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Briefly about the main points

"Triumph of Prince Oleg" A.Klymenko
“Triumph of Prince Oleg”

It should be understood that the characterization of the personality of Prince Oleg the Prophet is based on scant information from chronicles, which for thousands of years have been subjected to corrections, additions, and in many ways are criticized by modern historians.

Nevertheless, one of the semi-legendary founders of the ancient Russian state firmly occupies a place both in public consciousness and as the subject of numerous works of art of various genres and directions.

Below is a brief list of the main information characterizing the personality of Prince Oleg the Prophet and his influence on history:

Character traits and qualities

  • Responsible mentor – ulfilled Rurik’s task by not only raising Igor but also preparing a solid foundation for his further development of the state.
  • Skilled tactician – the decision to put the ships on wheels before the siege of Constantinople scared the Greeks and made them ask for peace.
  • Prudent – in the chronicles, the people called Oleg “the Prophet” for his ability to predict the behavior of the enemy.
  • True Varangian – the majority of the prince’s life consisted of military campaigns in which he was fortunate.

Main merits and achievements

  • United Kiev and Novgorod – by relocating the capital after the murder of Askold and Dir, he linked the two centers of settlement of the eastern Slavs and laid the foundation for the future state.
  • Subdued neighboring tribes – deprived the Khazars of several tribute-paying tribes, increased his own army, and strengthened his economic position.
  • Built cities – to consolidate and defense on new territories.
  • Successful campaign on Tsargrad – concluded a peace treaty with favorable conditions for Russes merchants.

The image of Oleg the Wise in the descriptions of Russian historians

N. M. Karamzin

What the Chronicle tells us about the consequences of Oleg’s death is much more important and reliable: the people mourned and shed tears. What could be said stronger and more striking in praise of the deceased Prince? Therefore, Oleg not only terrified his enemies, but was also loved by his subjects. Warriors could mourn in him a brave and skilled leader, while the people, a defender. “By adding the best and richest countries of modern Russia to the State, this Prince was the true founder of its greatness. Rurik possessed from Estonia, Slavic Keys and Volkhov to Bela Ozero, the mouth of the Oka River and the city of Rostov, while Oleg conquered everything from Smolensk to the Sula River, the Dniester and, it seems, the Carpathian Mountains.”
Nikolai Karamzin Art. A. Venetsianov, 1828
Nikolai Karamzin
Art. A. Venetsianov, 1828

The wisdom of a Ruler blooms with the educated States; but only the strong hand of a Hero establishes great Empires and serves as a reliable support in their dangerous news. Ancient Russia is famous not for one hero: none of them could compare with Oleg in conquests that established its powerful existence. Has history recognized him as an unlawful Lord since he came of age after Rurik’s heir? Do great deeds and state benefit not excuse the ambition of Oleg? And could hereditary rights, not yet established in Russia by custom, seem sacred to him?.. But the blood of Askold and Dir stains his glory[1]N. M. Karamzin, clipping from the 5th chapter of the “History of the Russian State”.

S. M. Solovyov

S. M. Solovyov
S. M. Solovyov
In the analysis of legends about Oleg, we see that in popular memory he was represented not so much as a brave warrior, but as a wise or cunning Prince, which, according to the concepts of that time, meant the same thing: by cunning, Oleg seized Kiev, skillfully subjugated the tribes living on the eastern side of the Dnieper; under Tsargrad, cunning frightened the Greeks, was did not deceived by the most cunning people himself and was called wise by his own people.

In the legend, he is also a prince-custodian of the land: he arranges tributes, builds cities; under him, almost all the tribes living along the eastern waterway gather under one banner, gain an understanding of their unity, and for the first time, united forces undertake a distant campaign. This is the legend of Oleg, and the historian has no right to suspect this legend, to reject the significance of Oleg as a gatherer of tribes[2]S. M. Solovyov, clipping from the 5th chapter of the “History of Russia”.

S.F. Platonov

Through the beautiful mist of folk legends, the historical reality only becomes visible from the time of the Novgorod ruler or prince Oleg (879-912).

Oleg’s success made a deep impression on Rus: he was praised in songs, and his deeds were embellished with fairy-tale traits. Oleg’s activity indeed had exceptional significance: he created a large state from disconnected cities and tribes, liberated Slavs from Khazar subjugation, and arranged proper trade relations between Rus and Byzantium through treaties. In short, he was the creator of Russian-Slavic independence and power[3]Сергей Федорович Платонов. Полный курс лекций по русской

S.F. Platonov Russian historian
S.F. Platonov
Russian historian

For a more detailed study of the main events of foreign and domestic policy, corresponding sections have been developed:

If you are interested in a more detailed study of the prince’s life, we have prepared a complete version of the history of his activities, illustrated with a large number of portraits and thematic images (reading time 15-20 minutes):

Detailed biography of
Prince Oleg the Prophet

Список литературы

  1. N. M. Karamzin, clipping from the 5th chapter of the “History of the Russian State”
  2. S. M. Solovyov, clipping from the 5th chapter of the “History of Russia”
  3. Сергей Федорович Платонов. Полный курс лекций по русской истории
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Опубликовано: 09.03.2023
Изменено: 09.03.2023