Prince of Kyiv and Smolensk Rostislav Mstislavich

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Prince of Kyiv and Smolensk Rostislav Mstislavich
Prince of Kyiv and Smolensk Rostislav Mstislavich

This prudent and far-sighted prince from the ruling Rurik dynasty left a major mark on the history of Russia. He managed to turn an ordinary specific principality into a prosperous and prosperous region, which began to enjoy broad autonomous rights. He also showed wisdom in public affairs after he received the throne in Kyiv. But historians consider his main merit to be the fact that Prince Rostislav Mstislavich prevented feudal fragmentation, trying to pursue a policy of consolidation and enlargement of Russian lands. What was his life path, and what specific success did he achieve as the ruler of Russia? Let's take a closer look at this issue.

Pedigree line

Rostislav Mstislavich, briefly about which it would be inappropriate to narrate, was the third offspring of the Novgorod ruler Mstislav Vladimirovich. Sources are conflicting as to when he was born. Many of them appear in 1100. Rostislav's brother (Izyaslav) was born a few years earlier (1097 or 1098). The mother of the future ruler of the Smolensk land is the daughter of the Swedish king Inge.

Rostislav Mstislavich

According to the annals, Prince Rostislav Mstislavich received control of the Smolensk region when he was only fifteen years old. He himself was baptized in honor of the Archangel Michael, so in Orthodoxy the prince is known as Mikhail Fedorovich.

It was in 1127 that he was first mentioned in the sources. This period of history was remembered primarily by the fact that the military alliance of the Monomashichs encroached on the borders of the Polotsk principality, and Rostislav Mstislavich himself set out on a campaign against the city of Drutsk.

When did you receive your inheritance?

Historians also argue about when the son of Mstislav Vladimirovich began to "manage" affairs in the Smolensk principality. Some claim that this happened in 1125, others - in 1127. It is known for sure that Rostislav Mstislavich until 1132 in the Smolensk region acted as the will of his own father. At the same time, the inheritance itself was under the "jurisdiction" of the Kyiv principality. In 1132, Mstislav Vladimirovich died, and his brother Yaropolk became the ruler of Russia. The new Kyiv prince gives the Smolensk region the status of a vassal principality. Yaropolk is ready to help the principality in exchange for tribute.

Prosperity Path of Principality

In the period from 30 to 50 years of the XII century, Rostislav Mstislavich makes every effort to ensure that the inheritance entrusted to him turns into a strong and economically prosperous autonomy. And he really manages to realize his plans.

Prince Rostislav Mstislavich

First of all, the son of Mstislav the Great turned the territory entrusted to him into a principalityand became known as the Prince of Smolensk. Moreover, the lands in which he ruled included parts of the Mogilev, Pskov, Tver, Vitebsk, Kaluga and Moscow provinces. In the mid-30s of the XII century, territories along the Protva River, namely the parishes of Puttino, Dobryatino, Bobrovnitsy, Dobrochkov, Bennitsa, departed to Rostislav. Thus, the Smolensk Principality is located in the center of the appanages of Russia, so external threats practically did not matter to it. At the same time, Rostislav Mstislavich, whose biography has not been fully studied by historians, tried to make sure that the princely squad consolidated with the zemstvo, which played a dominant role in resolving social and political issues.

Urban Development

Until 1125, there were only three cities in the inheritance of the son of Mstislav the Great: Kasplya, Verzhavsk, Toropets. Rostislav Mstislavich (Prince Smolensky) ordered the foundation of the cities of Rostislavl, Mstislavl, Izyaslavl, Yelnya, Dorogobuzh, and also transformed such settlements as Vasiliev, Luchin, Propoisk, Krichev into cities over time.

Religious transformations

In addition to urban planning policy, the prince is engaged in religious reforms. He withdraws the Smolensk principality from the Pereyaslavl bishopric and creates an autonomous "spiritual" district.

Rostislav Mstislavich biography

The prince trusts Bishop Manuel to lead them, and after a while he gives him a document that provides the church with huge privileges. The diploma of Rostislav Mstislavich allowed Smolenskayathe bishops receive tithes from all the income of the principality. After Manuel became the head of the diocese, he soon consecrated the Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk, which the son of Mstislav the Great built in 1101.

The prince also erected a number of stone buildings of religious significance, which was a real innovation for the Smolensk region.


Start Smolensk Chronicle, too, gave Rostislav Mstislavich. In its original form, the chronicles, unfortunately, have not survived to this day, but the sources of later time periods have nevertheless become the property of modern historians.

"Smolensk news", describing the life of the principality in the 30-60s of the XII century, was taken as the basis for the creation of the "Chronicles of the Rostislavoviches" (80s of the XII century) and the Kyiv Code (1200). In "Izvestia", in particular, it was mentioned the establishment in 1136 of the Smolensk bishopric and the beginning of stone construction. It is the year 1136 that is considered to be the beginning of chronicle writing in the Smolensk region.

Building communities

Under Rostislav Mstislavich, the process of forming communities also intensified. The city elite of Smolensk begins to take more care for their own political interests and dictate their will to the supreme prince. In such conditions, he simply becomes the spokesman for the political course of the local power elite.

Era of civil strife

Rostislav Mstislavich (Smolensky) lived at a time when an internecine war was being waged in Russia.

Rostislav Mstislavich foreign policy

As soon as his parent died, the prince joins hisbrothers (Izyaslav and Vsevolod) to win the political confrontation against uncle Yuri Dolgoruky and the ruler of the Volyn land Andrei Vladimirovich. Pereyaslyavl land is at stake. And in 1141, the Mstislavichs come into conflict with the Olgovichi of Chernigov, who have a high chance of sitting on the thrones of Kyiv and Novgorod. Olgovichi immediately set off to conquer Smolensk. A few months later, Rostislav, together with his brother Izyaslav, put their brother to reign in Novgorod, and then moved to Chernigov. But the main goal of the Mstislavichs is Kyiv, for which Yuri Dolgoruky is fighting fiercely. This confrontation lasted for ten years. Rostislav and Izyaslav managed to subdue the Suzdal and Yaroslavl lands. Everywhere they criticize and question the justice of Yuri Dolgoruky's policy. But in 1155, he manages to seize the throne in Kyiv.

At the same time, relations between the son of Mstislav the Great and Yuri Dolgoruky are escalating to the limit. The Kyiv prince bribes the Polovtsian princes and asks them to organize a campaign against the Smolensk principality. In the end, he managed to carry out his plan.

But Rostislav has unshakable authority in the southern lands, and Yuri Dolgoruky knows about it, so the nephew and uncle decide to compromise.

Tron in Kyiv

After some time, Rostislav Mstislavich, on an equal footing with his brother and uncle, actually becomes the ruler of Kyiv. Prince Smolensky makes Ryazan land his vassalage. But then brother Izyaslav died. And in 1157, Izyaslav Davydovich began to rule the main principality.Chernigov. Two years later, the people of Kiev officially offer Rostislav to manage their principality on a sole basis. He agrees.

Diploma of Rostislav Mstislavich

To comply with customs, the prince sends two ambassadors to Kyiv: Ivan Ruchechnik from Smolensk and Yakun from Novgorod. They had to find out under what conditions Rostislav was allowed to rule the main principality.

Years of government in Kyiv

Having taken the throne, Rostislav Mstislavich made every effort to ensure that Russia became a developed and prosperous state. He tried to stop internecine wars, adhering to the policy of consolidating Russian lands. Being at the helm of power in Kyiv, the son of Mstislav the Great devotes a lot of time to spiritual development. He is in contact with the bishops, regularly invites Abbot Polycarp of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra to dinner, and even orders to prepare a separate cell in the monastery for himself, where he could be alone. That is why Prince Rostislav Mstislavich was called pious. Adhering to a balanced and peaceful policy, the ruler of Russia won the trust and authority of a huge number of rulers of specific lands. Indeed, many could learn from the son of Mstislav the Great how to make their region prosperous. Everyone understood that the one who was worthy was sitting on the Kiev throne. Rostislav Mstislavich tried to avoid conflicts and wars in every possible way. The foreign policy of the Russian ruler was also peaceful. Even with the eternal enemies of the Polovtsy, he tried not to aggravate relations. But with some specificwith the Polovtsian princes, he sometimes had to clash. The prince also organized military campaigns against Lithuania, and very successfully.


At the final stage of the reign of Rostislav Mstislavich, his offspring begins to be forced out of Novgorod by the local elite. There comes a moment when Svyatoslav (the son of Rostislav Mstislavich) can no longer rule in an independent principality. Then the prince of Kyiv personally goes to Novgorod to reconcile the townspeople with his son. Passing through Smolensk, he saw how happy his subjects were for their ruler and greeted them.

Rostislav Mstislavich Prince of Kyiv

But having reached Toropets, Rostislav Mstislavich (Prince of Kyiv) fell ill and ordered the messenger to go to Novgorod for his son, so that he would come with representatives of the Novgorod nobility to meet him in Velikie Luki. In the end, he managed to reconcile Svyatoslav with the townspeople, after which he went to his native Smolensk, to stay a little with his sister Rogneda. Despite his illness, the prince soon hurried to go to Kyiv, referring to state affairs. But he never managed to get to the "mother of Russian cities". The he alth of Rostislav Mstislavovich seriously deteriorated, and in the spring of 1167, in the territory of the settlement Zaruba (Smolensk region), his hour struck. He managed to confess before his death and complained to the priest Semyon that he had not been allowed to perform the rite of tonsure earlier. The body of the prince was taken to Kyiv and buried in the Feodorovsky Monastery, as he ordered. Power in the main principality was to pass toson Roman, who reigned in Belgorod. But after the death of Rostislav Mstislavich (Smolensky), between his offspring and the Suzdal princes, headed by Andrei Bogolyubsky, a sharp struggle for the throne will unfold.


Details of the family life of the Kyiv and Smolensk rulers are practically unknown. The question of who Rostislav Mstislavich (Prince Smolensky) was married to, and whether he had other marriages, still remains a mystery. Mentions of his sons appear for the first time in the sources of the 40-50s of the XII century. It is known that in 1149 Rostislav Mstislavich blessed the marriage of his son Roman, who married the daughter of Svyatoslav Olgovich, who ruled the Seversk lands. In 1154, the prince of Kyiv and Smolensk gives his sons David and Roman the Novgorod inheritance. Who is older and who is younger is an open question. According to chronicles, David was born in 1140.

Rostislav Mstislavich Smolensky

One of the sons died in 1170, but who exactly is unknown. The younger son of Rostislav Mstislavich, Mstislav the Brave, was born in the mid-40s, and in the mid-60s he married the daughter of Gleb Rostislavich, who ruled in the Ryazan land. Mstislav the Brave inherited the best qualities of his grandfather. The youngest son of Rostislav Mstislavich was baptized under the name Fedor.

It is known that the prince of Kyiv and Smolensk had five sons and two daughters. Sources report only one daughter, Elena. In 1163, she became the wife of Leszek the White, Prince of Krakow, and after he died in 1194, Elena becamefull ruler in the Polish city. The daughter of Rostislav Mstislavich died in 1198.


The years of the reign of the Prince of Kyiv and Smolensk became significant in the history of Ancient Russia. It was he who made the rulers of the specific principalities cease to be at enmity with each other. Rostislav Mstislavich is a representative of the ruling dynasty, who put not personal, but state interests in the first place, unlike many of his relatives. He was able to raise the authority of the authorities even higher in the eyes of the common people.

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