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Biography of Igor Rurikovich


Igor Rurikovich is the Grand Duke of Ancient Rus’, son of Rurik, spouse of Princess Olga, and father of Svyatoslav. The Rurik dynasty dominated the realm for more than 700 years. Today, the events in which Prince Igor took part are only known via a variety of chronicles, some of which contradict one another.

Childhood and youth

Igor’s precise birth date is unknown. And, while the Tale of Bygone Years is quiet on this issue, other chronicles vary widely in the year of birth. It is quite likely that he was born in 875. His father, Rurik, founded the ancient Russian state. However, when he died in 879, the kid was too young to reign. As a result, Igor was chosen regent, along with Rurik’s relative Oleg. He was a warrior and frequently took the youngster on military missions.

Igor RurikovichIgor Rurikovich

There is practically little known about Igor’s mother. Only the Joachim Chronicle states that she was the Norwegian princess Efanda. Tatishchev, a historian, regarded her to be Oleg’s sister.

It is probable that Igor had siblings and sisters, although there is no mention of them in the chronicles. However, some records mention the prince’s nephews and relatives. They were most likely members of the prince’s squad, rather than owners of estates and privileges.

“Prince Oleg and Igor” by Ilya Glazunov. “Prince Oleg and Igor” by Ilya Glazunov. His name is frequently accompanied with the adjective “Old”. This moniker has two plausible origins. Because the Rurik dynasty had more than one Igor, they chose to refer to the first as “Old”. And, most likely, historians of subsequent times began to utilize this, rather than his contemporaries. Another possible explanation for this moniker is since the prince rose to power after Oleg’s death, rather than after attaining maturity. At the moment, Igor was around 37 years old.

Governing body

The prescient Oleg left Igor in a wealthy situation, demonstrating how to handle it by his own example. But power caused a lot of anxiety. When the Drevlyans learnt of Oleg’s death, they promptly refused to pay homage to the new monarch. Igor was compelled to form a group and travel to their territories.

To dissuade them from rebelling against the prince in the future, he levied a tribute twice as high as previously. Since then, the Drevlyans have held a deep animosity against him.
“Prince Igor collects tribute from the Drevlyans in 945”, artist Claudius Lebedev “Prince Igor collects tribute from the Drevlyans in 945”, artist Claudius Lebedev
Igor Rurikovich pursued strong domestic and foreign policies. Following the Drevlyan insurrection, he decided to collect tribute from people in a different manner. Every year, the prince and his men journeyed throughout the areas he controlled, collecting a “tax” from the tribes who lived there. He took everything—flour, grain, honey, animal skins, etc. This was now known as polyudye. However, Igor’s people were incredibly nasty and impudent towards the citizens. The prince himself was characterized by a harsh and hot-tempered personality. In 915, Igor came to the rescue of Byzantium, which was under assault by the Bulgarians. In 920, he defeated the Pechenegs. Prince Igor’s most major military campaigns were against Byzantium.

“Prince Igor”, artist Ilya Glazunov “Prince Igor”, artist Ilya Glazunov

In 941, he traveled to Byzantium with a thousand ships. However, the Greeks were able to withstand the invasion by employing a novel weapon of the time, “Greek fire,” which was a combination of oil and other burning chemicals. They used “fire” to burn down the majority of the opposing ships.

Igor was obliged to return home, but his main purpose was to collect a new army for the upcoming fight against Byzantium. This time he succeeded. The prince signed a peace deal with the Byzantines and received a monetary settlement.

Igor ruled Ancient Russia for 33 years, from 912 to 945. His family’s symbol was a stylized diving falcon.

Personal life

Igor’s wife was a Pskov lady named Beautiful, whom the young prince renamed Olga before they married. There are various possible explanations for why he did this. Perhaps it was his whim and a show of authority. When they married, the young guy was 25 years old and the girl was only 13. Or the cause for this deed was far deeper.

“The first meeting of Prince Igor and Olga”, Artist Vasily Sazonov Vasily Sazonov’s “The First Meeting of Prince Igor and Olga”
Some reports claim that Olga is Oleg’s daughter. Namely, it was Oleg who linked her to Igor. His purpose was to enhance his influence on the mature young guy.
The name Olga is derived from the male name Oleg. The woman is remembered as Olga, the Grand Duchess and the first sovereign to convert to Christianity.

They had a son, Svyatoslav, who three years later became a prince under the tutelage of his mother.

Svyatoslav Igorevich is the son of Igor Rurikovich.Svyatoslav Igorevich is the son of Igor Rurikovich.
Igor had several spouses, but Olga was always his favorite woman. She was smart and tackled problems wisely and methodically. The chronicles do not mention if Igor had offspring from subsequent marriages.


The death of Prince Igor merits special notice. In 945, his men began to grumble that they did not have enough money and were not financially successful. The soldiers convinced the monarch to travel to the Drevlyan lands and collect polyudye. They demanded more tribute than was prescribed and used violence against the locals.

“The Death of Igor” by artist Boris Chorikov “The Death of Igor” by artist Boris Chorikov
During a halt on the route back to Kyiv, Igor suddenly decided to pay more homage to the Drevlyans. The prince dispatched a portion of the army, including the previously gathered polyud, to Kyiv. And he went back with a small group of soldiers.

When the Drevlyans learned of the prince’s homecoming, they intended to settle the conflict quietly, but Igor refused to leave the territory. As a result, the Drevlyans, led by their monarch, Prince Mal, decided to revolt against Igor since his actions broke established social standards.

“Execution of Prince Igor”, Artist Fyodor Bruni Fyodor Bruni’s “Execution of Prince Igor”
Igor was in the minority, and his men were rapidly crushed by the Drevlyans. The prince was seized and executed. According to the Byzantine writer Leo the Deacon, the prince’s murder was carried out with extreme severity. Igor was bound to the tops of twisted trees, and his body was ripped apart.

After his death, Princess Olga succeeded to the throne since her son Svyatoslav was too young. Olga, now the leader of state, determined to revenge her husband’s death.

“Princess Olga meets the body of Prince Igor”,Artist Vasily Surikov “Princess Olga meets the body of Prince Igor” by Vasily Surikov.
Prince Mal sent the princess matchmakers. The Drevlyans traveled down the Dnieper by boat. Olga directed the troops to transport the boat along with the visitors to the palace, so honoring them. But by that time, they had dug a hole in the yard and thrown the matchmakers into it, along with the boat, before burying them alive. Soon, diplomats from Mal arrived in Olga. The woman instructed them to wash out the road first. The men entered the bathhouse, which was promptly shuttered and set on fire.

Prince Igor was buried near the town of Iskorosten, so Olga decided to accompany her squad to his cemetery. The princess was greeted by the Drevlyans, who promptly inquired about the diplomats the prince had sent her. The woman persuaded them to accompany the Kyiv squad. At the funeral feast, she gave the Drevlyans too much to drink, and when they were already indecently drunk, she ordered the warriors to hack them up.

“Olga’s Revenge against the Drevlyan Idols”, artist Fyodor Bruni “Olga’s Revenge against the Drevlyan Idols”, Artist Fyodor Bruni
Olga attacked Iskorosten, but the Drevlyan people refused to submit. As a result, the princess determined to seize them via deceit. She informed them that her husband had been avenged and requested a conditional tribute from the people of Iskorosten: three sparrows and three doves from the yard. The locals, who had no reason to suspect anything, gladly obeyed the princess’s request.

Olga instructed her troops to attach a lighted tinder to each bird’s leg and release it. The birds returned to their nests and lit the city on fire. The Drevlyans fled, but Olga apprehended them right away. Some were executed on the scene, while others were abducted and sold into slavery.

Princess Olga’s measures to revenge her husband’s murder are terrible. However, because those periods were characterized by harshness, her acts were consistent with prevailing norms.

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