In 972, the reigning prince of Kiev and de facto leader of all Rus', Sviatoslav I, died. Following his death, his two sons, Vladimir of Novgorod and Yaropolk of Kiev fought over his position. Both of these hoped for Military and political support from the Principality of Polotsk. In order to achieve this, Vladimir proposed to Rogneda, daughter of Rogvold, Prince of Polotsk.

Rogneda hoped to refuse, but was cautious. She and her father, Rogvold, conspired to gain true independence from the rest of the Rus'. Through secret envoys, they alerted Yaropolk of Vladimir's proposal; the Prince of Kiev launched his own attempt for Rogneda's hand. Rogvold proposed to both princes that they come to Polotsk to ask Rogneda directly, but skillfully kept both unaware of the other. Vladimir entered the city with his delegation in late 973; a few days earlier, Yaropolk had been smuggled in.

Both Princes were told that Rogneda would meet them in a wooden building built specifically for that purpose. After both princes entered from different sides, the doors were discreetly locked by Rogvold's guards. Both princes and their delegations, upon seeing each other, let out a great cry, thinking their opponent had come to assassinate them. They drew their swords and proceeded to fight. Rogvold, watching from the one window in the building, ordered it torched. In the chaos of the fire, both Princes and claimants to the throne of the Rus' were slain; some sources state that Vladimir killed Yaropolk in personal combat.

Without the princes, the Rus' fell into disarray. Numerous new claimants appeared, creating a decades long civil war that historians would call the Bohna Xaoc, or "Chaotic War". Polotsk gained its independence that day; the history of the descendants of Rogvold was only beginning.

Key Pages


Principality of Polotsk

Flags and Coats of Arms of Krivia

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