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Short biography

St. Ingrid (E. Yakushin, 2009, 20x25, oil on canvas.)
St. Ingrid (E. Yakushin, 2009, 20×25, oil on canvas.)
Ingigerda (Ingegerd Olofsdotter) is the daughter of the first Christian king of Sweden Olaf Schötkonung and Queen Astrid, born in 1001. As a guarantee of peace between Sweden and Norway, she was to marry King Olaf II of Norway. The wedding was to take place in the autumn on the border of the two states on the banks of the river Elv. In accordance with the agreements reached in the fall of 1018, Olaf II arrived at the border to meet with the bride and her father, but they were not there.

The messengers sent to Sweden brought disappointing news: in the summer, ambassadors from the Novgorod “King Yaritsleiva” arrived to Olaf Shetkonung, the Swedish king married his daughter to the future Kyiv prince and ruler of Russia Yaroslav (the Wise), the son of Vladimir Svyatoslavich, who then reigned in Novgorod. Olaf II married Ingigerda’s half-sister Astrid.

Scandinavian chronicles explain what happened like this:

“Olaf jumped off his horse, turned to his daughter and said: “You know, Ingigerd, no matter how much you love this fat man, you can’t be his wife, but he can’t be your husband. I will marry you to a ruler worthy of my friendship. But I will never be the friend of a man who seized my possessions and caused me much damage by robbery and murder.”

Princess Ingigerda set her conditions:

“If I marry King Yaritsleif, then I want Aldeigyuborg and the land that belongs to him as a wedding gift to myself.”

Artist Eduard Yakushin “St. Ingigerd”
Artist Eduard Yakushin “St. Ingigerd”

Ingigerda arrived in Novgorod in the summer of 1019. Before the wedding, she switched to the Orthodox rite and received the name “Irina” consonant with the former.

According to the “Sagas of Saint Olaf”, under a marriage contract, Princess Ingigerda received as a dowry the city of Aldeigaborg (now the village of Staraya Ladoga) with the surrounding lands, which have since received the name Ingermanland – “the lands of Ingigerd’s people”.

There is a version that Ingigerda was the second wife of Yaroslav, since the first wife of the Russian prince in 1018 was captured by the Polish king Boleslav I and, together with Yaroslav’s sisters, was forever taken to Poland.

A.I. Trankovsky. Yaroslav the Wise and the Swedish Princess Ingigerda
A.I. Trankovsky. Yaroslav the Wise and the Swedish Princess Ingigerda

It is logical to assume that Princess Ingigerda arrived in the summer of 1019, because. By that time, Yaroslav had already inflicted a final defeat on his brother Svyatopolk the Accursed. No less logical is the possibility of the arrival of additional regiments of Swedish troops, along with ambassadors-matchmakers returning to Novgorod. Thus, this dynastic marriage could be of very strategic importance.
Scheme - the second strife in Old Rus
Scheme – the second strife in Old Rus


Role in government affairs

According to the surviving sagas, Igigerda was directly involved in public affairs. The Eymund Saga calls Yaroslav not very generous, and sometimes openly greedy. He repeatedly delayed the payment of Eymund’s salary, and this happened after the end of the internecine war. This prompted Eymund to terminate the agreement with Yaroslav and go over to the side of Yaroslav’s nephew (called brother in the Saga) Bryachislav of Polotsk (King Vartislave).

Soon, a war broke out between Bryachislav and Yaroslav. Yaroslav demanded to give up him some cities of the Polotsk principality. During this war, Ingigerda, together with Jarl Rognvald, took part in an attempt to kill yarl Eimund. Before the assassination attempt, Eymund spoke of her like this:

« …— I do not trust her, because she is smarter than King Yarisleif, but I do not want to avoid talking to her.»

Eimund and Ragnar captured Ingigerd, after which Eimund persuaded her to make peace between the princes, the conditions of which historians consider to be clearly fantastic: Yaroslav is recognized as the Grand Duke and holds Novgorod, Bryachislav becomes a prince in Kyiv, and Eimund in Polotsk.

The Grand Duchess founded the first convent in Kyiv in the name of her patroness, the Holy Great Martyr Irina, and, according to the custom of that time, not only took care of the monastery, but also managed it.

In 1045, Yaroslav and Ingigerda went to Novgorod from Kyiv to lay the foundation stone for the St. Sophia Cathedral.

Irininsky pillar, surviving from the Irininsky monastery in Kyiv
Irininsky pillar, surviving from the Irininsky monastery in Kyiv

Role in international relations

After the conquest of England by the Danes in 1016, the sons of the English king Edmund Ironside and the nephews of King Edward the Confessor, the English princes Edward and Edmund fled first to Ladoga, then to Novgorod, then to Kyiv to Yaroslav and Ingigerda, and then to Hungary.

Her former fiancé, the exiled Norwegian king Olaf II, stayed in Novgorod for a long time with his young son. Rumors persisted that during Olaf’s stay in Novgorod, Ingigerda “had a secret love affair with a failed fiancé.” Ingigerda convinced Olaf to leave his son Magnus in Old Rus. Prince Magnus returned to his homeland only when the princess was convinced that the Norwegians would give him the throne of his father, who died immediately after returning to Norway in 1030.

In Veliky Novgorod, the deceased King Olaf was revered as a martyr. According to legend, Olaf had the gift of healing the sick. Once, a woman came to Princess Irina asking for help for her young son, who was choking from a sore throat. Ingigerda sent a messenger to Olaf, who agreed to help when he found out who had transmitted the request for help. Olaf stroked the boy’s throat and gave him a piece of bread to swallow, and the child was healed.

Olaf II the Saint, King of Norway (art. Pius Welonski, 1893)
Olaf II the Saint, King of Norway
(art. Pius Welonski, 1893)

Children of Ingigerda and Yaroslav the Wise

Some sources claim that Ingigerda taught her children the Scandinavian languages and they knew the sagas. In total, nine children were born in the family of Ingigerda and Yaroslav:

Death and burial

According to one version, she died in Novgorod on February 10, 1050 (or 1049-1051), and according to another, having been widowed in 1054, she took the veil as a nun under the name Anna and died in Novgorod on February 10, 1056, having taken monastic vows before her death. The tonsure of Irina-Ingigerda was the first in the grand duke’s house; it began the tradition of tonsure of Russian princes and princesses after they fulfilled their duty as rulers of the people.

Collecting information about Ingigerd, N. M. Karamzin visited Novgorod, where he discovered ancient icons with her image in the bishop’s house. On them she was listed as Saint Anna. He found the same name of the princess in the text of the Sophia Charter, indicating that her memory should be celebrated on September 5 and October 4. Since the researcher knew that the Christian name Ingigerd was Irina, he decided that before her death she took the tonsure under the name Anna.

The historian discovered inside the temple in the most prominent place the burial place of Vladimir and Anna. Above her coffin on the wall was the following inscription:

“The Holy Blessed Princess Anna, Mother of the Holy Blessed Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich, Princess of Sweden, Olav the First, King of Sweden, daughter. In her land she was called Ingegerda, who was formerly the bride of Olaf, King of Norway, then the wife of Yaroslav Vladimirovich of Novgorod and Kyiv. Passed away in the summer from s. M. 6559, dated R. X. 1051. Her relics were laid in the Novgorod St. Sophia Cathedral.

Swedish sources also report that after the death of Ingigerda, Rognvald did not want to return Ladoga to the Novgorodians, and they had to recapture the city by force. Centuries will pass, but the struggle between Sweden and Russia for Ingermanland will not be over and will result in a protracted conflict – the Northern War of 1700-1721.

Section “Yaroslav the Wise”

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Опубликовано: 11.08.2022
Изменено: 11.08.2022