Volodymyr the Great
Submitted by Editor on Sun, 11/27/2016 - 14:12
«Times of Saint Volodymyr the Great were a crowning point of building, finalizing process, mechanic evolution process of creating ancient Rus, Kyiv Rus»
Prince Volodymyr ( the christian name is Vasyl ) Sviatoslavovych ( year of birth is 948 – date or death is July 15, 1015) – is an outstanding Ukrainian statesman. He was the youngest extramarital of three sons of the Prince Sviatoslav Igorovych which was called «Brave», and thus the youngest grandson of Princess Olga which was called «Wise».
Before going to Bulgaria in 969, Prince Sviatoslav Igorovych decided to "locate" his children in different lands of his state – Rus in governmental purpose. His eldest son Yaropolk took the throne in Kiev, the middle son Oleh - in Ovruch, and the youngest Volodymyr took the throne in Novgorod. But as for Volodymyr, he was too young to rule, thatʻs why Svyatoslav appointed his faithful uncle Volodymyr Dobrynia to assist the governor.
After death of Sviatoslav in 972, a lot of arguments, discord and great struggle were started among his sons. Initially, there was a quarrel between Yaropolk and Oleh because Oleh murdered Svenelda's son, Luta, who was hunting in forest on drevliansky lands. Sveneld was hobbled by grief, that’s why he persuaded Yaropolk whose nature was soft and pliable, to revenge Oleh by taking away his land. In 977 Yaropolk went on a campaign against Oleh, their armies met by the river Ovruch and Oleh's troops began to retreat to the city. There were such crowd on the bridge by the castle wall, Prince Oleg and his troops were tossed off the bridge and fell into the moat, where they drowned. After hearing about Yaropolk's crusade in Ovruch and the death of Oleg, Volodymyr, who was then prince of Novgorod, was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 and Novgorod passed into the possession of Yaropolk. However, this government was short-lived. In 980 Volodymyr returned to Kyiv Rus with a Varangian force, they expelled Yaropolk from Novgorod. Volodymyr took Polatsk after the battle in which Prince Rogvolod of Polatsk was killed. Volodymyr took Rogvolod's daughter, Rohneda, as his wife. In that year he gained Kyiv so how Yaropolk was murdered and married with Yaropolk's Greek widow. That’s why he became an all-powerful ruler of Kyiv state - Kyiv Rus.
From first days of his reign, the young prince took up strengthening governance that was shattered by strifes and he started to gather together the land of Kyiv State.
Volodymyr completed the long process of forming the ancient territory by his military campaigns in 981-993 years. Prince annexed unions of East Slav, tribal princedoms of Croats and Dulebs in 981, Vyatichi in 982 whose insurgents he had to pacify by obliging them to pay "tribute from the plow.", Radimichi in 984, putting them tribute, called "driven to this day". and others to the state. Not entirely successful was Volodymyrʼs campaign in 985, on the East to the Volga to Bulgars, because Kyiv prince was unable to force them to pay him a tribute. He had to limit himself with signing a peace treaty. Thus he gathered together all Ukrainian lands into a single whole, Prince Volodymyr ensured their protection from enemy encroachment.
The area of Volodymyrʼs state at that time already occupied about 800 thousand sq. km. and stretched in the North to Chud, Ladoga and Onega lakes; in the South - to the basins of the Don, Ros, Sula and Southern Bug; in the East - between the rivers Oka and Volga rivers, in the West - to the current Dniester, Western Bug, Neman and Western Dvin. At the same time with the military campaigns, Volodymyr had to constantly keep a constant struggle with pechenigs – semi wild, steppe people of Turkic origin. They have lived over half a century in the Ukrainian steppes and even came to Kyiv. War with Pechenigs in 990, 992 (twice), 996, 997, 1001 and 1004 brought Volodymyr the Great brought him military glory. There are a lot different stories and tales about these battles.
The final stage of formation of statehood in Kyiv-Rus demanded from Volodymyr to conduct radical social transformations, aimed at consolidating the country. That’s why, he made a number of different reforms during his reign. The most important reform is considered to be an establishing Christianity OF Kyiv-Rus. It was preceded by the following historical and political events. Firstly, since the second half of the IX century the influence of Christianity approached to borders of Volodymyr state. Thus, in 864 Bulgaria converted to Christianity, in 928-935 years - Czech Republic converted, in 962-992 years – Poland. Secondly, Volodymyr could not know that in 862, Kyiv Prince Askold converted to Christianity by himself, and Volodymyrʼs Grandma Princess Olga was baptized in 955 in Constantinople. That’s why, not only political, but also psychological conditions have induced the need and feasibility of converting to Christianity for the state. He was looking for the right moment, which came later. This is how the story is told by chronicler.
When he had returned from one of the successful military campaigns on Yatvingians, Volodymyr decided to make sacrifice to pagan god Perun. The lot fell on the son of a Varangian Christian. His father did not give his son and said to all that the pagan gods are not true gods but just made by human beings. The real God is one, Greeks worship to Him. Angry crowd of pagans killed the father and son. After this incident, Volodymyr finally decided to convert to new faith - Christian. However, the prince considered demeaning for himself to admit his mistakes to the Greeks, and ask Byzantine emperors for the baptism. But he wanted to "gain" the Christian faith and take it by the winner hand. Therefore, after Volodymyr was cheated by the Greek emperors and did not give their sister to marry him, Princess Anne, Prince gathered a large army and went to the Crimea to the Greek city of Korsun (Kherson). When he won it, Volodymyr sent a request for emperors Vasyl and Constantine to give him Anna. In case of their refusal, he threatened to go on the capital of the Byzantine Empire - Constantinople. Emperors agreed, but on condition that he would convert to Christianity. In Korsun, Volodymyr immediately was baptized in the church of St. Vasyl in 988. After the baptism, Volodymyr the Great married Anna, and he returned the Greek city Korsun to Byzantine.
After his successful campaign, he returned to Kyiv, and Volodymyr began baptism his people. Metropolitan and Greek priests were invited for baptism to Kyiv. Citizens of Kyiv came to the river Dnipro, the mothers held their children in their arms in it. After the baptism, all pagan gods (idols) Volodymyr ordered to drown in the river. Since the Kyiv-Rus became a Christian state, it began developing science and education, in 988 schools began to appear, which goals were learning to read and write. Then Volodymyr gave an order to build in Kiev the Church of the Tithes in 989-996 years and the Church of St. Vasil (this name prince get after baptism). The adoption of Christianity as the religion facilitated an unification of the Rusʼ tribes and the establishment of political, cultural, foreign dynastic religious, and commercial relation, especially with Bulgaria, Germany and Byzantine. When Volodymyrʼs son Sviatopolk married with the daughter of Prince of Poland, relations between these countries has improved.
The adoption of Christianity as the religion facilitated an unification of the Rusʼ tribes and the establishment of political, cultural, foreign dynastic religious, and commercial relation, especially with Bulgaria, Germany and Byzantine.
After the baptism, Volodymyrʼs character has changed. He became pious, gentle, generous, created schools, churches and was in every sense the father of his subjects. He helped poor and old people, orphans and widows. Thatʼs why it is not surprising that all called him an affectionate father and " Yasne sonechko " (Sunshine). He has managed authority and state skillfully for 35 years, had done a deep and effective administrative-territorial and military reforms. Volodymyr the Great lived to old age, and died in July 15, 1015 in the village Berestove (in Kyiv) and was buried in the Church of the Tithes.
He took the principality when Kyiv-Rus suffered from civil wars and internal conflicts, and at the time of his death, it was a powerful, prosperous state, which had to considered by all countries of Europe. The identity of Prince Volodymyr (and his son Yaroslav) - it's really nice, "gold" page in the ancient history of current Ukraine.
Made and translated
by Anastasia Kovalovska