Sviatopolk I

Sviatopolk I [Svjatopolk] (appellation: Okaiannyi [the Damned or the Accursed]), b 978, d 24 July 1019. Kyivan Rus’ prince; son of Volodymyr the Great. In actuality Sviatopolk was probably the son of Volodymyr's brother, Yaropolk I Sviatoslavych, whose widow, Predslava, Sviatopolk's Greek mother, Volodymyr took as his third wife; thus Sviatopolk is counted among Volodymyr's sons. He was the son-in-law of the Polish prince Bolesław I the Brave and prince of Turiv, from which position he was ousted in 1012 because of a conspiracy against Volodymyr. Sviatopolk captured Kyiv on 15 July 1015, after Volodymyr's death. According to the Primary Chronicle he ordered the death of his brothers, Borys Volodymyrovych, Hlib Volodymyrovych (see Saints Borys and Hlib), and Sviatoslav Volodymyrovych, for which the chronicler dubbed him ‘Okaiannyi.’ Sviatopolk planned to unite the lands inherited from his father, but his stepbrother, Yaroslav the Wise, then prince of Novgorod the Great, opposed him. Sviatopolk allied with the Pechenegs, but he was defeated by Yaroslav's armies at the Battle of Liubech at the end of 1016, and fled to Poland. With assistance from the Polish army Sviatopolk regained the Kyivan throne on 14 August 1018; that same year, however, Yaroslav the Wise returned and banished him. Sviatopolk again enlisted the help of the Pechenegs, but he was defeated at the Alta River on 24 July 1019, and died while fleeing westward to the wilderness between Czech and Polish lands. During his reign in Kyiv Sviatopolk minted a silver coin, ornamented after the style of Volodymyr's silver coins, with the inscription ‘Sviatopolk na stole a se eho srebro’ (Sviatopolk Is on the Throne and This Is His Silver).

A. Zhukovsky

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