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Saturday, 06 January 2018 15:18

A HISTORY OF UKRAINE. EPISODE 17. PRINCE SVIATOSLAV: THE CONQUEST OF ZALESYE AND CRIMEA

Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 06.01.2018 


EPISODE 16 HERE 

 

Varangian princes quickly intermixed with the Slavs. Sviatoslav the Brave, son of Ihor (Ingvar) and Olha, was the first prince from the Rurik dynasty to receive a Slavic name (thou Varangians still called him Sveinald Ingvarsson), but in contrast with his mother's conversion to Christianity, Sviatoslav remained a staunch pagan all of his life. 

 

The chronicle points to his bravery — he warned enemies before launching campaigns against them: “I am coming for you.” The Byzantine historian Leo the Deacon saw Sviatoslav with his own eyes and his description is a later archetypical image of a Ukrainian Cossack: long mustache, haircut in the form of a long lock of hair sprouting from an otherwise shaven head, an earring in one ear and a white shirt.

 

the sviatoslav oneSviatoslav the Brave, 19th-century reconstruction, according to a description by his contemporary Leo the Deacon (10th century). 

 

For the first time in history, Sviatoslav the Brave subjected to Kyiv the lands in Zalesye, which would later become Central Muscovy (Russia) and were inhabited by Finno-Ugric tribes (Merya, Muroma, Meshchera, Erzya, Moksha etc.) at the time. During 964–966, Sviatoslav subjugated the tribes of the Vyatichi and ordered them to pay tribute to Kyiv rather than to the Khazars, as they did before. 


Sviatoslav destroyed the Khazar state, a powerful competitor which hurt the Slavic lands with their raids and demands for tribute. In 965, after covering a distance of several thousand kilometers, Sviatoslav conquered the Khazar capital Itil, forcing the Khazar magnates to hide on Volga River islands. Moreover, Sviatoslav conquered the second Khazar capital Sarkel on the Don River (now in Rostov Oblast in Muscovy aka Russia) to which he gave the Ukrainian name Bila Vezha (White Tower). This city played the role of an advanced outpost of the Kyivan state until the early 12th century.

 

the sviatoslav v bulgarsSviatoslav invading Bulgaria, Manasses Chronicle 


Sviatoslav initially helped Byzantium in its war against the Bulgars but later switched sides. In numerous battles in the Balkans, the prince ordered to have the gates locked behind his troops so that no one could take refuge behind the fortress walls in case of defeat. However, his army was exhausted in battles, while the Byzantine warriors received aid. As the Kyivan force retreated to obtain reinforcements, the Byzantines incited the Pechenegs to attack the Rusyns. Only a small part of the army led by a voivode fought its way to Kyiv, while the prince himself was killed in action. 

 

the sviatoslav two murder

The murder of Prince Sviatoslav by the Pechenegs, miniature from the Chronicle of John Skylitzes, 12th century.  


Sviatoslav the Brave was the first to establish Kyiv’s control over the lands in Crimea previously controlled by the Khazars. The Eastern Crimea became the core of the Tmutorokan Principality which was dependent on Kyiv. 

TO EPISODE 18

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