Grand prince vladimir’s campaign of korsun: historiographic aspects


  • Alla Romantchuk Ural Federal University



The beginning of excavations in Chersonesus, the search of the church where Grand Prince Vladimir was christened, led to the need to compare archeological data and topographic details mentioned in the written sources. However, the historiography of the late 19th – early 20th century turns to such aspects of the Korsun Campaign as the sequence of events preceding it, the disposition of the Russian armed forces by the city walls and the time of their entry into Chersonesus/Korsun. The systematic excavations of the Chersonesus site during the mid-20th century revealed layers of ruins with items dating back to the 10th century and coins of the times of Vasily II which caused archaeologists to conclude that Vladimir’s armed forces’ invasion into Korsun led to the destruction of the city. The paper focuses on the discussion of reasons and times of the ruin layers formation of the late 10th or early 11th century. Until as long as the last fourth of the 20th century, all the monographs on Chersonesus had ascribed the complete destruction of Chersonesus at the end of the 10th century (A. L. Yakobson) to the Rus’-Byzantine War (D. L. Talis). Additionally, there also existed a hypothesis that Chersonesus was supposed to have been captured as a result of an agreement between Vladimir and the Byzantine imperial court as its inhabitants supported the uprising against the existing authorities (A. Poppe, A. Podskalsky). An analysis of the findings of the ruin layer, and the logical sequence of events of the times of the Korsun Campaign makes it possible to suppose that the formation of ruin layers of the early 11th century may have been a result of a natural disaster and that Vladimir did not destroy Chersonesus. This does not, however, exclude the possibility of local fires that could have happened during his and his armed forces’ stay in the city (A. I. Romanchuk, V. V. Khapayev, N. M. Bogdanova). Moreover, having critically considered A. Poppe’s point of view on the inhabitants of Chersonesus’ support of the mutineers and, as a result, the destruction of Chersonesus, D. D. Obolensky pointed  to the fact that the source tradition does not have any evidence of the events in question and the conclusion of a large-scale fire contradicts the logic: Grand Prince Vladimir was waiting for the return of his embassy with Princess Anna from Constantinople, it was here that he was christened and got married. However, as Polish diplomat Martin Bronevsky wrote (1st half of the 17th century), except for priests, Vladimir took with him a number of icons and bronze doors. At present, there are two points of view on the destructions of Chersonesus of the late 10th and early 11th centuries: a natural disaster (first fourth of the 11th century) or the plundering of the city by Grand Prince Vladimir. Apart from that, during the period in question as well as before that, there could happen local fires (domestic reasons) but the scale of such layers is not comparable to the aftermath of an earthquake.

Author Biography

Alla Romantchuk, Ural Federal University

Dr. hab. (History), professor


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How to Cite

Romantchuk, A. (2016). Grand prince vladimir’s campaign of korsun: historiographic aspects. Quaestio Rossica, 4(1), 195–208.



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