Historical portrait of Princess Olga: pagan, who became the first Russian saint

The historical portrait of Princess Olga is very contradictory. On the one hand, she, in fact, ruling the state, was cruel, irreconcilable to enemies, haughty, calculating. Times required these qualities to preserve their independence. On the other hand, after appealing to the faith, she built temples, preached the ideals of the gospel, and conducted missionary work.

All this intertwined and re-melted in the character and actions of this extraordinary personality. At school, high school students receive the assignment: "Make a historical portrait of Princess Olga." Below we will try to do this.


Chronicles do not give neither the exact time nor the birthplace of Olga. And who would have followed the birth of the girl. The boy is another matter, he is the successor of the family. Presumably she left the Pskov minor Varangian clan with the name Helga. There are other options:

  • The girl came from a noble family of Gostomysl.
  • She was the daughter of Prince Oleg.
  • She was brought from the Bulgarian town of Pliska.

Clearly only one: the girl was unusually beautiful and from a youth clever.

The legendary meeting

The meeting of future spouses to our time has become fabulous. Young Prince Igor hunted the Pskov lands. He needed to cross the river to rich hunting grounds. In the boat stood a young girl. Her attractive appearance aroused the prince's desire to indulge her. To which the girl replied that it would be better to drown herself than lose her girlhood and honor. Hardness of character from a young age is a sign that is included in the historical portrait of Princess Olga.

Marriage and death of Igor

The exact date of the wedding of Igor and Olga by ancient historians is not established. It is also unclear how old she was. It is known that Igor had other wives. But he respected Olga more than others. Despite the fact that Igor was in continuous military campaigns, they had a son, Svyatoslav, in 942.

In 945 Igor's squad went to the conquered drevlyane for a tribute. They got it. But on the way back part of the squadron went to Kiev, and Igor with the remnants of the troops returned back to collect even more. Drevlyane were indignant and executed Igor's beast. He was tied to the tops of two trees, and those, having unbent, tore it.

Character of Olga

Since the son was only three years old, the squad recognized her as the ruler of Kievan Rus. Iron character was different from many women Princess Olga. The historical portrait of her will be incomplete without describing revenge for the death of her husband. Drevlyane did not imagine this cruel woman. They sent her 20 matchmakers to her to marry their prince Mala. They sailed on the boats. They were asked to wait until the next day, after which the rook was solemnly brought to the capital with them. She was put in a dug hole and everyone who was there was buried alive.

Insidious Olga turned to Drevlyane and asked to send more notable matchmakers. Those eagerly responded. Dear guests were sent before the meeting with the princess in the bath and burned alive in it. Treacherous and dangerous Olga, pretending to be an inconsolable widow, came with a detachment to restore the triune for the deceased Igor. She drank drevlyane with strong wine, and five thousand people were mercilessly destroyed. Ruthless Olga continued to pursue Drevlyane. She besieged their capital Iskorosten and said that she would lift the siege if she was given a sparrow from every yard. Without flinching, Olga brought her revenge to the end.

Having received birds, the avenger tied to their feet a burning patch which they brought to their native nests on their wings. The city burned to the ground.

Governing body

The growing son was not very interested in the affairs of the state. Everything fell on the shoulders of the princess. Instead of wooden houses, it began to build stone, established the size and timing of taxes in favor of Kiev, and divided the land into administrative units. The ruler of Kievan Rus possessed a great mind in political and state affairs. So little by little the historical portrait of Princess Olga is formed.


For a pagan, this was an unusual act. To believe, it is usually necessary to grow up in this faith, so the author tends to believe that this was a political action that speaks of Olga's pragmatism. The Eastern empire was a powerful neighbor, with which it is possible, having established friendly ties, it is profitable to trade and grow rich. There crossed the paths of rich Venetian merchants who traded duty-free with people carrying goods from India and Arabia. On similar preferences, probably, clever and judicious Olga counted. Anyway, but in 955 she was baptized, having adopted the Greek name Elena. Two years later, the ruler with a large embassy arrives in Constantinople, but, having apparently not received the expected benefits, goes to his homeland and coldly receives the Byzantine ambassadors in Kiev.


During Olga's lifetime, her son did not receive baptism. Svyatoslav Igorevich, like the whole squad, was a pagan. Only his son Vladimir, wishing to marry a Byzantine princess, received baptism and baptized pagan Russia with fire and sword. In 969, on June 11, the princess died and was buried according to the Christian rite, bequeathing not to arrange triests on her own.

Her grandson Vladimir, the baptizer of Rus, built a church in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and transferred the relics of her mother there. We finish the historical portrait of Princess Olga, briefly compiled with some clarifications:

  • In 1547 Olga was ranked among the saints and equals.
  • Her memory is celebrated on June 11 in the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • She is considered the patroness of widows and newly converted Christians.

We tried to objectively recreate the historical portrait of Princess Olga.

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