Galician-Volynian Principality

Galician-Volynian Principality


a Russian feudal principality, formed in 1199 through the unification of the principalities of Galicia and Vladimir-Volyn’.

The Galician-Volynian Principality was situated on the fertile black-soil land of the upper reaches of the Dnestr, Vistula, Narew, and Pripiat’ rivers, where farming had already long existed. The economy of the principality was mixed. Handicrafts and salt extraction were developed, and cities had grown up. In the 13th century the principality had over 80 cities, of which Galich, Vladimir-Volyn’, and Terebovl’ were the most important. There was also large-scale feudal land ownership, the power base of the politically influential boyars. The first prince, Roman Mstislavich, who ruled from 1170 to 1205, seized Kiev and took for himself the title of grand prince in 1203. His reign was attended by endless civil discord and struggle against the boyars. After the death of Roman, the Galician-Volynian Principality split into a number of petty principalities. Part of the land was occupied by Hungarian and Polish feudal lords, who were invited in by the boyars. Feudal strife, the domination of the boyars, and the invasion by foreigners all aroused a popular rebellion. In 1219, Prince Mstislav Mstislavich the Daring of Novgorod was summoned by the townspeople to rule. In 1221 he drove the Hungarian feudal lords from Galicia. At this time Daniil, the son of Roman Mstislavich, came to power in Volyn’, where he ruled until 1264. After the death of Mstislav the Daring in 1228, Daniil also became prince of Galicia. Although he united Galicia with Volyn’ in the following year, he did not consolidate his control over the Galician land until 1238, after a struggle against the Hungarian lords and the boyars. An outstanding and talented politician, Daniil Romanovich took possession of Kiev, and, after a bitter struggle with other princes, with Hungary and Poland, and with the Galician boyars, he brought all of southwestern Rus’ under his rule in 1245. Daniil maintained a cautious policy toward the Golden Horde, nominally recognizing its suzerainty (1245). He made use of negotiations with representatives of Pope Innocent IV to stabilize the situation on the western borders of the Galician-Volynian Principality. In 1254 he accepted a royal title; but he was able to reject union with the Roman Church.

The Galician-Volynian Principality experienced a cultural flowering from the 12th century to the mid-13th. White-stone cathedrals such as the Uspenie Cathedral in Vladimir-Volyn’ (1160) and palaces like that in Galich (12th century) were constructed during this period. Writing, especially chronicle writing, developed significantly (in Galich, for example).

In 1259 the Mongol-Tatar armies succeeded in subjugating the Galician-Volynian Principality after destroying the fortifications in all of its cities. After the death of Daniil in 1264, the principality broke into four appanage principalities, nominally subordinated to a grand prince. The grand prince’s title was held in turn by Shvarn Danilovich, who ruled from 1264 to about 1269; Lev Danilovich, from about 1269 to 1301; Iurii L’vovich, 1301-08; and Andrei and Lev Iur’evich, 1308-23. In 1323 the boyars invited the Mazovian prince Boleslav (Iurii) Troidenovich (died in 1340) to the throne. In 1340 the boyars, headed by Dmitrii Dedko, invited the Lithuanian prince Liubart Gediminovich to rule over them; at least for a time, Dmitrii Dedko retained actual power. However, the Galician-Volynian Principality now became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By an agreement of 1352 between the Polish king Casimir and the Lithuanian princes, the Galician land fell under Polish rule, while Volyn’ remained part of Lithuania.


Pashuto, V. T. Ocherkipo istorii Galitsko-Volynskoi Rusi. [Moscow] 1950.
Sofronenko, K. A. Obshchestvenno-politicheskii stroi Galitsko-Volynskoi Rusi XI-XIII vv. Moscow, 1955.
Hens’ors’kyi, A. I. Halyts’ko-Volyns’kyi litopys. Kiev, 1958.