Prince Oleg’s trip to Byzantium

Prince Oleg’s trip to Byzantium

The earliest surviving ancient Russian chronicle to date, “The Tale of Bygone Years” begins with a story about the campaign of Prince Oleg to the city of Tsargrad.

According to this historical document, one part of the prince’s army advanced on horses along the shore, and the other on the sea on two thousand ships, each of which accommodated forty people. But the text of the Novgorod Chronicle, which according to some historians contains more truthful information, tells us not about two thousand ships, but about two hundred.

After that, in the description of the trek, so-called legends begin about how the Greeks blocked the waterway with chains and that after some reflection Prince Oleg ordered to put all the ships on wheels. Then, according to the description

in the annals, the ships straightened the sails and spaymav the passing wind moved to Tsargrad. Seeing before this unprecedented spectacle the Greeks had to ask the great Russian prince of the world. However, they went on a trick and brought him poisoned food and wine, which was not accepted by Oleg.

Then the Greeks agreed to a truce on the terms of the Kiev prince: a dozen hryvnia per warrior, as well as the implementation of separate payments in favor of the princes Lyubech, Rostov, Polotsk, Pereyaslavl, Chernigov, Kiev and other major cities of Kievan Rus (Novgorod did not enter this list ).

In addition to one-off payments, Byzantium undertook to pay a constant tribute to Kievan Rus. Also, according to a treaty signed with the Greeks, Byzantium permitted the stay and trade on its territory of Russian merchants. After common vows, Prince Oleg nails his shield as a sign of the victory of the Russian people to the gates of Constantinople, and then orders the Greeks to sew sails made of sacks for Rus (the so-called golden silk at that time), and the rest – from koprina (ordinary silk). Upon the return of the prince home to Kiev, the inhabitants of Russia, inspired by stories of his exploits, give him the nickname prophetic.

The main result of this great Russian campaign was the so-called Treaty on duty-free trade in Byzantium of Rus. Sailing to the city, Russian people actually stayed at the full content of the Byzantine authorities, without paying even fees.

Already in 911, Prince Oleg sent an embassy to Byzantium, which returns with the confirmation of peace between Tsargrad and Kievan Rus.


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Prince Oleg’s trip to Byzantium