov