Book Series Studies and Texts, vol. 116

The Dynasty of Chernigov, 1054-1146

M. Dimnik

  • Pages: 509 p.
  • Size:175 x 260 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:1994

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-116-4
  • Hardback
  • Available


The dynasty of Chernigov was descended from Svyatoslav, the second eldest surviving son of Yaroslav "the Wise". Before his death in 1054 Yaroslav legislated a new form of succession to Kiev and allotted patrimonial domains to his sons. He instructed them and their heirs to abide by his decrees in a spirit of Christian brotherly love. His precepts were obeyed with limited success. This book examines how faithfully the Svyatoslavichi adhered to Yaroslav's "testament" and how their fortunes suffered when other families broke Yaroslav's precepts. Svyatoslav was the most capable prince of the so-called triumvirate and successfully established political precedents for his heirs. For example, he considered it expedient to seize supreme power by usurping Kiev in order to prevent his descendants from becoming debarred and losing the right to rule in the capital town of Rus'. Nevertheless, after his death his sons lost control of most of his domains including Chernigov, his patrimony. His son, Oleg, devoted much of his life to regaining control of his father's inheritance. The Svyatoslavichi fortunes were revived under Vsevolod, Oleg's eldest son, who successfully usurped Kiev in imitation of his grandfather. For a short period of time he asserted his family's primacy and secured its position as one of the two most powerful dynasties is Rus'. Svyatoslav and his descendants were men of their day. Their main objective was to protect their dynastic interests as recognized by tradition and defined by princely decrees. To do this in the spirit of Yaroslav's "testament" at all times, however, proved to be an exceptionally difficult challenge.