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Saturday, 13 January 2018 14:31

A HISTORY OF UKRAINE. EPISODE 23. MSTYSLAV THE GREAT, HIS SON IZIASLAV AND HIS HALF-BROTHER YURIY

Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 13.01.2018 

 

EPISODE 22 HERE 


Grand Prince Mstyslav (ruled in Kyiv in 1125–1132), the eldest son of Volodymyr II Monomakh, was called “the Great” by his contemporaries for his authority both inside the country and internationally. His mother was Gytha, an English princess, the daughter of Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Mstyslav subdued attempts to secede in Kyiv-controlled lands and strengthened Kyiv’s standing as a capital. Mstyslav’s descendants maintained control over Ukraine until the 16th and the 17th centuries. 

 

the Izia icon

Vyshgorod (Volodymyr) Theotokos icon, brought from Byzantium under Mstyslav I Volodymyrovych, stolen from Vyshgorod and taken to Zalesye, now in Moscow 

 

Later, Grand Prince Yaropolk II, the fourth son of Volodymyr II Monomakh and Gytha, ruled in Kyiv in 1132–1139; and Grand Prince Vsevolod II, son of prince Oleg, and a grand-son of Grand Prince (1073–1076) Sviatoslav II the Usurpator, seized the power and ruled in Kyiv in 1139–1146. 

 

Grand Prince Iziaslav (on the main picture; ruled in Kyiv in 1146–1154) was the second son of Mstyslav the Great and the Norwegian princess Christina. His main opponent was his uncle Yuri Dolgorukiy (Yuriy the Long-Armed), son of Volodymyr II Monomakh and his second wife Eufimia from Byzantium, prince of Suzdal (Zalesye, now Muscovy), located on the northeastern outskirts of the Kyivan state. He received his sobriquet for his unusually long arms.

 

the Izia sword

The hilt of a sword, Zaporizhia Oblast 

 

Yuri Dolgorukiy was extremely unpopular in Kyiv for cooperating with the Cumans, the main enemy of Rus’, and for being married to the daughter of the Cuman Khan Ayepa. This was the reason why he was thrown out of Kyiv three times by the younger Iziaslav Mstyslavych. 

 

Yuri Dolgorukiy constantly sought to return to Kyiv and preferred playing second fiddle in the capital to ruling in Zalesye. Moscow was mentioned as a village in Zalesye at that time. 

 

In order to assert his rights, Iziaslav invited his uncle Viacheslav, a son of Volodymyr II Monomakh, as a co-ruler to Kyiv, because Viacheslav was older than Yuri Dolgorukiy. 


In 1151, Yuri Dolgorukiy attempted to cross the Dnipro to bring the capital under his control. This led to one of the biggest “river” battles in history. From the mouth of the Desna River and all the way to the modern River-Boat Station in Kyiv, the river was covered with armored ships and boats. 

 

Iziaslav organized the large-scale defense of Kyiv, the biggest one in its medieval history. Perimeter defenses with ramparts stretched for 10 kilometers. Yuri Dolgorukiy’s army was defeated on the banks of the Lybid' River. His ally, the Cuman Khan Svench Boniakovych, was killed. Yuri Dolgorukiy’s remaining warriors were finally defeated, taken into captivity or drowned in the Rutets River in the area known as Perepetove Pole.

 

the Izia attack

An attack of Cumans, miniature from a chronicle 

 

In 1152, Yuri Dolgorukiy gathered Murom and Ryazan regiments and the Cuman cavalry and launched another attack on Kyiv. However, as soon as they heard about Iziaslav’s approaching troops, the Cumans left Yuri Dolgorukiy and later he himself fled. 

 

In the difficult struggle with Yuri Dolgorukiy, Iziaslav Mstyslavych established full control over the entire territory from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. Nearly all of the lands in this vast area were ruled by his sons or vassals. It was only after the death of Iziaslav that Yuri Dolgorukiy managed to briefly seize (1155-1157) the throne in Kyiv. 

TO EPISODE 24

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