The most famous wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir Svyatoslavovich Anna Byzantine married him in 988 on the eve of the baptism of Rus. She was a daughter and sister to the emperors who reigned in Constantinople.
Princess Anna of Byzantium was born in the family of Emperor Roman II in 963. My father had to rule only 4 years. The girl's mother was an unmarried girl of Armenian origin. Roman died a few days after the birth of his daughter. The commander Nikifor Foka came to power, for whom Anna Feofano's mother married. In 969 there was a coup d'état. The emperor was another commander - John Tzimischia. He expelled Anna and her mother from the capital.
The girl returned to Constantinople only after the throne was occupied by her older brothers. Anna was an enviable European bride, who was expected to be married to many monarchs. Relatives treated the princess as an important political card and did not hurry to marry her.
Dynastic marriages at that time were an integral part of public affairs. Anna was a valuable wife not only because she came from the reigning Byzantine dynasty, but also because the girl received the best education that only that era could give her. Contemporaries gave the bride the nickname Rufa (Red).
Since 976 in Constantinople ruled by two brothers Anna - Basil II Bolgaroboytsa and Constantine VIII. European sources of the time have intricate evidence of who from Christian monarchs wooed to the Byzantine princess to the Slavic prince Vladimir.
In 988, ambassadors arrived from Constantinople from Paris. French King Hugo Capet sought for his son Robert II a bride of equal dynastic scale. The mission of the envoys to Byzantium was of great importance to this monarch. His dynasty of the Capetians only began to rule, and she needed to emphasize her legitimacy. Robert was 9 years younger than Anna, but the age difference at that time was rarely taken into account when the question concerned politics. For some reason, the organization of marriage broke, and the girl stayed at home.
About how Anna of Byzantium married Vladimir of Kiev, most of all is known due to the "Tale of Bygone Years". According to this document, the Slavic prince went with an army to the Crimea, which belonged to the empire. On the peninsula, Vladimir seized the important city of Korsun. Rurikovich in a letter threatened the Emperor Basil that he would attack Constantinople, if he did not give his younger sister for him.
Anna of Byzantium agreed to a marriage, but she announced her condition. She demanded that Vladimir be baptized in the Orthodox Greek pattern. For the inhabitants of the empire, the Slavs were savage pagans from the northern steppes. In the then Greek chronicles they were even called tavras and Scythians.
The organization of Anna's move was delayed for several months. The Emperor brothers hoped that they could gain time and offer Vladimir other conditions. However, the Slavic prince firmly insisted on his own. For the sake of persuasiveness, he again promised to go with the army to the capital of the empire. When news of this threat came to Constantinople, Anna was hurriedly put on a ship.
Circumstances of the arrival of Anna
Even before the Crimean events in Byzantium, there was a military revolt of the influential commander Varda Foki. The two emperor brothers were in a shaky position. When they, among other things, attacked the Slavic prince, they agreed to accept his terms concerning the marriage to Anna. Vladimir, according to pagan custom, had many concubines. However, it was not without purpose that he chose the Byzantine princess. Rumors of personal merit spread among diplomats from all European countries. They reached Kiev. For Vladimir, the wedding of the sister of the Byzantine emperor was not only a family affair, but also a matter of reputation.
According to the Greek chronicles, Anna reacted to her inevitable marriage as a public debt. In fact, she sacrificed herself to the ambitions of the prince of the wild country. The princess did not want a destructive war for her homeland and therefore agreed to leave for Kiev. At that moment, she certainly did not expect happiness in Russia.
Wedding with the Slavic prince
Byzantine princess Anna at a meeting with her chosen one persuaded him to accept Christianity as soon as possible. The prince was really baptized in the very near future. After that, in 988 the couple was married. Vladimir reconciled with the Byzantine emperor and returned him Korsun.
When the Emperor returned to Kiev, he ordered to get rid of pagan idols and baptize all his countrymen. Adoption of Christianity was for Vladimir an important state step, which he decided before the war with Byzantium. The campaign for him became only an excuse to talk with Basil as equals.
With the help of the capture of Korsun, the Kiev prince achieved two important things. First, his wife was Princess Anna of Byzantium, which made him a powerful Greek dynasty. Secondly, Orthodoxy was adopted, which soon united the whole country. Prior to this, the eastern Slavs were divided into several tribal alliances, living apart from each other. They had not only their own customs, but also gods. Pantheons often differed from each other. Christianity became an important religious clasp that created the Russian nation.
Anna Byzantine (wife of Prince Vladimir) contributed to the spread of the native faith in a foreign country. The spouse often consulted his wife in religious matters. On her initiative, several churches were built. Especially important was the Kiev Cathedral in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin. Later he was nicknamed the Tithe Church because of the fact that a tenth of the princely income was spent on it. Together with Anna, numerous Greek missionaries and theologians came to the Russian lands.
Founder of the Church of the Tithes
There is much evidence that the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Anna became the founder of the Church of the Tithes in Kiev. The temple was dedicated to the Theotokos, which hints at the fact that the initiator of its creation was a woman. Anna wanted the new building to have the usual Constantinople architecture.
The tithe church is often compared with two great Byzantine temples - Vlaherna and Pharos. She appeared next to the palace of Anna in Kiev. The climate of this city suited the Greek princess much more than the situation in northern Novgorod, where was Vladimir himself and where he spent his youth. His wife rarely left the southern capital. There from Kherson, she was brought rich Greek gifts from her homeland, which replenished Anna's own treasury. From Byzantium there came Byzantine architects and masters who helped to implement the project of the new Tithe Church.
Death of Anna
Slavic Prince Vladimir and Anna of Byzantium were married for 22 years. However, during this time they did not have children. The sons of Vladimir, who later inherited his power, were offspring of the monarch's former ties. Being a pagan, Vladimir had his own harem and concubines. When the prince married a Greek princess, he left his former life in the past.
Anna died in 1011 at the age of only 48 years. It is not exactly known what caused her death. Most likely, it was a disease caused by an epidemic. For Vladimir, it was a heavy loss. After the death of his wife, he did not live long and died in 1015.
For Anna, a marble sarcophagus was made. It was made by Greek masters who decorated their creation with unique carvings. It was decided that it was in the Tithes Church that Anna Byzantine was buried. An Armenian by birth, she was born and raised in Byzantium, and she lived in adulthood in Russia, where she died. A few years later Vladimir was buried next to his wife. Their tombs were destroyed in 1240, when the Tatars captured and razed Kyiv.
The Importance of Marriage for Vladimir
Marriage with Anna magnified Vladimir. Some foreign chroniclers began to call him king, according to the title of his wife. It was with him that Rus finally became part of Christian Europe and the local civilization there. At the same time, we should not forget that Vladimir, while still a pagan, considered the possibility of adopting Islam or Judaism for state purposes. But in the end he chose Orthodoxy.
It was the Byzantine princess Anna (the wife of Prince Vladimir) who helped him not become dependent on the Byzantine emperor after the adoption of Christianity. On the contrary, the Kiev ruler was on the same level as the Constantinople monarch.
Russian church without Anna
Anna's death markedly struck the young Russian church. In 1013, the stepson of Vladimir Svyatopolk, who claimed the future supreme power in Russia, married the daughter of Boleslaw I - the Polish king and political opponent of the Kiev princes. Even the preparations for the creation of the Turov Catholic diocese began. However, Vladimir did not tolerate the defiant behavior of the stepson. He arrested Svyatopolk, and expelled Catholic missionaries from the country.
The son of Vladimir Yaroslav the Wise paid much attention to religious issues. With him, the Kyiv Metropolitanate was created, the first Russian hierarch Hilarion appeared. All these events somewhat eclipsed the important role that Anna Byzantine played in the Christianization of Rus. Metropolitan Hilarion did not like the Greek influence on the church and therefore did everything to make the chroniclers not particularly concerned about the activities of his wife Vladimir. In many respects, this is connected with the scarcity of Russian sources, who talked about Anna.