After Oleg’s death in 912, the Drevlyans refused to pay tribute, but already the next year Igor led a campaign against them and forced them to submit. Then, at his order, the voivode Sveneld fought with the Ulichians for three years and, after a long siege, took their main city of Peresechen, receiving the right to collect tribute from the Ulichians and Drevlyans as a reward.
Yielding to the persuasion of the retinue, which envied the warriors of Sveneld, who had become rich from collecting tribute, Igor decided to collect tribute by himself in 945. After Igor attempted to collect tribute from the Drevlyans twice, a rebellion began and the prince was killed.
Brief Description of Directions and Main Events
Forced tribute payment by the Drevlyans
In 914, Igor Rurikovich led a campaign against them and, according to chronicles, imposed a higher tribute than Oleg had previously appointed.
The Drevlyans were a freedom-loving tribe, resisting the expansion of Oleg the Prophet and trying to restore independence after his death, but under the pressure of the warlike Varangians, they were forced to yield once again.
Conquest of the Ulichi and the Rise of Sveneld
As a result, the Ulichi were forced to pay tribute similar to that paid by the Drevlyans, and Sveneld was ordered to collect the tribute from them (presumably for successfully carrying out the order).
In 942, Igor also handed over the collection of tribute from the Drevlyans to Sveneld, but the chronicles do not elaborate on the reasons for the prince’s favoritism.
In 945, the chronicles note the reproach of Igor’s warriors to the prince for his excessive love for Sveneld:
«Sveneld’s boys are armed and dressed, while we are naked. Let’s go, Prince, with us for tribute, and you’ll gain for yourself and for us».“The Tale of Bygone Years”
The prince succumbed to the persuasion of the warriors, who envied Sveneld’s wealth from collecting tribute, and decided to conduct the raid himself.
And Igor listened to them, went to the Drevlyans for tribute, added a new one to the old, and his men acted violently against them.“The Tale of Bygone Years”
After collecting tribute, Igor decided to send most of his accompanying warriors home and to collect tribute once again with a small retinue:
«Go home with the tribute, and I will return and collect more».Ibid
Upon learning of Igor’s return, the Drevlyan prince Mal decided to offer decisive resistance to the greedy prince:
«If a wolf goes to the sheep, he will kill the whole herd before he is killed. This is the same: if we don’t kill him, he will destroy us all».Ibid
As Igor was only accompanied by a small retinue, the Drevlyans emerged from Iskorosten and killed most of Igor’s men. Then, in front of the few surviving witnesses, they tied the prince to two bent trees and tore him in half.Leo the Deacon “History”
Nevertheless, Olga understood the reasons for the rebellion and decided to change the rules of tribute collection to prevent possible future uprisings.
Results and Achievements
Let us briefly list the main achievements of Prince Igor Rurikovich in domestic policy:
- The Drevlyans were forced to pay tribute again.
- The Ulichi tribes were subjugated.
- The collection of tribute from the Drevlyans and Ulichi was entrusted to the voivode Sveneld.
- Igor was killed when attempting to collect tribute from the Drevlyans twice.