Riurikovych Ihor

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Ihor Riurikovych, Ihor the Old (place and date of birth unknown – autumn of 944) – Grand Prince of Kyiv from the Riurik dynasty.

According to some information, Prince Ihor was the progenitor of the Kyivan dynasty of princes (called later the Riurikids), the second after Kyi. Prince Ihor’s origin is not determined. The Tale of Bygone Years calls Ihor a son of Riurik, which serves as a basis for the Norman theory of the origin of East Slavic statehood. And though after the analysis by Academician A. Shakhmatov the majority of historians consider the Tale’s version of Ihor’s biography to be an artificial legend, the question of Ihor’s origin remains open. There are several versions: that he was a son of Riurik, or one of Oleh’s voivodes, or a descendant of Askold, or simply the husband of Olha, who, in her turn, was a heiress of Kyiv princes. So far, there is no convincing proof in favour of any of these theories. According to The Tale of Bygone Years Ihor began to reign in Kyiv in 913, after the death of Oleh.

Ihor’s campaigns against Constantinople in 941 and 943 are established facts: the first of them was unsuccessful – first the numerous Rus fleet (the chronicle gives the unrealistic number of ten thousand ships) successfully passed by the southwestern coast of the Black Sea, but near Constantinople it was destroyed by the so-called Greek fire. The second campaign, even more powerful, in which, along with the Polianians, forces of the Varangians, Pechenegs, Slovenians, Kryvychi, and Tivertsians took part, ended with the conclusion of a favourable treaty with Byzantium, which greatly increased trade opportunities of the Slavs in the Black Sea. Known are also two expeditions of Ihor to Transcaucasia (913 and 943) which failed (the first through the defeat in fights with tribes in the Northern Caucasus, the second through the beginning of a mass epidemic in the army). Ihor was killed during the uprising of the Drevlianians near Iskorosten (now the town of Korosten, according to another hypothesis – the town of Korostyshiv, Zhytomyr Oblast) caused by an excessive tribute imposed by the Prince upon the local tribal chiefs. The Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon, who completed his History about 990, describes the death of Prince Ihor: he was tied to two bent trees and then the trees were let straighten again thus tearing the Prince’s body apart. Probably this Byzantine version of Ihor’s death was evoked by the famous Greek myth about hero Theseus who killed Sinis the Robber in such a way.

Portrait (imaginary) of Ihor Riurikovych