|Date of birth|
|Date of death||Jun 19, 1205 Zawichost, Gmina Zawichost, Sandomierz County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship|
Roman Mstislavich (Ukrainian: Роман Мстиславич; Russian: Роман Мстиславич/Roman Mstyslavych), known as Roman the Great (c. 1152 – Zawichost, 19 June 1205) was a Rus’ prince, Grand Prince of Kiev (a member of the Rurik dynasty).
He was prince of Novgorod (1168–1170), of Vladimir-in-Volhynia (1170–1189, 1189–1205), and of Halych (1189, 1198/99–1205). By seizing the throne of Halych, he became the master of all western Rus’. In the early 13th century, the Byzantine imperial title, "autocrate" (αύτοκράτωρ) was applied by the chroniclers to him, but there is no evidence that he assumed it officially.
He waged two successful campaigns against the Cumans, from which he returned with many rescued captives. The effect of Roman’s victory was, however, undermined by new dissensions among the princes of Rus’.
Roman died in a battle with the Poles at the Battle of Zawichost. He founded the Romanovich dynasty that would rule Vladimir-in-Volhynia and Halych until 1340.
After the Novgorodians had expelled their prince, Svyatoslav IV Rostislavich, Roman was sent to Novgorod on 14 April 1168 by his father (who had earlier occupied Kiev). However, the princes of Smolensk (Svyatoslav IV Rostislavich’s brothers) and Prince Andrey Yuryevich of Vladimir (who had supported Svyatoslav IV Rostislavich’s rule in Novgorod) spent the rest of the year conspiring and forming alliances against Mstislav Izyaslavich.
Following the death of Mstislav Iziaslavich in August, 1170, the Novgorodians expelled Roman and invited Andrey Yuryevich to be prince, and the latter sent Ryurik Rostislavich to rule Novgorod.
Prince of Vladimir-in-Volhynia
When his father died, Roman was bequeathed the Principality of Vladimir-in-Volhynia. He subdued the Yotvingians, and harnessed the captives instead of oxen to drag the plows on his estates.
Roman married Predslava Ryurikovna, a daughter of Ryurik Rostislavich (who had followed him in Novgorod). Their eldest daughter was married to Vasilko Vladimirovich, a grandson of Prince Yaroslav Volodimerovich Osmomysl of Halych, but later she was repudiated.
Following the death of Yaroslav Osmomysl on 1 October 1187, trouble began in the Principality of Halych, due to the strife between his two sons, Oleg and Vladimir Yaroslavich. Roman urged the Galicians to evict Vladimir Yaroslavich and make him their prince. But they failed either to expel Vladimir Yaroslavich or to kill him. When, however, the Galicians threatened to kill his wife, Vladimir Yaroslavich took her and fled to King Béla III of Hungary (1172–1196). According to a late chronicle, Oleg Yaroslavich was appointed by Duke Casimir II of Poland (1177–1194) to rule in Halych, but the Galicians poisoned him and invited Roman to be their prince. When accepting their offer, Roman gave his patrimony of Vladimir-in-Volhynia to his brother, Vsevolod Mstislavich.
But King Béla III marched against Roman intending to reinstate Vladimir Yaroslavich, and the Hungarians seized the principality. But King Béla III, instead of returning Halych to Vladimir Yaroslavich, proclaimed his own son, Andrew ruler of the principality.
Roman was obliged to flee to Vladimir-in-Volhynia, but his brother, Vsevolod Mstislavich refused him entry. He therefore went to the Poles, but when they refused to help him, Roman rode to his father-in-law, Ryurik Rostislavich in Belgorod. Roman solicited military aid from his father-in-law, but the Hungarian troops repelled his attack. Ryurik Rostislavich, therefore, helped Roman to drive out Vsevolod Mstislavich from Vladimir-in-Volhynia and return to his patrimony.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Yaroslavich succeeded in escaping from his dungeon in Hungary; Duke Casimir II also sent Polish troops to Halych to support Vladimir Yaroslavich’s claims. At the approach of the expedition, the townspeople rose against the Hungarians and expelled Andrew in 1190. Vladimir Yaroslavich requested his uncle Prince Vsevolod III Yuryevich of Vladimir to support his rule. Vsevolod Yuryevich demanded that all the Rus’ princes, among them Roman, pledge not to challenge Vladimir Yaroslavich in Halych and they agreed.
On 17 May 1195, Grand Prince Ryurik Rostislavich (Roman’s father-in-law) allocated domains in the Kievan lands to the princes in Monomakh’s dynasty, and Roman received Torchesk, Trypillia, Korsun, Bohuslav, and Kaniv. Vsevolod III Yuryevich, however, threatened to wage war when he learnt of the allocations, and therefore Roman agreed to relinquish the towns in exchange for comparable domains or a suitable payment in kuny. Ryurik Rostislavich therefore gave the five towns to Vsevolod III Yuryevich, who, in turn, handed over Torchesk to his son-in-law, Rostislav Rurikovich (who was the brother of Roman’s wife). On learning that his brother-in-law had received Torchesk, Roman accused his father-in-law, Ryurik Rostislavich of contriving to give the domain to his son from the very start. Ryurik Rostislavich also warned Roman that they could not afford to alienate Vsevolod III Yuryevich because all the princes in Monomakh’s dynasty recognized him as their senior prince.
Roman refused to be mollified and conspired against his father-in-law, and turned to Prince Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich of Chernigov who agreed to join him. When Ryurik Rostislavich learnt how Roman had persuaded Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich to seize Kiev, he informed Vsevolod III Yuryevich. Fearing retribution, Roman rode to the Poles where he was wounded in battle; he therefore asked Ryurik Rostislavich for clemency. Metropolitan Nikifor reconciled the two princes, and Ryurik Rostislavich gave Roman the town of Polonyy (southwest of Kamianets) and a district on the river Ros’.
In the autumn of 1196 Roman ordered his lieutenants to use Polonyy as their base for raiding the domains belonging to his father-in-law’s brother (Prince David Rostislavich of Smolensk) and son (Prince Rostislav Rurikovich of Torchesk). Ryurik Rostislavich retaliated by sending his nephew, Prince Mstislav Mstislavich of Trepol to Vladimir Yaroslavich of Halych instructing him to join Mstislav Mstislavich in attacking Roman’s lands. Accordingly, Vladimir Yaroslavich and Mstislav Mstislavich razed Roman’s district around Peremil, while Rostislav Ryurikovich and his force attacked Roman’s district near Kamianets. At about that time, Roman began repudiating his wife, Ryurik Rostislavich’s daughter, and threatening to confine her to a monastery.
Prince of Halych and Volodymyr-in-Volhynia
In 1198 (or 1199) Vladimir II Yaroslavich of Halych died, and his death created a political vacuum that a number of claimants were eager to fill. Ryurik Rostislavich could now claim that, after the dynasty of Halych became defunct, the territory reverted to the jurisdiction of the prince of Kyiv; the princes of the two branches of the Olgovichi (the princes of Chernigov) could argue that their marriage ties with the defunct dynasty gave them the right to rule Halych; and the Hungarians had already made a bid for the domain ten years earlier. The Galicians asked Ryurik Rostislavich for his son Rostislav Ryurikovich, but Roman rode to Duke Leszek I of Poland (1194–1227), promising to be at his beck and call if the Polish ruler helped him to win Halych. When the citizens refused to welcome Roman, Duke Leszek I besieged the town, and after capturing it, he forced the townspeople to accept Roman as prince. Roman promised to be subservient to the duke of Poland and to live in peace with his new subjects.
Roman turned his attention to the Cumans, who were threatening Byzantine interests in the Balkan Peninsula, and agreed to come to the assistance of Emperor Alexios III Angelos (1195–1203) and a severe blow was administered to the nomads. In 1200, he married Anna, a Byzantine princess, a relative of Emperor Isaac II Angelos. The relation with Byzantium helped to stabilize Galicia's relations with the Russian population of the Lower Dniester and the Lower Danube.
Shortly afterwards, Roman began wreaking havoc on domains belonging to Ryurik Rostislavich and other princes. In 1201, Ryurik Rostislavich summoned the Olgovichi to campaign against Roman. Roman pre-empted their attack by rallying the troops of his principality. The Monomashichi and the Black Caps also joined him. The Kievans opened the gates of the podol’ to Roman. He forced Ryurik Rostislavich and the Olgovichi to capitulate; he gave Kiev, with the consent of Vsevolod III Yuryevich, to Prince Ingvar Yaroslavich of Lutsk. However, Ryurik Rostislavich and the Olgovichi re-captured Kiev already on 2 January 1203.
Roman asked Vsevolod III Yuryevich to be pacified with the Olgovichi, and after he had concluded peace with them, he marched against Ryurik Rostislavich in Ovruch on 16 February 1203. Ryurik Rostislavich submitted to Roman and Vsevolod III Yuryevich, and promised to sever relations with the Olgovichi and the Cumans. After that, Roman also advised him to ask Vsevolod III Yuryevich to reinstate him in Kiev and promised to support his request. Consequently, Vsevolod III Yuryevich forgave Ryurik Rostislavich and reappointed him to the town.
That winter Ryurik Rostislavich, Roman and other princes attacked the Cumans and took many captives. After the expedition, they met at Trypillia to allocate domains in accordance with the services that each had rendered in the defense of Rus’. But they quarreled, and Roman seized Ryurik Rostislavich, sent him to Kiev, and had him tonsured as a monk. He also forced Ryurik Rostislavich’s wife and daughter (his own wife whom he had repudiated) to become nuns; and he took Ryurik Rostislavich’s sons (Rostislav and Vladimir Rurikovich) with him to Halych.
Meanwhile, the relations between Roman and Duke Leszek I of Poland deteriorated for both religious and personal reasons. Leszek I was a devout Roman Catholic and it was probably at his suggestion that Pope Innocent III sent his envoys to Roman in 1204, urging him to accept Roman Catholicism and promising to place him under the protection of St Peter’s sword. Roman’s answer, as recorded in the Radziwill chronicle, was characteristic enough: pointing to his own sword he asked the envoys, “Is the Pope’s sword similar to mine? So long as I carry mine, I need no other.”
Duke Leszek I, supported by his brother Duke Konrad I of Masovia, undertook a sudden campaign against Roman. The latter was caught unaware and killed in the first battle at Zawichost.
According to another version, Roman wanted to expand his realm at the expense of Poland and died in an ambush while entering Polish territory.
Marriage and children
- Fedora Romanovna (?–after 1200), wife of Vasilko Vladimirovich of Halych;
- Elena Romanovna (or Maria Romanovna) (?–after 1241), wife of Prince Mikhail Vsevolodovich of Chernigov
- (?) Salomea Romanovna (?–before 1220), wife of Duke Swantopolk I of Pommerellen, her mother is uncertain;
|Ancestors of Roman Mstislavich|