Mstyslavych Roman

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Roman Mstyslavych (Roman I the Great; baptismal name – Borys; ca 1152, Pereyaslav, now Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky – 19.06.1205, near Zavychost, now in Poland) – statesman and military commander, Prince of Novgorod (1168–1170), Volodymyr (1170–1187, 1188–1205), Halych (1187–1188, 1199–1205) and the Grand Prince of Kyiv (1203–1205).

Descends from the Riurikid dynasty. Roman Mstyslavych – son of the Grand Prince of Kyiv Mstyslav Iziaslavych and Agnes, daughter of the Polish Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth. He was the founder of the Halych-Volyn Principality and patriarch of the local ruling family. His contemporaries considered him the mightiest of all Rus Princes in the late 12 th – early 13 th cc. and called him The Great.

Roman spent his childhood and youth in Volyn. During that time the famous book lover, Metropolitan of Kyiv Klyment Smoliatych resided at his father’s court. This highly educated clergyman influenced, probably, the formation of Roman’s outlook. In 1168–1170 Roman Mstyslavych reigned in the Novgorod Principality. After the death of Mstyslav Iziaslavych Volyn lands were divided among his sons: Roman Mstyslavych received Volodymyr-Volynsky, Vsevolod – Belz, Sviatoslav – Cherven, Volodymyr – Berestia. Soon, due to his personal qualities Roman Mstyslavych managed to gain ascendency in all Volyn lands. After the death of Volodymyr, a son of Yaroslav Osmomysl and the last Prince of Halych from the Rostyslavychi dynasty, annexed Halych to Volyn (1199), thus founding the Halych-Volyn state. In order to strengthen princely power he carried on a stubborn struggle against unruly boyars, enjoying support of commoners.

Roman Mstyslavych earned fame as a general notable for his personal bravery. Organized a number of campaigns against the Yotvingians, in two campaigns of 1201–1202 and 1203–1204 his troops defeated the Polovtsians and released many captives. The seizure of Kyiv and its inclusion into the sphere of his influence (in 1203–1205 he was practically a Grand Prince of Kyiv) became the crown of his successes. In the summer of 1205 Roman died in the battle near Zavychost. A Polish chronicler, contemporary of Roman Mstyslavych, appreciating his merits in uniting the majority of Rus lands, respectfully called him the “absolute sovereign of all Rus”, “tsar in the Rus land”, and “the great prince.”

Portrait (imaginary) of Roman Mstyslavych