love story "Wives of Grand Prince Vladimir"
A strong, assertive person, a philogynist and a husband, a man, who liked to rejoice, a host, who took care of his servants, a Christian and a high-spirited warrior – it is about Vladimir Krasnoye Solnishko (“Krasnoye Solnishko” means Red Sun). He was an illegitimate son of Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich and his concubine Malusha Lubechanka.
It was 2 years before his death when Svyatoslav divided all his lands among his sons: Yaropolk inherited Kiev, Oleg – Drevlyanskaya land and Vladimir – Novgorod. After father’s death 3 years passed and 2 brothers (Yaropolk and Oleg) quarreled – Yaropolk killed Oleg, but soon he was killed himself by order of Vladimir, who got all lands of Svyatoslav when he was about 15 years old.
Vladimir wanted Rogneda, the daughter of Polotsk Prince Rogvol’d, to be his wife, but she was against marriage with the son of female slave: Rogneda wanted to get married to his brother Yaropolk.
The blood was shed again. Vladimir killed her father and 2 brothers and married Rogneda by force. Soon his wife gave birth to their first son Izyaslav, but she couldn’t forgive him the death of her father and brothers, therewith her life was ruined and she began to betray her husband a lot. Soon Vladimir ousted Rogneda and she lived with their son not far from Kiev on the bank of Lybed’ river.
Rogneda decided to revenge her husband. It is told in the chronicle of Suzdal’ that one day Vladimir visited his wife and son and when he fell asleep, she tried to kill him by dint of the knife, but suddenly Vladimir woke up and stopped her.
Prince was so angry that ordered Rogneda to be ready for the death and to put on her bridal clothes before it. Rogneda fulfiled all orders of her husband, but she told her little son Izyaslav to come with a sword in his hands as soon as he saw his father and to exclaim, that his father wasn’t alone there and he, his son, would be a witness. Vladimir was so impressed by such words that threw his own sword and didn’t kill his wife and son. He even founded a town Izyaslavl’ for them and gave Polotsk land to govern there.
Rogneda gave birth to their 3 sons (Mstislav, Vsevolod and Yaroslav) and 2 daughters (Predslava and Maria Dobrogneva, who became a wife of the Polish king some years later).
Rogneda was the first wife of Grand Prince Vladimir, but she wasn’t the only one. He had a lot of wives and about 800 concubines. Only some names of his wives were conserved and are known nowadays: Olophy (from Scandinavia), Adel’ (from Czechia), Manfreda (from Bulgaria), Julia (a Greek, the wife of Yaropolk). Vladimir captured Julia when she was pregnant and soon Svyatopolk was born.
It is told in “Korsun’ Legend” that Vladimir wanted to marry the daughter of Korsun’ Prince, but she refused him. That’s why he decided to capture Korsun’ (Hersones) by trick with the help of a traitor, then dishonoured the Prince’s daughter before her parents’ eyes and married her to the traitor.
In 988 Vladimir married again. He wanted Anna (from Greece) to be his wife and threatened her brothers Vasily and Konstantin that the history of Korsun’ would be repeated if she refused. Anna didn’t want to assent, she considered that marriage to be worse than death, but after her brothers’ persuasions she agreed. Anna took leave of her relatives and set out. According to the legend Vladimir fell ill that time and lost the sight. When Anna arrived Korsun’, she advised him to be christened for healing as soon as he could. Prince was christened by the name of Vasily and got better. Prince Vladimir recovered the sight when the priest put his hand on him. According to The Oldest Code Vladimir was christened in Kiev. Thanking Anna for healing, Vladimir returned Korsun’ to the Greek.
When Vladimir arrived Kiev, he christened all his sons and permitted his wives to marry anyone they wanted. He even provided them with dowry. Rogneda founded a monastery and took the veil by the name of Anastasiya. After the death of his wife Anna Vladimir married the granddaughter of Otton I the Great.
Vladimir divided all lands among his sons as his father Svyatoslav did. It is known that Gleb got Murom, Boris - Drevlyanskaya land, Mstislav – T’mutarakan’, Visheslav – Novgorod (after his death Novgorod passed into the hands of Yaroslav), Izyaslav got Polotsk, Yaroslav – Rostov (then it passed into the hands of Boris), Vsevolod got Vladimir-Volinsky, Svyatopolk – Turov.
But some of the sons died earlier than their father Prince Vladimir. Vsevolod died in 995, Izyaslav – in 1001, Visheslav – in 1012, Boris and Gleb (the sons of Anna) and Svyatoslav (the son of Adel’) were killed in 1015 after the death of their father by his adopted nephew Svyatopolk. There is a version that 2 other sons of Vladimir, Sudislav and Pozvizd, were his nephews. It is also known that Sudislav had been imprisoned for 22 years.
In 1015 on the 15th of July Grand Prince Vladimir died without choosing any heir. He was buried near his wife Anna in the Church of Our Lady.
Wars and women were his passion, and he was never defeated on these fields. “Love is a war and there is no place for cowards. When the banners of love are raised, the heroes prepare for the fight.”(Ovidy)