The World of Grandpa Don

The Royal Line
Russian Royalty

This page looks at our royal ancestors extending from Rurik who was born about 830 AD to Anne of Kiev Yaroslavna who died in 1075 and was married to Henry I Capet King of France

This line of ancestors was confirmed in May of 2011. It consists of ancestors of my 9th Great Grandfather Gen James Cudworth

The relationships of the ancestors and the description of their lives were verified and taken from Wikipedia.

This is their story, as I know it.

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Relationship: Donald James Plefka to Rurik



Our earliest found ancestors in this Royal line were of the Varangians and so we begin with this historical note.

The Varangians or Varyags was the name given by Greeks and East Slavs to Vikings, who between the 9th and 11th centuries ruled the medieval state of Rus' and formed the Byzantine Varangian Guard.

According to the 12th century Kievan Primary Chronicle, a group of Varangians known as the Rus' settled in Novgorod in 862 under the leadership of Rurik. Before Rurik, the Rus' might have ruled an earlier hypothetical polity. Rurik's relative Oleg conquered Kiev in 882 and established the state of Kievan Rus', which was later ruled by Rurik's descendants.

Engaging in trade, piracy, and mercenary activities, Varangians roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, as the areas north of the Black Sea were known in the Norse sagas. They controlled the Volga trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Arabs), connecting the Baltic to the Caspian Sea, and the Dnieper trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Greeks) leading to the Black Sea and Constantinople. Those were the critically important trade links at that time, connecting Dark Age Europe with wealthy and developed Arab Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire; Most of the silver coinage in the West came from the East via those routes. Attracted by the riches of Constantinople, the Varangian Rus' initiated a number of Rus'-Byzantine Wars, some of which resulted in advantageous trade treaties. At least from the early 10th century many Varangians served as mercenaries in the Byzantine Army, comprising the elite Varangian Guard (the personal bodyguards of Byzantine Emperors). Eventually most of them, both in Byzantium and in Eastern Europe, were converted from paganism to Orthodox Christianity, culminating in the Christianization of Kievan Rus' in 988. Coinciding with the general decline of the Viking Age, the influx of Scandinavians to Rus' stopped, and Varangians were gradually assimilated by East Slavs by the late 11th century.


Our Ancestors



Rurik or Riurik  (c. 830 – c. 879) was a Varangian chieftain who gained control of Ladoga in 862, built the Holmgard settlement near Novgorod, and founded the Rurik Dynasty, which ruled Kievan Rus (and later Grand Duchy of Moscow and Tsardom of Russia) until the 17th century.

There is a debate over how Rurik came to control Ladoga and Novgorod. The only information about him is contained in the 12th century Primary Chronicle, which states that Chuds, Slavs, Merias, Veses, and Krivichs "...drove the Varangians back beyond the sea, refused to pay them tribute, and set out to govern themselves". Afterwards the tribes started fighting each other and decided to invite the Varangians, led by Rurik, to reestablish order.

According to the Primary Chronicle, Rurik was one of the Rus, a Varangian tribe likened by the chronicler to Danes, Swedes, English, and Gotlanders. In the 20th century, archaeologists partly corroborated the chronicle's version of events, but mostly the excavations denied most of the chronicle's data about Rurik's arrival when it was apparent that the old settlement stretched to the mid 700's and the excavated objects were most of fins-ugric and slavic origin, dated to mid 8th century, which showed the settlement was not scandinavian from the beginning.

Rurik remained in power until his death in 879. His successors (the Rurik Dynasty), however, moved the capital to Kiev and founded the state of Kievan Rus', which persisted until the Mongol invasion in 1240. A number of extant princely families are patrilineally descended from Rurik, although the last Rurikid to rule Kievan Rus, Vasily IV, died in 1612.

According to the entries in the Radzivil and Hypatian Chronicles under the years 862–864, Ryurik’s first residence was in Ladoga. It is only later that he moved his seat of power to Novgorod, a fort built not far from the source of the Volkhov River. The meaning of this place name in medieval Russian is "new fortifications", while the current meaning ("new town") appeared only later.

There is a large, 9th-century funerary barrow in Novgorod Oblast, reminiscent of the mounds at Old Uppsala, Sweden, which is called Shum Gora. Intricately defended against looting, it remains to be excavated. The local inhabitants refer to it as Rurik's Grave.

For other possible details of his life see

The Rurikid dynasty went on to rule the Kievan Rus', and ultimately the Tsardom of Muscovy, until 1598. Numerous noble Russian and Ruthenian families claim a male-line descent from Rurik, and via Anne of Kiev, wife of Henry I of France, Rurikid ancestry can also be argued for numerous Western European lineages.

Vasily Tatishchev (a Rurikid himself) claimed that Rurik was of Wendish extraction and went so far as to name his wife, Ufanda of Norway (Endvinda? Alfrind?); mother, Umila; his maternal grandfather, Gostomysl; and a cousin, Vadim (apparently basing his account on the lost Ioachim Chronicle).

Rurik was my 34th great grandfather.


Igor of Kiev

Igor I was a Varangian ruler of Kievan Rus' from 912 to 945.Information about him comes mostly from the Primary Chronicle. According to the document, Igor was son of Rurik, the first king of Kievan Rus'

870–879. On his deathbed, Rurik bequeathed his realm to Oleg, who belonged to his kin, and entrusted to Oleg’s hands his son Igor', for he was very young.

880–882. Oleg set forth, taking with him many warriors from among the Varangians, the Chuds, the Slavs, the Merians and all the Krivichians. He thus arrived with his Krivichians before Smolensk, captured the city, and set up a garrison there. Thence he went on and captured Lyubech, where he also set up a garrison. He then came to the hills of Kiev, and saw how Askold and Dir reigned there. He hid his warriors in the boats, left some others behind, and went forward himself bearing the child Igor'. He thus came to the foot of the Hungarian hill, and after concealing his troops, he sent messengers to Askold and Dir, representing himself as a stranger on his way to Greece on an errand for Oleg and for Igor', the prince’s son, and requesting that they should come forth to greet them as members of their race. Askold and Dir straightway came forth. Then all the soldiery jumped out of the boats, and Oleg said to Askold and Dir, “You are not princes nor even of princely stock, but I am of princely birth.” Igor' was then brought forward, and Oleg announced that he was the son of Rurik. They killed Askold and Dir, and after carrying them to the hill, they buried them there, on the hill now known as Hungarian, where the castle of Ol'ma now stands.

He twice besieged Constantinople, in 941 and 944, and in spite of part of his fleet being destroyed by Greek fire, concluded with the Emperor a favourable treaty whose text is preserved in the chronicle. In 913 and 944, the Rus' plundered the Arabs in the Caspian Sea during the Caspian expeditions of the Rus', but it's not clear whether Igor had anything to do with these campaigns.

Igor was killed while collecting tribute from the Drevlians in 945. The Byzantine historian and chronicler, Leo the Deacon (born c.a 950), describes how Igor met his death: "They had bent down two birch trees to the prince’s feet and tied them to his legs; then they let the trees straighten again, thus tearing the prince’s body apart." and avenged by his wife, Olga of Kiev. The Primary Chronicle blames his death on his own excessive greed, indicating that he was attempting to collect tribute a second time in a month. As a result, Olga changed the system of tribute gathering (poliudie) in what may be regarded as the first legal reform recorded in Eastern Europe.

Olga of Kiev

Saint Olga born c. 890 died 11 July 969, Kiev) was a ruler of Kievan Rus' as regent (945–c. 963) for her son, Svyatoslav.

Olga (also spelled Olgha) was born in c. 890. Daughter of Gostomisle. According to the Primary Chronicle, Olga was born in Pleskov (Pskov), into a family of Varyag origin. By some accounts, she was the daughter of Oleg of Novgorod.

The other hypothesis is that Olga was born in Pliska, Bulgaria (or in Plisnensk near Lviv). Her father is knyаz Vladimir of Bulgaria. His first grandson was named Vladimir I the Great named after his grandfather, respectively one of his sons Boris was named after his great-grandfather. Olga was the granddaughter of Boris I.

Princess Olga was the wife of Igor of Kiev, who was killed by the Drevlians. Upon her husband's death, their son, Svyatoslav, was three years old, making Olga the official ruler of Kievan Rus until he reached adulthood. The Drevlians wanted Olga to marry their Prince Mal, making him the ruler of Kievan Rus, but Olga was determined to remain in power and preserve it for her son.

The Drevlians sent twenty of their best men to persuade Olga to marry their Prince Mal and give up her rule of Kievan Rus. She had them buried alive. Then she sent word to Prince Mal that she accepted the proposal, but required their most distinguished men to accompany her on the journey in order for her people to accept the offer of marriage. The Drevlians sent their best men who governed their land. Upon their arrival, she offered them a warm welcome and an invitation to clean up after their long journey in a bathhouse. After they entered, she locked the doors and set fire to the building, burning them alive.

With the best and wisest men out of the way, she planned to destroy the remaining Drevlians. She invited them to a funeral feast so she could mourn over her husband's grave, where her servants waited on them. After the Drevlians were drunk, Olga's soldiers killed over 5,000 of them. She returned to Kiev and prepared an army to attack the survivors. The Drevlians begged for mercy and offered to pay for their freedom with honey and furs. She asked for three pigeons and three sparrows from each house, since she did not want to burden the villagers any further after the siege. They were happy to comply with such a reasonable request.

Now Olga gave to each soldier in her army a pigeon or a sparrow, and ordered them to attach by thread to each pigeon and sparrow a piece of sulfur bound with small pieces of cloth. When night fell, Olga bade her soldiers release the pigeons and the sparrows. So the birds flew to their nests, the pigeons to the cotes, and the sparrows under the eaves. The dove-cotes, the coops, the porches, and the haymows were set on fire. There was not a house that was not consumed, and it was impossible to extinguish the flames, because all the houses caught on fire at once. The people fled from the city, and Olga ordered her soldiers to catch them. Thus she took the city and burned it, and captured the elders of the city. Some of the other captives she killed, while some she gave to others as slaves to her followers. The remnant she left to pay tribute.

In 947, Princess Olga launched a punitive expedition against the tribal elites between the Luga and the Msta River. Following this successful campaign, a number of forts were erected at Olga’s orders. One of them is Gorodec in the Luga region a fortification dated to the middle of the tenth century. Because of its isolated location, Gorodec does not seem to have been in any way associated with the pre-existing settlement pattern. Moreover, the fort produced another example of square timber frames designed to consolidate the rampart that was seen at Ryurik’s Stronghold. The same building technique was in use a century later in the Novgorod fortifications.

Olga remained Regent ruler of Kievan Rus with the support of the army and her people. She changed the system of tribute gathering (poliudie) in the first legal reform recorded in Eastern Europe. She continued to evade proposals of marriage, defended the city during the Siege of Kiev in 968, and saved the power of the throne for her son.

She was the first Rus' ruler to convert to Christianity, either in 945 or in 957. The ceremonies of her formal reception in Constantinople were minutely described by Emperor Constantine VII in his book De Ceremoniis. Following her baptism she took the Christian name Yelena, after the reigning Empress Helena Lekapena. The Slavonic chronicles add apocryphal details to the account of her baptism, such as the story how she charmed and "outwitted" Constantine and how she spurned his matrimonial proposals. In truth, at the time of her baptism, Olga was an old woman, while Constantine had a wife.

Olga was one of the first people of Rus' to be proclaimed a saint, for her efforts to spread the Christian religion in the country. Because of her proselytizing influence, the Orthodox Church calls St. Olga by the honorific Isapóstolos, "Equal to the Apostles". However, she failed to convert Svyatoslav, and it was left to her grandson and pupil Vladimir I to make Christianity the lasting state religion. During her son's prolonged military campaigns, she remained in charge of Kiev, residing in the castle of Vyshgorod together with her grandsons. She died soon after the city's siege by the Pechenegs in 969.

Igor and Olga were my 33rd great grandparents.


Sviatoslav I of Kiev

Sviatoslav I Igorevich (c. 942 – March 972), also spelled Svyatoslav, was a prince of Rus. The son of Igor of Kiev and Olga, Sviatoslav is famous for his incessant campaigns in the east and south, which precipitated the collapse of two great powers of Eastern Europe, Khazaria and the First Bulgarian Empire. He also conquered numerous East Slavic tribes, defeated
the Alans and the Volga Bulgars, and at times was allied with the Pechenegs and Magyars.

His decade-long reign over the Rus' was marked by rapid expansion
into the Volga River valley, the Pontic steppe, and the Balkans. By the end of his short life, Sviatoslav carved out for himself the largest state in Europe, eventually moving his capital in 969 from Kiev (modern day Ukraine) to Pereyaslavets (modern-day Romania) on the Danube. In contrast with his mother's conversion to Christianity, Sviatoslav remained a staunch pagan all of his life. Due to his abrupt death in ambush, his conquests, for the most part, were not consolidated into a functioning empire, while his failure to establish a stable succession led to a fratricidal feud among his sons, resulting in two of his three sons being killed.

For an explanation of his name and other details see,_Prince_of_Kiev .

Virtually nothing is known about Sviatoslav's childhood and youth, which he spent reigning in Novgorod. Sviatoslav's father, Igor, was killed by the Drevlians around 945, and his mother, Olga, ruled as regent in Kiev until Sviatoslav reached maturity (ca. 963). Sviatoslav was tutored by a Varangian named Asmud (meaning "quick as a leopard"). The tradition of employing Varangian tutors for the sons of ruling princes survived well into the 11th century. Sviatoslav appears to have had little patience for administration. His life was spent with his druzhina (roughly, "troops") in permanent warfare against neighboring states. According to the Primary Chronicle, he carried on his expeditions neither wagons nor kettles, and he boiled no meat, rather cutting off small strips of horseflesh, game, or beef to eat after roasting it on the coals. Nor did he have a tent, rather spreading out a horse-blanket under him and setting his saddle under his head, and all his retinue did likewise.

Sviatoslav's mother, Olga, converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity at the court of Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in 957. However, Sviatoslav remained a pagan all of his life. In the treaty of 971 between Sviatoslav and the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes, the Rus' are swearing by Perun and Veles. According to the Primary Chronicle, he believed that his warriors (druzhina) would lose respect for him and mock him if he became a Christian. The allegiance of his warriors was of paramount importance in his conquest of an empire that stretched from the Volga to the Danube.

Sviatoslav had several children, but the origin of his wives is not specified in the chronicle. By his wives, he had Yaropolk and Oleg. By Malusha, a woman of indeterminate origins, Sviatoslav had Vladimir, who would ultimately break with his father's paganism and convert Rus' to Christianity. John Skylitzes reported that Vladimir had a brother named Sfengus; whether this Sfengus was a son of Sviatoslav, a son of Malusha by a prior or subsequent husband, or an unrelated Rus' nobleman is unclear.

Fearing that the peace with Sviatoslav would not endure, the Byzantine emperor induced the Pecheneg khan Kurya to kill Sviatoslav before he reached Kiev. This was in line with the policy outlined by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in De Administrando Imperio of fomenting strife between the Rus' and the Pechenegs. According to the Slavic chronicle, Sveneld attempted to warn Sviatoslav to avoid the Dnieper rapids, but the prince slighted his wise advice and was ambushed and slain by the Pechenegs when he tried to cross the cataracts near Khortitsa early in 972. The Primary Chronicle reports that his skull was made into a chalice by the Pecheneg khan.

Following Sviatoslav's death, tensions between his sons grew. A war broke out between his legitimate sons, Oleg and Yaropolk, in 976, at the conclusion of which Oleg was killed. In 977 Vladimir fled Novgorod to escape Oleg's fate and went to Scandinavia, where he raised an army of Varangians and returned in 980. Yaropolk was killed, and Vladimir became the sole ruler of Kievan Rus'.

On 7 November 2011 Ukrainian fisherman Sergei Pjankow fished up a one metre long frankish sword from the waters of the Dnieper not far from the spot where Svyatoslav is believed to have been killed in 972. The handle is made out of four different metals including gold and silver, and it is very possible that it belonged to Sviatoslav himself.

Sviatoslav I  and (possibly) Malusha were my 32nd great grandparents.


Vladimir the Great

Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great c. 958 – 15 July 1015,  was a prince of Novgorod, grand prince of Kiev, and ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015.

Vladimir's father was prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty. After the death of his father in 972, Vladimir, who was then prince of Novgorod, was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 after his brother Yaropolk had murdered his other brother Oleg and conquered Rus'. In Sweden, with the help from his relative Ladejarl Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, he assembled a Varangian army and reconquered Novgorod from Yaropolk. By 980 Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from modern-day Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarian, Baltic, and Eastern nomads. Originally a Slavic pagan, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988 and Christianized the Kievan Rus'.

Vladimir, born in 958, was the natural son and youngest son of Sviatoslav I of Kiev by his housekeeper Malusha. Malusha is described in the Norse sagas as a prophetess who lived to the age of 100 and was brought from her cave to the palace to predict the future. Malusha's brother Dobrynya was Vladimir's tutor and most trusted advisor.

Transferring his capital to Pereyaslavets in 969, Sviatoslav designated Vladimir ruler of Novgorod the Great but gave Kiev to his legitimate son Yaropolk. After Sviatoslav's death in 972, a fratricidal war erupted in 976 between Yaropolk and his younger brother Oleg, ruler of the Drevlians. In 977 Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod. On his return the next year, he marched against Yaropolk. On his way to Kiev he sent ambassadors to Rogvolod, prince of Polotsk, to sue for the hand of his daughter Rogneda. The high-born princess refused to affiance herself to the son of a bondswoman, so Vladimir attacked Polotsk, slew Rogvolod, and took Ragnhild by force. Polotsk was a key fortress on the way to Kiev, and capturing Polotsk and Smolensk facilitated the taking of Kiev in 978, where he slew Yaropolk by treachery and was proclaimed knyaz of all Kievan Rus.

Vladimir continued to expand his territories beyond his father's extensive domain. In 981, he conquered the Cherven towns from the Poles; in 981-982 he suppressed a Vyatichi rebellion; in 983, he subdued the Yatvingians; in 984, he conquered the Radimichs; and in 985, he conducted a military campaign against the Volga Bulgars, planting numerous fortresses and colonies on his way.

Although Christianity spread in the region under Oleg's rule, Vladimir had remained a thoroughgoing pagan, taking eight hundred concubines (along with numerous wives) and erecting pagan statues and shrines to gods. He may have attempted to reform Slavic paganism by establishing the thunder-god, Perun, as a supreme deity.

Open abuse of the deities that most people in Rus' revered triggered widespread indignation. A mob killed the Christian Fyodor and his son Ioann. Immediately after the murder of Fyodor and Ioann, early medieval Rus' saw persecutions against Christians, many of whom escaped or concealed their belief.

The Primary Chronicle reports that in the year 987, after consultation with his boyars, Vladimir the Great sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths. The result is described by the chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them, only sorrow and a great stench. He also reported that Islam was undesirable due to its taboo against alcoholic beverages and pork. Vladimir remarked on the occasion: "Drinking is the joy of all Rus'. We cannot exist without that pleasure." Ukrainian and Russian sources also describe Vladimir consulting with Jewish envoys (who may or may not have been Khazars), and questioning them about their religion but ultimately rejecting it as well, saying that their loss of Jerusalem was evidence that they had been abandoned by God. His emissaries also visited Roman Catholic and Orthodox missionaries. Ultimately Vladimir settled on Orthodox Christianity. In the churches of the Germans his emissaries saw no beauty; but at Constantinople, where the full festival ritual of the Byzantine Church was set in motion to impress them, they found their ideal: "We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth," they reported, describing a majestic Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia, "nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it." If Vladimir was impressed by this account of his envoys, he was even more attracted by the political gains of the Byzantine alliance.

In 988, having taken the town of Chersonesos in Crimea, he boldly negotiated for the hand of emperor Basil II's sister, Anna. Never before had a Byzantine imperial princess, and one "born in the purple" at that, married a barbarian, as matrimonial offers of French kings and German emperors had been peremptorily rejected. In short, to marry the 27-year-old princess to a pagan Slav seemed impossible. Vladimir was baptized at Cherson, however, taking the Christian name of Basil out of compliment to his imperial brother-in-law; the sacrament was followed by his wedding to Anna. Returning to Kiev in triumph, he destroyed pagan monuments and established many churches, starting with the splendid Church of the Tithes (989) and monasteries on Mt. Athos.

Vladimir then formed a great council out of his boyars and set his twelve sons over his subject principalities. According to the Primary Chronicle, he founded the city of Belgorod in 991. In 992 he went on a campaign against the Croats, most likely the White Croats (an East Slavic group unrelated to the Croats of Dalmatia) that lived on the border of modern Ukraine. This campaign was cut short by the attacks of the Pechenegs on and around Kiev.

In his later years he lived in a relative peace with his other neighbors: Boleslav I of Poland, Stephen I of Hungary, Andrikh the Czech. After Anna's death, he married again, likely to a granddaughter of Otto the Great.

In 1014 his son Yaroslav the Wise stopped paying tribute. Vladimir decided to chastise the insolence of his son and began gathering troops against him. Vladimir fell ill, however, most likely of old age, and died at Berestovo, near Kiev. The various parts of his dismembered body were distributed among his numerous sacred foundations and were venerated as relics.

The fate of all Vladimir's daughters, whose number is around nine, is uncertain.

  • Olava or Allogia (Varangian or Czech), speculative she might have been mother of Vysheslav while others claim that it is a confusion with Helena Lekapena

    • Vysheslav (~977-~1010), Prince of Novgorod (988–1010)

  • a widow of Yaropolk I, a Greek nun

    • Sviatopolk the Accursed (~979), possibly the surviving son of Yaropolk

  • Rogneda (the daughter of Rogvolod), later upon divorce she entered a convent taking the Christian name of Anastasia

    • Izyaslav of Polotsk(~979, Kiev), Prince of Polotsk (989–1001)

    • Yaroslav the Wise (no earlier than 983), Prince of Rostov (987–1010), Prince of Novgorod (1010–1034), Grand Prince of Kiev (1016–1018, 1019–1054). Possibly he was a son of Anna rather than Rogneda. Another interesting fact that he was younger than Sviatopolk according to the words of Boris in the Tale of Bygone Years and not as it was officially known. Also the fact of him being the Prince of Rostov is highly doubtful although not discarded.

    • Vsevolod (~984–1013), possibly the Swedish Prince Wissawald of Volyn (~1000)

    • Mstislav, other Mstislav that possibly died as an infant if he was ever born

    • Mstislav of Chernigov (~983), Prince of Tmutarakan (990–1036), Prince of Chernigov (1024–1036), other sources claim him to be son of other mothers (Adela, Malfrida, or some other Bulgarian wife)

    • Predslava, a concubine of Bolesław I Chrobry according to Gesta principum Polonorum

    • Premislava, (? – 1015), some source state that she was a wife of the Duke Laszlo (Vladislav) "the Bald" of Arpadians
      Mstislava, in 1018 was taken by Bolesław I Chrobry among the other daughters

  • Bulgarian Adela, some sources claim that Adela is not necessarily Bulgarian as Boris and Gleb were born from some other wife

    • Boris (~986), Prince of Rostov (~1010–1015), remarkable is the fact that Rostov Principality as well as the Principality of Murom used to border the territory of Volga Bolgars

    • Gleb (~987), Prince of Murom (1013–1015), as Boris, Gleb is being also claimed the son of Anna Porphyrogenita
      Stanislav (~985–1015), Prince of Smolensk (988–1015), possible of another wife and a fate of whom is not certain

    • Sudislav (?-1063), Prince of Pskov (1014–1036), possible of another wife, but he is mentioned in Nikon's Chronicles. He spent 35 years in prison and later before dying turned into a monk.

  • Malfrida

    • Sviatoslav (~982–1015), Prince of Drevlians (990–1015)

  • Anna Porphyrogenita

    • Theofana, a wife of Novgorod posadnik

    • Ostromir, a grandson of semi-legendary Dobrynya (highly doubtful is the fact of her being Anna's offspring)

  • a granddaughter of Otto the Great (possibly Rechlinda Otona [Regelindis])

    • Maria Dobroniega of Kiev (~1012), the Duchess of Poland (1040–1087), married around 1040 to Casimir I the Restorer, Duke of Poland

    • Agatha, a theoretical daughter according to Jettea

  • other possible family

    • an out-of-marriage daughter (?-1044), a wife of the Nordmark Margrave Bernard

    • Pozvizd (prior to 988-?), a son of Vladimir according to Hustyn Chronicles. He, possibly, was the Prince Khrisokhir mentioned by Niketas Choniates.

Rogneda of Polotsk

Rogneda of Polotsk (962–1002) is the Slavic name for Ragnhild, whose father Ragnvald came from overseas (i.e., from Scandinavia) and established himself at Polatsk in the mid-10th century.

It has been speculated that Rogneda belonged to the Ynglings royal family of Norway. In or about 980, Vladimir, on learning that she was betrothed to his half-brother Yaropolk I of Kiev, took Polotsk and forced Rogneda to marry him. Having raped Rogneda in the presence of her parents, he ordered them to be killed, along with two of Rogneda's brothers.

Rogneda gave him several children. The four sons were Yaroslav the Wise, Vsevolod, Mstislav of Chernigov, and Izyaslav of Polotsk. She also bore two daughters, one of whom is named by Nestor the Chronicler as Predslava (taken as a concubine of Boleslaus I of Poland, according to Gallus). A later chronicle tells a story, most likely taken from a Norse saga, of Rogneda plotting against Vladimir and asking her elder son, Izyaslav, to kill him. As was the Norse royal custom, she was sent with her elder son to govern the land of her parents, i.e. Polotsk. Izyaslav's line continued to rule Polotsk and the newly-found town of Izyaslavl until the Mongol invasion.

After Vladimir converted to Christianity and took Anna Porphyrogeneta as his wife, he had to divorce all his previous wives, including Rogneda. After that, she entered the convent and took the name Anastasia.

Vladimer and Rogneda were my 31st great grandparents.


Yaroslav the Wise

Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus', known as Yaroslav the Wise or Iaroslav the Wise (c. 978 – 20 February 1054) was thrice Grand Prince of Novgorod and Kiev, uniting the two principalities for a time under his rule. Yaroslav's Christian name was George (Yuri) after Saint George.

A son of the Varangian (Viking) Grand Prince Vladimir the Great, he was vice-regent of Novgorod at the time of his father’s death in 1015. Subsequently, his eldest surviving brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, killed three of his other brothers and seized power in Kiev. Yaroslav, with the active support of the Novgorodians and the help of Varangian mercenaries, defeated Svyatopolk and became the Grand Prince of Kiev in 1019. Under Yaroslav the codification of legal customs and princely enactments was begun, and this work served as the basis for a law code called the Russkaya Pravda ("Rus Truth [Law]"). During his lengthy reign, Rus' reached the zenith of its cultural flowering and military power.

For many details of his life see

Leaving aside the legitimacy of Yaroslav's claims to the Kievan throne and his postulated guilt in the murder of his brothers, Nestor the Chronicler and later Russian historians often presented him as a model of virtue, styling him "the Wise". A less appealing side of his personality is revealed by his having imprisoned his younger brother Sudislav for life. Yet another brother, Mstislav of Tmutarakan, whose distant realm bordered the Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea, hastened to Kiev and, despite reinforcements led by Yaroslav's brother-in-law King Anund Jacob of Sweden inflicted a heavy defeat on Yaroslav in 1024. Yaroslav and Mstislav then divided Kievan Rus' between them: the area stretching left from the Dnieper, with the capital at Chernihiv, was ceded to Mstislav until his death in 1036.

In 1019, Yaroslav married Ingegerd Olofsdotter, daughter of the king of Sweden, and gave Ladoga to her as a marriage gift.

The Saint Sophia Cathedral houses a fresco representing the whole family: Yaroslav, Irene (as Ingegerd was known in Rus), their five daughters and five sons. Yaroslav had three of his daughters married to foreign princes who lived in exile at his court:

  • Elizabeth of Kiev to Harald III of Norway (who attained her hand by his military exploits in the Byzantine Empire)

  • Anastasia of Kiev to the future Andrew I of Hungary;

  • Anne of Kiev married Henry I of France and was the regent of France during their son's minority;

  • (possibly) Agatha who married Edward the Exile, of the royal family of England, and was the mother of Edgar Ætheling and St. Margaret of Scotland.

Yaroslav had one son from the first marriage (his Christian name being Ilya (?-1020)), and 6 sons from the second marriage. Apprehending the danger that could ensue from divisions between brothers, he exhorted them to live in peace with each other. The eldest of these, Vladimir of Novgorod, best remembered for building the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, predeceased his father. Three other sons—Iziaslav, Sviatoslav, and Vsevolod—reigned in Kiev one after another. The youngest children of Yaroslav were Igor (1036–1060) of Volyn and Vyacheslav (1036–1057) of Smolensk. About the last one there are almost no information. Some documents point out the fact of him having a son Boris who challenged Vsevolod sometime in 1077-1078.

Yaroslav and Ingegerd were my 30th great grandparents. In addition, the (possible) daughter Agatha was the mother of my 27th great grandmother, St. Margeret of Scotland from our British Royal line.



Anne of Kiev

Anne of Kiev (or Anna Yaroslavna also called Agnes or Anne of Rus') was the Ruthenian queen consort of Henry I, and regent for her son Philip I.

Her parents were Yaroslav I the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kiev and Novgorod, and princess Ingegerd Olofsdotter of Sweden, his second wife. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine between 1024 and 1032 and was the queen of France from 1051 to 1060.

Anne was a founder of the St. Vincent Abbey.

After the death of his first wife, Matilda of Frisia, King Henry searched the courts of Europe for a suitable bride, but could not locate a princess who was not related to him within legal degrees of kinship. At last he sent an embassy to distant Kiev, which returned with Anne (also called Agnes). Anne and Henry were married at the cathedral of Reims on 19 May 1051. Her wedding and coronation took place in May 1049, the Holy Trinity Day, in the Cathedral of the city of Rheims, long the site of the coronation of French kings. During the coronation ceremony, which was conducted by the Archbishop of Rheims Guy de Chatilion, Anna took her oath placing her hand on the Gospel that she had brought from Kyiv. The Gospel was written in old Slavic language. This Gospel since then was used in the coronation ceremonies of the French kings all down the line until Louis XIX. The last French king to take an oath with his hand on this Gospel was Charles X (as king of France — 1824–1830). At present the book is kept in safety at the central library of the city of Rheims.

The new queen consort was not instantly attracted to her new realm. She wrote to her father that Francia was "a barbarous country where the houses are gloomy, the churches ugly and the customs revolting." Anna complained that the French could not write and read, and did not wash themselves. Anna of Kiev could write and read five languages, including Greek and Latin, while her husband Henry the First and his entire court could not write and read, and signed themselves with a cross. At her wedding banquet, she was shocked to have only three dishes, while at her father's court in Rus', she had five dinner dishes every day. Anna could ride a horse, was knowledgeable in politics, and actively participated in governing France, especially after her husband died. Many French documents bear her signature, written in old Slavic language (АНА РЪИНА, that is, Anna Regina, Anna the Queen). Pope Nicholas II, who was greatly surprised with Anne's great political abilities, wrote her a letter: "Honorable lady, the fame of your virtues has reached our ears, and, with great joy, we hear that you are performing your royal duties at this very Christian state with commendable zeal and brilliant mind." Henry the First respected his wife Anna so much that his many decrees bear the inscription "With the consent of my wife Anna" and "In the presence of Queen Anna". French historians point out that there are no other cases in the French history, when Royal decrees bear such inscriptions.

Anne is credited with bringing the name Philip to Western Europe. She imported this Greek name (Philippos, from philos and hippos, meaning "loves horses") from her Eastern Orthodox culture.

A year after the king's death, Anne, acting as regent, took a passionate fancy for Count Ralph III of Valois, a man whose political ambition encouraged him to repudiate his wife to marry Anne in 1062. Accused of adultery, Ralph's wife appealed to Pope Alexander II, who excommunicated the couple. The young king Philip forgave his mother, which was just as well, since he was to find himself in a very similar predicament in the 1090s. Ralph died in September 1074, at which time Anne returned to the French court. She died in 1075, was buried at Villiers Abbey, La Ferte-Alais, Essonne and her obits were celebrated on 5 September. All subsequent French kings were her progeny.

With Henry I of France she was the mother of:

  • Philip (23 May 1052 – 30 July 1108) -

  • Hugh (1057 – 18 October 1102) - called the Great or Magnus, later Count of Crépi, who married Adelaide, the heiress of Vermandois and died on crusade in Tarsus, Cilicia.

  • Robert (c. 1055 – c. 1060)

  • Emma

Anne and Henry were my 29th great grandparents.


For a continuation of this line of ancestors see French Royalty


© Grandpa Don Plefka
aka Harry Ronald Cecora
 Oct 14, 2013


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