The Dynasty of Chernigov

The Dynasty of Chernigov

The Dynasty of Chernigov

The Dynasty of Chernigov


Examining the later twelfth- and early thirteenth-century history of the dynasty of Chernigov, this study demonstrates that the princes of Chernigov were among the most powerful in Kievan Rus'. It therefore challenges the established view of the political history of Kievan Rus'. Unlike other studies, it also examines in detail themes such as succession and inheritance, rivalries for domains, marriage alliances, the role of trade in inter-dynastic relations, nomadic incursions on Rus', and princely relations with the Church.

  • An analysis of the history of the dynasty of Chernigov in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries
  • Proves that the dynasty was far more important than historians have acknowledged, shedding light on the much-debated succession process for Kiev
  • Draws on a wide variety of sources such as such as chronicles, archaeology, coins, seals, 'graffiti' in churches, and architecture


The history of the dynasty’s first hundred years appeared in 1994 as The Dynasty of Chernigov 1054–1146. It began with the year in which Svyatoslav Yaroslavich became the autonomous prince of Chernigov and ended with the year in which his grandson Vsevolod Ol′govich died as prince of Kiev. The present volume continues with the succession of Vsevolod’s brother Igor′ to Kiev and ends with the year 1246, when Vsevolod’s great-grandson Mikhail Vsevolodovich died as the last autonomous senior prince of the dynasty. Although his career was investigated in the monograph Mikhail, Prince of Chernigov and Grand prince of Kiev, 1224–1246 (Toronto, 1981), it merits a re-examination because of the new studies that have appeared over the past twenty years. In this work Mikhail’s career will also be looked at chronologically rather than thematically and his achievements will be evaluated in the light of those of his ancestors.

The reasons for writing a new history of the dynasty were discussed in the earlier study, but it will be useful to review them. As it was pointed out, the first written source of Rus′ to mention Chernigov is “The Tale of Bygone Years,” also known as the “Primary Chronicle.” It reports the origin of the dynasty under Svyatoslav Yaroslavich and tells of his activities and those of his sons up to 1117, the year in which it ends. After that a number of Svyatoslav’s descendants kept chronicles at their courts, but none of them has survived. The main reason for this is that in the middle of the thirteenth century the Tatars eliminated the princes of Chernigov as a political force. At the same time, the Monomashichi of Suzdalia found favor with the new overlords and, on becoming the supreme rulers in Muscovy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, had their scribes produce compilations assimilating information from older extant chronicles.

Dynasty, pp. 7–8.

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