He was born in 1024, the third son of Yaroslav I Vladimirovich, the Wise, and became prince
of Kyiv in 1054. They are shown on this family chart. His mother was Irina (Ingireda) Olaf'ovna,
Swedish princess. He married around 1043 Gertrude, daughter of Mieszko II, King
of Poland, and sister of Casimir I, King of Poland. He had three sons,
Yaropolk-Peter, prince of Vladimir-in-Volynia (killed in 1086);
Svyatopolk II, prince of Kyiv (d 1113); and
Mstislav, prince of Kyiv, (d 1069); and a
daughter, Evpraxia, married to Mieczslav of Poland. Yaropolk had two sons, Yaroslav and Vyacheslav. Mstislav had one son,
Rostislav who died without heirs. But the line of
Svyatopolk continued for many generations. He had four sons,
Bryacheslav and Izyaslav, and four daughters. Yaroslav Svyatopolchich had two
sons, Yuri and Vyacheslav. Yuri Yaroslavich had five sons, Ivan, Svyatopolk,
Gleb, Yaroslav, and Yaropolk. They continued the family rule in Turov and
Pinsk. (See individual entries and geneology chart.)
The Laurentian Chronicle describes Izyaslav thusly: He "was a man fair of
appearance and imposing in stature, not malicious in temper, but a hater of
injustice and a lover of rectitude. In him there was no guile, for he was a
simple man who did not render evil for evil." His reign was one of the
most troubles of all the Yaroslavichi in Kyiv. He was driven from the city
twice, regaining his throne each time with the aid of other's troops. Finally,
he was the only one of the Rurikid princes to die in battle with his relatives.
The menacing clouds of an imminent storm were gathering on the horizon of the
Asiatic steppes. The Polovtsi came up into the Pereyaslavl region in 1055 but
Prince Vsyevolod Yaroslavich came to terms with them and they threatened Russia
only in 1061. The Chronicle derides the morays of the Polovtsi; they ate raw
meat, drank the blood of the freshly slaughtered herds, and also drank the
mare's milk. In 1061 under the command of their Prince Sekala, they suddenly
burst into regions of Russia, attacked Vsyevolod, thrashed him and returned to
the Don with their loot. From this event begins the period of misery. The
people's attention was focused on a comet and many other unexplained
A first portend of war was the internecine struggle between the brothers
which erupted over which of the brothers was the rightful ruler of the
Tmutorokan land. Prince Rostislav, son of
Vladimir Yaroslavich, was without an appanage, (he
ran from Novgorod between 1052 and 1054) and therefor called upon loyal boyars
and evicted his cousin, the young Prince Gleb
Svyatoslavich, reigning over the Tmutorokan region. Rostislav's uncle,
Svyatoslav II Yaroslavich, upon hearing of this
decided to punish his nephew and amassed an army, which was enough for the
latter to give up the city without a fight. Just as soon as Prince Svyatoslav
was gone, Rostislav once again took Tmutorokan. It was at this time that the
"Greeks" sent him one of their "Sworn to allegiance trusted
plenipotentiaries" whose sole objective was to gain the trust of Rostislav
and then poison him while enjoying his hospitality.
This was followed by the appearance of another intruder, Vseslav Polotskii, son of Bryacheslav Izyaslavich, who
saw himself as the rightful heir of the throne. His grandfather,
Izyaslav Vladimirovich (given Polotsk to rule), was
older (senior) to Yaroslav Vladimirovich, hence he considered himself senior to
Izyaslav Yaroslavich. First he seized Novgorod. Amassing a war party, he moved
on the Yaroslavichi brothers, who came out to meet him on the banks of the
river Nemana. The battle was fierce, and Vseslav lost the day. The great Prince
sat down with him to talk peace and vowed not to inflict wrath on him but no
sooner than Vseslav crossed the Don and entered the tent of his brother, than
he was taken with his two sons and thrown into a dungeon in Kiev. I see his
entry for interesting events.)
Others were standing in line to break the clan's sworn brotherhood of
allegiance. Soon on the river Al'ta after only a few months, Izyaslav and his
brothers were swept by the wild Polovtsi and forced to run to Kiev, and
Svyatoslav to Chernigiv. The Kiev warriors gathered and within the safety of
their walls made demands for taking up arms and giving the Polovtsi a beating.
The Great Prince Izyaslav was spiteful and refused to grant their wish. An
uprising began and the rebels freed from the dungeon the imprisoned Vseslav
Bryacheslavich. Izyaslav with his brother ran scared from the capital, and the
people made Vseslav the Rus ruler (1068-69). Meanwhile
Izyaslav, ran away to Poland, where he was warmly greeted by his wife's nephew,
King Boleslav II.
Izyaslav drew up an army and campaigned reaching Belgorod, where he was met
by Vseslav. Frightened by the strength of the Poles, Vseslav ran at night from
the field camp back to his base at Polotsk. The Russians learning of this
returned to Kiev and called for a town meeting wherein it was decided to send
emissaries to Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod (Izyaslav's brothers) pleading for their
help. Svyatoslav replied that he would defend the Kiev city if they swore
allegiance to Izyaslav. Izyaslav and a detachment of Poles led by Boleslav II
entered Kiev in triumph which was short lived as the Poles soon went home. In
the 1060s Izyaslav founded the Dmitrivskyi monastery so-named after his
baptismal name Dmitrii. On the 2nd of May 1072, the great Prince Izyaslav
erected in Vyshgorod a church and ordered that the sarcophagi of the murdered
Boris and Gleb be moved there. The sons of Yaroslav led the funeral procession
and metropolitan Georgii declared that the two martyrs were saints.
Soon the quarreling between brothers was renewed and Izyaslav was forced to run
once more, though not to Poland, but to German Emperor Henry IV. This time the
Kyivan throne was taken by Svyatoslav II
(1073-76). . Henry's emissaries to Svyatoslav II Yaroslavich (formerly of
Chernigiv) in Kiev were hoodwinked with gifts and promises so the Emperor
dropped his insistence that Izyaslav return. Izyaslav turned for help to Pope
Gregory VII, thereby recognizing not only his spiritual supremacy, but
condoning his rule over Rus'. The intercession of the Pope also did not have
any success. Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV were fully occupied with
their own struggle. (Investiture controversy) The situation changed however
when Svyatoslav died suddenly in 1076. Svyatoslav probably did not expect that
in the famous "Zhitie" of Feodosie Pecherski (another important
Russian writer besides Archbishop Illarion), written by the monk Nestor, it
would also record and accuse him of attempts at assassinating his eldest
brother, Izyaslav, and stealing the throne from him. The emboldened Izyaslav
gathered several thousand Poles and met the good natured brother Vsyevolod in
Volynia, where they pledged to forget the past and let by gones be bygone.
Izyaslav now reigned in Kiev as the rightful ruler, giving his younger brother
Vsyevolod, Chernigiv and to Vsyevolod's son Vladimir, Smolensk. He gave
Novgorod to his son, Svyatopolk, and to his other
son Yaropolk, Vishgorod. Soon Oleg Svyatoslavich, the son of Prince Svyatoslav II Yaroslavich, the fourth son of
Yaroslav, who took Chernigiv, Riazan, Murom, Tmutorokan and the lands of the
tribe Viatichi, reigning in Vladimir, was obliged to bow to the will of his
uncle, Izyaslav, and he moved to Chernigiv under his uncle, Vsyevolod. Oleg, by
nature a power hungry man, wished to be free, and to rule independently and so
he ran to Tmutorokan'.
The Prince of Polotsk, Vseslav, lived independently, enjoying his realm.
The Yaroslavichi declared war on him, and Vladimir Monomakh together with
Svyatopolk II set fire to his suburb ending his stay there. While they were
north, Oleg Svyatoslavich, teaming up with Prince Boris Vyacheslav, hired an
army of Polovtsi and sacked Chernigiv, defeating Vsyevolod, who ran to Kiev to
Izyaslav. What followed was the combined forces of Izyaslav, Vsyevolod,
Yaropolk and Vladimir Monomakh moved on Chernigiv; Oleg and Boris were nowhere
to be found and the inhabitants decided to defend themselves. The army of Oleg
and Boris returned to save the city and a battle ensued in which were killed
the Great Prince Izyaslav as well as Boris.
1055 AD - Death of Yaroslav Vladimirovich. Izyaslav, who is at Novgorod,
returns to rule Kyiv. His brothers are - Svyatoslav at Chernigiv, Vsyevolod at
Peryeyaslavl, Igor at Vladimir and Vyacheslav at Smolensk. This year Vsyevolod
attacks the Torks near Voin and conquers them. They became frontier guards for
the Kyivan rulers. The Polovtsi (Cumans - Kypchaks) then advanced toward
Peryeyaslavl and Vsyevolod makes a treaty with them.
1056-7 AD - Vyacheslav Yaroslavich dies at Smolensk, Igor moves there from
1058 AD - Izyaslav conquers the Galindians living on the Oka river.
1059 AD - Izyaslav, Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod release their uncle, Sudislav,
from prison in Pskov, where he had been held for 24 years by Yaroslav. He then
becomes a monk.
1060 AD - Igor Yaroslavich dies. Izyaslav, Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod organize a
joint expedition by river boat and cavalry against the Torks who fled into the
1061 AD - The Polovtsi (Cumans - Kypchaks) return to wage war. They are
overlords of the Torks, so may have come to revenge their subordinates. In
February Vsyevolod goes out to meet them and is defeated, but the Polovtsi then
return into the steppe.
1062-3 AD - Sudislav Vladimirovich dies.
1064 Rostislav Vladimirovich, grandson of
Yaroslav Vladimirovich, flees from Novgorod to Tmutorokan. There he throws Gleb Svyatoslavich from the city.
1065 AD - Svyatoslav II Yaroslavich (then ruling
Chernigiv) then campaigns against Rostislav at Tmutorokan. Svyatoslav retakes
the city for his son, Gleb, and returns to Chernigiv. With Svyatoslav gone,
Rostislav returns and throws Gleb out a second time. This time Vseslav
Bryacheslavich at Polotsk also begins war. The chronicle also records several
1066 AD - With Rostislav at Tmutorokan busy controling the Kasogians and
collecting tribute the Byzantines decide that he might be dangerous so they
send an agent to poison him. The agent is then killed at Chersoneses.
Svyatoslav then puts his son, Roman, on the throne at
Tmutorokan. Gleb is sent to
Novgorod by 1069.
1067 AD - Vseslav Bryachislavich of Polotsk captures
Novgorod. At this Yaroslav's three sons, Izyaslav, Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod
jointly march in winter to Minsk (one of Vseslav's towns). The towns people
resist but are put to the sword or sold into slavery. The brothers continue to
Nemiza. Vseslav marches back from Novgorod to meet them. On March 3rd the
brothers defeat Vseslav in a bloody battle and he flees again. That summer the
brothers swear they want peace with Vseslav. He accepts their word and goes to
their camp on the Dniper, near Smolensk, whereupon they capture him and his two
sons and take them to prison in Kyiv.
1068 AD - Behind the brothers' back the Polovtsi again advance north. The three
brothers meet them in battle at the Al'ta. The Polovtsi win. Izyaslav and
Vsyevolod flee into Kyiv and Svyatoslav flees into Chernigiv. At this the
Kyivan population demands that Izyaslav arm them and lead them into battle.
When he refuses they release Vseslav from prison and proclaim him prince of
Kyiv, where he lasted seven months. Izyaslav and Vsyevolod flee to Poland. That
fall Svyatoslav marches from Chernigiv with 3,000 troops and routs a Polovtsi
force of 12,000.
1069 AD - Izyaslav returns to Kyiv with an army of Boleslaw of Poland.
Vseslav goes out to meet them at Belgorod but then
gives up and flees to Polotsk. The paniced Kyivan population appeals to
Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod to protect them from Izyaslav. This they do. Izyaslav
sends his son, Mstislav, into the city to execute
the ringleaders and then enters and takes his throne again. He then sends
Mstislav to throw Vseslav out of Polotsk. When Mstislav dies, he is replaced by
1070 AD - Vsyevolod has a son named Rostislav.
1071 AD - The Polovtsi attack Rastovets and Neyatin. Vseslav returns to throw
Svyatapolk out of Polotsk. Then Yaropolk Izyaslavich defeats Vseslav.
1072 AD - Izyaslav, Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod supervise the internment of the
relics of Boris and Gleb at Vyshgorod.
1073 AD - The brothers begin to quarrel with Svyatoslav and Vsyevolod uniting
against Izyaslav. Svyatoslav convinces Vsyevolod that Izyaslav is plotting
against them with Vseslav. In March Izyaslav flees again and Svyatoslav takes
the throne. See Svyatoslav for more on this
1075 AD - The Church of the Pechora Lavra is being built. Ambassadors from
Germany come to Svyatoslav.
1076 AD - Vladimir Vsyevolodich and Oleg Svyatoslavich campaign to assist the
Poles against the Czechs. In December Svyatoslav Yaroslavich dies and is
burried in the Church of the Redeemer in Chernigiv. He is succeeded by his
1077 AD - Izyaslav returns with Polish military support. Vsyevolod marches out
against him and they meet at Volynia. Then Vsyevolod welcomes Izyaslav to
return to Kyiv and his throne. Vsyevolod goes to Chernigiv instead of
Peryaslavl, along with Oleg Svyatoslavich, who is not happy to share this
throne with his uncle. Boris Vyacheslavich attempts to capture Chernigiv and
holds it for all of 8 days until he is thrown out by Vladimir Monomakh. He
flees to Tmutorokan, where Roman Svyatoslavich is still in control.
1078 AD - Oleg Svyatoslavich flees from Vsyevolod at Chernigiv to Tmutorokan in
April. Gleb Svyatoslavich is killed at Zavoloche and
burried in the family church of the Redeemer in Chernigiv. Now with
Svyatopolk Izyaslavich ruling Novgorod and
Yaropolk Izyaslavich at Vyshgorod and Vladimir
Vsyevolodovich Monomakh at Smolensk, Oleg
Svyatoslavich and Boris Vyacheslavich campaign with
Polovtsi troops from Tmutorokan against Chernigiv,circling around from the
north. Vsyevolod marches to intercept them on the Sozhitsa river in August.
Vsyevolod is defeated and retreats into Kyiv to join Izyaslav. Oleg and Boris
go to Chernigiv, thinking they have won. But now Izyaslav with his son,
Yaropolk, and Vsyevolod with his son, Vladimir, gather all their forces and
march on Chernigiv. By now Oleg and Boris have left, but the people refuse
entrance. So Vladimir attacks the eastern gates and ignites the outer city.
Then Boris and Oleg return and Izyaslav and Vsyevolod go out to battle. At the
Nezhata meadow there is a terrible battle. Boris Vyacheslavich dies. Izyaslav
is struck by a spear and dies. Oleg again flees to Tmutorokan. Thus dies
Izyaslav Yaroslavich, laying down his life in battle for his brother,
Vsyevolod, as he promised he would.