Roman Mstyslavych

Roman Mstyslavych [Роман Мстиславич; Mstyslavyč; Романко; Romanko], b after 1160, d 14 October 1205 in Zawichost, on the Vistula River in Poland. Rus’ prince; son of Mstyslav Iziaslavych and Agnes (Agnieszka, daughter of the Polish prince Bolesław Krzywousty); father of Danylo Romanovych and Vasylko Romanovych. When his father, Mstyslav Iziaslavych, died Roman was bequeathed the Volodymyr principality (1170). He soon managed to consolidate his power in Volhynia by taking control of appanage principalities of Lutsk and Berestia. After the death in 1199 of the last prince of the Rostyslavych house of the Halych principality, Volodymyr Yaroslavych, Roman took power in the princely Halych and united Galicia and Volhynia to create the powerful Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. An able political and military leader, he brought the restive boyars to heel and cultivated the support of the burghers. He waged two successful campaigns against the Cumans, in 1201–2 and 1203–4, from which he returned with many rescued captives. In 1204 he captured Kyiv and thus became the most powerful of all the Rus’ princes. He played an active role in the political affairs of neighboring states, such as Poland, Hungary, Byzantium, Lithuania, and Germany. Roman died at the height of his political influence in the Battle of Zawichost after he was ambushed by the Poles. He was described by a contemporary chronicler as a ‘grand prince, the sole ruler of all Rus’, who conquered the pagans and wisely adhered to the commandments of God.’ He founded the Romanovych dynasty (1199–1340).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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