Polotsk or Polatsk is a historical city in Belarus

Polotsk - the oldest city of Belarus.

Rognieda - a daughter of Rogvolod.

One thousand years ago there was an event, which chroniclers decided to write down without fail: the Polotsk princess Rodnieda  made an attempt on her husband life. It was the grand duke of Kiev Vladimir Svyatoslavovich.

As far as it is known anything similar in the history of the east slavs never happened. Cases, when husbands killed their wives, were. Nevertheless in 18-th century Ekatherina II, who aspired to authority, got rid of her husband Peter III, however it was the conspiracy, the murder was carried out by the officers of the guards. Nobody helped to Rognieda, she did not aspire to authority and conspiracy was not. She craved for revenge. At the night Rognieda  took a knife of the prince, looked at her husband, who slept sweet, and she whispered: "Die"! - and the sharp, width about a palm knife attacked Vladimir in his heart. But the impact was inexact. Perhaps, there was the weak illumination  or  the pity  was in Rognieda's soul – however the attempt didn't reached the purpose. It is necessary to tell, that Rognieda and Vladimir had hree sons - Izyaslav, Yaroslav, Vsievolod and two daughters - Predslava and Promislava. Rognieda was twenty two years old that time. The princess expected the death for murder, or attempt on life of the husband under the laws of that time, however she did it. The prince Vladimir revenged  his rebellious wife by punishment, maybe, more terrible, than the death. But about will be later.

It is necessary to tell about events, which preceded it to understand, why the young woman did such act.    

It is necessary to begin the story from apart - if not from times of the prince Oleg, who fastened a shield on the gate of Tsargrad (Constantinople), then from him descendant, the prince Igor. In 941 and 944 years the prince Igor went by campaigns on Byzantium. And though he was lucky in battles, but he died by not himself death. The citizens of the town of  Malin – the Drievlyanies, angered by his avarice killed Igor. The prince Mal governed there. Igor's wife  - the princess Olga revenged severely for her husband. The towns of the Drievlyanies were burned, and the boyars burned down in a huge hole. Olga listened human outcries from that terrible flame as singing of birds. But the princes had pity on a daughter and a son of the Malin governor, because they  were very little: Dobrynya was about five years old, and his sister Malusha just began to go. With current of time Olga made Malusha of a housekeeper on her court yard. Dobrynya was at a gate. However life plaits surprising strings: the housekeeper attracted to Olga's son, the grand duke Svyatoslav, and from this love Vladimir was born. With him Kiev Russia reached its dawn and greatness. Except Vladimir Svyatoslav had other sons. They are Yaropolk and Oleg. Svyatoslav went by campaigns on the Kkhazars and Pecheniegs and won them. But once, when with the prince was small militia, the camp was attacked  by the Pecheniegs and Svyatoslav was killed in the fight. The khan Kurey of the Pecheniegs ordered to make a goblet from the  prince's skull. The khan drank wine from the white skull and, probably, he thought, that it was terrestrial glory.

After death of Svyatoslav his sons have untied the civil war. The Polotsk prince Rogvolod observed of the conflict of the brothers. But he kept neutrality. During those skirmishes Oleg was killed, Yaropolk was in Kiev, and Vladimir - in Novgorod . Each of them searched of support and, once, matchmakers of Yaropolk arrived in Polotsk. Rogvolod had a daughter. Her name was Rognieda. She was twelve years old, but she had already been considered as a bride. And very soon Vladimir sent his matchmakers, too. It is possible to understand the intention of the brothers, because who will be Rognieda's husband, that will find support of the prince of Polotsk in the war. Continuation of the brothers struggle would be the best exit for the Polotsk Principality. It would strengthen a role of Polotsk. But Rogvolod could not refuse the both brothers and he had to become relatives with Kiev or Novgorod. As Rogvolod thought, Novgorod had not any chances to win the war and, by the order of the father Rognieda gave her agreement the matchmakers of Yaropolk. And Vladimir received refusal

The annals tells, that Vladimir governed in Novgorod, and there was his uncle Dobrynya. He was commander, brave soldier and winner. He sent the matchmakers to Rogvolod and  asked a daughter: " Do you want to marry for Vladimir? ". And Rognieda answered: " I do not want for the illegal born, I want for Yaropolk. " Such words offended Vladimir, Dobrynya was angry. He collected the army, went to Polotsk and won Rogvolod. Dobrynya captured the town, the prince, his wife and his daughter. Vladimir outraged over Rognieda on her parents eyes. And after that he killed them. Her two brothers were killed, too. Vladimir took Rognieda as a wife and he named her as Gorislava.

Rognieda couldn't forget that fun during all her life: the ashes on the place of Polotsk, bodies of men and weeping of captives, who were gotten on the slave markets. Maybe just that time, someone from rich citizens of Polotsk or a trusted man of the prince Rogvolod dug treasure in the ground. (It was found by children from the village of Kazianki on the field in 1972. There were 7650 silver Arabian coins. The treasure weight is 20 kg. And a working woman of the Polotsk stadium lifted a piece of ground, where were five gold adornments and a part of a gold ten-kopeck coin.

Probably, since then Belarus, and on Belarus – Polotsk region began to hold almost the first place in Europe by quantity of found treasures. They were concealed because there were infinite wars, which passed swiftly by fiery whirlwinds through Polotsk land every 6-7 years. About 30 ancient treasures have been found in the town and around of it in the radius about 25 km and it is possible only to guess how many treasures are in the ground.

And once the princess took a knife and attacked Vladimir by it, but he remained alive. The furious prince ordered his wife to dressed well and  took his sword. Rognieda's seven-years son - Izyaslav ran on  shout and took the mother's party. Vladimir didn't kill his wife at their son, and in several days Vladimir said, that she would never see the children, except Izyaslav. And Rognieda with her son were deported to a deaf place at the sources the Svisloch river.

In a year Vladimir married on the princess Anna. She was a sister of the emperor of Byzantium. The Greek priests, arrived with Anna, christened Vladimir, and then - all Kiev.

Dobrynya went to Rognieda with a small militia. She was christened, and Rognieda became a nun. Dobrynya took away the son Izyaslav. The princess Rognieda died at a monastic cell in eleven years.

Vseslav Charodey (Magician)

Try to find in the early history of the east Slavs, and not only them, example, when two princes, - a father and his son - would governed the whole century. Someone can tell, that such couldn't be because, as a rule a prince didn't be on the throne more than a year. The one was killed by his brother, the other – by his nephews... But it could be.

From 1001 to 1044 Bryacheslav governed in Polotsk, and after his death up to 1101 – the most famous of the Polotsk prince Vseslav Bryacheslavovich, nicknamed as Charodey (Magician). And, we shall notice, he was nicknamed not without a reason.

His birth was covered by secret. As the annals say, mother gave birth to Vseslav "from magicians". On the head of the newborn there was a mysterious stain, which magicians ordered his mother to fasten, to the son would carried it till his death. It can be any wound or a large birthmark, with which the Heaven marks the elects? The contemporaries and descendants believed, that the prince was given by the magic forces. And he could turn to a grey wolf, a clear falcon or a deer with gold horns.

The legends about him were already composing during his life and were communicated from generation to generation. The Polotsk prince was a prototype of many hero of epics.

The annals testify, that the prince wore a band on his head all life. " Thirst blood by Vseslav " was ascribed the mysterious stain, hidden under the band. Charodey spilled really a lot of blood, however the most part of his government was given up to peace efforts. During twenty years he lived in the consent with the Kiev princes. Citizens of Polotsk helped him to be at war with nomads – the Turks. Vseslav erected a temple in honour of St Sofia in the 11-th century. It was Sofia's Cathedral. He wanted to prove equality of Polotsk with Novgorod and Kiev, where such cathedrals have appeared a little bit earlier. The citizens of Polotsk hadn't built stone temples before, therefore the prince  invited to the town of Byzantian architects. The local foremen mastered building secrets, too. Because it was impossible, that the main cathedral of Polotsk land was erected by hands of foreigners.

Width of the base of the Cathedral was from 1.5 to 2.5 meters. It almost conformed to thickness of the walls.

The Greek word "Sofia" means wisdom, skill. The ancestors explained it wider as great human brotherhood, which was incorporated by common cares and aspirations. The Cathedral should become a symbol of unity of all inhabitants of the Polotsk Principality. It was built by all community. The ancient Polotsk masters left us their names on a huge boulder: Davyd, Tuma, Mikula, Kopys, Varyshka … Now it is a museum exhibit.
 
Three sons of Yaroslav Mudry (Wise) -the Kiev prince - created union, which was aimed against the Polotsk Principality independence. Vseslav led three campaigns one after another in order to expand the principality. In 1065 he was at was with Pskov, which he kept in siege, but he didn't take it. The next year Vseslav was directed to Novgorod and revenged it for destruction of Polotsk in 980. A part of Novgorods was burned. Vseslav captured captives and removed bells from Novgorod Sofia's Cathedral. And, at last, in the beginning of 1067 he went to Novogrudok, whence he dislodged a group of citizens of Kiev, and subordinated the town to himself. He made a centre of the Polotsk colony on the Lithuanian Land.

Yaroslav's sons didn't like such activity of Vseslav. Them armies intruded on Polotsk land and the town of Mensk (Minsk) was their first victim. Vseslav acted from Novogrudok, too. And the battle took place on March 10. It became popular in the world, due to the genius of the author of " The Lay Of Igor's Host ". It is difficult to say how many soldiers was from each party, who was distinguished heroism, how many thousand didn't come back home; it is known only, that nobody win. Vseslav returned to Polotsk, and Yaroslav's sons had not forces for the pursuit.

In four months the opponents met again but for the peace negotiation. Its initiative was belonged Vseslav. The meeting was held near Орши. On the left bank of the Dnieper river Yaroslav's sons were, on the right one - Vseslav. He was with two sons. They crossed the river by a boat. A guarantee of his safety and inviolability was a word and kissing of a cross, which Yaroslav's son made with people. However they forgot about the oath when Vseslav appeared, and the Polotsk prince and his sons were put in irons.
After that Yaroslav's sons went to Kiev, where they imprison them. As a matter of fact, the destiny of the prince was decided, because each minute Vseslav and his sons could be killed. And nevertheless Vseslav was lucky. He was as a prisoner more than year. The revolt of citizens of Kiev against Izyaslav (one of Yaroslav's sons) brought him not only freedom, but also unexpected eminence. Vseslav was selected the Kiev prince and he held on on the throne in 8 months, and then he escaped to Polotsk.

The next three years Vseslav was exiled from Polotsk, concealed from Izyaslav's revenge, was at war with Novgorod, collected militia, and, at last he returned himself the Polotsk throne. In 1076 Vseslav sustained in three campaigns of Vladimir Monomach.

After rough events Vseslav governed the Polotsk Principality in three decades. But he already calmed down, because he understand, that Kiev will not agree with the strengthening of Polotsk land and the more so can not endure its territorial increase at the expense of Smolensk, Novgorod or Turov lands. Therefore he led development of the historical Lithuanian lands.

Vseslav Charodey didn't see the destruction of the principality. He died in 1101. His government lasted for 57 years.
 

 

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