Rogneda of Polotsk

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Princess of Polotsk
Matchmakers Vladimir Svyatoslavich in Rogvolod (left side); Rogvolod talks with Rogneda (right side).
Bornc. 960
Diedc. 1000
SpouseVladimir the Great (divorced)

Rogneda Rogvolodovna (Рогнеда Рогволодовна;[a] Christian name: Anastasia; c. 960 – c. 1000),[3] also known as Gorislava or Ragnhild (Ragnheiðr),[4] was a princess of Polotsk and one of the wives of Vladimir the Great. She was the daughter of Rogvolod (Ragnvald), who came from Scandinavia and established himself at Polotsk in the mid-10th century.


Vladimir, then the prince of Novgorod, proposed to Rogvolod a marriage-tie by wedding his daughter Rogneda, but she declared: "I do not wish to take off a slave's son's shoes" ("не хочу розути робичича"),[5] and she instead chose his brother Yaropolk, the prince of Kiev.[6] Afterwards, Vladimir led an army to devastate Polotsk, killing Rogvolod and his two sons,[7] while taking Rogneda as a wife.[6][8] According to Jonathan Shepard and Simon Franklin, Vladimir was most likely seeking to bolster his political legitimacy rather than being motivated solely by vengeance.[6] Afterwards, Rogneda received the name Gorislava.[9]

The Primary Chronicle indicates that Vladimir had four sons with Rogneda.[10] The first list, which identifies the mothers of his sons, includes the names of Iziaslav, Mstislav, Yaroslav and Vsevolod as the sons of Rogneda.[9][10][11] After Vsevolod are the names of Sviatopolk, Vysheslav, Sviatoslav and another son called Mstislav (possibly Mstislav of Chernigov).[10] A third list identifies the lands that were distributed to them by Vladimir, which appears to be ordered by age, with Vysheslav first, then Iziaslav, Sviatopolk, Sviatoslav, and then Yaroslav; the absence of Mstislav suggests he had died before the distributions were made, and after the initial distributions but before Vadimir's death in 1015, Vysheslav and Iziaslav had died, leaving Sviatopolk as the eldest surviving son.[10]

A later chronicle tells a story, most likely taken from a Norse saga, of Rogneda plotting against Vladimir and asking her elder son, Izyaslav, to kill him.[citation needed] As was the Norse royal custom, she was sent with her elder son to govern the land of her parents, i.e. Polotsk. Izyaslav's line continued to rule Polotsk and the newly found town of Izyaslavl (now called Zaslawye).

After Vladimir converted to Christianity and took Anna Porphyrogeneta as his wife, he had to divorce all his previous wives, including Rogneda. After that, she entered the convent and took the name Anastasia.


Around 1823, Kondraty Ryleev wrote a narrative poem entitled Rogneda.[12][13][14] This poem became a literary source for her portrayal in the nationalist Russian opera Rogneda by Alexander Serov, which premiered in 1865.[15]


By Vladimir the Great:

  1. Izyaslav of Polotsk (born c. 979, Kiev), Prince of Polotsk (989–1001)
  2. Yaroslav the Wise (born no earlier than 983), Prince of Rostov[16] (988–1010), Prince of Novgorod (1010–1034), Grand Prince of Kiev (1016–1018, 1019–1054). Possibly he was a son of Anna rather than Rogneda. Another interesting fact that he was younger than Sviatopolk according to the words of Boris in the Tale of Bygone Years and not as it was officially known.
  3. Mstislav (possibly Mstislav of Chernigov, Prince of Tmutarakan (990–1036), Prince of Chernigov (1024–1036); other sources claim him to be son of other mothers (Adela, Malfrida, or some other Bulgarian wife)
  4. Predslava, concubine of Bolesław I Chrobry according to Gesta principum Polonorum
  5. Premislava (died 1015), some source state that she was a wife of the Duke Laszlo (Vladislav) "the Bald" of Arpadians
  6. Mstislava, in 1018 was taken by Bolesław I Chrobry among the other daughters
  7. Ariogia (?)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also spelled Rogned (Church Slavonic: Рогънѣдь).[1][2]


  1. ^ Jesch, Judith (1991). Women in the Viking Age. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-85115-360-5.
  2. ^ Palauzov, Spiridon Nikolaevich (1871). Лѣтопись по Ипатскому списку (in Russian). Изд. Археографической комисі.
  3. ^ Biographischer Index Rußlands und der Sowjetunion (in German). Walter de Gruyter. 31 October 2011. p. 1741. ISBN 978-3-11-093336-9.
  4. ^ Jakobson, Roman (15 June 2011). Slavic Epic Studies. Walter de Gruyter. p. 360. ISBN 978-3-11-088958-1.
  5. ^ Trudy Imperatorskoj Kievskoj Duchovnoj Akademii (in Russian). Akad. 1888.
  6. ^ a b c Franklin, Simon; Shepard, Jonathan (6 June 2014). The Emergence of Russia 750-1200. Routledge. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-317-87224-5.
  7. ^ Bartlett, Robert (9 July 2020). Blood Royal: Dynastic Politics in Medieval Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-108-49067-2.
  8. ^ Langer, Lawrence N. (11 December 2001). Historical Dictionary of Medieval Russia. Scarecrow Press. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-8108-6618-8.
  9. ^ a b Hanak, Walter K. (10 October 2013). The Nature and the Image of Princely Power in Kievan Rus', 980-1054: A Study of Sources. BRILL. p. 38. ISBN 978-90-04-26022-1.
  10. ^ a b c d Martin, Janet (2007). Medieval Russia: 980 - 1584 (2. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780521859165.
  11. ^ Franklin, Simon; Shepard, Jonathan (6 June 2014). The Emergence of Russia 750-1200. Routledge. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-317-87224-5.
  12. ^ Ziolkowski, Margaret (14 July 2014). Hagiography and Modern Russian Literature. Princeton University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-4008-5940-5.
  13. ^ O'Meara, Patrick (14 July 2014). K.F. Ryleev: A Political Biography of the Decembrist Poet. Princeton University Press. p. 179, 212. ISBN 978-1-4008-5632-9.
  14. ^ Wachtel, Andrew (1998). Intersections and Transpositions: Russian Music, Literature, and Society. Northwestern University Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8101-1580-4.
  15. ^ Marco, Guy A. (3 May 2002). Opera: A Research and Information Guide. Routledge. pp. 315–316. ISBN 978-1-135-57801-5.
  16. ^ Pchelov, E.V. (2002). Rurikovichi: Istoriya dinastii (Online Edition (No longer available) ed.). Moscow.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)