The Infamous Svjatoslav: Master of Duplicity in War and Peace?

Sviatoslav I of KievThe Infamous Svjatoslav: Master of Duplicity in War and Peace?

Walter K. Hanak

Peace and War in Byzantium: Essays in Honor of George T. Dennis, S.J. (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1995)

Several decades ago Jonathan Shepard elaborated upon the notion, although as he admits the idea was not original with him and earlier had been expounded upon by other scholars, that the Byzantine empire had gained a brief respite from Northern barbarians when in 968 Svjatoslav (942-972?), the prince of Kievan Rus’, abandoned his Bulgar campaign below the Danube and was compelled by circumstances to return, albeit reluctantly, to Kiev. Two paramount factors explain Svjatoslav’s return. First, the fortified city of Kiev had come under a prolonged siege by the Turkic Pechenegs, and second, the return was prompted at the behest of his mother Olga to save Rus’ from ruin. The Byzantine empire had gained a momentary advantage, and their steppe diplomacy of inciting one barbarian nation against another had proved successful. Shepard, however, primarily is concerned in this essay 1 with the role of Byzantine propaganda and its impact upon the Kievan Rus’ rather than simply with the mechanism of state diplomacy. He notes, “the Byzantines feared the Russians [Rus']. It is now worth considering how the Byzantines frightened the Russians, or at least how they tried to.”2 In the course of age-old struggles between emerging nations and established powers, the interaction between advocacy, diplomacy, and the solutions to the problems introduced by war and/or peace obviously are all-important and complicated. And yet, while the role of propaganda doubtless is essential in state relations, what is central to this discussion is the Rus’ and Byzantine annalistic fascination with one key figure – the Kievan Rus’ prince Svjatoslav, the son of the Varangian prince Igor and of the renown Slavic princess and sainted mother Olga who had undertaken a personal conversion to Byzantine Christianity a decade earlier.3

For the Rus’ annalists,4 the pagan Svjatoslav was an unprincipled warrior who enjoyed the reckless life of a Varangian adventurer and thrived on the exploits of military campaigns. Before his inroads into the Balkans, he first, at the relatively young age of twenty-one or twenty-two, campaigned extensively in the Don Volga region, warring against the Vjatichi and Khazars, and even the Jasy, known as the Alans, and the Kasogy or the Adygi who inhabited the Kuban basin that adjoined the region of the Caucasus. His conquests included the cities of Kazeran, Itil, Semender, and Tmutorokan. His exploits entered for the year 965 are described vividly in The Russian Primary Chronicle.5 The annalists relate: “Svjatoslav went against the Khazars. The Khazars learned of this and came out against them with their prince, the khagan; and a battle began to take place, there on the field of battle. Svjatoslav defeated the Khazars and even took their city of Bjela Vjezha [Sarkel, the Khazar fortress-city on the lower Don River]. And he triumphed over the Jasy and Kasogy.”

More significant for this discussion is the characterization by the Rus’ annalists of Svjatoslav and his men. The preceding entry for 964 6 views him not as a disciplined commander of a large army, but as a Varangian renegade who moved about like a snow leopard and surrounded himself with a small, select retinue of brave warriors as undisciplined in the skills of organized warfare as himself. We are told that they lived as typical Varangians, having neither wagons nor kettles for the preparation of food. Rather, they cut up their meat – mainly horseflesh, game, or beef – into thin strips and heated it over the coals of a fire. They did not sleep in tents, but on horse blankets, and placed saddles under their heads.7 This was then a small select retinue composed of valiant warriors from diverse nations, but mainly a retinue attracted to Svjatoslav, one of the Varangian leaders who through the fortunes of war undoubtedly could lead them to achieve fame and gain plunder. This was not a homogeneous and great army that sought to conquer and to occupy the Don-Volga region, creating in effect a territorial adjunct to the Kievan Rus’ state.8 Its primary goals were far more limited, as stated above to gain fame and plunder.

While in the vicinity of the Caucasus, the exploits of Svjatoslav came to the attention of the Byzantines. As the Byzantine-Bulgar conflict of the mid-960s intensified, the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros Phokas sought a barbarian ally to apply pressure upon the Bulgars to their north while the imperial forces would press the attack from the south. For this purpose, Nikephoros instructed his patrician and chief magistrate of Cherson, Kalokyras, to negotiate an alliance with Svjatoslav.9 An agreement was consummated, and the Rus’ prince received a generous inducement for himself and his retinue of fifteen hundred pounds of gold, the equivalent of 180,000 Byzantine gold solidi.10 Byzantine historians relate that Kalokyras promised Svjatoslav not only that he could conquer Bulgaria, but that he also could retain the territory for himself. And as a further inducement, Kalokyras had promised the Rus’ prince immeasurable treasures from the Byzantine purse. All of this, we are told by Byzantine historians, was intended to aid Kalokyras in his grandiose scheme to secure the imperial throne for himself, an attempt at which he obviously failed. There survives no evidence that Svjatoslav assisted Kalokyras in gaining the imperial seat, for the Rus’ prince had other alternative designs that suited him better.11

In 967 Svjatoslav marched to the Danube to attack the Bulgars. His plan of action was designed for the expediencies of the moment, and lacked a consistent and well-planned process, concerned as he was with a prolonged military undertaking. Achieving a great victory, however, he captured eighty Bulgar towns along the Danube and established his new political center in Perejaslavets or Little Preslav.12 His stay there, however, was brief, perhaps only for the winter and the early months of the following year. The Khazars, previously humiliated by Svjatoslav, sought revenge and permitted large hordes of Pechenegs to enter the Rus’ steppe and to threaten Kiev, then under the regency of his mother Olga. She and her grandsons, Jaropolk, Oleg, and Vladimir, the progeny of Svjatoslav by different women, defended Kiev with limited resources, lacking sufficient troops for its defense, and food and water for its residents.13 Olga had even contemplated surrender rather than accept the ruin of the city and the annihilation of its populace.

Svjatoslav had as yet played no major role in the defense of Kiev and appeared not to have been too concerned about its fate. The Russian Primary Chronicle records Olga’s and her grandsons’ stern admonition: “You prince, square accounts and observe foreign lands, but your own you abandon. The Pechenegs have all but seized us, even your mother and your children. If you do not come to return to us, then they will capture us.”14 He quickly returned to Kiev, lifted the siege of the city, and drove the Pechenegs far off and deep into the steppe. It was not his intention, however, to dem–onstrate a magnanimous response to the plight of Kiev, nor to be in permanent residence there. On the contrary, he announced to his mother and nobles: “It is not pleasant for me to remain in Kiev; I desire to reside in Perejaslavets on the Danube, for that is the center of my land, where all wealth is concentrated.”15 His motive for relocating his center to Perejaslavets were the riches available there, among them gold, silks, wine, fruits from the Byzantine empire, silver and horses from Hungary and Bohemia, and from his own Kievan lands furs, wax, honey, and slaves.16 Though he may not have wished totally to relinquish his rule over Kievan Rus’, for he depended upon Rus’ natural resources to sustain his trade relations with the Balkans and East European nations, there is no evidence in the Rus’ annals that he sought peaceful intercourse in the Danubian region. More than likely, he sought to acquire these new riches through intrigue, armed conflict, and plunder. Also, his duplicity must not have endeared him to his mother, his sons to whom he had relinquished his authority, and the Kievan populace, for Olga in particular, aged, in declining health, and broken-hearted, passed away within a few days of his announcement to depart. Svjatoslav remained in Kiev only to witness her interment and then returned to the Danube region.

Svjatoslav’s absence from Perejaslavets gave the Bulgars ample opportunity to plan a recapture of the city. Having retaken it early in 969, they fortified themselves within its walls. Upon his return in the same year, perhaps August,17 to the Danubian estuary the Rus’ prince, however, sought to recapture this prize from the Bulgars, who had now settled their differences with the Byzantines and were allied with them against Svjatoslav.18 In the initial stage of the battle for Perejaslavets, in the early morning hours, Svjatoslav failed to dislodge the Bulgars, and as The Russian Primary Chronicle relates, “there was great carnage.”19 He beseeched his men: “Here we will fall. Let us advance men, brothers and reti–nue.”20 Such an entreaty to troops is a commonplace in medieval sources and does not merit special identification with Varangian military strategy nor their will to die on the field of battle, lest they be accused of cowardice. By nightfall, the men he had rallied succeeded in storming the city and captured the fortification. With this victory, Svjatoslav was inflated with success and he now even contemplated a conquest of other cities and especially Constantinople. Since the first Varangian assault upon Constantinople about 860 and the repeated attacks of 911 and 941, there had persisted among the Byzantines a concern about possible Varangian conquest. Their fears, therefore, were not unjustified. But regarding the events of 969, Leo Diakonos said only that the Rus’ prince’s victory had been achieved by one with an uncultivated courage.21

Turning his attention first to the Byzantine cities en route to Constantinople, Svjatoslav took pleasure in informing them of his intent to conquer them.22 The Russian Primary Chronicle wishes to convey to us the impression that the Byzantines were unable to offer adequate military resistance; hence, Svjatoslav laid waste their cities along the route and they remained uninhabited even centuries later, even at the time of the compilation of the Rus’ annal in the early twelfth century. Whether Svjatoslav totally depopulated these centers is unclear from the evidence at hand in the several sources. Also, the Chronicle forcefully stressed that Byzantine officials sought to offer Svjatoslav tribute in the form of a bribe for the prince and his men to avoid a military disaster. This assertion in the Rus’ annal must be treated with substantial circumspection. The Rus’ annal notes that the Byzantines sought to determine the exact number of warriors led by Svjatoslav so that they might pay the correct sum per head. The Rus’ annalists, however, would have us believe that this overture was not made in good faith, but on the contrary that the Byzantines, given to being deceptive and making falsehoods, had employed deception and “were crafty.”23 The Rus’ annalists appear to applaud Svjatoslav for his ability to avoid being misled by the mendacious Greeks. Thus he informed the Byzantines that he had a force of twenty thousand men, twice the number he supposedly had.24 And the Rus’ annal relates that the Byzantines had amassed a force of one hundred thousand men, although this figure may as well be inflated, and paid no tribute to the Rus’ prince and his men.

The Greek chronicles of Leo Diakonos and Kedrenos 25 provide us with a more accurate chronology and description of the events that had transpired. In the summer of 969 Svjatoslav took Great Preslav, the capital of the Bulgar state. The city was situated to the north of the Haemus Mountains, which terrain he then crossed the following spring. His immediate goal was to attack and to occupy Adrianople. Political circumstances within the Byzantine em–pire, however, complicated Svjatoslav’s designs. The Byzantine emperor, Nikephoros Phokas, was assassinated on 10 December 969, and was succeeded by his nephew John Tzimiskes. Tzimiskes apparently sought a brief respite from military confrontation to consolidate his imperial position; thus he sought to come to a temporary arrangement with Svjatoslav. The negotiations, however, were fruitless. We are provided with a detailed description by the Rus’ annalists of how their prince was not deceived by the envoys of the emperor. To determine whether he preferred gold or silks, the Greek envoys brought both, placed the items before the prince, and were instructed to observe carefully whether the prince was affected by one or the other, that is, which item was more to his liking and caught his attention. Svjatoslav, however, did not notice the gifts and instructed his servants to remove them from his presence and to retain them for safekeeping. Not having detected any visible response demonstrating his preferences, Tzimiskes advised his envoys to return to Svjatoslav and to make a gift of arms, among them a sword and the proper military accoutrements. We are then told that Svjatoslav admired these gifts and praised them, leaving us with the impression that the Rus’ prince only prized gifts of martial value.

Having gained a brief delay in the fighting, Tzimiskes used the interlude to train special military forces, and by the end of the summer of 970 he was prepared to attack Svjatoslav and his retinue. Detailed information on how this iron-clad force was trained for combat with the Varangians who possessed superior swords and greater agility in their use is not furnished in the Byzantine sources. We do not know that Tzimiskes prepared for both a land and sea attack. And we can only surmise that Tzimiskes was familiar with Varangian tactics and arms, and that these Rus’ were more comfortable fighting a sea battle than one on land. He denied the Varangians a sea advantage and prepared his special forces accordingly. Shortly thereafter, the army of Tzimiskes commanded by Bardas Skleros soundly routed Svjatoslav’s band of adventurers before Arcadiopolis, a band whose numbers apparently had been substantially depleted by previous assaults. The Rus’ were lured into an ambush that had been disguised by Skleros as a strategic withdrawal.26 The actual Rus’ losses cannot be determined, although we may surmise that there were substantial casualties and even desertions.

The Russian Primary Chronicle, on the other hand, furnishes us with a contrasting description of the battle and of its outcome. S.N. Soloviev correctly observes that the Rus’ annalistic account, though clearly inconsistent with Greek sources, is based upon the exaggerations of Svjatoslav’s lieutenant, Sveinald, who had safely returned to Kiev after this major battle. The annal further erroneously claims a victory for Svjatoslav.27 The Rus’ annal, though admitting that Svjatoslav and his retinue were startled at the sight of an overwhelming multitude of Byzantine forces that far outnumbered his retainers, notes that they were encouraged to make a stand against the Greeks. Svjatoslav in a lengthy statement is reputed to have said:

“Already there is nowhere we can flee. Whether we wish or do not wish to make a stand, let us not bring shame upon the land of Rus’.28 But let us sacrifice our bodies here to death, for we cannot have shame. And if we flee, we shall be disgraced. Let us not run off, but stand firmly. I shall lead before you, and wherever my head falls, then care for yourselves.” And his warriors replied: “Wherever your head [falls], there we will even place our heads.”29

Svjatoslav’s expression of concern and fear of embarrassing the land of Rus’ is without doubt an exaggeration, for the Rus’ prince had lost interest in his homeland, viewed Kiev with disregard and contempt, and sought fame and fortune elsewhere. The Rus’ annalists should have correctly interpreted Svjatoslav’s statements as an expression of preserving a Varangian tradition of fighting to the death even against overwhelming odds.

Tzimiskes could not at once follow up on this victory because of an internal uprising conducted by Bardas Phokas, and hence the emperor delayed until the spring of 971 to continue an aggressive campaign against Svjatoslav. Once he did launch the assault, both on land and sea, the Byzantine emperor was determined to conduct a life and death struggle with his adversary. The enormous forces available to Tzimiskes were too awesome and materially and physically overpowering for Svjatoslav. Great Preslav, valiantly defended by the Rus’ prince’s inferior retinue, fell before the furious Greek assault of 12-13 April 971. The Rus’ retreated to Silistria, entrenched themselves within the fortification of Dorystolum on the Danube, and following a siege of three months, surrendered to the imperial forces on 21 July.30 If Svjatoslav had contemplated a flight from Silistria, all of his sea avenues were cut off by a Byzantine naval fleet of three hundred vessels that had in the meantime showered a rain of Greek fire upon the Rus’ forces. This terrifying weapon had been the scourge of the Varangians and a distinctive advantage for the Byzantines. Defeated and humiliated, Svjatoslav was compelled to sue for peace. He offered the surrender of the fortification, return of prisoners, and an evacuation from Bulgaria. The dream that he had harbored of building a new center of military activity within the bounds of Bulgaria was forever shattered.

Tzimiskes and Svjatoslav arrived separately for their historic en–counter, and a vivid description of this meeting is furnished in the account of Leo Diakonos. Svjatoslav approached the meeting place on the Danube in a boat, a distinctive symbol of Varangian love for the sea. He wielded an oar as an equal of his Varangian warriors. Leo Diakonos also provides a physical description of the Rus’ prince, noting that he was of medium height, had a flat nose, blue eyes, thick eyebrows, a stout neck, broad chest, and well proportioned members. He wore a sparse beard and had a long shaggy mustache. His head was completely shaved, except for a tuft of hair that was braided and hung on one side of his head. Although Leo Diakonos does not stress the significance of the tuft of hair, for the Rus’ prince this was a sign of his distinguished origin. His attire included a ring in one ear and a white linen garment, which notably was clean, unlike the garb of the other Rus’.31 Even in defeat, the proud and defiant Rus’ prince presented an impressive figure, one that the Byzantines apparently respected, for their annalistic entries contain no disparaging statements of his bearing and demeanor.

The emperor without doubt had dictated the terms of the treaty, which was recorded by Theophilos, the imperial secretary. Its provisions are straightforward, containing a pledge to maintain peace and perfect amity between the Rus’ and the Byzantines. The text includes a statement of a resumption of normal commercial relations,32 a provision that was most important to both parties. Svjatoslav sealed the treaty with an oath to Perun and Volos, the leading pagan deities of the Varangians and the Slavic Rus’. The Byzantine sources that cite the treaty are magnanimous in their portrayal of the Rus’ prince and do not humble him in the face of defeat. On the contrary, the participants in the treaty process were awed by Svjatoslav’s presence and appearance, and regarded him in diplomatic terms as a head of state, although his demeanor was described as being somewhat somber and ferocious. It is this characterization in particular that was preserved in Byzantine sources.33 And the Greeks clearly treated this leader with respect as their sources attest. They had granted to Svjatoslav his request for a public meeting with Tzimiskes. The Rus’ prince throughout the encounter sat in his boat and the emperor on his white mount.34 Although Svjatoslav hoped to regain his prestige, he had, nevertheless, suffered a devastating misfortune, had concluded a disadvantageous peace, and was forced to agree to abandon Bul–garia. He was granted permission to return to his native land.

In the spring of 972, although the date appears to be somewhat late and more probably soon after the confirmation of the treaty in July, 971, Svjatoslav set sail for the mouth of the Dnieper River after receiving assurances of safe conduct from Tzimiskes.35 Whether with or without Byzantine connivance, the Bulgar inhabitants of Perejaslavets, fearing Svjatoslav’s return, enticed a Pecheneg renegade band to lay a trap for the Rus’ prince when his boat approached the Dnieper River cataracts. Not having com–mitted themselves to the Byzantine emperor regarding an agreement of safe conduct,36 the Pechenegs were informed by the Bulgars that Svjatoslav had few men and great wealth in his possession. This doubtless was a clear inducement for these steppe renegades. Unable to pass through the cataracts, Svjatoslav spent the winter in Belobereg, situated near the Kilija estuary of the Dnieper. Hardship befell the Rus’ prince. His stores of food were exhausted, and he and his men were compelled to pay a handsome sum of a half grivna [a Kievan Rus' monetary unit] for each horse’s head. By the spring of 972, Svjatoslav’s situation had become desperate. He and his retinue had no alternative but to attempt to advance upon the rapids, hoping to escape the Pecheneg trap. Kurja, the Pecheneg prince, and his forces attacked and defeated the Rus’. Svjatoslav was slain, and this marks perhaps the last major chapter of Varangian exploits in Kievan Rus’ history.

Svjatoslav could have escaped this end. His lieutenant and close advisor, Sveinald, recognizing the dangers of sailing upon the river, had the previous summer advised the prince to bypass the Dnieper cataracts on horseback. Perhaps Svjatoslav rejected this plan because the Varangians were not good horsemen and because they loved the sea and the dangers that it posed. The Varangian tradition of military intrepidity, even in the face of certain death, was no doubt a dominating element in Svjatoslav’s decision to sail around the cataracts held by the Pechenegs. We should further stress that Svjatoslav was a defeated and humiliated warrior, and he was returning to a homeland that he had renounced. Could he then reclaim his legacy after having relinquished his authority to his young sons? It is doubtful that he had much to return to. He must have understood that his position was tenuous and his end was near, and thus he resigned himself to an ignominious fate.

Rus’ legend concludes with an account of how Kurja and his Pecheneg band, having slain Svjatoslav, took his head and made a cup out of his skull. It was overlaid with gold and they drank from it.37 Svjatoslav had merited a ferocious and duplicitous reputation, but in the end a primitive Turkic tradition of celebrating a victory over one’s mortal foe, of passing the cup, prevailed.



End Notes

1. Shepard, “Some Problems of Russ-Byzantine Realations c.860-c.1050″, Slavonic and East European Review 52 (1974) 10-33.

2. Ibid, 15.

3. That Byzantine curiosity at an early date was much aroused about this Varangian-Slavic prince, Svjatoslav, is demonstrated by the statements of Constantine Porphyrogennetos in his monumental work, De administrando imperio (Moravcsik and Jenkins, eds. and trans., Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De administrando imperio, chap. 9, line 4) wherein a notation is made regarding Svjatoslav’s early childhood. The emperor records: “The monoxyla that descend out of Rus’ to Constantinople are from Novgorod, in which [town] Svjatoslav, the son of Igor, the prince of Rus’, sat …. ).” On the linguistic controversy surrounding this passage (i.e., the Old Slavonic rendition of the name Svjatoslav), see Dvornik et al., De administrando imperio: Commentary, 2:19, 27-28. There exists a considerable literature on the conversion of Olga and her visit to the court of Constantine Porphyrogennetos. The account of the visit appears in Constantin Porphyrogenitus, De cerimoniis (Bonn ed.), 1:594-98. Most recently, see Vodoff, Naissance de la chretiente, esp. 52-56.

4. The main source for Svjatoslav remains the Povest’ Vremennykh Let (The Tale of Bygone Years, more commonly known as The Russian Primary Chronicle), which appears in two major redactions, the Laurentian text, in PSRL, vol. 1, and the Hypatian text, PSRL, vol. 2. For an English translation, see Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, eds. and trans., Russian Primary Chronicle. On the multiple authorship of the chronicle, see Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 6-12; and Shakhmatov, Povest’ Vremennykh Let, vol. 1, passim.

5. PSRL, 11:65; ibid., 2:53; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 84-85. The Hypatian redaction contains a variant: “. . . and they themselves began to fight and there was a battle between them . . . .” There is evidence that about September 962 Svjatoslav received a delegation from the Crimean Goths who had sought assistance against the Khazars. On this see Hanak, “Sviatoslav I Igorevich,” 114-15. Bjela Vjezha was the principal Khazar fortification on the Don.

6. PSRL, 1:64-65; ibid., 2:52-53. Cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 84.

7. Chadwick, Beginnings of Russian History, 32, correctly suggests that the lines “are derived, at least in part, from early panegyric poetry rather than from saga . . .” and read “like an echo of the Norse Hrafnsmkl, a brief panegyric poem by a Norse skald, or court poet . . . .”

8. Vernadsky, Kievan Russia, 19, views Varangian and Kievan Rus’ expansion “to build up a vast empire.” His contention of imperial expansion and permanent settlement in the Don-Volga region is not supported by the extant sources. His argument stands in opposition to the more plausible interpretation of Paszkiewicz, Making of the Russian Nation, 181, who concludes that Svjatoslav extended his campaigns in many directions and they brought no territorial gains. Soviet historians, on the other hand, contend that these campaigns ensured for the Kievan Rus’ access to the free trade routes along the Volga and Don river systems. None of Svjatoslav’s campaigns, however, brought to him or the Kievan state direct trade benefits or great wealth. On this see Grekov, Izbrannye Trudy; and Pashuto, Vnesh–niaia politika, 68-69. For an extended bibliography on the subject of Rus’ political and economic relations, see Litavrin, “Kieven Rus’,” 43-44, and note r.

9. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 63; Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2:372; Noonan, “By–zantium and the Khazars,” 120, is in error when he asserts that “the governor of Cherson, Kalokyras [sic], was dispatched to Kiev [italics mine] where he paid Prince Sviatoslav fifteen hundred pounds of gold (approximately 455 kg.) to attack Dan–ubian Bulgars.” More probably, as Vernadsky (Kievan Russia, 45) demonstrates, Svjatoslav was in the northern Crimea at the time of the meeting and there was no need for the patrician to travel to Kiev. Cf. Levchenko, Ocherki, 255, who also incorrectly implies that Kalokyras went to Kiev where he made the payment. The Byzantine sources do not confirm this. Both Leo Diakonos (Leo Diaconus [Bonn ed.], 63) and Kedrenos (Cedrenus [Bonn ed.], 2:372) note the place of meeting above the Crimea and appear to imply that the gold payment itself was made in Moesia or in its vicinity. There remains, however, chronological confusion and the Byzantine and Rus’ sources are not clear on the precise year that Svjatoslav first entered the Balkans, either in the year 966 or 967, or perhaps even in 968. On this question see Obolensky, “Empire and its Northern Neighbors,” Sri, note 3; and Levchenko, Ocherki, 258.

10. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 63; Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2:372. Pashuto, Vneshniaia politika, 69 maintains that Svjatoslav led a force of sixty thousand men into the Balkans against the Bulgars. The size of the retinue appears quite inflated. Other Russian historians conjecture that the force was composed of forty thousand men. See, for example, Vernadsky, Kievan Russia, 45. More plausible is the view that, if Svjatoslav knew of the Byzantine practice of paying nine solidi per hired soldier, then the force that he led into the Balkans could number no more than 12,000 men, assuming that the force was not substantially smaller and Svjatoslav had not retained a large portion of the inducement for himself. If Svjatoslav had retained upwards of one third or one half of the total payment, the former being the more common practice, then clearly the size of his army was substantially smaller. Cf. Hanak, “Sviatoslav I Igorevich,” 115; and Pashuto, Vnesbniaia politika, 69.

11. On this see Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 63, 77, 79-80; Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 1:372-85; cf. Sreznevskij, Slavjanskij perevod, 149ff. Soloviev, Istoriia Rossii, 161, lends credence to the account about the treasonable actions of Kalokyras.

12. PSRL, 1:65; ibid., 2:53; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 84. On the controversy of the geographical location of Perejaslavets, most recently see Oikonomides, “Presthlavitza,” 7-8.

13. PSRL, 1:65; ibid., 1:53. Cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 85.

14. PSRL, 1:67; ibid., 2:55; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 86.

15. PSRL, 1:67; ibid., 2:55; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 86.

16. PSRL, 1:67; ibid., 2:55; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 86. Soloviev, Istoriia Rossii, 163, concludes that this expres–sion, “there [sic] is the center of my realm,” can be interpreted in two ways. First, it was a geographical center for trade, the main focus of his economic interests. Soloviev prefers the second argument that Svjatoslav had conquered Bulgaria and it was considered to be his domain, a part of his kin lands. I agree with the second line of reasoning, but I must note that Soloviev fails to demonstrate whether Bulgaria was integrated into the Kievan Rus’ state structure or remained an indepen–dent entity with Svjatoslav as its sovereign. Oikonomides, “Presthlavitza,” 8, explains why Perejaslavets flourished as a major commercial center.

17. There remains a basic unanswered question here, one that is sufficiently clarified neither by Rus’ nor Byzantine sources. When Svjatoslav returned to Kiev to lift its siege, did his entire military force of perhaps ten thousand men return with him, or did a large portion of his retinue, as one would surmise, remain nearby in the upper Balkans, most probably at Perejaslavets, to retain occupation of the fortification? If the latter were so, then why did they not attempt more vigorously to hold on to Perejaslavets (unless they were a small force and were overwhelmed by superior Bulgar forces) until the return of the Rus’ prince? Most probably, Svjatoslav left behind only a small garrison that proved to be no equal for the attackers.

Further, there exists herein a substantial chronological problem. The Russian Primary Chronicle would have us believe that Svjatoslav did not arrive before Perejaslavets for the second attack until 971, two years after the death of his mother (PSRL, 1:69; ibid., 2:57; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 87). Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 77, in an extensive discussion of Svjatoslav’s activities upon his return to the Danube region, places the return in the same year as Olga’s death, i.e., 969. This date of return appears more plausible. Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2:372 ff., appears to agree with Diakonos’ chronology of events, certainly for the first invasion, but he is equally clear for the second, citing the year as 969. Cf. Dolger, “Chronologie des grossen Feldzuges,” 275-92; Gollner, “Expeditions byzantines,” 342-58; Gregoire, “Derniere campagne,” 267-76; Karyshkovsky, “O khronologii russko-vizantiiskoi,” 127-38.

18. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 77-78; and regarding the treaty, ibid., 85; Ced–renus (Bonn ed.), 2:372-73.

19. PSRL, 1:69; ibid., 2:57; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 87.

20. PSRL, 1:69; ibid., 2:57; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 87.

21. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 105.

22. PSRL, 1:69; ibid., 2:57; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 87.

23. Regarding the inaccuracy of reporting the second attack in The Russian Primary Chronicle and the literature on the topic, see Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 241, note 72.

24. On the question of the size of Svjatoslav’s force, see above, note 10.

25. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 156 ff.; Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2:392.

26. Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2: 400-403. Levchenko, Ocherki, 276-77, maintains that the battle of Arcadiopolis occurred in 970 rather than in 971 as has been frequently believed by numerous historians. His line of reasoning appears quite plausible.

27. PSRL, 1: 70; ibid., 2:5; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 88.

28. It is unclear in what context Svjatoslav uses the phrase “the land of Rus’.” He may well be referring to the traditional Scandinavian homeland of the Varangians prior to their migration about 860 to what is now northern Russia. His reference, then, is legendary and emotive in context. Also, it is questionable that he is making reference to “the land of the Kievan Rus’,” which he had earlier renounced for the riches of the Balkans.

29. PSRL, 1:70; ibid., 2:5; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 88.

30. See especially Gregoire, “Derniere campagne,” 267ff.

31. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 156-57.

32. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 156; Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2:412; Symeon Logothetes (Bonn ed.), 153-54.

33. Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2:409ff.; cf. Shepard, “Some Problems,” 24.

34. Leo Diaconus (Bonn ed.), 156-57.

35. Cedrenus (Bonn ed.), 2: 412-13.

36. Ibid.

37. PSRL, 1:73-74; ibid., 2:61-62; cf. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans., Russian Primary Chronicle, 90.

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