ROGNEDA (old norsk Ragnheiрr) / Gorislava (the year of birth is unknown, † in 1000/01), Princess of Polotsk, then the Grand Princess of Kiev, since 978-989 the wife of the Grand Prince of Kiev Vladimir Svyatoslavich
Rogneda tries to kill Vladimir (Rogneda's assassination attempt on Vladimir). Miniature from the Radziwill Chronicle of the 15th century.

ROGNEDA (old norsk Ragnheiрr) / Gorislava (the year of birth is unknown, † in 1000/01), Princess of Polotsk, then the Grand Princess of Kiev, since 978-989 the wife of the Grand Prince of Kiev Vladimir Svyatoslavich


  • Rogvolod, Prince of Polotsk


Information about Rogneda is contained in the "Primary Chronical" in the legend about the unsuccessful matchmaking of Prince Vladimir and his further plundering of Polotsk [I, cl. 75–76, 299–300, II, cl. 63-64]. Rogneda was the daughter of the Polotsk prince Rogvolod and the bride of the elder brother Vladimir Yaropolk Svyatoslavich. Rogneda's mother's name and year of birth are unknown. There is a dispute in historiography about the origin of the Rogvolod clan and, in particular, Rogneda. A.N. Nasonov, for example, put forward the assumption that Rogvolod came from the Krivichi or Baltic Slavs [8, p. 146]. However, most researchers still recognize the Scandinavian origin of Rogvolod [1, p. 264; 6, c. 102; 12]. According to the story of the "Primary Chronical", Vladimir, on the advice of his uncle, the voivode Dobrynya, sent matchmakers to Polotsk, wishing to marry the daughter of the Polotsk prince. The chronicle does not directly name the reason for this decision, but it is obvious that there were political motives behind it. The location of Polotsk on the most important trade routes made it a welcome ally for both Kiev and Novgorod. However, Vladimir's plan did not work. The Laurentian Chronicle informs about Rogneda's categorical refusal to marry "робич", the son of a slave, reproaching Vladimir for low descent from the housekeeper of Princess Olga named Malusha [3, p. 92; 4, p. 275-276]. The political background of these events and the subsequent military campaign of Vladimir against Polotsk is also very transparent: the confrontation between Kiev, where Yaropolk reigned, and Novgorod under Vladimir's control, was already at its peak, and the refusal of the Polotsk princess to Vladimir in favor of Yaropolk, as A. Nazarenko noted, fully reflects the vacillations of Polotsk in this confrontation of the Svyatoslavichs [7, p. 360].

Vladimir captured Polotsk, killed Rogvolod and his sons, and took Rogneda as a wife against her will and after that, apparently, sent Rogneda to Novgorod [6, p. 107]. The matchmaking and the subsequent plundering of Polotsk are placed in the annals under 980, but most modern researchers date the described events to 978 [2, p. 681]. A.A. Shakhmatov believed that the story of the plundering of Polotsk and the murder of Rogvolod was erroneously placed under 980, and attributed the described events to an even earlier time - 970 [13, p. 173-175, p. 248-251]. A.V. Nazarenko is also of the opinion that the defeat of Polotsk, leaning towards Kiev, was carried out by Vladimir earlier than the date indicated in the chronicle and calls 976 [7, p. 370-371].

The second excerpt, dedicated to these events, is mentioned in the annals under 1128 in connection with the campaign of Mstislav the Great. It contains more details, designed, according to some researchers, to explain the long-term enmity between Kiev and Polotsk [11, p. 118-119]. The motive of revenge prevailing in this passage is manifested in details: the public rape of Rogneda and its renaming into Goreslava [4, p. 340].

A.F. Litvina and F.B. Uspensky drew attention to the fact that this plot with a public and humiliating punishment for the insult inflicted is present only in later lists compiled at the turn of the XI-XII centuries. About the same time, namely the beginning of the XII century, the Chronicle of Gallus Anonymous is dated, telling about the capture of Predslava, the daughter of Rogneda and Vladimir: she refused to match the Polish king Boleslaw I the Brave. During the capture of Kiev in 1018, Boleslav publicly raped Predslava and sent her to Poland as either a wife or a concubine. The similarity of both plots and the simultaneity of their appearance made it possible to suggest the existence, as a common basis, of a certain narrative telling about a ruler who avenged his refusal to matchmaking [5, p. 349].

After defeating Yaropolk and entering Kiev, Vladimir sends Rogneda to the suburbs, to a place that later became known as Predslavino (named after Rogneda's daughter Predslava). L.E. Morozova believes that the actual marriage of Vladimir and Rogneda lasted until his matchmaking to the Byzantine princess Anna [6, p. 109]. The chronicle names the following children of Vladimir and Rogneda: Izyaslav, Mstislav, Yaroslav (the future Yaroslav the Wise), Vsevolod, as well as two daughters [I, p. 79-80; II, p. 67].

Records of further events involving Rogneda are questioned by some researchers. According to the chronicle, in 1128 Rogneda, wishing to take revenge on her unloved husband for the murder of relatives, as well as for the appearance of a new wife (according to L. E. Morozova), tried to kill Vladimir right on the marriage bed. For the failed assassination attempt, Rogneda was sentenced to death, but her young son Izyaslav stood up to protect the mother. On the advice of the boyars Vladimir sent them to Polotsk.

There is a possibility that one more piece of information about Rogneda is contained in the "Saga of Olav Tryggvason" [III, p. 96]. S. Cross and E. A. Rydzevskaya believed that it is the Polotsk princess who appears in the saga under the name of Allogy [15, p. 144; 9, p. 212]. However, V.N. Tatishchev and N. Baumgarten believed that a certain Scandinavian wife of Prince Vladimir Olav was mentioned in the saga [10, p. 225-226; 14, p. 38–39].

Rogneda presumably died in 1000/01.

Sons [I, p. 79–80, p. 67]


  • Izyaslav (c. 978-1001), Prince of Polotsk, the founder of the Polotsk branch - the first and oldest of the Rurikovich branches [7, p. 365]
  • Yaroslav (c. 978-1054), Prince of Rostov, after the death of Vysheslav, Prince of Novgorod, after the victory over Svyatopolk, the Grand Prince of Kiev
  • Vsevolod (983/984 - 1013), the first prince of Volyn
  • Mstislav
  • Predslava (unknown - † after 1018), illegitimate wife / concubine of King Boleslaw I the Brave of Poland
  • Premislava (unknown - † 1015 in Hungary) - Hungarian princess, wife of King Ladislas the Bald of Hungary


The village of Predslavino in the suburbs of Kiev


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