Rusian genealogy

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Monomakhina of Byzantium

b. unknown – d. 1067 [1]


The youngest of Jaroslav ’s sons, and some say the favorite, Vsevolod was the last of the Jaroslaviči to marry. His first marriage was to a “cěsarica gr´kyna,” [5] a Greek princess, who has no name in the PVL. Because of the typical lack of a name, historians have felt at some liberty to assign her one, as well as a familial line. The most common ascription is that she was the daughter of Constantine IX Monomachus, the third husband of Empress Zoe. [6] Like so much else in regard to these marriages, this is conjectural, as Byzantine sources do not record her marriage or many details of Constantine IX’s family.144 The ascription to the house of Monomachus comes from the famous appellation of her firstborn son,Volodimer Monomax. While this leads an observer to the conclusion that Volodimer had a connection to the house of Monomachus, [7] it does not necessarily require his mother to have been the daughter of the most famous member of that house. Perhaps a safer assertion would be simply that she was a Monomaxina, and to stipulate that her exact parentage is unknown. [8] Even were she not the daughter of Constantine IX, there would have been no question that he could have, had he wished, arranged marriages for all of the members of his extended family. Thus, for the purposes of her participation in the world of dynastic marriage it is not necessary that she be the daughter of Constantine IX, just a Monomaxina.

The date of the marriage between Vsevolod and the unknown the unknown Monomaxina is unknown, as is the proximate cause of the marriage. Both Baumgarten and Bernard Leib date the marriage to 1046. [9] Leib’s opinion, shared by others, is that the marriage was intended to seal the rift caused by the Rusian attack on Constantinople in 1043 and that it is because of this attack that the marriage is dated as it is. However,the first notation anywhere of the marriage is the record in the PVL under the year 1053 of the birth to Vsevolod and a Greek princess of a son, Volodimer. [10] Because of this late date, some scholars have chosen a later date, such as 1050, for the marriage. [11] From the outstanding records it is odd to find a couple who marry and do not have their first child for years unless one of the parties to the marriage is prepubescent. This piece of evidence alone leads one to the conclusion that the 1046 date, apart from being entirely speculative, is incorrect. That being said, the reason behind the marriage advanced by Leib and others may still be correct.

The 1043 attack on Constantinople was the first such attack since Rus´ was Christianized, and has always been a surprising note in history. [12] There is nothing in the historical record, either on the Byzantine or Rusian side, to indicate that relations had been souring during the long conversion of the Rus´ to Christianity. In fact, there is little evidence at all of communication between the two sides. But after the 1043 attack, the reparations paid by the Byzantines to the Rusians for property damaged in retribution, [13] and the 1051 appointment of Ilarion as the first Rusian metropolitan of Kyiv, [14] it is only logical to believe that a new accord between Jaroslav the Byzantines and Rusians might be required. Such an accord would have been reached between Jaroslav and Constantine IX, and as has been shown would likely have been sealed with a dynastic marriage. As Vsevolod was then at a ripe age for marriage (twenty in 1050), and was the last unmarried son of Jaroslav, he would have been a likely candidate. [15] It is unfortunate that this marriage cannot be confirmed by any of the primary sources. Michael Psellus, the well-known Byzantine scholar who was writing at this time, took pains to record the attack on Constantinople by the Rusians, but did not mention the ensuing peace or marriage. [16] But the existence of the marriage can be inferred from the clear reference to a “cěsarica gr´kyna” in the PVL [17] and Volodimer Vsevolodovič’s later surname of “Monomax,” something he could only have received through association with the house of Monomachus. [18]

V. N. Tatiščev records that Vsevolod’s Greek princess died in 1067 [19] and that he married a Polovtsian woman this same year. This information, however, is not contained in any other source, and thus must be used and examined carefully. There were Rusian-steppe marriages beginning in this period as a means of helping to ensure the agreements between both sides, and these marriages always involved a Rusian ruler and a daughter of a Polovcian ruler. [20] They were typically concluded after a military engagement between the two sides, and usually after a Rusian victory, such as the one by Svjatoslav Izjaslavič in 1068, which included the capture of a Polovcian ruler. [21] Thus, the situation may have been ripe for a marriage between the two sides. The death and burial of a “knjagina Vsevoložaja” is recorded under the year 1111. [22] Baumgarten has taken this to be the death of the second wife, [23] sometimes referred to as Anna because of a notation in the Xlebnikov codex. [24] With the notation that the evidence for the Polovcian identity of, and existence of, a second wife comes only from Tatiščev, I have included both marriages in the relevant tables of part 2. [25] However, such a decision must be considered provisional due to the lack of supporting information. It is unfortunate that the wife or wives of Vsevolod cannot be identified with more certainty, as the line he spawned, specifically Volodimer Monomax and his children, rose to such prominence and became key sponsors for the chronicles that record early Rusian history. [26]


  1. Birth/Death: Tatishchev, Istoriia Rossiiskaia, vol. 2, 85.[↑]
  2. Father: [↑]
  3. Mother: [↑]
  4. Marriage to Vsevolod Iaroslavich Andrei: PVL s.a. 1053.; Russian Primary Chronicle, n192.[↑]
  5. PVL, s.a. 1053.[↑]
  6. Michael Angold, The Byzantine Empire, 1025–1204 (New York: Longman, 1997), 36.[↑]
  7. Leib, citing Karamzin, says that Constantine IX had three daughters, Eudoxia, Theodora and Zoe. However, these are the three daughters of Constantine VIII, and it seems unlikely he would have three with the same names. Bernard Leib, Rome, Kiev et Byzance à la fin du XIe siècle (Paris: Auguste Picard, 1924), 169n3.v[↑]
  8. Sherbowitz-Wetzor advances the same conclusion in his notes to the English translation of the PVL. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, Russian Primary Chronicle, n. 192.[↑]
  9. Baumgarten, “"Généalogies,"” 22–23, table V; and Leib, Rome, Kiev et Byzance, 169.[↑]
  10. PVL, s.a. 1053.[↑]
  11. Cross and Sherbowitz–Wetzor, eds., The Russian Primary Chronicle, n192.[↑]
  12. Jonathan Shepard sorts through the various theories to present an extremely interesting and well–researched account of both the history and historiography of the attack. Jonathan Shepard, “"Why Did the Russians Attack Byzantium in 1043,"” Byzantinische–Neugriechische Jahrbücher 22 (1985).[↑]
  13. Angold, The Byzantine Empire, 1025–1204, 36.[↑]
  14. PVL, s.a. 1051. Obolensky thinks that the appointment of Ilarion was included in the new Byzantino–Rusian agreement negotiated with the marriage. Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe 500–1453, 227.[↑]
  15. Vsevolod’s age is probably one of the reasons that some date the marriage to 1046, the year in which Vsevolod turned 16, generally considered to be one of the earliest ages for men to marry.[↑]
  16. Michael Psellus, Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus, trans. E.R.A. Sewter (New York: Penguin Books, 1966), 199–203.[↑]
  17. PVL, s.a. 1053.[↑]
  18. Constantine IX was the only member of the house of Monomachus to occupy the imperial throne. After his death in 1055, imperial power returned to Theodora, the last living member of the Macedonian dynasty. This makes it unlikely that Volodimer Jaroslavič could have had a connection during his life with the Monomachus family as he was only two years old at Constantine IX’s death.[↑]
  19. Tatiščev, Istorija Rossiiskaja, vol. 2, 85.[↑]
  20. There is a growing debate about the use of the term “khan” in reference to the leaders of the Polovcians, so I have chosen to default in this work to the title “ruler.” In all of the Rusian sources their leaders are referred to as knjazja, and apart from their inclusion in the personal name of Tugorkhan, we do not see the use of the title “khan.” This title, and variants, were used by the Khazars and the Mongols, and it has been applied to the Polovcians potentially because of those groups’ usage of the title and their relations with Rus´. But because the title does not appear in our sources and it lends a certain pejorative aspect to the Polovcians, I have chosen not to use it here. I would like to thank Don Ostrowski for several spirited exchanges about this topic.[↑]
  21. PVL, s.a. 1068. The Polovcian ruler is referred to there as knjaz´. [↑]
  22. Hypatian Chronicle, s.a. 1111.[↑]
  23. Baumgarten, “"Généalogies,"” 7, 9, table I.[↑]
  24. The Old Rus’ Kyivan and Galician–Volhynian Chronicles: The Ostroz’kyj (Xlebnikov) and četvertyns’kyj (Pogodin) codices. Omeljan Pritsak, Introduction. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990), 126.[↑]
  25. In searching for corroboration, the death of Janka Vsevolodovna records her link to her father and her brother, Volodimer, but there is no notation of a mother. Hypatian Chronicle, s.a. 1112: “daughter of Vsevolod, sister of Volodimer.” None of the other children of Vsevolod elicit as much information as that in their death notices. As a further note, in part 2 I separate out the children between the two wives based upon the death date of the Monomaxina from Tatiščev, and provide speculative birth dates for the children, generally based upon their marriage dates.[↑]
  26. Omeljan Pritsak discusses the impact of both Monomax and his son M´stislav on the chronicle tradition in Old Rus´ Kyivan and Galician- Volhynian Chronicles, xx–xxi. [↑]