Summary
Main » Yaroslav the Wise » Foreign policy

The goal of foreign policy of Yaroslav the Wisewas to consolidate the successes of Kievan Rus, achieved during the reign of his father and grandfather. The combination of military campaigns against independent tribes and the establishment of contacts with European monarchs through dynastic marriages made it possible to accomplish this task.

Main directions

Western – campaigns on Estov, Poland, Mazovia (+ Yatvyagov, Lithuania), dynastic marriages with the kings of Hungary, Norway, France, Poland

North – Campaign on the Yam (Yem) tribes

South – campaign to Constantinople, a reflection of the Pechenegs raid

Foreign policy of Prince Yaroslav the Wise - map
Foreign policy of Prince Yaroslav the Wise – map

Briefly about the content of the main events

After the death of Vladimir the Baptist in 1015, a feud broke out between his sons, which lasted until 1019. During the confrontation between Yaroslav the Wise and Svyatopolk the Cursed, the latter called for the help of the father of his wife – the Polish king Boleslav I and with him captured Kiev in 1018.

Boleslav I brought to Poland many prisoners and spoils, including the sisters of Yaroslav and, according to one version, his first wife, Anna. Yaroslav, later marrying the daughter of the Swedish king Ingigerde and securing the support of Norman mercenaries, defeated Svyatopolk and drove him out of Kiev, but could begin active actions outside his own state only after 1026 – the lands ravaged by civil strife required restoration, and other Russian princes tried to power challenge of Yaroslav.

Boleslav I and Svyatopolk the Cursed enter Kiev
Boleslav I and Svyatopolk the Cursed enter Kiev
(picture by Y. Mateyko)

Campaign on the Chud and foundation of the city of Yuryev in 1030

Presumably, the reason for the campaign of Yaroslav the Wise against the chuds (ests) could be the fact that the Ests sided with Kanut, king of Denmark and England, whose opponent Olaf Skötkonung, king of Sweden, received help from Yaroslav. In addition, tribute from these lands was collected even under the father of Yaroslav, Prince Vladimir.

In the Baltic lands, presumably on the Amovzhe River, the squad of Prince Yaroslav defeated the Chud army. At the battle site, Prince Yaroslav ordered the city of Yuryev to be laid (named after the Christian name of the prince, in some sources “Gyurgev”, today the city of Tartu in Estonia).

Chopped walls and towers were erected on a hill, the slopes of which served as natural obstacles for the besiegers.

«And ordered him to bring tribute from all over the lands», —  V. N. Tatishchev

Map - Yaroslav’s campaign against the Ests
Map – Yaroslav’s campaign against the Ests

Polish campaign 1030-1031

After the death of Boleslav I in 1025, Meshko II (Mechislav) took his place and difficult times came for the Polish kingdom – on the one hand, the German emperor Conrad II regularly made campaigns in Poland, on the other, Meshko’s older brother, Bezprim, who had previously fled to Kiev, convinced Yaroslav the Wise to support him in the struggle for the Polish throne.

In 1030, the troops of Yaroslav took the city of Belz, but the main goal of the campaign – the return of all Cherven cities – was not achieved. The prince prepared himself more carefully for the new campaign against Poland, enlisting the support of his brother – Prince Chernigov Mstislav Vladimirovich.

In 1031, Yaroslav and Mstislav gathered a large army and invaded Poland, having conquered the cities of Przemysl and Cherven, and having captured many Poles, divided them. Yaroslav settled his prisoners along the Ros River. In fact, these events became a kind of revenge for the invasion of Boleslav I in 1018 in Kiev.

Polish King Meshko II Lambert (art. A. Maloy)
Polish King Meshko II Lambert
(art. A. Maloy)

According to one version, Harald III Sigurdsson, the king of Norway, half-brother of St. Olaf, fled to Yaroslav the Wise and participated in the campaign to return the Cherven cities. Subsequently, Harald married Elizabeth Yaroslavna and was able to regain the Norwegian throne.

The defeat of the Pechenegs during the siege of Kiev in 1036

After fifteen years of truce, the Pechenegs invaded the territory of Russia and besieged Kiev. Prince Yaroslav, who was in Novgorod, gathered a squad from the Varangians and Novgorodians and advanced to help the besieged. The Pechenegs were only able to burn the outskirts near Kiev, the city lasted in a siege until the arrival of the prince.

A bloody battle with superior nomads ended in an unconditional victory for the Russians. The remaining attackers fled in panic: a lot of Pechenegs drowned in the Setomli River and other rivers, some went to the borders of Byzantium, and some went to the Don River.

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Armament and appearance of a noble Pecheneg warrior
Armament and appearance of a noble Pecheneg warrior

After that, the Pechenegs ceased to play an independent role, and acted as a significant part of the new tribal alliance of the Berendey, also called “black hoods”.

Union with Poland and campaign in Mazovia

In 1038/1039, the Polish king Casimir I entered into an alliance with Yaroslav the Wise. The Russian-Polish union was immediately sealed by two dynastic marriages: Kazimir then married Yaroslav’s sister (possibly niece) Dobronega, and married his sister, Gertrude, to Izyaslav, the second son of Yaroslav.

Casimir asked Yaroslav for help in returning Mazovia, where the local nobility broke away from Poland at the time of the peasant revolt of 1037-1038 and chose a certain Maslav (Moislav / Mechislav) as his prince.

As a sign of complete reconciliation with Russia, the Polish king released all the Russian captives (c. 800) captured by Boleslav in 1018 and allowed them to return to Russia with property and families.

Map of Poland. In the upper part, Mazovia is highlighted in a lighter tone.
Map of Poland. In the upper part, Mazovia is highlighted in a lighter tone.

Yaroslav, from this moment on, begins systematic military campaigns “against the Mazovshan” and allied tribes:

  • Winter 1038/39 – Campaign on the Yatvyag
  • 1040 – Campaign on the Lithuanians
  • 1041 – military raid on the boats to Mazovia
  • 1044 – Campaign on the Lithuanians
  • 1047 – Campaign on the Mazovians – the assassination of Prince Mazov of Mazov and the subjugation of Mazovia in favor of the Polish king Casimir I – the end of the union agreement with Poland
Obviously, Prince Moislav began to create his own power in northern Europe. He took control of several Lithuanian tribes, including the Yatvyagov, formerly tributaries of Russia. Thus, the destruction of the emerging power of Moses, which was pagan, was in the interests of both Casimir and Yaroslav.

Campaign on the tribes of Yam (Em) in 1042

In 1042, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, Prince Vladimir, presumably, together with his father, made a successful Campaign to the Yam tribes that inhabited the territory of modern Southern Finland. Chronicles very briefly describe this campaign.

It is known that the Kiev troops defeated the enemy, captured the captives and valuable loot, but on the way back there was a great death of horses.

 Map of the campaign for the tribes of Yam (Em) in 1042
Map of the campaign for the tribes of Yam (Em) in 1042

In the year of 6550 (1042). Volodimir the son of Yaroslav went to Yam, defeating them. And the horses died at the soldiers of Volodimer – Primary Chronicle (The Tale of Bygone Years)1

Campaign on the Constantinople in 1043

The reason for the war, according to the Byzantine official Skilitsa, was the murder in the market of Tsargrad (Constantinople) of a noble Russian merchant (“noble Scythian”). Emperor Constantine sent ambassadors with an apology, but they were not accepted.

Yaroslav I the Wise sent an army on a boat on a boat under the command of his eldest son Vladimir, who reigned in Novgorod and commander Vyshat.

Map of the battle near Constantinople
Map of the battle near Constantinople

Byzantine ships were armed with Greek fire and set fire to Russian boats. Soon a storm began, which the Russian fleet literally swept away. Many ships have sunk or crashed onto rocks. Prince Vladimir himself barely managed to escape, moving to another boat from his ship.

6 thousand soldiers, led by the commander Vyshata, including those who landed from the wrecked ships, tried to break through the land route to the north, but this detachment was defeated near Varna by imperial troops. Vyshata himself and his warriors were captured, many of them were blinded.

Byzantine dromon attacks the battle boats of the Slavs (art. José Daniel Cabrera Peña)
Byzantine dromon attacks the battle boats of the Slavs

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According to The Tale of Bygone Years, the peace was concluded three years later – in 1046. Vyshat was redeemed and returned to Kiev. As a sign of reconciliation, a dynastic marriage was made between the relative of the emperor Konstantin Monomakh (presumably his daughter) and the son of Yaroslav the Wise, Vsevolod.

Dynastic marriages

Throughout his reign of Kievan Rus, Yaroslav the Wise regularly used to consolidate a dynastic marriage between members of ruling families as a new union. On the map above, you can clearly see with which states this allowed to strengthen relations.

  • 1019 – Yaroslav the Wise and Ingigerda, daughter of the Swedish king
  • 1038 – Anastasia Yaroslavna and Andras, the future king of Hungary
  • 1038/1039 – Polish king Casimir I and Maria Dobronega (sister / niece Ya.M.) – sister of Casimir I Gertrude and Izyaslav Yaroslavich.
  • 1043/44 – Elizabeth Yaroslavna and the future king of Norway Harald Sigurdsson
  • 1046 – Vsevolod Yaroslavich and a relative of the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomakh
  • 1051 – Anna Yaroslavna and King of France Henry I
На карте цветными областями обозначены государства с правителями которых были заключены династические браки
On the map, colored areas indicate the states with whose rulers dynastic marriages were concluded.

Dynastic marriages

Total results of foreign policy

  • Strengthened the influence of Kievan Rus in the north and northeast directions
  • Relations with Poland were restored, the captives and the Cherven cities captured by Boleslav I – were returned
  • Dynastic marriages were concluded with the kings of France, Poland, Hungary and Norway, as well as with the family of the emperor of Byzantium – an increase in the authority of Kievan Rus in Europe
  • The Pechenegs raid on Kiev is reflected – more these tribes did not disturb the southeastern borders of the state

Список литературы

  1. wikipedia
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