Ignoring the Drevlian envoys who urged him to return home and not trouble them further, Igor approached their capital Iskorosten, where he was killed by Drevlian Prince Mal, who led the rebellion.
A legend persists in the area near the presumed location of Igor’s burial, according to which the enraged Drevlians chased him and his Varangian warriors into the swamp
“There, the Drevlians chased Igor and his Varangians into the swamp. They were chased from Shatrischa and could not escape…they were chased at night. They wanted to escape to Kiev, but they were chased into the swamp. The horses were mired in the mud. There they were captured. That’s the spot – everyone knows it from generation to generation”А.М. Членов “По следам Добрыни”, с. 75, М., 1986
One additional detail is contained in a letter from the Byzantine emperor John to Svyatoslav the Brave: after he was captured, Igor was tied to two bent trees and torn apart:
“I assume that you have not forgotten about the defeat of your father Igor, who, despite the sworn treaty, sailed to our capital with a huge army of 10,000 ships, but arrived at the Cimmerian Bosporus with only ten boats, and himself became the messenger of his own misfortune. I will not mention his [subsequent] pitiful fate, when he was taken captive by the Germans, tied to tree trunks, and torn in half” From the “History” of Leo Deacon – about Prince Igor Rurikovich
Causes of death
The cause of death was the murder by the Drevlyans during the uprising. As for the uprising itself and its sad outcome, it was caused by the following circumstances:
- The prince handed over the collection of tribute from the Drevlyans and Ulich to one person – Sveneld, which allowed the voivode to quickly become rich and caused envy among the warriors of Igor Rurikovich.
- The prince yielded to the persuasions of the warriors to personally go to the Drevlyans.
- Decided to collect tribute twice, despite the protests of the Drevlyans.
- Allowed the warriors to commit violence against the Drevlyans even during the first collection of tribute.
- Went to collect tribute for the second time with only a small detachment of warriors.
Soon after the death of Prince Igor, a Drevlyan embassy arrived by the Dnieper to Princess Olga with a marriage proposal from their prince, Mal. According to the customs of the ancient Slavs, personal movable and immovable property, family members, and the rightful power passed to the murderer and victor of the killed ruler. Igor and Olga’s son, Prince Svyatoslav, was still too young to make decisions, and Olga herself, according to the patriarchal traditions of that time, was not perceived by the Drevlyans as the rightful heir of Igor.
Consequences of Igor’s death – revenge of Princess Olga
Then, for several years in a row, she continued to avenge the Drevlyans: the next delegation from the Drevlyans was burned in a bathhouse, the third time the princess ordered the Drevlyans to be killed at the wake for Igor, and finally, for the fourth time, besieging Iskorosten without success, the princess resorted to trickery – assuring her forgiveness, she asked the Drevlyans to send her birds from the besieged city, and then ordered burning bundles of straw to be tied to them and thus burned the city, destroying most of its inhabitants.
Burial and grave
According to a local legend (recorded in the 1870s), in 1763, at the behest of the landowner Dubravskaya, who owned Nemirovka, excavations of a mound on the western side began. And at night, the spirit of Prince Igor allegedly appeared to the landowner and menacingly warned:
«Do not dare disturb my remains! If your hand touches my grave again tomorrow, the day after tomorrow a grave will already be dug for you!»
After this, Dubravskaya ordered a fence to be erected around the mound.
- А.М. Членов “По следам Добрыни”, с. 75, М., 1986
- From the “History” of Leo Deacon – about Prince Igor Rurikovich