Why Kyiv Prince Volodymyr is NO Better than Harvey Weinstein
In the chronicles, the great conqueror and reformer is also called a great debaucher. The Prince had six wives and hundreds of concubines. He treated women same as power – he craved and commandeered.
In 972, Prince Svyatoslav died in the ambush of nomads near the island of Khortytsa. Five years later, his eldest sons – Yaropolk and Oleg – begin the first in the Kievan Rus internecine war.
Volodymyr, the youngest son of the Prince, who was given born by slave Malusha, decides not to participate in the conflict and flees to Scandinavia. He returns after the death of Oleg and with the hired army of Varangians goes to Kiev, where Yaropolk is waiting for him.
Both of them are great-grandsons of Rurik, the first Prince of Rus mentioned in chronicles. The ascendants of Rurik will control the Dnipro part of the way “from the Vikings to the Greeks” for another three centuries. To take possession of the land of the clan, to receive all power and income from control over trade, Volodymyr will experience war, lies and love.
“He was insatiable in fornication, both with married women and virgins,” – The Tale of Bygone Years wrote 150 years later. A century later, the church recognizes the Prince as a saint.
This is the story of Volodymyr’s three most famous women.
From Scandinavia to Constantinople.
THE PRINCESS WHO MADE WRONG CHOICE
The 18-year-old daughter of the Polotsk Prince had to make a fatal choice between two warring brothers. Yaropolk and Volodymyr both wanted to marry Rognida and enter into alliance with her father Rogvolod.
The girl refused to get married to Volodymyr, having said “I do not want to take off shoes of a bastard” – under the Slavic custom that is I do not want to take shoes of a son of a slave. She chose Yaropolk – the ruler of Kiev, the legitimate son of Svyatoslav.
In response to such insulting form of refusal, Volodymyr defeated the army of Rogvolod and after a short siege captured the city of Polotsk. On the advice of Dobrynya, commander of his army and his uncle, Volodymyr raped Rognida in the presence of her relatives, and then killed her father and two brothers. Having married the girl, the Prince gave her a new name – Gorislava.
After that, Volodymyr goes to Kiev. He will confirm Yaropolk to try negotiations, and will immediately kills the opponent. The new ruler of the Kievan Rus is not yet even 20 years old.
Time is not healing Goryslava-Rognida. After ten years of marriage and birth of seven children, she decides to kill her husband while he is sleeping, but somehow he manages to survive. The only possible punishment for her attempt to kill the Prince is death, but the son Izyaslav stands up for his mother with the sword. Volodymyr allegedly feels pity about his heir and decides to send them both to rule the Polotsk lands.
The descendants of Izyaslav later referred to themselves as Rogvolodovichi, thus trying to forget the relationship with the cursed family of Rurik.
Brother of Malusha, mother-slave of Volodymyr, also possible prototype of the hero Dobrynya Mykytych.
Now the city of Polotsk is a district center of the Vitebsk region of Belarus.
- Read also about the son of Vladimir Yaroslav HERE.
NUN, SLAVE, WIDOW
Volodymyr is not yet a saint and not even a Christian, therefore he does not even think about monogamy. Rognida is his second wife with the living first, nameless daughter of the Czech Prince. However, this is not enough for him. After the assassination of his brother, Volodymyr also takes Julia, his brother’s pregnant widow. In 970, Svyatoslav brought a nun – as a souvenir – to his son Yaropolk from his campaign to Byzantium. However, it was not long for Julia to bear the title of Princess. Now she is Volodymyr’s slave.
“Volodymyr began to live with his brother’s wife, a Greek, and she was pregnant, and Svyatopolk was born of her. From sinful root, an evil fruit happens: firstly, his mother was a nun, and secondly, Volodymyr lived with her not in marriage, but as a lover. That is why Volodymyr never liked Svyatopolk – since he was a son of two fathers: Yaropolk and Volodymyr“, – The Tale of Bygone Years explains.
Chroniclers referred to Svyatopolk, the son of the nun as “Cursed”. After Volodymyr’s death, he began a war in which he killed at once three of his brothers.
THE PRINCESS ANNA PORHYROGENITA
During the first 8 years of his reign, Volodymyr managed to lay a tribute to the peoples who lived on the lands from the Baltic to the Black Seas. He wants to unite separated tribes into one state with the help of faith.
When Byzantium was struggling with the civil war, Volodymyr sent his Army of the Varangians to help the Emperor. In exchange for help, the Prince requires a high price – one who has the right to the throne, Princess Anna – he wants her to become his wife. For the Greek monarch, the affinity with the gentile was abusive, but after reconciliation with Rognida, the Prince knew that the way to the female heart sometimes goes with a sword. Volodymyr captures Korsun of Byzantine and threatens to attack Constantinople.
The gesture was convincing. In 988, Volodymyr got what he wanted: he was baptised and married Anna immediately in Korsun. This union made the Prince a legitimate contender for the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire.
A troop of 6,000 soldiers helped Emperor Basil II suppress the uprising of Bardas Phokas the Younger.
The Tale of Bygone Years describes how baptism and marriage with Anna transformed Volodymyr into exemplary family man. Becoming a Christian, he frees all his pagan wives and concubines. Julia repeatedly accepted the baptism, and Rognida became a nun.
Having arrived to the Kievan Rus, Anna Porphyrogenita also brings stone churches and Greek clergy, and reading and writing skills begin to spread. In the future, the monks will refer to Volodymyr as saints and will write down his story for the descendants in Biblical style.
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