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The date of his birth is not known. He was the son of Svyatoslav I Igoryevich, prince of Kyiv and Predslava. He was appointed governor of Kyiv during his father's extended campaigns. He may have been the father of Svyatopolk I by a Byzantine nun captured during one of those campaigns. She was taken by Yaropolk's brother,Vladimir I, upon Yaropolk's death and Svyatopolk is also listed as a son of Vladimir. They are shown on this family chart.
Upon Svyatoslav's death at the hands of the Pecheneg in 972 Yaropolk quickly moved to assert his control. The chronicle recounts what happened next. The report is that one of Svyatoslav's leading Varangian chieftans, Sveinald, had a son named Lyut who was killed by Yaropolk's brother, Oleg. In revenge Sveinald enticed Yaropolk into attacking Oleg, who was ruler of Dereva, in 976. Oleg died when he fell off the bridge at Ovruch into the moat. News of the conflict made the young Vladimir at Novgorod flee to Scandinavia to recruit a Varangian army. Yaropolk sent his own governor to Novgorod. In 980 Yaroslav returned with a large army and marched south, capturing Kyiv and eventually having Yaropolk I murdered.


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