Rusian genealogy

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N.N. Boleslavna of Poland

b. unknown – d. unknown


Bolesław I “Chrobry” of Poland [2]


Svjatopolk was adopted by Volodimer, and was thus not only the heir by dint of his being the son of Volodimer's older brother but also because he was the eldest in Volodimer’s own family. Because of his rank, his marriage would have been considered vitally important for the future of Rus′. It also seems logical that Volodimer would arrange a marriage for him, as he was his adopted father as well as the patriarch of the family. In 1009 Svjatopolk was married to a daughter of Bolesław Chrobry, the ruler of Poland. [5] This was the first major step west that the Rjurikids made in their attempt to infiltrate the dynastic marriage system that dominated Europe. Poland was the Rusians’ closest neighbor and was one of their main foreign policy concerns. From a historical viewpoint it could have been an ideal marriage. Volodimer and Bolesław were the patriarchs of their respective clans, each a powerful ruler expanding his realm. A marriage between the children of the two could have been the stuff dynastic dreams are made of. Instead it became only the first example of Rusian–Polish dynastic marriages fueling Rjurikid dynastic strife.

Thietmar of Merseburg was an avid observer of the Poles, and he provides an interesting piece of evidence about this dynastic marriage and dynastic marriage in general. He records that the Boleslavna brought with her to Rus′ her personal confessor, Reinbern, bishop of Kolobrzeg (Kolberg). [6] This is a rare example, after Anna Porphyrogenita, of the foreign party in a Rusian dynastic marriage bringing with her an entourage of any kind. To bring a bishop to a foreign land with you when you get married indicates that the woman had some prestige and influence, as she should as the daughter of the ruler of Poland, and although Rusian women marrying outside of Rus′ often brought an entourage, it is much rarer to hear of a woman coming into Rus′ bringing one.

No reason is recorded for Volodimer's sudden suspicion that Svjatopolk was conspiring with Bolesław against him, [7] though many could be suggested, the majority of which have to do with the influence of the dynastic marriage. Whether it was the influence of his new wife, her entourage, or the bishop, the suspicion was present in Volodimer 's mind that Svjatopolk’s loyalties were shifting away from him and toward Poland. This was always a concern in dynastic marriage—a spouse brings with them culture and influence and has a variable amount of power that may or may not be used to benefit the interests of her in–laws. In this case, Volodimer feared that it was not in his interest and he threw Svjatopolk, the Boleslavna, and Bishop Reinbern into solitary cells. [8] The inclusion of Reinbern is the strongest hint that he was involved and that it was a matter of increasing Polish influence on Svjatopolk.

The situation grew worse when Reinbern died, [9] followed shortly thereafter by Volodimer. Svjatopolk was able to escape from the prison, and his first destination was his father–in–law. [10] This shows the strength of the bond that was created by his marriage to Bolesław’s daughter, and most likely shows that Volodimer was correct in assuming that Svjatopolk was leaning toward Poland. [11] Acting on his own indignation at the death of Bishop Reinbern and on the strength of his marital ties with Svjatopolk, Bolesław mobilized an army, changed the foreign policy plans of his kingdom, and invaded Rus′ in order to place his son–in–law on the throne of Kyiv. [12] This is perhaps the most striking example of the effect a dynastic marriage can have. The chances are small that Bolesław, despite a wish to occupy more territory, would have stopped his war with Emperor Henry II and invaded Rus′ without a dynastic tie. Thus the dynastic marriage between Svjatopolk and the daughter of Bolesław created the situation in which Bolesław would stop his war with Henry II in order to invade Rus′ in support of his son–in–law and place him on the throne of Kyiv. The motive was not entirely altruistic, of course, as Bolesław received the Červen′ lands in return [13] as well as safety for his daughter who was still held by anti–Svjatopolk forces. [14] But even with these considerations, it was the root dynastic marriage that made the whole situation possible.

The PVL does not record the existence of Svjatopolk's wife, [15] , nor does the Gesta principum Polonorum (Gesta), which records a fanciful version of Bolesław’s taking of Kyiv that does not even mention Svjatopolk by name. [16] Instead, historians are reliant on a German source for the knowledge of this marriage and the details surrounding it. [17] Nothing more is known of the Boleslavna, and no children are recorded to have been born to the couple, yet the impact of the dynastic marriage was felt by multiple kingdoms.


  1. Birth/Death: [↑]
  2. Father: Thietmar of Merseburg bk. 4, chap. 58; bk. 7, chap. 72.[↑]
  3. Mother: unknown.[↑]
  4. Marriage to Sviatopolk Iaropolchich: Thietmar of Merseburg bk. 4, chap. 58; bk. 7, chap. 72.[↑]
  5. Thietmar records a marriage between a daughter of Bolesław by his third wife and a “son of King Vladimir.” Thietmar of Merseburg, bk. 4, chap. 58; bk. 7, chap. 72.[↑]
  6. Ibid., bk. 7, chap. 72.[↑]
  7. Ibid.[↑]
  8. Ibid.[↑]
  9. Ibid.[↑]
  10. Ibid., bk. 7, chap. 73.[↑]
  11. Of course, the opposite might be true as well; Volodimer’s false imprisonment of Svjatopolk and his wife may have driven Svjatopolk to the Poles.[↑]
  12. Thietmar of Merseburg, bk. 7, chap. 65, where he incorrectly identifies Svjatopolk as brother–in–law, not son–in–law.[↑]
  13. PVL, s.a. 1018.[↑]
  14. Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg, bk. 8, chap. 33.[↑]
  15. Though it does record Svjatopolk’s flight “to the Ljakhs” as well as his return with Bolesław. PVL, s.a. 1016, 1018.[↑]
  16. Gesta principum Polonorum, 41–47.[↑]
  17. As has been shown, Thietmar mentions the marriage and many other details in multiple places. Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg.[↑]