Vladimir Svyatoslavich the Saint (980-1015)
Father - Svyatoslav I Igorevich, Grand prince of Kiev (Vladimir - the third, youngest son of the prince).
Mother - under the legend, Malusha, princess Olga's house-keeper (despite the high enough social status of the princess at the court yard, under the existing legislation was a slave, that, naturally, lowered the public status of her son).Vladimir was presumably born in 947. In 969 he was assigned by father to reign in Novgorod (under request of Novgoroders).
During internal war between the two senior brothers Yaropolk and Oleg, ended with Oleg's death, Vladimir was frightened of the senior brother's love of power and ran " overseas" to the Varyags. He returned in 980, at the head of the Varyag's team with the purpose to return the lost. He fulfilled the task: having seized Kiev, with the help of traitor enticed Yaropolk out for negotiations and killed him.
Since 980, after murder of Yaropolk I Svyatoslavich, became the Grand prince of Kiev. In different times prince Vladimir I subdued tribes of the Vyatichy (campaign of 981 and 982), the Radimichy (986) and the Yatvyagy. Was at war with the Pechenegs, this war went on with variable success: in 992 Pechenegs attacked, Vladimir's armies met them near Pereyaslavl, the Russians stood on the one coast of the river, Pechenegs - on the other and neither of them hastened to pass the river; eventually the Pechenegs' prince offered to solve the matter by a single combat: if the Russian prince won, they would conclude the peace for three years and if the Pechenegs' prince did - they would be at war for three years; the Russian prince won and Pechenegs took to flight; Vladimir's pleasure was so great, that he ordered to found the city on that place and named it Pereyaslavl, " because the Russian warrior took the fame from the Pecheneg's " (Solovyev S. M. Ukaz, Work. Vol. 1. p. 188.).
In 995 Vladimir with the army had to escape from Pechenegs near Vasilyev; in 997 when Vladimir went to Novgorod to raise an army, Pechenegs attacked Belgorod (the city was miraculously rescued). Was at war with Volga Bolgaria. His wars with Byzantium and Poland (campaign of 992) were also famous.
It was Vladimir who founded the first literacy schools in Russia , though it was already made under the influence of Christianity to have an opportunity to teach the Russian priests.
Vladimir was mostly famous for christening Russia that is under his order many people accepted Christianity. By origin and education he was a pagan. When he defeated brother Yaropolk and took the reign in Kiev, first of all he ordered to build the heathen of the greatest pagan gods in the city, including the god Perun. But gradually it came to that the interests of the state demanded acceptance of the general religion, which could unite isolated tribes together to one nation to resist the enemies and to deserve respect of allies. But people living around Russia, prayed to different gods. Moslems - to the Allah, Jews - to the Iegov, christians to the Christian God. And though all of them recognized the only one true god, their ceremonies and laws were different. Therefore it appeared not easy to choose one religion.
The chronicler writes, that, having heard about the aspiration of prince Vladimir to accept the new religion, next nations sent ambassadors to him to decline prince to their believes. Vladimir attentively listened to all of them.
The very first were the ambassadors from the Volga Bolgars, who had by then already accepted Moslem. But the law, forbidding to drink wine, did not suit the prince. Vladimir declared: " wine is a mirth for the Russians, cannot live without it ". (Cit. by: Karamzin N.M. The History of the State of Russia. M., 1988. V. 1. p. 127.). So, the Islam was rejected.
Envoys of the western Christians (Catholics) also failed, as, according to Vladimir, " our fathers did not accept belief of the Pope ". (The same quotation). The prince asked Jews, what they believed in if their faith didn't help them to keep their land. Finally, the ambassador from Byzantium from the orthodox Christians came to Vladimir. His story about creation, paradise, the sin, the Flood, the Last Judgement etc. astounded Vladimir. But the prince could not decide to take the new belief so quickly and easily. He asked the associates for an advice, and they suggested to send couriers to all the lands for those could have a proper look on the spot, what every belief was actually like.
The envoys visited Bolgarian and German lands, but churches there were small and ugly, ceremonies were not impressive, and people's faces were sad. But the splendor and the riches of the Greek capital Constantinople, greatness of its temples, significance and mystery of the ceremonies amazed the ambassadors. And when they told the prince all about that, Vladimir decided to accept the Greek belief.
In 988 Vladimir took Kherson.
Later married Byzantian princess Anna.
Vladimir had many children from plenty of wives and concubines. The history mentions the following sons: Vysheslav, Izyaslav, Yaroslav, Vsevolod, Svyatoslav, Stanislav, Pozvizd, Boris, Gleb, Mstislav, Soudislav and Svyatopolk.
In 995 Vladimir divided Russia into destinies and gave them to the reign of the sons. Historians consider, that it was the biggest mistake from all possible, which subsequently resulted in breaking Russia into separate princedoms and intestine strife.
Vladimir died in 1015 and was buried in a tithe church in Kiev. S. M. Solovyev wrote about prince Vladimir: "... Vladimir's personal character was able... to arouse strong national affection. Vladimir was not at all warlike, did not feature with boldness, against to father, in extremity took to flight before the enemy, hastened to hide in a safe place; the legend kept in songs, also does not feature him with personal courage, does not expose him as a lover of force demonstration. But Vladimir had a generous soul, which in youth could lead him to the excesses consecrated, however, by pagan concepts and which in mature years, especially under the influence of Christianity, made him the sun for the nation". (S.M. Solovyev Decree. Work. Vol. 1. p. 191.).
Solovyev marked, that " his main concern was protection of the Russian land, constant struggle against steppe barbarians ". The prosperity of Kiev Russia was during the reign of the Great prince of Kiev Vladimir. Possibly, for this reason the annals named him the Great (in his honour in 1782 empress Ekaterina II founded the award of the St. Vladimir), people called him the Red Sun, and church - the sacred (prince Vladimir was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church).