The date of his birth is not know. He was born out of wedlock to
Svyatoslav I Igoryevich, prince of Kyiv by the
"Kliuchnitsa" to the Princess Ol'ga, Malushi. Svyatoslav already had
two legitimate sons, Yaropolk and
Vladimir was sent to control Novgorod (970-980). He
was then prince of Kyiv (978-1015). He married first in 980 Rogneda, daughter
of Rogvolod, prince of Polotsk, then had many other wives and concubines before
officially marrying Anna Porphrogenita, daughter of Romanus II, Byzantine
Emperor, and sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. She died in 1011. He is
credited with several other wives, ( a Czech, a Bulgarian, and others). He
later married the daughter of Cuno, Count of Oeningen and granddaughter of
Emperor Otto I. She died in 1018. He had many sons, some whose names are
unknown and it is not clear, except for Izyaslav, which sons were from which
women. According to the chronicle, however, by Rogneda he had
Izyaslav (prince of Polotsk, d. 1001),
Mstislav (prince of Tmutorokan and Chernigiv, d.
1036), Yaroslav (prince of Kyiv, d. 1054) and
Vsyevolod (prince of Vladimir in Volynia, d. 1010)
and two daughters. By the Byzantine nun he had
Svyatopolk I (prince of Kyiv, d. 1019) , by one Czech he had
Vysheslav (prince of Novgorod, d. 1010) and by
another Svyatoslav (prince of the Drevlyanie, d. 1015) and Mstislav, and by a
Bulgarian Boris ( prince of Rostov) and
Gleb (prince of Murom) (both died in 1015) Among
the others: Sudislav, Prince of Pskov (d. 1063);
Stanislav, crown Prince of Kiev (?); Pozvizd, crown prince of Kyiv (d. after
1015); and Predislav (d. after 1018). His daughters included
Predslava (d. after 1018) who married Bolyeslav
Rishi, Czech prince; Premislava, married King Ladislaus of Hungary; another who
married Bernhard, Margrave of Nordmark; Maria-Dobrogneva, who married Casimir I, King of
Poland; and seven more. They are shown on this family chart.He is reputed to have had 300 concubines at
Vyshgorod, another 300 at Belgorod and 200 at the main palace at Berestovo near
His power base was among the Varyagi to whom payoffs were made as they were
known to run roughshod over the citizenry. He had to flee to Scandinavia when
his half-brother, Yaropolk, took the throne on the
death of their father, Svyatoslav, in 972. He returned with 6000 Vikings -
Varangians and organized an army also of Novgorodians. After taking Kyiv he
reneged on his promise to pay the Varangians. He was able to keep a lid on them
by sending some 6000 of them off to Greece to serve in Emperor Basil's army.
Initially Vladimir was a tireless builder of heathen temples of which
particularly intimidating was the idol Peruna on the hill where the Prince and
privileged people lived.
In 992 a large mass of Pecheneg warriors were met by Vladimir on the opposite
side of the Trubezh river and a stand off ensued. The legend says that it was
agreed that each side would pick a warrior and that the winner would rule the
others principality for three years. The Russian crushed the life out of the
Pecheneg with his bare hands. Vladimir founded the city of Pereyaslavl on that
spot. Other towns he is known to have built on the rivers Trubezh, Desna, Sula,
etc., to halt the continuous attacks of steppe peoples and strengthen the
defenses of the Russian territories, are Vasiliev on the Stugna and Belgorod on
the Dnieper. There is no doubt Vladimir also founded a new city, Izyaslav,
because he wished to rid himself of his wife Roganda and her son Izyaslav
Vladimirovich. The principality of Polotsk remained under the rule of the
descendants of this Izyaslav. Apparently Roganda had forgiven him for having
killed her father and brother but she could not abide by his unfaithfulness.
The Chronicler says that not only Christian but Muslim and Jews brought
their missionaries to sway the prince to their beliefs. First among the
ambassadors were the Bulgarians, practicing the religion of Mohammed, but their
tenets of shaven heads and non-alcoholism did not please the prince. The
ambassadors of the Pope in Rome were also rejected. Likewise the Khazar Jews
were turned away. Having heard them, the prince asked them where was their
homeland. "In Jerusalem" answered the ambassadors, but "God
punished us, and scattered us on others' lands." "You who are
punished by God dare teach others-- cried out Vladimir; we have no wish to give
up our homeland." Finally, the envoy sent by the Greeks, a philosopher,
refuting other beliefs, told in summary to the prince the Old and New
Testaments and the contents of the Bible. In conclusion he showed Vladimir a
depiction of the last judgement with the fates endured by the judged sinners
and saved; the prince was astonished and exclaimed: "Happiness for those
who do good deeds and anguish for the evil." "Be Baptized,"
responded the Greek elder and "You will be in Heaven with the first
ones." Vladimir, the "Self made Christian," ordered the
construction of the first stone churches, palaces and fortifications in Kiev.
The church dedicated to the Virgin Mother was commissioned by Grand Prince
Vladimir in 989 and endowed the church with a tenth part of his revenue;
because of this endowment the people started calling the church Desyatinaya
(The church of the Tithes), a name which it has been known ever since. He
conducted many campaigns. Among the most notable was the siege and capture of
Chersonesus, the Byzantine port in Crimea. He returned it in exchange for
978-80 AD - Vladimir returns to Novgorod with Varangian troops and prepares to
attack Yaropolk at Kyiv. But first he demands Rogneda, daughter of Rogvolod,
prince of Polotsk. When she refuses he attacks and kills her father and two
brothers, then takes her.
980 AD - Vladimir marches - sails south on the Dnieper to Dorogozhich where he
establishes a fortified camp. From there he entices one of Yaropolk's Varangian
generals to defect. The general, Blud, advises Yaropolk to flee to Rodnya,
south of Kyiv. After Vladimir occupies the city he invites Yaropolk back for a
friendly meeting. Blud advises Yaropolk to go. Upon entering Vladimir's palace
room, Yaropolk is killed.
981 AD - Vladimir attacks the Lyakhs (toward Poland) and takes Peremyshl,
Cherven and other towns. Then he attacks the Vyatichians and imposes tribute.
982 AD - He attacks the Vyatichians again.
983 AD - He conquers the Yatvingians (Lithuania).
984 AD - He attacks the Radimichians.
985 AD - He organizes a major campaign together with the Novgorodian troops led
by his uncle Dobrynya down the Volga against the Bolgars. He also has Tork
986 AD - He receives delegation from the Bolgars proposing conversion to Islam.
Then he receives delegations from the Roman Catholics and Jewish Khazars. And
finally he learns about the Byzantine Orthodox Christian religion.
987 AD - Vladimir's delegation inspects the Bolgar and Roman religious rites
and then is overwhelmed by the splendor and mystery of the Byzantine service at
988 AD - Vladimir campaigns to capture Chersoneses in Crimea to put pressure on
the Byzantines. He demands the emperors' sister, Anna, as wife. They insist on
his conversion first, which is done at Chersoneses after which the sacrificed
Anna, becomes his wife.
989 AD - Vladimir begins his Christian rule at Kyiv and begins construction of
the first church. He sends his sons out as local governors: Yysheslav to
Novgorod, Izyaslav to Polotsk, Svyatopolk to Turov, Yaroslav to Rostov. When
Vysheslav, the eldest, died in Novgorod he sent Yaroslav there and Boris to
Rostov, Gleb to Murom, Svyatoslav to the Dereva, Vsevolod to Vladimir and
Mstislav to Tmutorokan.
991 AD - Vladimir expanded his fortification construction program founding
992 AD - He attacks the Croats but finds that in his absence the Pecheneg have
attacked. He meets them at the Trubezh river,where after the victory, he founds
996 AD - In another battle with the Pecheneg Vladimir is defeated at Vasil'yevo
but he escapes by hiding under a bridge.
997 AD - Vladimir goes to Novgorod. While he is away the Pecheneg attack again
at Belgorod. The population manages to survive starvation during the siege.
998-1000 AD - Vladimir's mother and first wife, Rogneda both die.
1001 AD - Izyaslav dies and is succeeded at Polotsk by his son, Bryachislav.
1008-11 Anna, Vladimir's Byzantine wife dies.
1012-1014 AD - Vladimir's son, Yaroslav, who is his governor at Novgorod
refuses to send the required tribute money. Vladimir starts preparing a
campaign against him.
1015 AD - Vladimir dies in his palace at Berestovo a suburb of Kyiv. He has
just sent his son, Boris, with the main army to defend against the Pechenegs.
On his death Svyatopolk takes the throne and begins program to murder his half