Grand prince vladimir’s campaign of korsun: historiographic aspects

Alla Romantchuk


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.


Anohin, V. A. (1977). Monetnoe delo Hersonesa (IV v. do n. e’. – XII v.) . [Monetary business of Chersonese (IV century BC – XII century AD)]. Kiev, Naukova dumka.

Belov, G. D. (1941). Raskopki v severnoj chasti Hersonesa v 1931–1933 gg. [Excavation in northern part of Chersonese in 1931–1933]. In MIA. Vol. 4, pp. 202–267.

Belov, G. D. & Strzheleckij, S. F. (1953). Kvartaly’ XV–XVI: Raskopki 1937 g. [Quarters of XV–XVI: Excavation of 1937]. In MIA. Vol. 34, pp. 32–108.

Belov, G. D. & Yakobson, A. L. (1953). Kvartal XVII: Raskopki 1940 g. [Quarter of XVII: Excavation of 1940]. In MIA. Vol. 34, pp. 109–159.

Belyaev, S. A. (1989). Gde krestilsya knyaz’ Vladimir? (Predvaritel’noe soob-shhenie) [Where the prince Vladimir was christened?: Preliminary message)]. In Pamyatniki kul′tury′. Novy′e otkry′tiya. Pis′mennost′. Iskusstvo. Arheolo-giya. Ezhegodnik 1988 (pp. 531–540). Moscow, Nauka.

Belyaev, S. A. (1990). Pohod knyazya Vladimira na Korsun’: Ego posledstviya dlya Hersonesa [Campaign of the prince of Vladimir to Korsun: Its consequences for Chersonese]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 51, pp. 153–164.

Belyaev, S. A. (1994). “Bazilika na holme” v Hersonese i “cerkov’ na gore” v Korsuni, postroennaya knyazem Vladimirom [“A basilica on the hill” in Chersonese and “church on the mountain” in Korsuni, constructed by the prince Vladimir]. In Byzantinorussica, 1, pp. 7–47. Moscow.

Belyaev, S. A. (1999). Hristianskaya topografiya Hersonesa. Postanovka voprosa, istoriya izucheniya i sovremennoe polozhenie [Christian topography of Chersonese: Statement of a question, history of studying and modern situation]. In Cerkovny’e Drevnosti. VII Rozhdestvenskie obrazovatel’ny’e chteniya (pp. 31–32). Moscow.

Bert’e-Delagard, A. L. (1909). Kak Vladimir osazhdal Korsun’ [As Vladimir besieged Korsun]. In Izvestiya Otdeleniya Russkogo yazy’ka i slovesnosti Akademiya nauk SSSR, 14/1, pp. 241–307.

Bogdanova, N. M. (1986). O vremeni vzyatiya Hersona knyazem Vladimirom [About time of a capture of Kherson prince Vladimir]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 47, pp. 39–46.

Bogdanova, N. M. (1988). O znachenii tochnogo prochteniya istochnika [About value of exact reading of a source]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 49, pp. 195–201.

Bogdanova, N. M. (1991). Herson v X–XV vv. Problemy’ istorii vizantijskogo goroda Kherson in the X–XV centuries [Problems of history of the Byzantine city]. In Prichernomor’e v Srednie veka (pp. 8–172). Moscow.

Bouras, Ch. (1981). City and Village: Urban Design and Architecture. In Jahrbuch der Osterreichischen Byzantinistik,Vol. 31/2, pp. 611–653. Wien.

Brandes, W. (1989). Die Städte Kleinasien im 7. und 8. Jahrhundert. Berlin.

Bronevskij, M. (1867). Opisanie Tatarii [Description of Tataria]. In Zapiski Odesskogo obshhestva istorii i Drevnostej, 6.

Gilevich, A. M. (1964). Novy’j klad hersono-vizantijskih monet [New treasure of the hersono-Byzantine coins]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 24, pp. 150–158.

Gordienko, N. S. (1984). «Kreshhenie Rusi»: fakty’ protiv legend i mifov. [“Christianization of Kievan Rus’”: the facts against legends and myths. Leningrad.

Grekov, B. D. (1944). Kievskaya Rus’ [Kievan Rus’]. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo AN SSSR.

Grickov, V. V. (2009). Kreshhenie Rusi. Part 1. Vladimir Svyatoj [Christianization of Kievan Rus’: in 2 h]. Moscow, Kim-merijskij centr; Kuchkovo pole.

Hapaev, V. (2009). Problema lokalizacii mesta kreshheniya knyazya Vladimira v Hersonese. [Problem of localization of a place of a baptism of the prince of Vladimir in Chersonese]. In Kul’tura narodov Prichernomor’ya (pp. 59–64).

Hapaev, V. V. (2012). Yugo-vostochny’j i severo-vostochny’j pribrezhny’e uchastki oboronitel’noj steny’ Hersonesa kak istochnik po sejsmicheskoj istorii (po danny’m raskopok I. A. Antonovoj 1964–1967 gg.) [Southeast and northeast coastal sites of a defensive wall of Chersonese as a source on seismic history (according to I. A. Antonova’s excavation 1964–1967)]. In Prichernomor’e. Istoriya, politika, kul’tura. Vy’pusk VIII (III). Seriya A. Antichnost’ i Sredneve-kov’e. Izbranny’e materialy’ IX Mezhdunarodnoj nauchnoj konferencii “La-zarevskie chteniya”. Sevastopol.

Jasrzebowska, E. (2001). Cherssonèse dans l’Antiquité tardive: état de recherché et bibliorgaphie. In An Tard, 9, pp. 399–418.

Laty’shev, V. V. (1896). Sbornik grecheskih nadpisej hristianskih vremen iz Yuzhnoj Rossii [The collection of the Greek inscriptions of Christian times from the Southern Russia]. Sankt Petersburg.

Lebedev. L., prot. (1987). O meste i vremeni kreshheniya knyazya Vladimira i ki-evlyan [About a place and time of a baptism of the prince of Vladimir and inhabitants of Kiev]. In Bogoslovskie trudy’, 28, pp. 91–101. Moscow : Moskovskaya patriarhiya.

Levchenko, M. V. (1956). Ocherki po istorii russko-vizantijskih otnoshenij [Sketches on stories of the Russian-Byzantine relations]. 556 p. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo AN SSSR.

Maslov, P. V. (1916). Pohod sv. knyazya Vladimira na Korsun’ (K 900-letiyu konchiny’ velikogo knyazya Vladimira) [Campaign of the St. prince Vladimir to Korsun: (To the 900 anniversary of death of the grand duke Vladimir). In Izvestiya Tavricheskoj uchenoj arhivnoj komissii, 53, pp. 7–36.

Nazarenko, A. V. (2001). Drevnyaya Rus’ na mezhdunarodny’h putyah: Mezhdisciplinarny’e ocherki kul’turny’h, torgovy’h, politicheskih svyazej IX–XII vv. [Ancient Russia on the international ways: Interdisciplinary sketches of cultural, commercial, political connections of the IX-XII centuries]. Moscow.

Obolenskij, D. D. (1994). Herson i Kreshhenie Rusi: Protiv peresmotra tradi-cionnoj tochki zreniya [Kherson and Christianization of Kievan Rus’: Against revision of the traditional point of view]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 55 (80), pp. 53–61.

Podskalsky, G. (1982). Christentum und theologische Literatur in der Kiever Rus (988–1237). München.

Podskal’ski, G. (1996). Hristianstvo i bogoslovskaya literatura v Kievskoj Rusi [Christianity and theological literature in Kievan Rus’.]. 592 p. Sankt Petersburg, Vizantinorossika.

Poppe, A. (1976). The Political Background to the Baptism of Rus’: Byzantine-Russian Relations between 986–89. In Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 30, pp. 195–244.

Poppe, A. (1982). The Rise of Christian Russia. Leningrad.

Poppe’, A. (2008). Vladimir Svyatoj: U istokov cerkovnogo pravoslaviya [Vladimir Svyatoy: At sources of church Orthodoxy]. In Fak-ty’ i znaki: issledovaniya po semiotike istorii, 1, pp. 40–107. Moscow, Yazy’ki slavyanskoj kul’tury’.

Rapov, O. M. (1988). Eshhe raz o datirovke vzyatiya Korsunya knyazem Vladimirom [Once again about dating of a capture Korsunya the prince Vladimir]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 49, pp. 190–194.

Rapov, O. M. (1984). O date prinyatiya hristianstva knyazem Vladimirom i kievlyanami [About date of adoption of Christianity by the prince Vladimir and inhabitants of Kiev]. In Voprosy’ istorii, 6, pp. 34–47.

Rapov, O. M. (1986). O vremeni vzyatiya Hersona knyazem Vladimirom [About time of a capture of Kherson the prince Vladimir]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 47, pp. 39–46.

Romanchuk, A. I. (2008). Issledovaniya Hersonesa–Hersona [Researches of Chersonese-Kherson]/ In Raskopki. Gipotezy’. Problemy’ . Vols. 1–2. Vol. 1: Vizantijskij gorod. Tyumen, Tyumenskij gosudarstvenny’j universitet.

Romanchuk, A. I. (1989). Sloi razrusheniya X v. v Hersonese: K voprosu o posledstviyah Korsunskogo pohoda Vladimira [Layers of destruction of the X century in Chersonese: To a question of consequences of the Korsunsky campaign of Vladimir]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 50, pp. 182–188.

Rozen, V. R. (1883). Imperator Vasilij Bolgarobojca. Izvlecheniya iz letopisi Yah’’i Antiohijskogo [Emperor Vasily Bolgaroboytsa: Extraction from the chronicle of Yakhji Antioch]. Sankt-Petersburg.

Shestakov, S. P. (1908). K voprosu o meste kreshheniya sv. Vladimira [To a question of a place of a baptism of St. Vladimir]. Kazan.

Shestakov, S. P. (1908). Ocherki po istorii Hersonesa v VI–X vv. po R. Hr. [Sketches on stories of Chersonese in the VI-X centuries on R. Hr.]. In Pamyatniki Hristianskogo Hersonesa, 3. Moscow.

Shmurlo, E. (1927). Kogda i gde krestilsya Vladimir Svyatoj? [When and where Vladimir Svyatoy was christened?]. In Zap. Rus. ist. ob-va v Prage, 1, pp. 140–148.

Smed1eу, J. (1979). Archaeology and the History of Cherson: A Survey of some Results and Problems. In Aρχειον Πόντου, Vol. 30, pp. 172–192. Athens.

Smed1eу, J. (1980). Trade in Cherson, 6th–10th centuries. In Actes du XV-е Congres Intern, d’etudes Byzantines. Vol. 4: Histoire Communications (pp. 291–297). Athens.

Sobolevskij, A. I. (1888). V kakom godu krestilsya sv. Vladimir? [What Year Was Saint Vladimir Christened?]. In Zhurnal Ministerstva Narodnogo prosveshheniya, June, pp. 396–403.

Sokolova, I. V. (1980). Herson vo vtoroj polovine XI v. [Kherson in the second half of the XI century]. In Actes du XVe Con-gres International d’etudes byzantines (Athenes, sept. 1976), 4, pp. 297–304. Athens.

Sokolova, I. V. (1983). Monety’ i pechati vizantijskogo Hersona [Coins and press of the Byzantine Kherson]. 212 p. Leningrad, Iskusstvo.

Talis, D. L. (1958). Iz istorii russko-korsunskih politicheskih otnoshenij v IX–X vv. [From Russian-Kherson history of the political relations in the IX–X centuries]. In Vizantijskij vremennik, 14, pp. 103–115.

Tatishhev, V. N. (1994). Istoriya Rossijskaya [History Russian: in 4 h.]. Vol. 2. Moscow.

Vasil’evskij, V. G. (1909). Russko-vizantijskie otry’vki. II. K istorii 976–986 gg. (iz al-Mekina i Ioanna Geometra) [Russian-Byzantine fragments. II. To history of 976-986 (from al-Mekina and Ioann Geometr)]. In Trudy’, 2/1, pp. 57–58. Sankt Petersburg.

Yakobson, A. L. (1959). Rannesrednevekovy’j Hersones: Ocherki istorii materi-al’noj kul’tury’ [Early medieval Chersonese. In MIA, 63.

Yakobson, A. L. (1950). Srednevekovy’j Hersones (XII–XIV vv.) [Medieval Chersonese (the XII-XIV centuries)]. In MIA, 17.

Zavadskaya, I. A. (2010). Katastrofa v Hersone v konce X – XI v.: kritika gipo-tezy’ o zemletryasenii [Accident in Kherson at the end of the X-XI century: criticism of a hypothesis of an earthquake]. In Materialy’ po arheologii, istorii i e’tnografii Tavriki, 16, pp. 456–487.

Zavadskaya, I. A. (2015). K diskussii o prichinah i masshtabah razrushenij v Hersone v X–XI vv. [To discussion about the reasons and scales of destructions in Kherson in the X-XI centuries]. In II Svyato-Vladimirskie chteniya: tez. dokl. i soobshhenij (pp. 27–28). Sevastopol.

Zavitnevich, V. (1888). O meste i vremeni kreshheniya sv. Vladimira i o gode kreshheniya kievlyan [About a place and time of a baptism of St. Vladimir and about a year of a baptism of inhabitants of Kiev]. Kiev.

Zavadskaya, I. A. (1998). O razrushenii Hersonesa v X–XI vv. [About destruction of Chersonese in the X–XI c.]. In Skify’. Hazary’. Slavyane. Drevnyaya Rus’: Mezhdunarodnaya konferenciya pamyati M. I. Artamo-nova: tez. dokl. (pp. 121–122). Sankt Petersburg.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2311-911X (Print)
ISSN 2310-757X (Online)


BASE Search eLibrary WorldCat