Rusian genealogy

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N. N. of Byzantium

b. unknown – d. unknown


As with the unknown Volodarovna, this M′stislavna presents a controversy in the historical scholarship. The Hypatian chronicle records that in 1122 she went to Constantinople to marry the emperor. [5] The emperor at this time was John II, who was very well known and whose spouse was the Hungarian princess, Irene–Piroska. So it seems rather unlikely that he was the intended spouse of the M′stislavna. Historians have since tried out various theories including having her marry the sons of John II. [6] There are no extant Byzantine records that record her existence, so one is left with only gray areas and suppositions. She is included in Kazhdan’s study of “Rus′–Byzantine Princely Marriages,” although he cannot find evidence either to confirm or deny the existence of a marriage between a M′stislavna and a Byzantine. [7] Though it is mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle it does not appear in the Laurentian or elsewhere, [8] and neither the marriage nor the M′stislavna are present in any Byzantine records. Also in the Hypatian account for 1122 is the notation that Metropolitan Nikita arrived from Constantinople. [9] This part of the entry is propagated throughout multiple chronicles, demonstrating that there was a consistent knowledge of Byzantine ties, as well as a penchant for duplication of Byzantine information in the chronicles. [10] This may seem irrelevant, but is in fact important to note. The Rusian chroniclers were good at excising, or simply not including, information that was not of interest to them, but ties with Byzantium were almost never excised, rather they were generally inflated. [11] That such an important entry as the marriage of a M′stislavna with a Byzantine emperor was left out indicates that such an event was not commonly known or believed to have occurred.

The Rusian political situation at the time would have allowed for an alliance between Rus′ and Byzantium. Such an alliance, however, would have been more high profile than this seems to have been, and one can assume it would have been recorded in more than one chronicle, especially as the M′stislaviči were so successful in propagating themselves and their version of events. As mentioned above, the best conclusion that can be reached is that a M′stislavna may have married a Byzantine, though his name and rank are unknown. The claim that he was tsar′ or carevič seems unlikely, and combined with the lack of multiple sources of information, makes the marriage implausible. It has been included in the tables of part 2, but the extensive description here should indicate the extremely thin source base for the identity of the husband.


  1. Birth/Death: [↑]
  2. Father: [↑]
  3. Mother: [↑]
  4. Marriage to N. N. Mstislavna: Hypatian Chronicle, s.a. 1122.; Voskresenskaia Chronicle, s.a. 1122.[↑]
  5. Hypatian Chronicle, s.a. 1122. “Vedena M′stislavna v Greky za tsar′.”[↑]
  6. Baumgarten refers to her as Irene–Dobrodeja. Baumgarten, “"Généalogies,"” Table V.[↑]
  7. Kazhdan, “"Rus′–Byzantine Princely Marriages in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,"” 422–23.[↑]
  8. The Voskresenskij, Nikon, Rogozhskij, and Tver chronicles all do not mention her marriage under 1122. [↑]
  9. Hypatian Chronicle, s.a. 1122.[↑]
  10. Tver Chronicle, s.a. 1122; Rogozhskij Chronicle, s.a. 1122; Nikon Chronicle, s.a. 1122; and Voskresenskij Chronicle, s.a. 1122.[↑]
  11. This is discussed in more depth in the section on “Byzantine Inflation” in chapter 2 of Reimagining Europe.[↑]