Vladimir I

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Vladimir I

(vlăd`əmĭr', Rus. vlədyē`mĭr),

Volodymyr I

(vŭl'ədyē`myĭr), or

Saint Vladimir,

d. 1015, first Christian grand duke of Kiev (c.980–1015); son of SviatoslavSviatoslav
or Svyatoslav
, d. 972, duke of Kiev (945–72), son of Igor and of St. Olga. His mother acted as regent for him until c.962, when he came of age.
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. In 970, Vladimir was sent by his father to govern Novgorod. After Sviatoslav's death Vladimir vied with his two brothers, Yaropolk and Oleg, for the succession. About 980, he defeated his brothers and became grand duke of Kiev. During his reign he conquered and united under Kievan RusKievan Rus
, medieval state of the Eastern Slavs. It was the earliest predecessor of modern Ukraine and Russia. Flourishing from the 10th to the 13th cent., it included nearly all of present-day Ukraine and Belarus and part of NW European Russia, extending as far N as Novgorod
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 distant Slavic tribes and waged successful wars on the Lithuanians, the Bulgars, and the Byzantines in Crimea. At first a fervent pagan, he converted to Christianity, probably influenced by the political and economic advantages of an alliance with Byzantium. His baptism, in 988 or 989, was followed by his marriage to Anna, sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil IIBasil II,
c.958–1025, Byzantine emperor (976–1025), surnamed Bulgaroktonos [Bulgar slayer]. With his brother, Constantine VIII, he nominally succeeded his father, Romanus II, in 963, but had no share in the government during the rule of the usurping generals
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. After the wedding he returned Kherson (in Crimea) to Byzantium. Vladimir renounced his profligate ways and made Greek Orthodox Christianity the religion of his people. He devoted the remainder of his life to the building of churches, including the splendid Cathedral of the Tithes (989), and to the establishment of schools and libraries. He also enacted several statutes concerning the legal status and courts of the church. Feast: July 15.