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Izyaslav I Vladimirovich
Izyaslav I Vladimirovich

 Izyaslav Vladimirovich –the eldest son of Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich of Kyiv and Princess Rogneda of Polotsk, reigned in Polotsk from 989 to 1001, is the ancestor of the dynasty of Polotsk princes.[1]wikipedia

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.[2]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.

Vladimir the Great
Vladimir the Great

Son of Prince Svyatoslav the Brave and slave concubine Malusha (Malka).

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Rogneda of Polotsk
Rogneda of Polotsk
Princess of Polotsk, forcibly taken by Vladimir to marriage.

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Rogneda’s assassination attempt on Vladimir

Reliable evidence of the reasons for Rogneda’s attempt on her husband has not been preserved. According to some versions, the main reason was revenge for the father and brothers he had killed, according to others, lust and Vladimir’s endless betrayals. One way or another, in the Laurentian Chronicle under 1128, a beautiful legend about this event was preserved.

… 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:

Rogneda's assassination attempt on Vladimir. B. A. Chorikov. 1836.
Rogneda’s assassination attempt on Vladimir. B. A. Chorikov. 1836.

“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:

Vladimir, Rogneda and Izyaslav. Engraving XIX
Vladimir, Rogneda and Izyaslav. Engraving XIX

“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 Izyaslav took on his mother’s crime, even aggravated it, but thereby saved her life. From now on, Izyaslav ceased to be considered the heir of his father – but only of his maternal grandfather (it is no coincidence that the chronicler calls him and his descendants “Rogvolod’s grandchildren”). This circumstance explains the fact that the sons of Izyaslav subsequently, after the death of Vladimir, will not take part in the struggle for Kyiv.

Monument to Izyaslav defending Rogned (Zaslavl, Belarus)
Monument to Izyaslav defending Rogned
(Zaslavl, Belarus)

Further fate

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.

Obverse of Izyaslav's seal
Obverse of Izyaslav’s seal
Obverse of Izyaslav's seal
Obverse of Izyaslav’s seal
Coat of arms of the city of Zaslavl
Coat of arms of the city of Zaslavl

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 name of his wife is unknown.

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.

Battle on the Sudoma River. Radziwill Chronicle
Battle on the Sudoma River. Radziwill Chronicle

Conflict between Bryachislav and Yaroslav

Death and burial

Only the year of death has been preserved – 1001. The place of burial is unknown.

Section “Yaroslav the Wise”

Список литературы

  1. wikipedia
  2. portal-slovo.ru
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Опубликовано: 08.08.2022
Изменено: 09.08.2022