Oleg Sviatoslavich

Oleg Sviatoslavich


Born mid-11th century; died Aug. 1, 1115. Prince of ancient Rus’. Grandson of Iaroslav the Wise; son of Grand Prince of Kiev Sviatoslav Iaroslavich.

Oleg Sviatoslavich received Rostov-Suzdal’ Land from his father in 1073; later, he ruled over Volhynia (Volyn’). In 1076, together with Vladimir Vsevolodovich Monomakh, he conducted a successful campaign against Bohemia. After his father’s death in 1076, Oleg Sviatoslavich lost his territorial possessions and was dependent on his father’s brother, Grand Prince of Kiev Vsevolod Iaroslavich. In 1078 he fled to Tmutarakan’, which had broken away from subordination to the authority of the grand prince; from Tmutarakan’, with the support of the Po-lovtsy, Oleg Sviatoslavich conducted a campaign that culminated in the seizure of Chernigov. On Oct. 3, 1078, in a battle with the combined forces of Iziaslav Iaroslavich and Vsevolod Iaroslavich, he suffered defeat at Nezhatina Niva and again fled to Tmutarakan’. In 1079 he was taken prisoner by the Khazars, who dispatched him to Constantinople. The Byzantine government exiled him to the island of Rhodes.

In 1083, Oleg Sviatoslavich returned to Tmutarakan’ and became “archont (ruler) of Matrakha, Zikhia, and all Khazaria.” In 1094 he again led the Polovtsian hordes against Rus’ and took possession of the Principality of Chernigov, after which he began a lengthy struggle with the Grand Princes of Kiev Sviatopolk Iziaslavich and Vladimir Monomakh. His alliance with the Po-lovtsy, enemies of Rus’, and his numerous seditious acts were condemned by the Russian chroniclers and by the author of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, who nicknamed him Gorislavich (derived from the Russian word meaning “grief).


Povest’ vremennykh let, part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950. Pages 131–200.
Rybakov, B. A. Pervye veka russkoi istorii. Moscow, 1964.