Lukin, Pavel Vladimirovich. Who was the «first Vsevolod»? A new interpretation of the ktetor inscription in the Saviour Church on Nereditsa Hill

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For citation: Lukin, Pavel Vladimirovich. Who was the «first Vsevolod»? A new interpretation of the ktetor inscription in the Saviour Church on Nereditsa Hill, in Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana. 2022. № 2. Pp. 94-113. DOI

Title of the article Who was the «first Vsevolod»? A new interpretation of the ktetor inscription in the Saviour Church on Nereditsa Hill

Lukin, Pavel Vladimirovich – Dr. Sc. in History, professor, Principal Researcher, Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leading Researcher, The School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Institute of Social Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, Orc ID 0000-0003-1439-0815, Researcher ID AAH-5573-2020, Scopus ID 26034050800; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the section  Fontes / Historical Sources
Year 2022 Issue 2 Pages 94-113
Type of article RAR Index UDK; BBK UDK 93/94; BBK 63.3(2)4 Index DOI

The article was prepared in the framework of a research grant funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (grant ID 075-15-2022-326).

The author thanks all the colleagues who took part in the discussion of this text for their advice and recommendations, especially A. A. Adashinskaya, A. A. Vovin, A. A. Gippius, V. B. Krysko, A. F. Litvin, S. M. Mikheev, A. S. Preobrazhensky, E. Y. Shchegolkov. None of them is responsible for possible errors and gaps.

The article discusses a praise inscription in the Saviour Church on Nereditsa Hill, built and decorated with frescoes at the end of the 12th c. In the church there is a portrait of the ktetor, Prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich of Novgorod, with an inscription praising him, in which he is called «the God-loving prince, the second Vsevolod». The question arises: who was meant by the «first Vsevolod»? Scholars offered two candidates: the Vladimir Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest, whose protégé was Yaroslav, and the Novgorod Prince Vsevolod Mstislavich, driven out of Novgorod in 1136. Vsevolod the Big Nest, as has been shown in previous scholarship, does not fit this role, because at the time of the temple`s painting he was alive, and such exaltation did not comply with the Old Russian traditions. The main argument in favour of the candidacy of Vsevolod Mstislavich is an account of the hagiographic work, written in Pskov on the occasion of the transfer of his relics. However, it turns out to be a late and unreliable text. The author substantiates the idea that by the «first Vsevolod» may have been implied the Prince of Kiev Vsevolod Yaroslavich (1077, 1078–1093), who was the great grandfather of Yaroslav Vladimirovich. In annals there are evidences of veneration of Vsevolod Jaroslavich by his descendants, the eldest of which in the late 1190s was Yaroslav. Besides, it was Vsevolod Yaroslavich who according to some evidence was considered as a donator of the Novgorod liberties at that time. On the other hand, Yaroslav’s father Vladimir Mstislavich and Vsevolod Mstislavich were the sons of the prince of Kiev Mstislav the Great from different marriages, and belonged to the princely clans mostly warring with each other. Both for Yaroslav Vladimirovich and for Novgorodians Vsevolod Yaroslavich was a much more acceptable figure to be praised and to serve as a model for descendants. The article shows that historiography was influenced by late hagiography and modern historians’ perceptions
of the Novgorod «revolution» of 1136, of which Vsevolod Mstislavich was a victim. At the same time real dynastic beliefs of Riurikids in pre-Mongol Rus and the elite surrounding them have turned out to be almost completely forgotten.

Keywords Old Rus, Riurikids, The Saviour Church on Nereditsa Hill, prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich, prince Vsevolod Mstislavich, medieval Novgorod
Full text version of the article Article language  Russian

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Tags: ancient Russia, Source studies, sources, medieval studies, FONTES / HISTORICAL SOURCES, Novgorod the Great, cultural studies, Art, 12th century

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