The Princes of Novgorod and
The Grand Princes of Moscow

Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski, B.F.A.

images/Moscow Seal

This is Moscow's Seal
based on the Coat of Arms of Czar Alexis, emulating St. George Slaying the Dragon.


The music playing is a Russian military march from the "Congregation Etz Chaim" Jewish and International Midi Page.

Novgorod and Moscow, in the 17th century, were the greatest cities of all Europe. Although Moscow was only 500 square miles during the early times of the Tatar invasions. Then Moscow was miniscule compared to Rostov, Riazan, Vladimir, and Tver. The city-state of Lord Novgorod the Great (later named Novgorod) made Moscow not worthy of consideration. The Lithuanians refused to recognize Moscow's supremacy in the early days.

In the Republic of Novgorod, nearly 25 percent of the land belonged to the clergy in the latter fifteenth (15th) century. Most of the property of the religious came as donations from princes and lords. Dmitrii Donski of Moscow owned fifteen properties in Novgorod. Novgorod was one of the main commercial centers of the eastern Baltic. Novgorod was an important producer of leather goods, as well as iron and silverware. Novogorod was also noted for sailors and shipbuilders because of their location near the Baltic Sea. In the later Middle Ages very few urban centers anywhere had more the 20,000 inhabitants. The only European cities that rivalled the Russian metropolises, in size, were Milan and Venice, they both had over 100,000, in the mid-fourteenth century. Paris, France, had 80,000 in 1378; while Florence and Ghent had around 55,000 each in the same time period.


Rurik, a Scandinavian Prince
Rurik arrived in Novgorod in 862.
He was the first Varangian ruler of legend. He died circa 879.

Rurik was the legendary Viking ancestor of the grand princes of Kiev, Vladimir-Suzdal, and Moscow. No one is certain if Rurik is fiction or fact, since written records do not exist to prove his exsistence.

However, we do know that Igor (912-945) and Olga (890-969) came after him as the first Christian rulers of Russia. In 957 the Grand Princess Olga was serving as regent of the newly founded Russian state, came to Constantinople and was baptized in the Orthodox religion. Igor and Olga had a son named Sviatoslaw, Grand Duke of Kiev (reigned 962-972). Sviatoslaw and his mistress Malushka were the parents of Vladimir I (978-1015)Grand Prince of Novgorod, who was born in 956. His father sent him to govern Novgorod in 970. Apparently, his father's health was failing and he wanted to be assured that Vladimir was his heir. However, his son Iaropolk/Yaropolk had other ideas. He killed his other son Oleg. Yaropolk was ambitious and wished to be the ruler, no matter what his father said. Vladimir could see the writing on the wall, so he fled to Scandinavia, in 977, to gather help from his Viking relatives, since he was certainly Yaropolk's next victim. In the year 980, he returned with his family to oust Yaropolk. Yaropolk resisted and had to be killed. Then Vladimir took his throne back.

Vladimir was baptized, in 988 or 989, before his marriage to Anna, daughter of Byzantine Emperor, Basil II. Basil was known as the "Slayer of the Bulgars" after he led an attack against them in 1014, at the battle of Struma, a region in northern Greece. King Samauel escaped but Basil took 14,000 prisoners. He blinded all except their leader, who he spared one eye. He then sent the entire group back to their leader, King Samuel. When King Samuel saw the condition of his men, he fell down in despair, and died two days later.

Vladimir was originally considered to be very barbaric and immoral before he became a Christian in 988, and adopted the Eastern Orthodox faith. He was the first Christian grand duke of Kiev (980-1015). Vladimir I was later made a saint, and his sons, Romanua and David, by his first marriage to Anne became martys. His rebellious son, by another wife, was Yaroslav. Vladimir opposed his son's tactics and marched against him in 1014. He was said to have fell ill on the way, and died at Beresyx, Russia. St. Vladimir is now the patron of Russian Catholics, and his feast day is July 15th. Vladimir set the beginning of Kiev's growth, and by the 11th century, Kiev was an important power.

Iaroslav/Yaroslav (1019-1054)ruled in Kiev and was later called "the Wise." Yaroslav married a Swedish princess. She gave him three sons and three daughters:

  1. Izialav ruled Kiev and Novgorod
  2. Sviatoslav ruled Chernigov, Vsevolod, Smolensk, and Pereiaslavl, and died in 1093.
  3. Igor ruled Vladimir-in-Volynia.

    Yaroslav's brothers were named: Sviatopolk, Boris (Rustov), Gleb (Murom), Mstislav (d. 1036), "the Brave" was the prince of Tmutorokan, which was located in an area where the Kuban flows into the Sea of Azon and the Black Sea. Iziaslav (Polotsk) was another brother. Sviatoslav, Boris, and Gleb were all assassinated by their brother Yaroslav. Boris and Gleb later became saints of the Orthodox Church. From this line came Vladimir I (Novgorod), Iziaslav (1054-78), Sviatoslav, and Vsevolod (1078-1083).

    Vladimir Monomakh reigned from 1113-1125. His son, Mstislaw reigned from 1125-1132, and his brother, Iaropolk ruled from 1132-1139. Vladimir was trhe don of Grand Prince Vsevolod (son of Yaropolk). Then in 1223, with the Mongol raids, the Area of Vladimir-Suzdal, took over prominence as many of the Rurikid princes encourage colonization. The Mongols, then led by Batu, the son of Ghenghis Khan, sacked Vladimir in 1238, and Kieve in 1240. They then established rulership as the khans of the Golden Horde. Alekander Nevskii , prince of Novgorod from 1236 saw resistence to the Mongols as futile, and he became Grand Prince, in 1252, because of his allegiance to the khan.

    Many historians think that the Russian patterns of princely houses are derived from that of the Mongols, other think it patterned after Byzantium rulers. Which is right is not as important as the fact that the Muscovite aristocracy developed in the late 15th and 16th century.

    Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich(son of Vsevolof (1078-1083), Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal was one of the princes of that area, in 1236. Yaroslav married ?, the daughter of the Prince of Polotski (his cousin) in 1239. His son, Alexander Yaroslavich "Nevski" began the line of Moscovite Princes.


    Alexander Nevskii

    Alexander Nevskii (Alexander Yaroslavich) (later made St. Alexander) was born in 1219, he was the second son of Grand Prince Yaroslav II of Vladimir-Suzdal. He was the Prince of Novgorod (1236-1252), Prince of Kiev (1246-1252), and Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, in 1252. In the thirteenth (13th) and fourteenth (14th) centuries the Belorussians and Ukrainiums were made distinct from the Great Russians. Alexander defeated the Swedish army on the banks of the Neva River (thus his title Nevskii), and on April 5, 1242, he defeated the Teutonic Knights on Lake Chud (Peipus). The defeat of the Teutonic Knights symbolized the triumph of Orthodoxy over Catholic agression.

    North-west Novgorod became a prosperous city-state in northern Russia. The Kievans were controlled by the grand princes of Lithuania. This period in history is called the "Apponage Era" from the fact that the princes divided their estates among their sons.

    Alexander Nevskii was the subject of a film by Eisenstein, with music by Prokofiev, in 1938.

    (The first "official" generation in the line of the princes of Moscow).
    To see the crowns of Russia Click Here

    Prince Daniil Nevsky was the inheritor of his father's (Alexander Nevsky's) estate and 500 square miles of Moscovite lands. Daniil died in 1304. He was the First Prince of Moscow from 1263-1304.

    Yuri Nevsky, , Daniil's son, married the sister of the khan of the Golden Horde and obtained the title of Grand Prince. The issue of this marriage is unknown. However, another daughter of the khan married Ivan I.


    Ivan I

    Ivan I "Kalira" died in 1349. He married Elena, sister of the Khan of the Golden Horde. Ivan I reigned as Prince of Moscow.


    Ivan II died in 1359. He married (2) Aleksandra who died in 1364.


    Dimitrii Donski

    Dimitrii Donski was Grand Prince of Moscow (1359-1389). He married Evdokia of Suzdal, who died in 1407. Dmitrii defeated the Tartars at Kulikovo Field in 1380.


    Vasilii I Dimtrievich, (son of Dmitrii Donski), Grand Prince of Moscow (1398-1425) died in 1425. He married Sofia of Lithuania, daughter of Witold Alexander on January 21, 1391. Sophia died in 1453. By the end of Vasily's reign, the principalities of Yaroslavl, Rostov, and Tver were almost completely surrounded by Muscovite territory.


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