ANNA PORPHYROGENITA / ANNA OF BYZANTIUM (Greek Ἄννα ἡ Πορφυρογέννητη) / Macedonian / Byzantine (March 13, 963, Constantinople - c. 1011/1112 in Kiev), Byzantine princess, since 988/989 the wife of the Kiev prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich, the sister of the Byzantine emperor Basil II the Bulgar and his co-ruler Constantine VIII


  • Romanos II, Emperor of Byzantium of the Macedonian Dynasty


  • Theophano (Anastasia?) of unknown origin


The youngest daughter of the Byzantine emperor Roman II, Anna was born two days before her father's death, due to this the exact date of her birth is known, it is March 13, 963 [I, p. 216-233]. According to Greek tradition, she received the nickname "Porphyrogenita", as she was born into the family of the ruling emperor. Roman II and Theophano also had two sons - Vasily and Constantine, the future co-rulers of Byzantium.

Anna's childhood passed in an atmosphere of court intrigue and power struggles. One of the generals, who became emperor immediately after the death of Roman, Nikiphoros Phokas, married his widow. However, Theophano supported the conspiracy of John Tzimiskes against her new husband, as a result of which Tzimiskes ascended the throne. However, unlike his predecessor, he did not want to marry Theophano, and she was forced to go into exile. Most likely, her three children, including Anna [23], left Constantinople with her.

After the death of Tzimiskes in 976, the exiles were able to return to Byzantium. Roman and Constantine took the throne, and Anna through a dowry turned into an enviable bride. Attempts to conclude a marriage union with a Byzantine princess are mentioned in various sources, including Titmar of Merseburg and Stephan Asohik. However, a number of inaccuracies encountered by the chroniclers rather give rise to new questions than to give answers to old ones. In particular, Titmar says that Anna was married to the heir to the Holy Roman Empire Otto III, but was stolen from him by Vladimir Svyatoslavich [II, p. 164; VI, p. 64-83]. At the same time, Titmar calls Anna “Elena” and completely ignores the almost seventeen-year age difference. Apparently, the chronicler was mistaken not only in the name of the bride, but also in the entire marriage chronology. Researchers believe that Otto I wooed his son Otto II for the niece of John Tzimiskes, while Anna then barely reached the age of four. Otto III was married to an unknown Byzantine princess, but his marriage was concluded much later, at a time when Anna herself was already married to Vladimir [II, p. 138, 154-160. 164-165; 23, p. 129-131].

Armenian chronicler of the 11th century Stephan Asohik tells the story of changing the bride: allegedly one of the Bulgarian princes demanded Anna in exchange for peace with Byzantium, but Constantine sent one of the court maids instead of his sister. Already on the spot, the deception was revealed, and the Bulgarians executed the Sebastian metropolitan accompanying the woman [V]. According to A.V. Nazarenko, the story of the change of the bride does not refer to the Bulgarian prince, whose kinship for the Byzantine emperor would be at least strange, but directly to Vladimir I Svyatoslavich. Moreover, it was this substitution that could serve as a pretext for the siege of Korsun (Chersonesos) [11].

The most famous is the so-called Korsun legend, history of matchmaking to Anna of the future baptist of Rus Vladimir I Svyatoslavich. According to the Primary Chronicle, Vladimir captured Korsun and demanded that Constantine and Vasily give Anna to him, threatening to attack Constantinople if he refused. The emperors persuaded their sister, despite her resistance, to accept the offer of the Rusich, subject to the baptism of the latter. Anna and her retinue arrived in Korsun, where first the baptism of Vladimir and then the wedding took place, and after that together with her husband and Greek priests she went to Rus, where she lived for twenty years [III, cl.109-121; IV, cl. 94-106; 3, p. 152; 5, p. 383-395; 12, p. 65-122; 20, p. 137]. This version of baptism in Korsun does not correlate well with information from earlier sources (for example, "Words about Law and Grace" by Illarion, "Readings to Boris and Gleb" by Nestor; see: 1, pp. 37–63; 2 , pp. 418, 21, pp. 105–123, etc.).

A number of researchers doubt the reliability of this story, considering it a later processing of folklore legend [see: 2. p. 418; 4, p. 213-259; 7; 9, p. 456-457; 11, p. 694-697; 21, p. 105-123, 305-379].

At the same time it is not the capture of Korsun itself that is in doubt, which is a historical fact [2, p. 418], but the purpose of the capture, as well as the time, place and circumstances of the baptism and marriage of Vladimir. In particular, Jacob Mnikh in "Praise to Vladimir" directly indicates that the capture of Korsun took place in the "third summer" after baptism [VII, p. 181-185; 2, p. 418]. This fact and a number of other textological features of the legend give rise to scientific discussion. For example, D.S. Likhachev, following M.D. Priselkov, believed that Vladimir was baptized in Kiev [6, p. 44; 15, p. 154-155]. The scatter in the dating of the capture of Korsun and the marriage with Anna in historiography fluctuates between 987 and 990. [2, p. 28; 9, p. 456-457; 10, p. 219-338; 11, p. 694-697; 17, p. 241; 18, p. 79, 89]. A. Poppe suggested that the arrival of the Rus squad in Korsun was a friendly act towards Vasily and Konstantin, because the city went over to the side of the rebels under the leadership of BardasPhokas [14, p. 309-312]. A slightly different interpretation of events is offered by O.M. Rapov and L.E. Morzova. The rebels were able to capture Chrysopolis and stopped in threatening proximity to Constantinople. Then Constantine and Vasily, who were unable to cope with the rebels on their own, began negotiations with Vladimir Svyatoslavich. Vladimir promised military assistance against Phokas in exchange for marriage with Anna, approached Korsun with ships, where, in accordance with the agreement reached, he was baptized [8, p. 133-134; 17, p. 234]. However, the bride did not come, the wait was delayed, then Vladimir besieged Korsun, held new negotiations in order to get exactly what he wanted.

In any case, the purpose of all these actions in whatever order they happened was, of course, not so much Anna herself,but the benefits of the marriage. The acceptance of baptism significantly raised the international prestige of Rus, but put the princes in a vassal relationship with the Byzantine emperor. The dynastic marriage helped Vladimir avoid this dependence on Constantinople, while receiving all the desired preferences in the international arena, which his grandmother, Princess Olga, had so much sought.

An open question remains about the influence of Anna on the further development of Rus, in particular, about her role in drawing up the Church Statutes. The charter of Prince Vladimir determined the jurisdiction of the church in Rus and also contained the rules governing family relations. It was partially based on Greek church law, and Anna, most likely, represented the Byzantine clergy [22, p. 71; 16, p. 20]. At least N.L. Pushkareva draws attention to the fact that the appearance of the Charter would be impossible without her confirmation letter [16, p. 20]. L.E. Morozova notes that Anna, who received an excellent education, was much more knowledgeable in legal matters than her husband, a former pagan, and therefore had a great influence on him [8, p. 134-137].

Sources have preserved information about her active diplomatic contacts with Otto II [VIII, p. 68; 13; 23, p. 174]. Anna also took part in church building in Rus [8, p. 145-151].

The issue of the children of Anna and Vladimir requires special attention. No reliable evidence that Anna had children has been preserved in the sources. V.N. Tatishchev and S.M. Soloviev, based on the data of the semi-legendary Joachim Chronicle, believed that Anna was the mother of Boris and Gleb [14, p. 309-312; 19, p. 174-195], but modern researchers reject this theory. Perhaps Anna could have daughters, for example, as some researchers believe, Maria Dobroniega, but the chronicles did not record this fact. Due to the large number of wives and children of Vladimir, it is not always possible to establish the exact origin of his descendants.

The last mention of Anna refers to the time of her death in 1011/1012. John Skilitsa erroneously names another date 1022/1025, probably confusing Anna with the last wife of Prince Vladimir, who outlived him. Anna was buried in the Tithe Church in Kiev [8, p. 157-159].


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Internet Resources

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2.      Pushkareva N.L. Zhenshchiny Drevnei Rusi. M., 1989.

3.        Stefan Taronskii (Asokhik). Vseobshchaia istoriia. Kn. 3. M., 1863.