Olga was a princess based at Pskov, but
whether a Scandinavian or Slav is disputed. She married Igor, who became later prince at Kyiv, in 903 AD. They had
only one known son, Svyatoslav I. They are shown
on this chart. The most interesting aspects of her
life and career written in the Russian chronicles appear to be legendary
embelisments, however the basic facts seem to be true. These are her revenge
against her husband's killers and her conversion to Christianity and visit to
Byzantium. No doubt Igor was killed while conducting a typical tribute
gathering expedition amongst the Derevlians. They were well known as one of the
more independent and violent of the Slavic tribal groups. They lived in the
forested region on the right bank of the Dniper south of the Pripiat River (and
marsh). While at their capital, Iskorosten, Igor and his druzhina were killed.
Olga of course had to avenge this outrage, both for political control and for
family revenge reasons. She soon led a campaign in which Iskorosten and other
Derevlian towns were destroyed and the inhabitants either killed or enslaved.
To avoid reoccurances of her husband's murder, she organized a more systematic
tribute collecting system and expanded both fiscal and judicial control via
court officials. Along the way she took whole regions and villages for herself,
establishing the pattern of the ruler as the largest landowner in the realm.
The other major event was Olga's visit to the Byzantine Emperor, Constantine
VII at Byzantium in 957. She either had already been baptized Christian shortly
after becoming regent in 945 or was baptized during this trip. The embassy went
well from the Rus point of view. Olga was lavishly entertained and
well-treated. But she did not return with the kind of ties to the Christian
church at Byzantium that she wanted. So in 959 she asked the German king, Otto
I, for a bishop who could establish the Christian church in Kyiv. After
considerable delay a monk was created bishop and sent to Kyiv, arriving in 961.
But, again, his rank and authority did not sufice and he was sent home. By this
time her relations with Byzantium had improved as well. In 964 her son,
Svyatoslav, became ruler, but he was off on military campaigns most of the
time, so Olga continued de facto to govern Kyiv. In 968, while Svyatoslav was
on campaign in Bulgaria, the Pecheneg besieged Kyiv. She ably defended the
city. A relief force from the north relieved the siege before Svyatoslav was
able to return. Olga died in 969.
945 AD - Igor is killed, Olga becomes regent, she conquers the Derevlians. She
may have been baptized Christian about this time.
947 AD - Olga goes to Novgorod and establishes forts and trading posts along
the route and on the Msta and Luga Rivers.
957 AD - Olga leads diplomatic embassy to Byzantium and asks for Christian
959 AD - Olga asks German king Otto I for a bishop and missionaries.
960-61 - Varangian Rus troops support Byzantine capture of Cyprus.
964 AD - Svyatoslav becomes ruler, Olga remains to control the capital.
968 AD - Pecheneg siege of Kyiv, Olga defends the city while calling for a
969 AD - Olga dies.