Kyiv Chronicle

Kyiv Chronicle ( Kyivs’kyi litopys). One of the chronicles, an important historical and literary monument of Kyivan Rus’. Together with Nestor the Chronicler's Povist’ vremennykh lit (Tale of Bygone Years) and the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle it composes the Hypatian Chronicle. The Kyiv Chronicle covers the period from 1118 to 1200. It was compiled in the Vydubychi Monastery in Kyiv using princely, monastery, and family chronicles and stories and accounts by various authors collected in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Pereiaslav, Galicia, and Volhynia. Some sections were copied from the lost Chernihiv Chronicle and lost parts of the Galician Chronicle. Later, sections of the Kyiv Chronicle were included in the Novgorod Chronicles.

The Kyiv Chronicle is not a homogenous work, although there is a certain stylistic unity. In addition to short chronological entries, it contains accounts of the fate of Prince Iziaslav Mstyslavych, the killing of Prince Ihor Olhovych (1147), the death of Prince Rostyslav Mstyslavych (1168), the killing of Prince Andrei Bogoliubskii (1175), and the campaign of Prince Ihor Sviatoslavych (1185). The chronicle ends with a eulogy to Prince Riuryk (Vasylii) Rostyslavych by Moses, the hegumen of Vydubychi Monastery. The entries for 1188 and 1190 are devoted to the crusades led by Frederick I Barbarossa. An accountof the death of the Pereiaslav prince Volodymyr Hlibovych (ca 1187) contains the first use of the word Ukraïna (Ukraine) to refer to the southern territories of Rus’.

Stylistically, the Kyiv Chronicle resembles the embellished style of the Slovo o polku Ihorevi. One of the outstanding features of the chronicle is the frequent use of dialogue to recount events. The tone of the chronicle is secular, although most of its authors were clerics. Military themes are very common, especially in the descriptions of the internecine struggles between the princes of Rus’ for control over Kyiv. Chivalry, glory, and honor are seen to influence the princes' conduct as much as material interests, and they are often portrayed as Christian knights who appeal for God's help in the conviction that victory will come to those who fight for a just cause. At the same time, they exhibit a certain Rus’ patriotism, even when this is combined with more narrow and local political goals.

The Kyiv Chronicle was studied by Mykhailo Hrushevsky, M. Priselkov, D. Likhachev, Boris Rybakov, Aleksii Shakhmatov, and Dmytro Chyzhevsky. Its relationship to Ukrainian historiography was examined by Dmytro Bahalii and Pavlo Klepatsky. It was published several times as part of the Hypatian Chronicle and a Ukrainian translation appeared in the journal Kyïv, 1984, nos 6–8. An English translation by L. Heinrich was published in 1978.

The so-called Short Kyiv Chronicle is a 16th-century chronicle compiled mainly from Novgorod sources. It describes events in late 15th-century Ukraine and includes a panegyric to Prince Kostiantyn Ostrozsky on the occasion of his victory over a Muscovite army in Orsha in 1515.

Dmytro Chyzhevsky, Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989).]




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