Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mstislav

Mstislave IToday in 1076, Mstislav I, Velikiy Kniaz (Grand Prince) of Kiev (1125–1132), the eldest son of Vladimir II Monomakh. In Russian he is Мстислав Владимирович Великий, in Ukrainian Мстислав I (Великий) Володимирович. He figures prominently in the Norse Sagas under the name Harald, just as his father was called Waldemar (that latter a fine example of the TORT reflex that separates the Slavic languages from the Germanic; Vladimir is Volodymyr in Ukrainian.) His mother was Gytha of Wessex, one of Harold's children who escaped to Denmark after the Norman invasion. A bit ironically, through his daughter Euphrosyne (Ефросинья) he is an ancestor of King Edward III of England and hence of all subsequent English and British monarchs. He was also the last ruler of united Rus': after his death the internecine squabbles of the Rurikids created a network of smaller principalities such as Chernigov, Volynia, and Smolensk, whose rulers fought over the rights to Monomakh's Kievan Rus' until the Mongols came.

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