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 Oleg of Novgorod 


Born:   879
Deceased:   912

The Prince of Novgorod from 879 and the Grand Prince of Kievan Rus from 882.

      

Oleg of Novgorod was a Varangian prince, who took power over nearly all Russian lands. He is famous for moving the capital of Rus’ from Novgorod to Kiev and thus laying the foundation of the enormous mighty state of Kievan Rus’. 


After the death of Rurik in 879 his relative Oleg became the prince Novgorod because Rurik’s son Igor was a little boy yet. Prince Oleg was very enterprising and aggressive. As soon as he got the power Oleg conceived to get hold of the waterway to Greece, and for that purpose he had to conquer all the Slavs living along River Dnieper.
 
Since one team was not enough for achieving his goals, Prince Oleg collected an army from the Ilmen Slavs, Krivichi, and Finnish tribes and marched to the south. On the way he captured Smolensk and then Lyubech, where he left troops under the command of his associates and undertook a campaign to Kiev.
 
Kiev was then under the reign of warlords Askold and Dir, who did not belong to the princely dynasty. Oleg managed by ruse to bring them out of the city and ordered to kill them. Kiev dwellers gave in without fighting and thus Oleg became the Prince of Kiev, which was proclaimed “the mother of Russian cities”.
 
Oleg carried out works on strengthening the fortifications of Kiev and undertook a few successful campaigns on subduing Slavic tribes and thereby expanding the territories subject to Kiev in 883-885. Prince Oleg subordinated the Slavs living on the banks of the rivers Dnepr, Pripyat, Sozh, Boug and Dniester. Everywhere he would build towns and fortresses.
 
The domestic policy of Prince Oleg, just like that of other Old Russian princes, was reduced to collecting taxes from the subdued tribes. The tribute was uniform in the entire territory of Russia.
 
In 907 Prince Oleg launched a very successful campaign to Byzantium. The Greeks scared by his huge army offered a big tribute to the Kievan Rus’. Prince Oleg accepted the tribute and demanded various privileges for merchants. Five years later he sealed the treaty of peace with the Greeks.
 
After that campaign all were marveled by the quick-wittedness and resourcefulness of Grand Prince Oleg and started telling legends about his super powers and nicknamed him Oleg the Prophet (aka Wise Oleg).
 
Prince Oleg died in 912. As a legend poeticized by Alexander Pushkin in his well-known ballad The Song of the Wise Oleg goes, it was foretold by a pagan priest, who answered to Oleg’s question about his death: “My Lord, you will die of your favourite stallion”. Afterwards Oleg never rode it again and sent it away. However, the prophecy came to be true when Prince Oleg decided to look at the remains of his long perished stallion. A venomous snake crept out of the horse’ skull and bit him.


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