Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saint Olga and Saint Vladimir Rulers of Kievan Rus'

The Beauty Regent Kiev, Saint Olga / Helga / Yelena

Olga and Christianity: 

She was the first Rus' ruler to convert to Christianity, either in 945 or in 957. The ceremonies of her formal reception in Constantinople were minutely described by Emperor Constantine VII in his book De Ceremoniis. Following her baptism she took the Christian name Yelena, after the reigning Empress Helena Lekapena. The Slavonic chronicles add apocryphal details to the account of her baptism, such as the story how she charmed and "outwitted" Constantine and how she spurned his matrimonial proposals. In truth, at the time of her baptism, Olga was an old woman, while Constantine had a wife.

Olga was one of the first people of Rus' to be proclaimed a saint, for her efforts to spread the Christian religion in the country. Because of her proselytizing influence, the Orthodox Church calls St. Olga by the honorific Isapóstolos, "Equal to the Apostles". However, she failed to convert [her son] Svyatoslav, and it was left to her grandson and pupil Vladimir I to make Christianity the lasting state religion. During her son's prolonged military campaigns, she remained in charge of Kiev, residing in the castle of Vyshgorod together with her grandsons. She died soon after the city's siege by the Pechenegs in 969.

As a Pagan Ruler the widow Olga was ruthless:

Princess Olga was the wife of Igor of Kiev, who was killed by the Drevlians. Upon her husband's death, their son, Svyatoslav, was three years old, making Olga the official ruler of Kievan Rus until he reached adulthood. The Drevlians wanted Olga to marry their Prince Mal, making him the ruler of Kievan Rus, but Olga was determined to remain in power and preserve it for her son.

The Drevlians sent twenty of their best men to convince Olga to marry their Prince Mal and give up her rule of Kievan Rus. She had them buried alive. Then she sent word to Prince Mal that she accepts the proposal, but requires their most distinguished men to accompany her on the journey in order for her people to accept the offer of marriage. The Drevlians sent their best men who governed their land. Upon their arrival, she offered them a warm welcome and an invitation to clean up after their long journey in abathouse. After they entered, she locked the doors and set fire to the building, burning them alive.

With the best and wisest men out of the way, she planned to destroy the remaining Drevlians. She invited them to a funeral feast so she could mourn over her husband's grave, where her servants waited on them. After the Drevlians were drunk, Olga's soldiers killed over 5,000 of them. She returned to Kiev and prepared an army to attack the survivors. The Drevlians begged for mercy and offered to pay for their freedom with honey and furs. She asked for threepigeons and three sparrows from each house, since she did not want to burden the villagers any further after the siege. They were happy to comply with such a reasonable request.

Now Olga gave to each soldier in her army a pigeon or a sparrow, and ordered them to attach by thread to each pigeon and sparrow a piece of sulfur bound with small pieces of cloth. When night fell, Olga bade her soldiers release the pigeons and the sparrows. So the birds flew to their nests, the pigeons to the cotes, and the sparrows under the eaves. The dove-cotes, the coops, the porches, and the haymows were set on fire. There was not a house that was not consumed, and it was impossible to extinguish the flames, because all the houses caught on fire at once. The people fled from the city, and Olga ordered her soldiers to catch them. Thus she took the city and burned it, and captured the elders of the city. Some of the other captives she killed, while some she gave to others as slaves to her followers. The remnant she left to pay tribute.

see: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=427

Grand Prince Vladimir I  Sviatoslavich the Great Saint 

Vladimir's Pagan Leadership:  Though Christianity had won many converts since Olga's rule, Vladimir had remained a thoroughgoing pagan, taking eight hundred concubines (besides numerous wives) and erecting pagan statues and shrines to gods. He may have attempted to reform Slavicpaganism by establishing the thunder-god, Perun , as a supreme deity. "Although Christianity in Kiev existed before Vladimir’s time, he had remained a pagan, accumulated about seven wives, established temples, and, it is said, taken part in idolatrous rites involving human sacrifice."

St. Vladimir I, 956-1015, Grandson of St. Olga and illegitimate son of Sviastoslav, grand duke of Kiev, and his mistress, Malushka, he was given Novgorod to rule by his father. Civil war broke out between his half-brothers Yaropolk and Oleg; Yaropolk made himself ruler by defeating and killing Oleg, and when he captured Novgorod, Vladimirwas forced to flee to Scandinavia in 977. Vladimir returned with an army and captured Novgorod and defeated and slew Yaropolk at Rodno in 980; Vladimir was now sole ruler of Russia, notorious for his barbarism and immorality. After his conquest of Kherson in the Crimea in 988, he became impressed by the progrerss of Christianity and approached Eastern Emperor Basil II about marrying the emperor's daughter Ann. He was converted, reformed his life and married Anne. On his return to Kiev, he invited Greek missionaries to Russia, let his people to Christianity, borrowed canonical feacures from the West and built schools and churches. His later years were troubled by rebellions led by the sons of his first marriages, although two sons by Anne, SS Romanus and David became martyrs. In 1014 he was obliged to march against his rebellious son Yaroslav in Novgorod, fell ill on the way and died at Beresyx, Russia. He is patron of the Russian Catholics. Feastday July 15. 

see: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=434

Significance and legacy

One of the largest Kievan cathedrals is dedicated to him. The University of Kiev was named after the man who Christianized Kievan Rus. There is the Russian Order of St. Vladimir and Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the feast day of St. Vladimir on 15 July.
His memory was also kept alive by innumerable Ukrainian and Russian folk ballads and legends, which refer to him as Krasno Solnyshko, that is, the Fair Sun. With him theVarangian period of Eastern Slavic history ceases and the Christian period begins.  (Wikipieia)

Ancestral Chain:  Ancestral Quest relationship calculator shows Saint Olga as our grandmother 100 times as 33rd, 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th and 39th and 40th great grandmother.
As 33rd great-grandmother Saint Olga "The Beauty Regent" b.890, Sviatoslav Warrior I Kiev b.915, Saint Vladimir I Grand Duke Kyiv b.956, Yaroslav 'the Wise'  Grand Prince of Rus b.978, Anne  Princess of Kiev b.1024, Hugh Magnus "the great"  Crepi / Count of Vermandois b.1057, (Isabel) Elizabeth DE VERMANDOIS Countess b.1081, Willaim III DE WARREN (WARENNE) Earl of Surrey b.1118, Lady Isabel 4th Countess Surrey DE WARENNE  b.1137, William, 6th Earl Of Surrey DE WARENNE b.1155, John 7th Earl of Surrey DE WARENNE b.1231, Eleanor PLANTAGENET b.1244, Henry, 1st Baron Percy of Alnwick DE PERCY b.1273, Henry, 2nd Baron Percy DE PERCY b.1299, Maude DE PERCY b.1345, Earl-Baron-Lord Ralph DE NEVILLE 1st Earl of Westmoreland, 4th Lord of Raby b.1364, Lady Eleanor NEVILLE Countess of Northumberland b.1398, Henry 3rd Earl Of Northumberland PERCY b.1421, Henry PERCY 4th Earl of Northumberland b. 1449, Eleanor (Alianore) PERCY Duchess of Buckingham b.1474, Lady Catherine STAFFORD Countess of Westmorland b.1499, Lady Margaret NEVILLE b.1520, George GARDNER b.1535, Sir Thomas GARDNER b.1565, Rachel GARDNER Immigrant b.1608, Thomas NOBLE Immigrant b.1632, Sgt. Luke NOBLE b.1675, Samuel NOBLE b.1722, Lydia NOBLE b.1768, Horace Datus ENSIGN b.1797, Martin Luther ENSIGN b.1831, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITH b.1926, Lark, JR.

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