Yuri Dolgorukiy

Yuri I Vladimirovich (Russian: Юрий Владимирович, tr. Yuriy Vladimirovich), commonly known as Yuri Dolgorukiy or the Long Arm (Russian: Юрий Долгорукий, tr. Yuriy Dolgorukiy, meaning "Far-Reaching", c. 1099 – 15 May 1157) was a Rurikid prince. Noted for successfully curbing the privileges of the landowning boyar class in Rostov-Suzdal and his ambitious building programme, Yuri transformed this principality into the independent power that would evolve into early modern Muscovy.[1]

Yuri Dolgorukiy
Grand Prince of Kiev
Died15 May 1157 (aged 57)
SpouseAgiorovna of Cumans
Helena of Constantinople
Andrei I Bogolyubsky
Gleb of Kiev
Mikhail of Vladimir
Davyd Yuryevich
Vsevolod the Big Nest
Yuri Dolgorukiy
DynastyRurik Dynasty
FatherVladimir II Monomakh
MotherEufemia of Constantinople

Yuri spent much of his life in internecine strife with the other Rurikid princes for suzerainty over the Kievan Rus, which had been held by his father (Vladimir Monomakh) and his elder brother before him. Although he twice managed to hold Kiev (in September 1149 - April 1151, again in March 1155 - May 1157) and rule as Grand Prince of all Rus', his autocratic rule and perceived foreigner status made him unpopular with the powerful Kievan boyars, leading to his presumed poisoning and the expulsion of his son (later Andrei Bogoliubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal) in 1157. His rule marked the effective end of the Rus' as a unified entity until the Mongol invasions, with powerful provincial territories like Vladimir-Suzdal and Galicia-Volhynia now competing for the throne of Kiev.

Problems in identifying birthdate and motherEdit

According to Vasily Tatishchev, Yuri was born in 1090 which would make him a son of Vladimir Monomakh's first wife Gytha of Wessex, a daughter of Harold Godwinson.

The problem exists with Gytha's date of death. The scholars think it was either 1098 or 1107.

According to the "Testament of Vladimir Monomakh" Yuri's mother died on May 7, 1107. If Gytha died on March 07, 1098 then Yuri Vladimirovich could have been a son of his father's second wife Yefimia.

Some chronicles report that Yuri's elder brother, Viacheslav, said to him: "I am much older than you; I was already bearded when you were born." Since Viacheslav was born in 1083, this supposedly pushes Yuri's birth to c. 1099/1100. However, the Primary Chronicle records the first marriage of Yuri - on 12 January 1108. It means that Yuri was born before c. 1099/1100 (as he couldn't have been 6–9 years old at the time of marriage).

Tatishchev also records that Yuri's son Andrei Bogolyubskiy was born around 1111. It is doubtful that Yuri was at that time younger than 16 or 17.

The question of Yuri's birthday remains open, though taking into account all the above-mentioned information Yuri's birth date can be approximated to the end of 1080s - first half of 1090s. But then it means that Gytha was indeed his mother.

Activities in Rostov and SuzdalEdit

In 1108 Vladimir Monomakh sent his young son Yuri to govern in his name the vast Vladimir-Suzdal principality in the north-east of Kievan Rus'. In 1121 Yuri quarreled with the boyars of Rostov and moved the capital of his lands from that city to Suzdal. As the area was sparsely populated, Yuri founded many fortresses there. He established the towns of Ksniatin (in 1134), Pereslavl-Zalesski and Yuriev-Polski (in 1152), and Dmitrov (in 1154). The establishment of Tver, Kostroma, and Vologda is also popularly assigned to Yuri.

In 1147 Yuri Dolgorukiy had a meeting with Sviatoslav Olgovich (then prince of Belgorod Kievsky) in a place called Moscow. In 1156 Yuri fortified Moscow with wooden walls and a moat.[citation needed] Although the settlement probably existed later or earlier, Dolgorukiy is often called "the Founder of Moscow".

Struggle for KievEdit

For all the interest he took in fortifying his Northern lands, Yuri still coveted the throne of Kiev. It is his active participation in the Southern affairs that earned him the epithet of Dolgorukiy, "the far-reaching". His elder brother Mstislav of Kiev died in 1132, and "the Rus lands fell apart", as one chronicle put it. Yuri instantaneously declared war on the princes of Chernigov, the reigning Grand Prince and his brother Yaropolk II of Kiev, enthroned his son in Novgorod, and captured his father's hereditary principality at Pereyaslav of the South. The Novgorodians, however, betrayed him, and Yuri avenged by seizing their key eastern fortress, Torzhok.

In 1147, Dolgorukiy resumed his struggle for Kiev and in 1149[citation needed] he captured it, but in 1151 he was driven from the capital of Rus by his nephew Iziaslav. In 1155, Yuri regained Kiev once again. After presumably being poisoned at the feast of a Kievan nobleman, Yuri unexpectedly died in 1157 which sparked anti-Suzdalian uprising in Kiev.[citation needed] Yuri Dolgoruki was interred at the Saviour Church in Berestovo, Kiev, but his tomb is empty.

Marriages and childrenEdit

The Primary Chronicle records the first marriage of Yuri on 12 January 1108. His first wife was a daughter of Aepa Ocenevich,[2] Khan of the Cumans. Her paternal grandfather was Osen. Her people belonged to the Cumans, a confederation of pastoralists and warriors of Turkic origin.

His second wife Helena survived him and moved to Constantinople. Her paternity is not known for certain but Nikolay Karamzin was the first to theorise that Helena was returning to her native city. She has since been theorised to be a member of the Komnenos dynasty which ruled the Byzantine Empire throughout the life of Yuri.

Several websites have speculated that his wife was a daughter of Isaac Komnenos. The identification would make her a granddaughter of Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina. There are no documents to back up this connection.

Yuri had at least fifteen children. The identities of the mothers are not known for certain


The Moscow monument of Yuri Dolgorukiy as shown on a 1997 Russian coin

Muscovites have cherished Yuri's memory as the legendary founder of their city. His patron saint, Saint George appears on the coat of arms of Moscow slaying a dragon. In 1954, a monument to him designed by sculptor Sergei Orlov was erected on Moscow's Tverskaya Street, the city's principal avenue, in front of the Moscow municipality.

Dolgoruki's image was stamped on the Medal "In Commemoration of the 800th Anniversary of Moscow", introduced in 1947.

There are monuments of Yuri Dolgorukiy in Dmitrov and Kostroma.

The nuclear submarine Yuri Dolgoruki is named after him.

Yuri Dolgorukiy
Born: 1099 Died: 15 May 1157
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Prince of Rostov and Suzdal
Succeeded by
Preceded by Grand Prince of Kiev
Succeeded by
Preceded by Grand Prince of Kiev
Succeeded by


  1. ^ Presniakov, Alexander E. (1986) [1918]. The Tsardom of Muscovy. Translated by Price, Robert F. Academic International Press (orig., Petrograd). pp. ix–x. ISBN 9780875690902.
  2. ^ The Russian Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Text (PDF). Translated by Hazzard Cross, Samuel; Sherbowitz-Wetzor, Olgerd P. Cambridge, MA: The Mediaeval Academy of America. 1953. p. 204. LCCN 53-10264.

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