Rusian genealogy

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Sbyslava Sviatopolkovna

b. unknown – d. unknown


Sviatopolk Iziaslavich Michael [2]


unknown [3]


As with the marriage of her brother Jaroslav, Sbyslava’s dynastic marriage is illustrated in the tale of the Blinding of Vasil´ko as told under the year 1097 in the PVL. The PVL records Svjatopolk’s attempt to oust Davyd Igorevič from his home in Volodymyr-Volyn´, which led Svjatopolk to make a deal with Władysław Herman of Poland ensuring that Władysław would not support Davyd. [5] Tatiščev then adds to this account a meeting between Władysław and Svjatopolk at which they formally agreed upon these actions and engaged their minor children, Bolesław (later Bolesław III) and Sbyslava, to be married when they came of age. [6] While Tatiščev’s evidence is often suspect, [7] in this case it fits the expected pattern of dynastic marriage being used to seal an agreement, an agreement that can be read between the lines in the PVL. The marriage itself is recorded a few years later in 1102, when Sbyslava is sent to Poland to marry Bolesław. [8] This is a rare occurrence in the PVL where both the name of the bride and the name of the groom are noted. However, this was not the only thing distinctive about Sbyslava’s marriage.

Sbyslava Svjatopolkovna has an incredible distinction in the history of Rusian dynastic marriage. After all the consanguineous marriages made in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries, only Sbyslava’s consanguineous marriage to Bolesław III received a papal dispensation. [9] Sbyslava’s grandfather Izjaslav Jaroslavič had married the sister of Casimir of Poland, and Casimir was the grandfather of Bolesław III, thus in terms of medieval consanguinity, the two were related in the third degree. [10] This, in and of itself, was not strange, as dynastic marriages had a tendency to be consanguineous at this time due to the expanded interpretation of consanguinity by the Latin Church, but it is remarkable that no other Rusians received a dispensation from either the papacy or the patriarchate. The same might be said of the Poles, judging by the lack of evidence we have for other dispensations or dispensation requests. However, in this instance a papal dispensation was important for Bolesław. The reason for this seems to be his desire to be given the title rex by the Roman Church, possibly because of his struggles with his older half-brother Zbigniew, who held part of the Polish kingdom. [11] All in all, this is an interesting example of politics again motivating religious action.

Sbyslava and Bolesław had two children, Władysław (later Władysław II) and a daughter known as Judith. [12] At some point, perhaps in the first decade of the twelfth century, Sbyslava died, though an exact date is unknown. Following her death, Bolesław remarried, this time to Salomea, a member of the Salian dynasty of the German Empire, and the two of them had four sons and an unknown number of daughters before his death in 1138. [13] This division in the families, reminiscent of Louis the Pious centuries earlier, would divide the Piasts against themselves and fracture Poland.


  1. Birth/Death: [↑]
  2. Father: Laurentian Chronicle s.a. 1102.; Dlugosz, 210-11.[↑]
  3. Mother: Conjectural based upon Sviatopolk's marriage information.[↑]
  4. Marriage to Bolesław III of Poland: Laurentian Chronicle s.a. 1102.; Dlugosz, 210-11.[↑]
  5. PVL, s.a. 1097.[↑]
  6. Tatiščev, Istorija Rossiiskaja, vol. 2, 117.[↑]
  7. For the latest and best refutation of Tatiščev as a source, see Aleksei Toločko, “"Istorija Rossijskaja"” Vasilija Tatiščeva: istočniki i izvestija (Kyiv: Kritika, 2005).[↑]
  8. PVL, s.a. 1102. The marriage is also recorded in more detail in Długosz. Długosz, Annales, 210–11. Długosz actually mentions Sbyslava numerous times in his chronicle.[↑]
  9. The dispensation from Pope Paschal II is noted by the chronicler, Gallus Anonymous. Gesta principum Polonorum, 158–61.[↑]
  10. For an excellent overview of medieval consanguinity see Bouchard, “"Consanguinity and Noble Marriages in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries."” [↑]
  11. For more on their struggle, including an attack by Zbigniew at Bolesław’s wedding, see Gallus AnonymousGesta principum Polonorum [↑]
  12. Chronica Poloniae Maioris, ch. 27.[↑]
  13. Chronica Poloniae Maioris, ch. 27, 30.[↑]