He was the son of Igor I Rurikovich, prince of
Kyiv and Olga, princess from Pskov. He married
Predslava. Their sons were Yaropolk, prince of
Kyiv; Oleg, prince of the Drevlyani. He had a
mistress, Malysha, with whom he had son, Vladimir
I, prince of Kyiv. They are shown on this family chart.
With his mother controling Kyiv, Svyatoslav began his campaigns to expand Rus
control over a wider tribute area, to defeat the rival Khazars and even to
attack the Byzantines. His first efforts were directed along the Oka River in
the Vyatichian lands. Learning that this tribe paid tribute to the Khazars, he
then mounted a remarkable campaign clear to the Crimea, Volga and Kuban
regions, defeating the Khazars in battle in 965 and sacking their cities. But
then he sought bigger prizes in the Balkans. In 967 he campaigned to the Danube
to attack the Bulgarians. The Chronicle notes that he captured 80 towns along
the Danube and established residence at Peryeaslavets. The following year,
while he was campaigning in the Balkans the Pecheneg attacked and besieged
Kyiv. Olga defended the city and called for reenforcments from the north. The
Pecheneg were bought off before Svyatoslav returned. Then he launched a
campaign to drive them back into the Steppe. At that point he told his mother
that he intended to move to Peryeaslavets. Apparently he considered it would be
a better base of operations against Byzantium. She remonstrated and he delayed.
Svyatoslav waited until the death of his mother, Olga, in 969, to move to
Pereyaslavets. He entrusted Kiev to his son Yaropolk and to his other son Oleg
gave the conquered lands of the Drevliane which had been knuckled under by Olga
in punishment for her slain husband. The teenage brothers were easily
manipulated by the Warlord, Svenel'd, once the trusted druzhina captain
of Prince Igor' who sought revenge on Oleg for murdering his son Lyuta when the
lad had ventured onto the princes' land while hunting. He pitted one against
the other and convinced Yaropolk to mount a campaign against Oleg and unite the
Drevliane lands with that of Kiev. Fleeing his brother, Oleg was killed when he
fell from the draw bridge at the gates of Ovruch. The intrigues continued
resulting in Yaropolk's demise due to the third brother Vladimir's ascent to
power. Vladimir had been sent with his uncle to be the prince at Novgorod. This
enabled him to escape Yaropolk and obtain his own Varangian troops.
But Svyatoslav's life at Peryeaslavets turned out badly. On his next campaign
in the Balkans he found the Byzantines much reenforced and the Bulgarians also.
The Bulgarians had retaken Pereyaslavets, so Svyatoslav had to besiege it.
After initial setbacks Svyatoslav stormed the city. From there he marched
against the Byzantines. The Emperor, John Tsimiskes, marched against him. They
then signed a treaty in 971 in which Svyatoslav promised also not to attack
Crimea or Bulgaria. On his return journey to Kyiv by boat up the Dnieper,
Svyatoslav found that the Pecheneg controled the passage of the rapids. He
waited over the winter and then, against good advice, tried to continue in 972.
The Pecheneg ambushed him, killing him and most of his druzhina. Kurya, the
Pecheneg ruler made a drinking cup out of Svyatoslav's skull.
946 AD - Svyatoslav campaigns with his mother against the Derevlians to avenge
his father's death at Iskorosten.
956 AD Svyatoslav begins serious campaigning with march against the
Vyatichians. He frees them from tribute to the Khazars and orders payment to
965 AD - Svyatoslav conducts extended campaign against the Khazars sacking
their towns Sarkel and Itel and conquering the Yasians and Kasogians in the
Kuban - Taman area. He controls Tmutorokan port on the Sea of Azov.
967 AD - Svyatoslav conducts extended campaign against the Bulgarians in the
Balkans as far as the Danube River.
968 AD - He has to rush back to Kyiv to relieve the city from a Pecheneg
attack. Then he drives the Pecheneg into the steppe.
969 - 71 AD - He returns to the Balkans where he retakes Pereyaslavets from the
Bulgars but is defeated by the Byzantines and forced to sign a peace treaty.
972-3 He is ambushed and killed while returning to Kyiv by the Pecheneg at the