There is very little information in the sources about him. The chronicle calls Izyaslav the first among the sons of Rogneda; he was probably really the eldest among them, but the year of his birth is unknown, presumably attributed by historians to the end of 978 or the beginning of 979.portal-slovo.ru
The Polotsk princess refused the young Vladimir the Baptist during his matchmaking, and insulted, saying “I do not want the son of a slave.” After that, Vladimir first defeated the troops of her father, Rogvold, and then laid siege to Polotsk. As a result, the offended prince forced Rogneda to become his wife, having previously killed his father and brothers before her eyes.
Rogneda’s assassination attempt on Vladimir
… Once, when Vladimir came to her bedchamber and stayed with her, Rogneda waited until the prince fell asleep, and then took a knife in her hand and brought it over the sleeping man. Suddenly Vladimir woke up. He grabbed the princess’s hand and took the knife away. And Rogneda said to the prince:
“I am sad because you killed my father and filled his land for my sake, and now you no longer love me with my baby.”
And she pointed to Izyaslav, who was sleeping right there. Vladimir ordered the princess to dress up in all her attire, as on her wedding day, and sit on the bed in the upper room, so that when he returned, he would execute her. He himself went out.
Izyaslav protects his mother
Having done everything as Vladimir ordered her, Rogneda woke up Izyaslav, handed him a naked sword and taught him what to say when his father returned. And when Vladimir entered the upper room, his son stood up against him with a sword in his hand and addressed him with these words:
“Father! Or do you think you’re the only one here?”
And Vladimir answered:
“Who would have thought you were here?”
And he lowered his sword and went out. And Vladimir called his boyars, and told about what had happened. The boyars said to him:
“Do not kill your wife, prince, for the sake of your child, but give her, together with her son, her fatherland.”
Vladimir built a city in the fatherland of Rogneda (Polotsk land) and named it Izyaslavl – after the name of his son, and gave it to both of them.
“From that time,,” the chronicler concludes, “the grandsons of Rogvold raise their swords against the grandchildren of Yaroslav”.
So, on the advice of the boyars, Vladimir gave Izyaslav and Rogneda the region of the wife’s father (Rogvolod), that is, Polotsk, in which he built the city of Izyaslavl (now Zaslavl) for them. Later, Izyaslav rebuilt the capital (Polotsk) destroyed by Vladimir, moving it to a higher and impregnable place at the mouth of the Polota River, on its left bank. It is likely that at first, his mother Rogneda was the regent with him.
His family sign (tamga) is known – a trident with a small cross on the middle prong. The modern emblem of the city of Zaslavl recalls the events of more than a thousand years ago.
Characteristics in chronicles
According to the chronicler, Izyaslav was by nature a rather calm and reasonable prince. The Nikon chronicle shows him as an intelligent, educated person.
«May this prince be quiet and meek, and humble, and merciful, and loving zealously and honoring the priestly rite of monasticism, and diligently reading divine writings, and turning away from vain mockery, and tearful, and tender, and long-suffering …»
Wives and children
The sons were Vseslav Izyaslavich and Bryachislav Izyaslavich Polotsky. There is practically no information about Vseslav, he died as a child, but Bryachislav is mentioned separately in the annals in connection with the period of Yaroslav the Wise’s approval on the throne of Kiev – in 1021, a battle took place between the princes-relatives on the Sudoma River.
Death and burial
Only the year of death has been preserved – 1001. The place of burial is unknown.