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Yaroslav the Wise

Yaroslav the Wise
 
Yaroslav the Wise, born in 978, died on February, 20, 1054, in Kyiv. Grand Prince of Kyiv from 1019; son of Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great, father of seven princes, including Iziaslav, Svia-toslav II, and Vsevolod Yaroslavovych. During his father's reign Yaroslav governed the lands of Rostov (from ca 988) and Novgorod (from 1010).

While ruling Novgorod, which became his main power base, he rebelled against his father by refusing to pay the yearly tribute. After his father's death Yaroslav waged war against his brother Sviatopolk I for the Kyiv throne. He defeated Sviatopolk and gained the Kyiv throne.
To retain his authority in northern Rus, in 1021, Yaroslav fought and defeated his cousin Briachyslav Iziaslavych of Polatsk. In 1030, Yaroslav conquered lands between Lake Peipus and the Baltic Sea.

After Mstyslav's death in 1036, Yaroslav annexed his lands and became the ruler of Kyiv Rus except the Polotsk land. In 1043, however, his military expedition against Constantinople, ended in disastrous defeat.
To defend his state from the attacks of nomadic tribes, Yaroslav fortified the southern frontier by building along the Ros, the Trubizh, and the Sula the towns of Korsun, Kaniv, Pereiaslav, Lubny, and Lukomi and lines of ramparts, castles, and outposts. In 1037, he routed an army of Pechenigs that had attacked Kyiv, and initiated construction of the St. Sophia Cathedral to commemorate his victory.
During Yaroslav's reign the cities of Kyiv, Novgorod, Chernihiv, Pereiaslav, Volodymyr-Volynskyi, and Turiv were considerably transformed. Over 400 churches were built in Kyiv alone, which was turned thereby into an architectural rival of Constantinople. Yaroslav's walled inner city in Kyiv covered an area of nearly 60 ha. It was entered through the Golden, Polish, and Jewish Gates, and the St. Sophia Cathedral stood in the center, encircled by large palaces.

To strengthen his power and provide order in social and legal relations in his realm, Yaroslav arranged for the compilation of a book of laws called "Pravda Yaroslavova" (Yaroslav's Justice). During his rule Christianity spread and grew stronger in Rus and the organizational and hierarchical structure of the Rus church was established. The Rus church was autonomous, and, in 1051, Yaroslav initiated the sobor of bishops that chose Ilarion as metropolitan of Kyiv. The first monasteries in Rus were formally established during Yaroslav's reign. He founded a primary school and library at the St. Sophia Cathedral and sponsored the translation of Greek and other texts into Church Slavonic, the copying of many books, and the compilation of a chronicle (1037-9).

Yaroslav strengthened the international role of Kyiv Rus through dynastic unions. As a European power Kyiv Rus reached its zenith tinder his rule. To ensure the unity of his state, Yaroslav introduced primogeniture, according to which his eldest living son, Iziaslav of Turiv, was to succeed him as grand prince and ruler of the Kyiv and Novgorod lands; Sviatoslav would rule the Chernihiv land to Murom, and Tmutorokan; Vsjevolod, the Pereiaslav and Rostov lands; Ihor the Volodymyr-Volynskyi land; and Viacheslav, the Smolensk land. As a result, Kyiv Rus would never again be united.

Yaroslav was buried in the St. Sophia Cathedral, where his marble sarcophagus has been preserved.


 
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