OF UKRAINE - PART TWO.
translated and abridged by George Skoryk from "HISTORY OF UKRAINE"
II. PERIOD OF
established the Kyivan State proper in 879. He conducted military
expeditions to the shores of Caspian Sea and raided Byzantine
cities. Prince Ehor followed him, in 912, who not only continued
external raids but also had to fight insubordinate tribes of
Ulitchs and Derevlans. He died during a battle with Derevlans in
945. His wife Olha revenged his death by brutal suppression of
Derevlans. In 964 she became a Christian and established her son
Svyatoslav on the throne.
was an able and courageous prince; he fought Asian hordes in the
East and conducted raids on Bulgaria. He divided his state between
his sons, then continued with his expeditions and battles. When he
died in 972 during battle with Pechenegs, his sons fought between
themselves, often with help from their enemies.
980, Prince Volodymyr defeated all his brothers and unified the
country into one powerful state with Kyiv as the capital. He
adopted Christianity in 988 and started to convert the population,
which had up to then, worshiped Pagan gods. Force was often used
against those who resisted. He produced silver and gold coins with
his portrait on one side and the trident on the reverse side (The
trident is Coat of Arms of present day Ukraine).
In History he
is known as Volodymyr the Great or Saint Volodymyr. During his
reign, pillaging Pecheneg hordes defeated the Khazars, pushed out
the Hungarian hordes from the southern steppes and became a menace
to the state. Volodymyr started to fortify Kyiv against them.
After his death in 1015, fighting and assassinations between his
sons ensued, resulting in victory for prince Yaroslav in 1019.
the Great consolidated nearly whole of his father's territory,
defeated the Pechenegs and became one of the most powerful rulers
in Europe. A church hierarchy was established, headed (at least
since 1037) by the metropolitan of Kyiv, who was usually appointed
by the patriarch of Constantinople. Yaroslav promoted family ties
with other kingdoms, built many churches, improved Kyiv's
fortifications, introduced laws and established courts.
the same way as his forefathers, he divided the country between
his sons, who after his death in 1054, started to fight among
themselves and divide their land between their sons. This resulted
in a number of small principalities which not only fought each
other, but also had to defend
themselves from marauding Turkish and Polovetsian hordes, who
plundered the countryside.
In 1097 all
princes agreed to stop fighting between themselves. In 1103 they
united their forces under leadership of prince Monomakh (one of
the grandsons of Yaroslav the Great) and defeated the Polovetsian
However, the constant warfare weakened the country's economic
strength and caused a near collapse of cultural and political
system of Ukraine.
of Monomakh in 1125 Ukraine remained fragmented into the numerous
principalities, each having their own customs and rules, with only
nominal allegiance to the Prince of Kyiv ( this position was
occupied by sons of Monomakh on rotational basis). Gradually Kyiv
lost it's power and influence; many principalities separated. An
outstanding chronicle of events was compiled in Old Church
Slavonic language by Venerable Nestor in 1136.
prince Andrey Bogolyubski conquered and destroyed Kyiv and
established his capital in Vladimir near present site of Moscow,
thus originating present Russian state.
princes continued to struggle on against the Polovtsi.
One particular battle led by Prince Ehor in 1185 was enshrined in
"Slovo o Polku Ehorevim" (The Tale of Ehor's Regiment).
of Ukraine - Halych (Galicia) and Volynj (Volhynia)—free from
Polovetsian raids, gradually emerged as leading principalities.
Prince Roman ruled there in 1199. His sons succeeded in uniting
both principalities into one rich and powerful state.
1220, when a new horde of Mongols and Tatars invaded
Ukraine, the princes have reached some sort of accommodation with
Polovtsi and fought together to expel this new horde. They
succeeded at first but, toward the end of year 1240, Tatars
returned and besieged Kyiv. On 16th December 1240 they conquered,
plundered and ruined the city. Afterward they moved westward,
plundering Halych, Poland and Hungary then in 1245 they returned
and occupied eastern Ukraine.
Prince Danylo (son of Prince Roman) established himself in Halych
and his brother Vasylko in Volynj. Together they managed to keep
the Tatars away from their principalities. Danylo founded city
Lviv in 1250 as a defense site against Tatars. In 1253 he accepted
the royal crown from the pope and effected a short-lived church
union with Rome.
died in 1264, his sons continued to rule in peaceful coexistence
with the Tatars. In 1303 they created a separate archbishopric
office in Halych, responsible to Byzantine. Earlier, in 1299
Kyivan archbishopric seat was moved to Moscow.
prince was Danylo's son Lev. He died about year 1300. His son
Yuriy would again unite the Halych and Volynj principalities with
Lviv as the capital. He was seen as a mighty and just ruler and
the country was rich and peaceful under his rule.
his two sons ruled until 1320. They both died without leaving male
successors. This created an unstable situation and an internal
power struggle ensued, which was exploited by neighboring
countries—Poland, Hungary and Lithuania—in their efforts to occupy
this part of Ukraine. Local boyars and People's Councils tried to
resist by accepting princes from other dynasties and countries and
by forming alliances with the Lithuanians and even the Tatars, but
to no avail. In 1349, Polish king Kazimyezh managed to occupy
Halych and part of Volynj. About same time, Lithuanian princes
intensified their takeover of eastern principalities of Ukraine.
Finally about year 1360, the Prince of Kyiv was overthrown.
partitioned between Poland and Lithuania with Tatar Golden Horde
remaining in some parts of southern steppes and the Crimea.