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Mstislav the Brave
Grand Prince of Rus'
Personal details
Born c. 983
Died 1036 [aged ~53]
Chernigov

Mstislav of Chernigov (or Mstislav the Brave) (Belarusian language: Мсціслаў-Канстанцін Уладзіміравіч Храбры, Russian: Мстислав Владимирович Храбрый, Ukrainian language: Мстислав Володимирович Хоробрий ) was the earliest attested ruler of Chernihiv. He was Vladimir the Great's son, probably by Rogneda of Polotsk, although his exact position in the family has been disputed. It is not clear, for instance, whether Yaroslav the Wise was his younger or elder brother. Some historians such as Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard hypothesize that he is identical with Sfengus.

He was about 5 years old (born c. 983), when his father baptised himself and his family. On this event, Mstislav received the Christian name of Constantine, alluding to the first Byzantine emperor, and was dispatched to rule Tmutarakan on the Black Sea. His relations with the Empire were cordial for the most part. In 1016, he subdued the last Crimean strongholds of the Khazar, led by Georgius Tzul. This campaign, conducted in conjunction with Byzantine forces, helped the Greeks to reassert their control of the Crimea. Mstislav demonstrated his military prowess again in 1022, when he subjugated one of the Circassian tribe Kassogs and killed their leader Rededya in a single combat (duel). He took Rededyas wife and two sons, giving the last Slavic names of Yuri and Roman.

Two years later, while Yaroslav the Wise was away from Kiev, Mstislav led the Khazars and his other subjects against the capital of Kievan Rus'. When the Kievans refused to lend their support to his cause, he routed their army near Listven. Thereupon Kievan Rus' was partitioned between Mstislav and his brother, with Yaroslav remaining to rule the western territories, and Mstislav choosing Chernihiv as his capital. In 1031 both brothers were involved in the Galician campaign. Later the same year, Mstislav's fleet, joined by the Alans, routed the Shervanshah's army near Baku and sailed up the Kura River, thence proceeding to Armenia. Upon Mstislav's sudden death in a hunting accident (1036), his vast realm passed to Yaroslav. In the words of the Primary Chronicle, "his body was deposited in the Holy Saviour's church, which he had laid to, as its walls were already high enough for a mounted horseman to reach the top with his outstretched hand". This cathedral remains the only extant monument of Mstislav's reign.

The name of Mstislav's spouse is known to have been Anastasia (or Maria), and they had a son, named Eustaphius, who predeceased his father. Some scholars have identified this prince with "a Russian king's son", who married Canute the Great's sister Aestrid (according to Adam of Bremen's scholia). Upon returning home from Russia, Aestrid was briefly married to Robert the Devil. In the later 17th century, when the Velvet Book was being compiled by the Russian aristocracy, the Lopukhins, Ushakovs, and several other noble families, seeking for illustrious pedigrees, asserted their descent from Mstislav's daughter Tatyana who married Rededya's son Roman. In this case his wife Anastasia could not have been Rededya's wife, as it would have implied that Roman was Tatyana's half-brother.

Mstislav of Chernigov
Rurikovich
Born: 970s Died: 1036
Regnal titles
Preceded by
?
Prince of Tmutarakan
? – 1024
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Prince of Chernigov
1024–1036
Succeeded by
?
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Yaroslav the Wise
Grand Prince of Kiev
1019–1036
Succeeded by
Sudislav Vladimirovich
Preceded by
Yaroslav the Wise
2nd in line to Prince of Kiev
1015–1019
Succeeded by
Sudislav Vladimirovich

References[]

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