Vladimir I of Kiev

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Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great, also sometimes spelled Volodymer Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь (c. 958 near Pskov – 15 July 1015, Berestovo) was the grand prince of Kiev who converted to Christianity in 988[1][2][3], and proceeded to baptise all of Kievan Rus'. His name is spelt variously: in modern Ukrainian, for example, as Volodymyr (Володимир); in Old Church Slavonic and modern Russian, as Vladimir (Владимир); in Old Norse as Valdamarr; and, in modern Scandinavian languages, "Valdemar".

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Way to the throne

Vladimir, born in 958, was the natural son and youngest son of Sviatoslav I of Kiev by his housekeeper Malusha. Malusha is described in the Norse sagas as a prophetess who lived to the age of 100 and was brought from her cave to the palace to predict the future. Malusha's brother Dobrynya was Vladimir's tutor and most trusted advisor. Hagiographic tradition of dubious authenticity also connects his childhood with the name of his grandmother, Olga Prekrasa, who was Christian and governed the capital during Sviatoslav's frequent military campaigns.

Transferring his capital to Pereyaslavets in 969, Sviatoslav designated Vladimir ruler of Novgorod the Great but gave Kiev to his legitimate son Yaropolk. After Sviatoslav's death (972), a fratricidal war erupted (976) between Yaropolk and his younger brother Oleg, ruler of the Drevlians. In 977 Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway in Scandinavia, collecting as many of the Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod, and on his return the next year marched against Yaropolk.

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