You May Kiss Our …

VladimirI

“What a piece of work is a man! … And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”
~Hamlet, Act II, scene ii.

After the past week of cleaning up “the quintessence of dust” of one of the longest lines of my husband’s ancestry, I’ve decided to pull out my “Complete Works of Wm. Shakespeare” and reread The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.  Why?  Because of this guy pictured here … Vladimir I, Grand Duke of Kiev.  Not a bad looking guy on the most part.  He’s rich; he’s brave; he’s a king; … and he’s not nice.  In today’s society he would be called a bad-assed muther*ker.  He killed his brothers; raped his wife and killed her parents because she said “no” to marrying him (he eventually had 5 known wives and 800 concubines); and he tortured those he disliked … and he’s my husband’s direct 29th great-grandfather.  If anything, that side of the family is anything but boring, and the story of Hamlet is very similar to good ol’ Vladimir.

Back in 1990 when my mother-in-law Mary Louise (Koenig) Schoelles passed away, I asked my father-in-law who was distraught and depressed how much he really knew about Mary’s family.  He knew that most of her family were from the Reading area (Berks County, Alsace Township) of Pennsylvania, but little did he know her lines would stretch back to the Dwights who were the founders of Yale University, and across the Atlantic to the kings of England, France, Germany, Rus (Ukraine), and Sweden and many other countries.  Although there are side branches from our buddy “Vlad” here, he is one of the more well known and his family’s history is very well documented.

Here is a summary of what Vladimir I accomplished:

Following Vladimir’s father Svyatoslav’s death in 972 A.D., a war broke out between Vladimir and his 1/2 brothers, Oleg and Yaropolk … all of whom were potential successors. At that time, Vladimir was Prince of Novgorod (a city in the northern part of ancient Russia). The eldest son, Yaropolk, was Prince of Kiev who was a very overbearing man and who wanted to rule all of Russia. He expelled Vladimir from Novgorod, who then fled to Scandinavia. There, he began to muster an army to retake the throne from Yaropolk.   Just prior to this, Yaropolk killed his brother Oleg in 977 A.D. leaving only Vladimir and Yaropolk as successors to the throne.  Vladimir returned to Russia in 979 A.D. and declared war on Yaropolk. On his way to Kiev, Vladimir also seized the town of Polotsk, where he married Yaropolk’s fiancée Rogneda against her will. In 980 A.D., Vladimir besieged Kiev. He lured Yaropolk out, supposedly for negotiations, and then killed him. Yaropolk’s wife, a Greek nun, eventually became a concubine in Vladimir’s harem. Vladimir then became the independent sovereign of the entire Kievan Rus.

The new Prince of Kiev took steps to move the country towards paganism. Vladimir’s grandmother Olga was the first of Russian royalty to convert to Christianity, but her son (Vladimir’s father) Svyatolslav adamantly remained pagan.  Additionally, Vladimir’s shift towards paganism is assumed to have been a response to his rival brother Yaropolk, who was known to favor Christianity. Vladimir erected a temple in the capital displaying idols of six major Slavic pagan gods. He also introduced the practice of human sacrifice; and he was infamous as a vindictive and bloodthirsty warrior.

Vladimir was an expert commander. During his reign, Russia’s borders were well-protected. The Prince of Kiev managed to subdue hostile neighboring tribes. He also undertook a successful campaign against the Poles, Latvians and Bulgars. As a result of these campaigns, the Kievan Rus made significant territorial gains.

But Russia’s main struggle in the second half of the 10th century was the adoption of a single, monotheistic religion. The move was intended to unite the people of the country, and strengthen the international renown of the Kievan Rus as no longer a wild, barbaric country.  According to legend, Vladimir had to choose between three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It was also important to decide what kind of Christianity was better for Russia: The so-called Latin Orthodox (aka Catholicism) or the Eastern Orthodox.

Vladimir began a military campaign in Byzantine in 988 A.D. The Prince captured Korsun (Chersonese in the modern Crimea), and demanded to marry Anna, a sister of the Byzantine Emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII, or else he would attack Constantinople. The Emperors agreed, but demanded the baptism of the Prince in return, because their sister was only to marry a man of the same religion. Vladimir agreed to the conditions. The Byzantines sent Anna to Korsun with priests. There, Vladimir and his warriors were baptized by the Bishop of Korsun. Vladimir and Anna then married according to Christian tradition.  Upon his marriage to Anna, Vladimir divorced all of his wives and dismissed his harem.

When Vladimir returned to Kiev, he ordered the destruction of the temple’s pagan idols. On September 1, 988 A.D., Vladimir gathered the citizens of Kiev on the banks of the Dnieper River. They were all solemnly baptized. This baptism was accompanied by the establishment of the church hierarchy … Russia became a metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In Kiev, the baptisms passed peacefully. But in Novgorod, the second greatest city in Russia after Kiev, the people rebelled. This uprising was suppressed with troops, but the old pagan cult would continue to be practiced in Russia for centuries.

In the last years of his life, Vladimir likely intended to name his beloved son Boris as successor. His two oldest sons, Sviatopolk Turovsky and Yaroslav of Novgorod, revolted against their father in 1014. Vladimir imprisoned his elder son Svyatopolk, and was readying for war with Yaroslav when he suddenly fell ill and died on July 15, 1015.  Yaroslav I, the Grand Duke of Kiev would marry Ingegerd Olofsdotter and their daughters would eventually become queens of Norway, France, Hungary and (arguably) England.

The direct line (which needs clean up in some parts admittedly) looks like this:
Runik and unknown wife
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Igor I, Prince of Rus married Olga (later made Saint Olga of the Russian Eastern Orthodox Church)
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Svyatoslav I, Duke of Kiev married Malusha
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Vladimir I, Grand Duke of Kiev married Rogneda, Princess of Polotsk
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Yaroslav I, Grand Duke of Kiev married Ingegerd Olofsdotter
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Anne Yaraslavna of Kiev married Henry I of France (his grandfather was Hugh Capet of France)
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Hugh Prince of France married Adela deVermandois
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Isabel deVermandois married Robert deBeaumont
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Robert, Second Earl of Leicester married Amicia Waer deMontfort
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Robert, Third Earl of Leicester married Petronella deGrantmesnil
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Margaret deBeaumont married Saier deQuincy IV
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Rober deQuincy married Helen of Galloway
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Elizabeth deQuincy married Alexander Comyn
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Elisabeth Comyn married Gilbert deUmfreville
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Robert deUmfreville married Eleanor Lumley
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Sir Thomas deUmfreville married Joan deRoddam
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Joan deUmfreville married Sir Thomas W. Lambert
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William Lambert married unknown
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Henry Lambert married unknown
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Elizabeth Lambert married Thomas Lyman
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Henry Lyman married Alicia Hyde
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John Lyman married Margaret Gerard
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Henry Lyman married Elizabeth Rande
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Richard Lyman married Sarah Osbourne
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John Lyman married Dorcas Plum
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John Lyman married Mindwell Sheldon
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Mary Lyman married Captain Samuel Dwight
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Seth Dwight married Joanna Kellogg
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Seth Dwight II married Abigail Eastman
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Jonathon Dwight married Anna Josephine Eichorn
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Francis George Dwight married Ida Elizabeth Hoeckley
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Mary Cecilia Dwight married William Matthew Koenig
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Frederick Dwight Koenig married Lottie Edna Fies
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Mary Louise Koenig married George Andrew Schoelles