Rusian genealogy

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Marija Sviatopolkovna

b. unknown – d. before 1153 [1]


Sviatopolk Iziaslavich Michael [2]


N. N. daughter of Tugorkhan of Polovtsy [3]


This marriage remains something of a mystery for multiple reasons. The first is the fact that the very identity of Marija is in dispute. Baumgarten identifies her as the daughter of Svjatopolk Izjaslavič, [5] while others, including V. T. Pašuto and the editor of Długosz’s Annales, identify her as the daughter of Oleg Svjatoslavič. [6] Of course, no chronicle whether Latin or Rusian describes her parentage, so there is no direct assistance from the primary sources. However, two different Polish sources describe her as a consanguineous relation of Bolesław III’s wife Sbyslava Svjatopolkovna. [7] The editor of Długosz dismisses this as false, but we cannot take it so lightly. [8] With all the work that has been done on consanguinity in the middle ages, it can be safely said that medieval peoples were well aware of their blood relations and those of their spouses. A chronicler who was writing down the marriage of a popular count would certainly not neglect to mention such a fact. I do not believe that we can dismiss two chroniclers’ statements that the wives of Bolesław III and Piotr Wlostowic were blood relatives, and thus Marija is listed here as a Svjatopolkovna. This makes more sense for the political context of the marriage, as we will see momentarily.

The popularity of Marija’s marriage partner leads to the second half of the complication for this marriage. ?Maria married Count Palatine Piotr Wlostowic of Poland. [9] Piotr was a very famous figure in Poland at the time. He was a favorite of Bolesław III and the founder of one of the major clans of late medieval Poland. Because Piotr was such a well–known figure much of his life has been mythologized, and thus it is hard for us to discern some of the true details of his early life.

In 1113 when Volodimer Monomax became ruler of Kyiv, he began a series of moves against Jaroslav Svjatopolčič, ruler of Volodymyr–Volyn′, who he viewed as one of his major rivals. One of the reasons that he viewed Jaroslav in this way was because of his close ties with Poland and Hungary, ties that Monomax did not have. [10] Monomax’s campaign was steadily successful, and in 1117 Jaroslav attempted to buttress his position by again connecting his family to that of Bolesław III, to whom his sister was already married. [11] To that end, he arranged the marriage of his sister Maria to one of Bolesław’s new favorites, the count palatine Piotr Wlostowic. [12] The Polish Great Chronicle records that Piotr married the Rusian princess at the directive of Bolesław. [13] Because of the bindings of consanguinity, which Bolesław III and Sbyslava barely got around themselves, there could not be another marriage between the Piasts and any Izjaslaviči, however a marriage with one of his most powerful liegemen was easily arranged. This marriage would ideally strengthen the relationship between Poland and the Izjaslaviči at a time when Jaroslav Svjatopolčič was in need of assistance.

This interpretation of events differs from that offered by Pašuto, who posits a marriage between Maria, as daughter of Oleg Svjatoslavič, and Skarbimir, another of Bolesław’s counts. The purpose of the marriage was to connect Skarbimir into a Rusian coalition including the Svjatoslaviči, Volodimer Monomax, and Volodar′ Rostislavič, ruler of Peremyšl′, so that he would have Rusian backing to rebel against Bolesław III. Unfortunately for him, his rebellion was a failure, and Pašuto believes that his lands, titles, and wife were all given to Piotr Wlostowic. [14] It seems extraordinarily unlikely, though, that one man’s wife would be transferred to another man. Since there is no clear attribution of Maria as an Olegovna and since she may be a blood relative of Sbyslava Svjatopolkovna, this seems like a remarkable reach.

While in Poland Marija founded the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Arena, outside the walls of Wratislav. [15] This is the only known church explicitly known to have been founded by a Rusian woman in her new country, and it might also be the only known church at this time (mid–twelfth century) to have been founded by a Volodimeroviči woman anywhere in Europe. Marija may have also had a hand in the foundation of the Monastery of St. Vincent built at the same site, [16] which was where she and Piotr were buried in an elaborate stone coffin, drawings of which have survived to this day. [17] Unfortunately, much of Maria’s heritage is is conjecture, but it has been included here, and in the tables in part 2, as a reasonable conjecture.


  1. Birth/Death: Chronica Petris, 783 lists the year of Piotr's death, and mentions that she predeceased him.[↑]
  2. Father: Dlugosz, 299.; Velikaia khronika, 95.; Pashuto, 151. However this identification is disputed.[↑]
  3. Mother: Conjectural based upon Sviatopolk's marriages.[↑]
  4. Marriage to Piotr Wlostiwic of Poland: Velikaia khronika, 95.[↑]
  5. Baumgarten, “"Généalogies,"” 10–11, table II.[↑]
  6. Długosz, Annales, 447; and Pašuto, Vnešnjaja politika Drevnei Rusi, 151.[↑]
  7. Długosz, Annales, 299; and Polish Great Chronicle, ch. 27.[↑]
  8. Długosz, Annales, 447.[↑]
  9. The Ortliebi Zwifaltensis Chronicon refers to Piotr as “princeps,” while elsewhere he is referred to as “comes.” Abel, ed., Ortliebi Zwifaltensis chronicon, 91. For “comes,” see Długosz, Annales.[↑]
  10. Pašuto, Vnešnjaja politika Drevnei Rusi, 151.[↑]
  11. The 1117 is listed in T. Wasilewski, ed., Slownik Starozlnosci Slowianskich, vol. 4 (Warsaw: Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 1970), 113.[↑]
  12. Jaroslav was following in the footsteps of his namesake, Jaroslav Mudryi, who also arranged a dynastic marriage for his sister with Poland.[↑]
  13. Polish Great Chronicle, ch. 27.[↑]
  14. Pašuto, Vnešnjaja politika Drevnei Rusi, 151.[↑]
  15. “"Chronica Petri comitis Poloniae,"” 8. A picture of the modern church (built in the fourteenth century) can be found at[↑]
  16. “"Chronica Polono–Silesiaci: loci ad Petrum spectantes,"” in Monumenta Poloniae Historica: Nova series, ed. Marian Plezia (Cracow: Subsidio Ministerii Scholarum Superiorum et Studiorum, 1951), 32.[↑]
  17. Mauri, “"Chronica Petri comitis Poloniae,"” 29. A seventeenth–century drawing of the tomb can be found at[↑]