Danylo Halytsky – the King of Rus
The figure of Danylo Romanovych (1201-1264) (Halytsky he was called much later) – is one of the most well-known, noticeable and out-of-ordinary personalities in the world. Danylo Halytsky (Daniel of Galicia) – was the son of Volhynian Prince (Knyaz) Roman Mstyslavovych and Princess of Byzantium Anna. In 1205, he experienced exile to Hungary, when he was pretty young – only four-year-old boy, when his father died, the boyars of Galicia sent Danylo, his brother Vasylko Romanovych and their mother out. While living in Poland, Danylo was brought up at the court of the Hungarian King. During that period Novhorod, Chernihiv, Belz, Hungarian princes ruled over Galicia.
When Danylo had grown up, he started his struggle for his father’s inheritance and throne. This battle had lasted for years until Danylo’s coronation. Although even after that Danylo Romanovych was forced to be at war with new enemies – Mongols. Being the incarnation of Knyaz-figher and Knyaz-architect, he will always be remembered as one of the most significant figures of that time.
Fate was well-disposed to Danylo Halytsky. Being the young Prince he succeeded to be confirmed in Volhynia. In 1221 Danylo renovated his authority over there, where the boyars and inhabitants had remained faithful to his dynasty. It was the place, wherefrom he started to re-conquer his father’s belongings from Hungarians and unruly boyars. He took part in the notorious battle of Kalka river, where he met “the scourge of Europe” – Mongols – for the first time. The battle between two armies: the army of Mongol Empire and a coalition of several Rus’ printicipalities, involving Kyiv, Halych and the Cumans, ended with the Mongol victory. Nevertheless, Danylo Romanovych deserved the glory of courageous Knyaz, who was fighting so persistently, that “didn’t feel the wounds, which covered his body”. This battle, mentioned above, ended with the Mongol victory and became the beginning of Mongol domination on Rus. A combat against “Mongol evil” became a long-life goal of Danylo Halytsky.
The Mongols and the Hungarians were not the only enemies of the Knyaz. The Polish and German-Polish Dobrzyń Order encroached on Rus acres from the West. Fortunately by 1238, he had defeated the Dobrzyń Knights and thereby regained dominions upon Halychyna (Galicia), as well as upon its capital. This victory also promoted the annexation of Beresteyschina (from the name of Brest). The annals reveal that “the inhabitants of Halych had flung into Danylo’s arms as children to their father, as bees to the mother bee, as thirsty people to the spring”.
One year later, in 1239, Danylo succeeded in acquiring Kyiv – which was considered the center of Rus and its traditional glorious capital.
During 1230-1239 the lands of Galician-Volhynian principality extended from Zakarpattya to Dnipro, from Brest to the Black sea. The Knyaz encoeraged the development of craft and trade, constructing new cities – Cholm (polish – Chełm), Lviv (which is called in honor of his son – Lev). At all, there were dozens of cities in Halychyna in that time.
In this manner Danylo confirmed his domination upon the bigger part of Ukraine. Military and political success of the young Prince had elevated the authority of Danylo Halytsky as a notable statesman, military leader and diplomat. The chronicler wrote with honor that Danylo “had gained Brest and whole Ukraine”, that is whole South-Western Rus, which called – Ukraine.
Finally, the struggle for his father’s inheritance ended in 1245, while the battle upon Yaroslav, where Danylo altogether with his brother Vasylko defeated the regiments of Chernihiv Knyaz Rostyslav, the Hungarians, the Polish and unruly Galician boyars, who did not desire to accept his authority. This brilliant victory of the Prince – courageous military leader, who personally took part in the battle, – had a significant historical meaning. It had stopped the aggressive intentions to Halychyna of Kingdom of Poland and Kingdom of Hungary for a long time. Hungarian King set up friendly relationships with Danylo, as his daughter was married to the son of Danylo – Lev Danylovych.
This victory had also elevated international authority of Galician-Volhynian principality as a powerful East-European country.
His brother Vasylko became the ruler of Volhynia. Although Danylo kept the Galician title to himself, he was involved in both places.
It was only the beginning of his exhausting and long-termed struggle. The most difficult were the relationships with the Golden Horde.
The Mongols would come with their army from the East. To protect his dominions, he decided to make the commander Dmytro the regent of Kyiv. The regent Dmytro was supposed to defend the city. However, its walls had been broken after a long siege. In spite of the fierce fighting within Kyiv, the city was considerably damaged and fell on the sixth of December, 1240.
The Mongols, after acquiring of Kyiv, did not intend to stop – they had continued their seizure further to the West. Danylo was forced to recognize himself literally and formally Khan Batu’s vassal. He was told “you are one of ours now”. But he did not accept it in fact. He continued to fortify the cities, while constructing new ones (in particular, Danylo Halytsky is considered to be Lviv founder). During anti-Mongol fighting the first recollection about Lviv was mentioned.
He also attempted to organize a coalition of Rus Princes against the Mongols, drawing to it the countries of Catholic Europe. To carry the plan out, Danylo established friendly cordial relations with the lords of the Kingdom of Poland and the Kingdom of Hungary. This activity also was noticed by Rome Pope Innocent IV, who understood a possibility to support Danylo’s intentions and wrote an appeal to the Catholic sovereigns. Pope Innocent IV confided them to support Rus Knyaz Danylo in his anti-Mongol actions. He also sent his resentative to crown Prince Danylo as the King of Rus.
The coronation took place in 1253 at Dorohochyn on the Bug River. Actually, this fact was more significant than it seemed to be. This was literally the announcement of the war against the Mongols; and acceptance of Galician-Volhynian state, as a part of Europe of that time. It made Danylo Romanovych one of the most influential and authoritative Princes of the region. Danylo Romanovych was acclaimed to make Rus totally Catholic, although it is just an unconfirmed myth. The most significant evidence of this is that the difference between ceremonies did not matter much then. Moreover, the annals reveal that after Danylo’s coronation “Pope had condemned those, who blaspheme orthodox faith”.
Unfortunately, the anti-Mongol coalition was doomed to stop its existence and the allies did not actually help Danylo, when the real threat affronted him. During 1254-1257 he was forced to fight with the armies of the Golden Horde on his own. He struck off numerous attacks at one of the Mongols leaders – Kuremsa, noticeably defeating his armies. Such a behaviour irritated the leaders of the Golden Horde very much, so they decided to punish the disobedient Prince. In 1258 the regiments of Burundai interfered with the Galician-Volhynian principality. Without any support Danylo was obliged to accept the harsh Mongolian demands. He defeated the biggest castles in Lutsk, Lviv, Volodymyr and other cities, except Cholm. He also recognized himself to be the vassal of the Golden Horde and promised to take part in their military expeditions.
Danylo Romanovych did not manage to achieve total independence for Galician-Volhynian state. But the Golden Horde could not totally conquer it either.
The last years of his life Danylo Halytsky spent devoting himself to the internal matters of the country. He replaced a lot of boyars, lessen at the peasants’ dependence. He encouraged the craftsmen, the tradesmen, he solved his family matters. During last years of his life he was seriously ill and was almost blind. The famous courageous Prince died in 1264 in Cholm not being very old. The chronicler, a contemporary of Danylo, wrote: “Danylo was a kind Knyaz, courageous and wise, who had constructed a lot of cities and built churches, and decorated them. And he was known by his sincere brotherly love to his brother Vasylko. Danylo was as wise as Solomon.”
In those extremely difficult, dark times of the XIIIth century the success of Knyaz Danylo was undoubtedly very significant.
Despite all the hardships and due to Danylo Halytsky, Rus had got its first King and then – the European acceptance. An interesting fact is that after death of the last Galician-Volhynian Prince the lands were attached to Poland as a separate Rus Province.
A marvelous monument to Danylo Halytsky was erected in 2001 in Lviv. Another monument is situated in Halych. Both of them are worth to be seen.
Lviv Danylo Halytsky International Airport is named after him.