Yaroslav I the Wise

The history of Yaroslav I the Wise reads like an intricate novel of deception and of victory. The rule of Yaroslav was not only vital to Novgorod and Kiev, but he left a permanent historical mark on the country. He is remembered and tribute paid to him through monuments and is depicted on the 1000 ruples Russian banknote. He was the son of Vladimir the Great, and his rise to power is an epic story.


Yaroslav I the Wise was born c 978 and was one of many sons of Vladimir the Great. There is a lot of mystery surrounding his early life, but after the death of his father, his story really begins. Vladimir the Great died in 1015, and Yaroslav was one of five surviving sons. His eldest brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, was so hungry for power that he murdered three of his brothers to ensure his dreams of becoming ruler would come true and he did take power over Kiev. The bloody battles that ensued led to great wars against Svyatopolk, and it is suggested that the murder of their brother Boris was actually done on the orders of Yaroslav. The Novgorodians were against Svyatopolk being in power and gave their full support to Yaroslav. Yaroslav had been sent to Novgorod in 1010 and became the Grand Prince, during which time he established a new town he named Yaroslavl. Varangian mercenaries were called upon to defeat Svyatopolk, and they succeeded in their mission, seeing to it that Yaroslav I the Wise came into power and became the Grand Prince of Kiev in the year 1019. He became instrumental in implementing a code of law, laying the foundations for Russian Justice.

For their support, the Novgorodians were rewarded with privileges and a freedom that would lead to the formation of the Novgorodian Republic. Their respect for Yaroslav grew even more, naming the Yaroslav’s Court in his honor. Today, there is a monument of Yaroslav in Yaroslavl. His military successes and power grew during his reign and he established numerous foreign policies. Three of his daughters went on to marry princes, and left behind a legacy in various countries, such as the towns Yuryev (Estonia), Jaroslaw (Poland), Yuryev (Now Bila Tsekskva) and Yaroslavl (Russia), being named in his honor. Even the helmets worn by Russian soldiers, the Helmet of Yaroslav Mudry, were named in his memory. Yaroslav I the Wise passed away in 1054. He made a great impact on the daily lives of the people he ruled over and laid many foundations that formed Ukraine as it is today.