The name of the daughter of the Polish king Boleslaw I the Brave is unknown. For this reason, scholars call the princess ‘Boleslawna’. The only source providing us with some information about her is the “Chronicle” of Thietmar of Merseburg. Among many other things, the text describes the confrontation between Yaroslav the Wise and Svyatopolk Vladimirovich the Accursed after the death of Vladimir I [IV, p. 64-83]. Thietmar reports that the third daughter of Boleslaw I was married to one of the sons of “King Vladimir” [ibid., p. 73], most probably Svyatopolk.
The date of the marriage is also unknown. Some scholars, including V. D. Korolyuk and V. T. Pashuto think that the wedding took place short before Boleslaw’s campaign against Rus’ in 1013 [5, p. 229; 10, p. 35-36]. The reason for the campaign was the imprisonement of Svyatopolk and his wife after they have been accused of conspiracy against Vladimir. In order to liberate his daughter and son-in-law, Boleslaw invaded Rus’, having secured the support of Pechenegs.
A. V. Nazarenko, M. B. Sverdlov, I. M. Shekera and some other scholars adhere a diametrically opposite point of view. According to them the Svyatopolk married Boleslavna after the campaign of the Polish king against Rus’, i.e. no before 1013 [14, p. 88-89; 11, p. 148-151; 9, p. 153-154]. The campaign was extremely unsuccessful for Boleslaw, and the marriage between Boleslavna and Svyatopolk could be considered by both sides as a way of reconciliation and strengthening the shaky peace between Rus’ and Poland world. Svyatopolk turned out to be a useful son-in-law. He reigned in Turov, located on an important trade route between Rus’ and Poland, through which the Cherven cities could be accessed [11, p. 313]. The dynastic rivalry between Svyatopolk and the younger sons of Vladimir (Svyatopolk was not Vladimir’s own son, but his nephew, the son of the murdered Yaropolk, and therefore, by right of seniority, claimed the Kiev table) gave Polish king an opportunity to attack [ibid, p. 311].
The conspiracy against the Prince of Kiev was discovered. Svyatopolk, Boleslava and her confessor, bishop Rheinburn were imprisoned. Later, Rheinburn died in captivity, and this event, according to Thietmar, provoked Boleslaw’s “revenge”. The chronicler does not specify, however, what kind of revenge it was [IV, p. 76, note 79; 11, p. 310].
The death of Vladimir I in 1015 marked the beginning of a bloody civil war which has been for a long time subject to many scientific disputes. The difficulty of this topic is manifold. On the one hand, there is no consensus in the very understanding of the essence of these event. Karamzin, for example, explained the civil was in a quite straightforward way by Svyatopolk’s atrocity [3, p. 7–8], while contemporary scholar insist rather on the fact that the war broke out due to the process of disintegration of clan relations and an uncommon order of succession to the throne [13, p. 33, 129, 143; 12, p. 66]. On the other hand, there are a lot of discrepancy between Western European and Russian sources describing these events. In addition, Russian chronicles are written from the point of view of the winners — Yaroslav the Wise and his descendants. All that leave room for multiple discussions.
First of all, one should mention Thietmar’s account, according to which immediately after Vladimir’s death Svyatopolk fled to Poland to seek help of his father-in-law, leaving his wife in Kiev. Similar information is preserved in the “Eymundar þáttr hrings”, a text dealing with the adventures of Scandinavian mercenaries in the service of Yaroslav I the Wise. The saga tells that they had to kill acertain ‘Buritslav’ [I, p. 121-138]. Different Letopis (chronicles) relate that immediately after the death of Vladimir I, Svyatopolk has become Prince of Kiev, and it was only after the defeat from Yaroslav in 1016 that he fled to Poland [II, col. 132-142; III, col. 118-129].
These discrepancies allowed some scholars to reconstruct the chronology of events in a different way. According this alternatives interpretations, it was not Svyatopolk, but Yaroslav the Wise who killed Boris and Gleb. If Svyatopolk was forced to flee Kiev swiftly, power in Kiev already belonged to one of Vladimir’s sons, most probably his “beloved son,” Boris. Nevertheless, in 1018 the struggle for the Kiev throne stated between Yaroslav and Svyatopolk. In Svyatopolk’s absence, a coup d’etat took place in Kiev, and Yaroslav became the prince. This leads to the conclusion that the killer was Yaroslav and not Svyatopolk [1, p. 336-347; 2, p. 156-169; 15, p.9.]. The account of Scandinavian and German sources were criticized by A. V. Nazarenko, who showed that it would wrong to identify ‘Buritslav’ mentioned in the “Eymundar þáttr hrings” and Boris [8, p. 452-455]. M. B. Sverdlov point out to a literary nature of the work, which puts in doubt the reliability of the information contained in it [11, p. 312-313]. Both researchers think that Thietmar’s words about “Svyatopolk’s immediate retreat to Poland” should not be understood literally, and that it could take place later than immediately after Vladimir’s passing away [8, p. 451; 11, p. 313].
Chroniclers mention Boleslavna indirectly, describing some later events, for example, Kiev campaign of Boleslaw I in 1018. During this expedition, the Polish king managed to capture the city and temporarily return it to Svyatopolk. The reason for the campaign, apart from obvious political interests [4, p. 142; 5, p. 252-256; 10, p. 37], could consiste in Boleslaw’s desire to free his daughter who has been detained by Yaroslav [7, p. 169]. Seemingly, Boleslavna was not in Kiev in 1018, or the Kievans gave her up to Yaroslav [4, p. 141], as after the capture of the city Boleslaw had to send the Metropolitan of Kiev to Yaroslav proposing to ransom his daughter or exchange her for the captured wife and sisters of Yaroslav. Yaroslav, however, refused the offer because he did not want to strengthen the positions of Svyatopolk. We do not have any further information about Boleslavna.
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