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Bas-relief of Elizabeth Yaroslavna - Queen of Norway.
Bas-relief of Elizabeth Yaroslavna – Queen of Norway.
The second daughter of Yaroslav the Wise and Ingigerda of Sweden, sister of Anna Yaroslavna (Queen of France) and Anastasia Yaroslavna (Queen of Hungary). Elizabeth (in the Scandinavian chronicles – Ellisif) She became the wife of King Harald III of Norway the Severe. Also known as “Elisiv of Kiev” in Western historical tradition.

The name Elizabeth is not mentioned in Russian chronicles; little is known about her life before marriage. A colorful story about the courtship of the Norwegian king Harald and their marriage is contained in the Scandinavian sagas. Mentions of the marriage of Harald to the daughter of the “King of Russia Yaroslav” and the Bremen cleric Adam, the author of “The Acts of the Bremen Archbishops” (XI century)[1]wikipedia

Elizaveta Yaroslavna cycle "Kyiv princesses on the thrones of Europe", Main Post Office of Kyiv, 2016
Elizaveta Yaroslavna cycle “Kyiv princesses on the thrones of Europe”,
Main Post Office of Kyiv, 2016

Elizabeth and Harald III Hardrada

Harald Sigurdarson arrived in Russia in 1031. He was only 16 years old, and he was already an exile. His half-brother King Olaf the Fat (or Saint), who baptized Norway with fire and sword, aroused general discontent in the country and was killed in the battle of Stiklastadir. Harald was wounded in this battle and fled first to Sweden, and then to the south, to Novgorod (in Old Norse “Gardarika”, literally – the country of cities), to Yaroslav. He had just lost his brother and mentor, he was bitter but hoped for the best[2]portal-slovo.ru.

According to the sagas, Harald wooed the daughter of Yaroslav and Ingigerd, “whose name was Elizabeth, the Normans call her Ellisiv,” but was refused.

Harald III Hardrada, King of Norway, mosaic window in St. Magnus Cathedral
Harald III Hardrada, King of Norway, mosaic window in St. Magnus Cathedral

“It seems to me,,” the sagas convey the answer of the Kievan prince, “in many respects, what suits my daughter is what concerns you; but here they may begin to say … that it would be a somewhat hasty decision if I gave it to a foreigner who has no state to govern and who, moreover, is not rich enough in movable property … “

Harald achievs the hand of Elizabeth

To become the husband of Elizabeth, Harald began to win both wealth and status. In military service with Yaroslav the Wise, Harald spent from 1031 to 1034. He communicated mostly with combatants, studied martial arts and participated in feasts. He also took part in receiving tribute from the tribes subject to “King Yaritsleiv” and suppressed their revolts. In particular, it is said that Harald, together with his retinue, participated in the military campaign of Yaroslav and Mstislav in 1031 against Poland.
Map showing the direction of the Polish campaigns of Yaroslav the Wise in 1030-1031
Map showing the direction of the Polish campaigns of Yaroslav the Wise in 1030-1031

Then he entered the service of the Byzantine emperor, fought with pirates in the Aegean in the autumn of 1034, and participated in the Byzantine military expedition to Sicily in 1036-1039/40. under the command of George Maniak. In the spring and summer of 1041, he suppressed the Delyan uprising in Bulgaria. Skald Tjodolv Arnarson even gave him the nickname “destroyer of the Bulgarians.” After these events, he became the commander of the entire guard of the Byzantine emperor.[3]scandinews.fi.

Wilhelm Wetlessen. Illustration for the saga of Harald the Severe / Heimskringla 1899 edition. Harald and Svein at the table.
Wilhelm Wetlessen. Illustration for the saga of Harald Hardrada / Heimskringla 1899 edition. Harald and Svein at the table.

Later, due to palace intrigues, Harald falls into disgrace with the new ruler. Fleeing from the court, the future king of Norway and his soldiers were forced to flee from Constantinople to Kyiv. By that time, Yaroslav the Wise had accumulated a huge amount of gold and precious stones, which Harald sent him for safekeeping during his mercenary.

As the skald Bolwerk later said about this:

“King, you wiped the blood from your sword before sheathing it. You fed the ravens with raw meat. The wolves howled on the crests of the mountains. And you spent the next year, stern king, in the east in Gard; never heard of any warrior being superior to you.”

Elizaveta Yaroslavna - modern picture
Elizaveta Yaroslavna – modern picture

Songs of Harald about Elizabeth

The fact that Harald really had passionate feelings for the Russian princess is evidenced by the famous “Visy of Joy” – poetic stanzas dedicated to Ellisiv, composed by the Norwegian king on the way back from Byzantium to Russia (autumn 1042). According to the authors of the Saga of Harald Hardrada, there were sixteen stanzas in total, and they all had the same ending:

«…However, the girl in Garda does not want to feel inclined towards me.».

A. K. Tolstoy in 1869 published in the Vestnik Evropy not a translation, but a ballad based on the Vis of Joy, and called it the Song of Harald and Yaroslavna. Full text under spoiler:

Returning from wanderings, Harald received the hand of Elizabeth, with whom he played a magnificent wedding.

The Saga of Harald quotes the words of the Icelandic skald Stuv the Blind from his song composed around 1067 and dedicated to Harald:

“The militant king Egda took the wife he wanted. He got a lot of gold and the king’s daughter..

In 1046, Harald joined the struggle for the Norwegian throne. As a result of successful military alliances and the support of loyal warriors who went through years of wandering with him, Harald III became the king of Norway. He and Elizabeth moved to his kingdom, where the Kievan princess bore him two daughters, Maria and Ingigerd.

However, already in 1048, Harald took his second wife, Thorbergsdottir, the daughter of an influential Norwegian magnate, who would bear him two sons. (One of the sagas says that Harald parted with Ellisiv back in Novgorod, handing her a significant amount of money: a whole goatskin filled with silver. However, this story is recognized as unreliable.)

On September 25, 1066, while trying to conquer Britain, Harald was killed at the Battle of Stamfordbridge. On his last campaign, he was accompanied by Elizabeth and his daughters, whom he left behind in the Orkney Islands. On “the same day and the same hour” when King Harald died in England, according to the sagas, his daughter Mary died.

The death of Harald III the Severe at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066 Painting by P. N. Arbo (1831-1892)
The death of Harald III the Severe at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066
Painting by P. N. Arbo (1831-1892)

The further fate of the Kyiv princess

Information about the further fate of the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, who was widowed at about 40 years old, is contradictory. According to one version, after returning home with her daughter, she spent the rest of her life at the court of her son or stepson Magnus. After the death of Harald, he became King Magnus II (1048-1069) at the age of 18 – Harald himself appointed him his governor before the ill-fated campaign in England. According to another version, Olisava-Elizabeth married a second time, to the Danish king Sven II Estridssen. With him, Harald fought for the throne of Denmark for almost 20 years, but never became the Danish king, but his widow became the Danish queen. Where and when the Kyiv princess ended her life is unknown to historians.

Shortly after the death of her father, in 1067, Elizabeth’s daughter Ingigerda (1046-1120) was married to the Danish prince Olaf (the son of her mother’s alleged husband, the Danish king Sven II Estridssen), who became king of Denmark in 1086. After the death of her husband in 1095, Ingigerda married a second time, to the Swedish prince Philip, who in 1105 became king of Sweden. Thus, this granddaughter of Yaroslav the Wise wore two crowns in her life – Danish and Swedish.

Section “Yaroslav the Wise”

Список литературы

  1. wikipedia
  2. portal-slovo.ru.
  3. scandinews.fi.
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Опубликовано: 11.08.2022
Изменено: 11.08.2022