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A brief description

Domestic policy of Yaroslav the Wise at the first stage was concentrated on the seizure and retention of power in Kievan Rus (civil strife 1015-1019, the conflict with Bryachislav in 1021 and Mstislav in 1023-26), after the final approval on the throne, the prince began to devote more time to issues of state organization, education and culture.

The general scheme of domestic policy of Yaroslav the Wise
The general scheme of domestic policy of Yaroslav the Wise

The seizure for power and the retention of the throne of Kyiv

In 1014 young Yaroslav, who ruled in Novgorod at that time, refused to pay his father Vladimir an annual tax of two thousand hryvnias. Vladimir was going to punish his son and even prepared the troops for the campaign, but became ill and died in 1015.

After the death of Prince Vladimir, his eldest son Svyatopolk, previously imprisoned by his father for attempting a coup, was released from prison by his followers and declared himself the new Kyiv prince.

Scheme - the path of Yaroslav the Wise to the throne of Kiev
Scheme – the path of Yaroslav the Wise to the throne of Kiev

More on power struggles

The feud between children of Prince Vladimir

During the further struggle for power between the heirs of Vladimir the Baptist, Kievan Rus sank into internecine wars. Princes Gleb, Boris, and Svyatoslav were killed. The main opponents, Yaroslav and Svyatopolk, fought each other with varying success for four years.

As a result, Yaroslav the Wise won and drove out Svyatopolk, later nicknamed the Cursed, but the price of victory turned out to be high – Cherven cities that came under Polish rule were lost, many residents of Kyiv, including the sisters of Yaroslav, became Polish prisoners, and the lands on which brothers fought with each other, came to desolation.

Схема - вторая усобица на Руси
Scheme – the second internecine in Rus’

Power retention

After the victory over Svyatopolk, two more brothers opposed Yaroslav. In 1021, the new Kiev prince fought with his nephew Bryachislav, the Polotsk prince, and in 1023-1026 another brother, the Tmutarakan prince, decided to declare his rights. As a result of the confrontation, Yaroslav and Mstislav decided to divide land along the Dnieper River. The left bank remained for Mstislav, and the right bank for Yaroslav. Subsequently, Mstislav helped Yaroslav in the Polish campaigns of 1030-1031, and later the brothers ruled Russia without quarrels until 1036, when Mstislav suddenly died on a hunt.

Брячислав Изяславич, князь полоцкий (худ. А. Крывенка)
Prince Bryachislav Polotsky

Conflict with Bryachislav

Мстислав Владимирович - князь Тмутараканский и Черниговский
Prince Mstislav Tmutarakansky

Conflict with Mstislav

Yaroslav ruled from Novgorod until the death of Mstislav in 1036, after which he imprisoned the last brother of Sudislav in prison and moved to Kiev completely.

Карта отображающая влияние князей после заключения мира между Ярославом Мудрым и Мстиславом Храбрым
Map showing the influence of the princes after the conclusion of peace between Yaroslav the Wise and Mstislav Tmutarakansky

Reform and changes

In addition to the struggle for power and military campaigns against other states, Yaroslav the Wise was engaged in reforms, some of which became the basis of culture and life for Kievan Rus for many years.

True of Yaroslav

“The Most Ancient Truth” (True of Yaroslav) is an old Russian collection of laws and judicial standards issued by Yaroslav the Wise in the form of a letter to the Novgorodians who helped him in the battle with the troops of Svyatopolk the Cursed near Lyubech.

The Most Ancient Truth consists of 18 articles. It provided for the right to blood feud, punishment for murder in the form of a fine, punishment for beatings, horse theft, damage to property, etc.

Subsequently, the “Most Ancient Truth” was supplemented by the sons of Yaroslav the Wise (Truth of Yaroslavsons), Vladimir Monomakh (the Charter of Monomakh) and entered to the “Russian Truth” – a collection of legal norms of Kievan Rus, which is one of the main written sources of Russian law.

Religious policy

Approval of Metropolitan Hilarion

According to the “Tale of Bygone Years” in 1051 (“summer 6559”), Yaroslav gathered the bishops and appointed Hilarion Metropolitan himself. The event was a landmark – before that, only the Patriarch of Constantinople controlled appointation for this position, which once again emphasized the dependence of Kievan Rus on Constantinople and the Byzantine emperors.

Church charter

According to the version of Ya. N. Shchapov, it was precisely with the assistance of Yaroslav the Wise that a church charter was drawn up, agreed with Metropolitan Illarion.

The statute defined crimes subject to church court and regulated marriage. The main significance of the Charter is to distinguish between ecclesiastical and secular judicial jurisdiction, as well as the separation of matters decided jointly by representatives of both authorities in the church court.

Education and Enlightenment

Sofia first annals about the school in Novgorod:

1030. «In the year 6538. Yaroslav went … to Novugorod, and collecting 300 children from the elders and priests taught books».

In 1037, at the site of the successful defeat of the Pechenegs near Kyiv in 1036, Yaroslav the Wise laid the St. Sophia Cathedral, where the monks were entrusted with the rewriting of church books and their translation from Greek.

It was in St. Sophia Cathedral that Prince Yaroslav organized a library in which, according to various estimates, there were from 130 to 500 volumes – not every European ruler could boast of such wealth.

Б. А. Чориков. Ярослав Мудрый обучает детей. Гравюра.
Art. B. A. Chorikov. “Yaroslav the Wise teaches children”, Engraving.

City construction and foundation

Listed below are cities founded personally by or with the assistance of Yaroslav the Wise:

Total results of domestic policy

  • The price of obtaining the Kyiv throne for Prince Yaroslav – the lands of Chervonnaya Rus lost during the Civil War of 1015-1019, which were returned after the armistice with Prince Mstislav
  • The development of education has become another stone in the foundation of the future Slavic culture.
  • The construction of new cities in the acquired territories and fortresses of the Poros Line provided additional protection for the state against future invasions of nomads.
  • “True Yaroslav” and “Church Charter” are new milestones at the stage of development of civil and church law.

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Опубликовано: 11.12.2019
Изменено: 12.12.2019