Olga from Kiev

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Olga von Kiev ( Russian О́льга , Orthodox baptismal name Helena ; * approx. 920 near Pskow ; † July 11, 969 in Kiev ) was the regent of the Kievan Rus from 945 to approx. 960 .

She is venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church as an apostle-like saint . Remembrance day is July 11th .


Olga was born in the Pskov area. Her parents were Varangians whose names have not been passed down. Your name Olga was probably derived from the Scandinavian Helga . According to the chronicle, in 903 at the age of thirteen she married Igor , who became Prince of Kiev in 912 . According to this information, she must have given birth to her son Svyatoslav I in 942 at the age of 52, which is unbelievable. That is why historians assume that she was born around the year 920.

In 944, Olga was mentioned again for the first time in a contract between the Kievan Rus and Byzantium .

In 945 Igor was killed by the Drewlyans . Olga took over the reign of her three-year-old son Svyatoslav I. On the Drewlyans, she retaliated with several campaigns. According to tradition, she had 5000 Drewlyans murdered at Igor's burial mound ( Kurgan ) and a Drewlyan delegation burned alive in a bathhouse. The capital of the Drewlyan Iskorosten is said to have burned down.

After the subjugation of the Drewlyans, they set up a system of fortified squares, tax collectors and hospitality rights in the newly conquered area, which represented a modernization of the dominant structure in the Kievan Rus , which until then had been based on the Druzhina . This system gradually spread to the remaining parts of the principality and led to extensive territorial rule.

Baptism in Constantinople

The baptism of Olga. Painting by Sergei Kirillov , 1993

In 955 Olga was baptized in Constantinople .

In 957 she was received again lavishly by Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetus in Constantinople.

In 959, Olga asked the German King Otto I to appoint a bishop and help with the Christianization of the Kievan Rus. The embassy represented an effort for more independence from Byzantium, Olga tried to build strong connections to the western empire.

Then the monk Adalbert came to the east as a mission bishop. In 962 he returned:

“That year, Adalbert, who had been appointed bishop of Russia, returned because he had failed to accomplish what he had been sent to do and saw his efforts in vain. On the way back some of his companions were killed, he was able to save himself with great difficulty. "

Svyatoslav's influence probably played a role.

In Kiev, however, remains of a rotunda from the 10th century were discovered during archaeological excavations.

Svyatoslav ruled Kiev since 964 at the latest. He is not known to have been baptized.

Olga died in 969.

The renewed Christianization took place in 987-988 under the Byzantine Orthodox auspices and from then on shaped the religious affiliation of Russia .

Historical source

She is mentioned as the wife of Igor in the Nestor Chronicle .


In 1911 a monument was erected in her honor in Kiev, which was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in 1919 and rebuilt in 1996.

The Order of Princess Olga has been awarded by the Ukrainian President since 1997 .



  • Jevgeni Alexandrovich Kiwlitsky: Olga svyataya . In: Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона - Enziklopeditscheski slowar Brokgausa i Jefrona . tape 21 a [42]: Нэшвилль – Опацкий. Brockhaus-Efron, Saint Petersburg 1897, p. 910–911 (Russian, full text [ Wikisource ] PDF - Saint Olga, baptismal name Helena).
  • The journey of Olga to Byzantium [from the Nestor Chronicle ], In: Itineraria rossica. Old Russian travel literature. From the Old Russian ed. u. translated v. Klaus Müller. Nachdichtung v. Uwe Grüning. Leipzig, Reclam, 1986 (Reclams Universal-Bibliothek, 1160).

Web links

Commons : Olga of Kiev  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Princess Olha In: Encyclopedia of Ukraine . accessed on November 7, 2017
  2. In Greek-language texts Elga or Helga
  3. The only detailed mention of Olga in a Latin Chronicle: " Legatos Helenae reginae Rugorum, quae sub Romano imperatore Constantinopolitano Constantinopoli baptizata est, ficte, ut post clariut, ad regem venientes episcopum et presbiretos eidem genti ordinari petebant " ( Reginonis abbatis prumiensis Chronicon, cum continuatione treverensi , German: "There came messengers from Helena, the Queen of Russia, who was baptized in Constantinople under the Roman Emperor of Constantinople, and asked that a bishop and priest be sent to her kingdom."
  4. ↑ However, Olga had misjudged the situation in the West, as only the Pope could appoint a full bishop .
  5. ^ The later Archbishop of Magdeburg
  6. ^ Regino von Prüm : Reginonis abbatis prumiensis Chronicon. z. Year 962.
  7. ↑ In memory of Prince Vladimir by Jakob Tschernorisez mentions July 11, 969
predecessor Office successor
Igor Regent of the Kievan Rus
Svyatoslav I.