After the death of the Grand Duke Igor Rurikovich in 945, there was a vague time for the Russian state. The heir to the throne was about five years old, and the Kiev table for him had to be held by mother Olga, who relied on the grand duke's squad, governor Sveneld, Asmud and others. However, Olga, despite her toughness in defending the throne for her son, was still a woman, with a more pliable psyche for the informational impact than the warrior.
The end of 945 and a significant part of 946 of the year was held in the struggle against the Drevlyane, who wanted to restore independence, and their prince claimed the Kiev table. In the same 946 year, Olga, moving with the retinue and her son from city to city, from camp to camp, established "statutes and lessons." As a result, the collection of taxes was streamlined, representatives of the grand duke's administration were seated on the ground, and places of gathering polyudyas — pogosts — were established. Arbitrary requisitions came to an end. Thus, an organized taxation system was established on the Russian land.
Another problem in Kiev was relations with the Byzantine Empire, which retained their ambivalence. On the one hand, the Ruses and the Romans were allies. The 944 Agreement of the Year continued to function properly. Russia was a military ally of the Romans in the fight against the Arab onslaught. Russian soldiers served as part of the imperial troops, who were sent to Crete; Russian garrisons were located in the fortresses bordering on the Arab Caliphate, creating a powerful barrier against Arab pressure from the south. All this happened during the reign of Constantine VII the Porphyrogenitus (945 - 959) and Olga's regency.
However, there was no complete peace and harmony between the two powers. In Constantinople they looked at Russia with suspicion and remembered the horror that caused the arrival of Russian troops under the walls of Constantinople among the local population. From Russia, the Romans waited for new attacks. At the same time, Byzantium faced the question of intensifying the struggle against the Arabs and the Basileus. Constantine undertook vigorous diplomatic and military efforts in the search for allies in the West and the East. Constantinople needed Russian squads to attack the Transcaucasian vassals of the caliphate and the war with the Arabs.
The former level of relations between the two powers did not satisfy Kiev either. Almost a century has passed since the time of “diplomatic recognition”, and the Kiev government has not been satisfied with much. Kiev did not like the exceptional political and religious position of Byzantium. According to the Byzantine concept of power, the emperor basileus was the vicar of God on earth and the head of the entire Christian church. Therefore, none of the foreign lords could not stand on a par with the Byzantine emperor. Constantinople clearly followed the titles, honorary epithets, other signs of dignity, which endowed foreign rulers.
It was possible to change this order only by force, and Russia often succeeded in this matter, from decade to decade raising the level of its diplomatic relations with Byzantium, perfecting the system of Russian-Byzantine treaties, fighting for ever more honorable titles of Russian princes.
An important role in the relationship between Russia and Byzantium was the question of Christianization. Constantinople was going to take advantage of this issue. Byzantines, the Christianization of Russia was viewed as a tool for strengthening political influence. At the same time, some Russian prominent figures viewed Christianization as an opportunity to raise the political status of Russia. This group was opposed by the pagan party, which had support in the Russian priesthood and the people.
Therefore, the first attempt to adopt Christianity at the state level and to spread it from above on Russian soil in the 860s ended in failure. Many researchers believe that Askold and Dir (or one Askold) adopted Christianity and allowed Christian missionaries into their lands after the 860 Russian-Byzantine Treaty - years. This was the first attempt at the baptism of Rus. However, the traces of this process disappeared after Kiev captured the squad of Oleg Veshchego in 882, and Askold and Dir died.
But Christianity continued to attract part of the Russian political and economic elite. This is a feature of the part of the Russian elite at all times - a foreign one seems to be better than its own. Christianity attracted its brilliance and opening up political opportunities. Christianity seemed to be a means of communion with political international heights. Lord of Bulgaria, adopting Christianity, received the title of king. The Christianized Frankish state was called an empire in Byzantium. In addition, part of the already emerging class of feudal lords understood the benefits of Christianity for strengthening their positions in the state. Christianity was more convenient for the Kiev elite than paganism, coming from the times of primitive "communism" (the mythological "golden age"). Saw the benefits of Christianization and the "cosmopolitans" of the time - the wealthy Kiev merchants.
The Christian party gradually became a very powerful force in Russia. Yes, and the Byzantines increasingly tried hard to make Russia part of the Christian world. It was not by chance that in 911, Russian ambassadors in Constantinople Constantinople were taken to Christian churches and tried to introduce them to Christian values. It is not by chance that in the 944 agreement of the year, Russian Christians are fully represented along with pagans and the church of St. Ilya in Kiev. And we are talking about the most influential part of Russian society - the "best boyars", the princely "men", who, unlike Prince Igor, swore loyalty to the treaty on the cross.
Thus, the problems of foreign policy and the issue of baptism remained open and could not help but worry both parties. The question was an edge: either Russia in one of the campaigns would crush Constantinople, or Byzantium could carry out the baptism of Russia and make it an obedient tool in its policy, the Russians would become another barbarian people who could be manipulated by sophisticated Byzantine politicians.
It was this question that was decided during Olga's embassy in 955 (957) in Constantinople. It was an emergency case. stories Of the Russian state: the Russian princess herself moved to the Byzantine capital for discussion with the emperor Constantine VII the Porphyry of important issues for Russia. This was the first case in the history of Russia when the head of state went to Byzantium (although it was not full-fledged, it was the regent under Svyatoslav). In the Tale of Bygone Years, this is said simply: “Olga went to the Greeks and came to Tsargrad. Then there was Tsar Constantine, son of Leonov, and Olga came to him. ” Everything was easy and simple under the pen of an ancient chronicler: she got together, got into a boat and arrived in Constantinople. Although in real life there is no such simplicity in politics. It is clear that preliminary negotiations were held between Kiev and Constantinople about the arrival of the Russian princess in the Byzantine capital. Given that the path between the two capitals is not long, and the transport possibilities of that era were far from modern, the negotiations could not be short. We do not know, and who was the initiator of these negotiations.
The reception of the Russian princess himself and the talks are quite well described in the Tale of Bygone Years, and in the book “On Ceremonies”, which belonged to the pen of Constantine VII himself. Teaching his son how to receive foreign ambassadors, the emperor described the techniques of the Russian princess on Wednesday 9 September and Sunday 18 October. Only the 946 and 957 years are suitable for these numbers on these days. But the 946 year was occupied with important domestic political events that excluded a visit to the Byzantine Empire. Therefore, dating 957 year, apparently, is more accurate than in the Russian chronicle - 955 year.
Usually, Russian caravans appeared in the Byzantine capital with the start of navigation. However, it is doubtful that the Princess’s caravan arrived in Constantinople with the very beginning of navigation, in the spring, in unstable weather. Most likely, her ships entered the Court (harbor of Constantinople) in late June - early July. Igor’s embassy fades compared to his wife’s mission. The embassy alone has over a hundred members. This is known from the list by which the Rus received content in Byzantium and which was included in the records of Constantine. The retinue of Princess Olga included 8 of her close, noblest Kiev boyars, possibly relatives, 22 “apocrisiaries,” as the Greeks called the titular representatives from Russian princes and boyars, 44 merchants, people of Svyatoslav, priest Gregory, 6 people from the retinue of the nobility, 2 translators and close women of the princess. Perhaps Svyatoslav was also a member of the embassy, he was 15-17 years old at that time, that is, he was already a very capable young man (in Russia at that time at the age of 15 you could already have a family, a separate farm). The Byzantines on the list highlighted the mysterious figure "anepsia", who was named a relative of the Russian princess. In the list of the embassy, he comes in second place after Olga. It is likely that this was the son of a princess. According to the Byzantine historians, all together with Princess Olga arrived in Constantinople about 1 thousand people, including guards, shipbuilders, servants, etc. As a result, an entire Russian arrived in Constantinople flotilla.
The Byzantines immediately “pointed to the place” by the Russians — forcing them to wait for a rather long period of time. So, the first reception at the emperor was only 9 September, it was a time when the Russian guests, merchants were already going back. Later on, accepting the Byzantine embassy in Kiev, which arrived in Russia with a request for military assistance, Olga threw out the irritated phrase to the ambassador: “If you can, shit, you can also stay at Me Pochayne, then as the Court, . The princess mockingly offered the Greeks to stand in the Pochainov harbor on the Dnieper to receive help, as she waited in the Court for the emperor to receive. The princess waited for reception about two and a half months. It was a serious insult.
Reception of foreign embassies in Constantinople took place according to a long-established ritual. It is obvious that at the preliminary talks the composition of the embassy was determined, the time of his arrival, the level at which the reception will take place, etc. Konstantin VII described in detail the reception ceremony of September 9. The emperor, sitting on a throne in the hall of Magnavre, exchanged ceremonial greetings with Olga through a special official (logofet). Near the emperor was the entire composition of the court. The setting was extremely solemn. Then there was another traditional event for the reception of distinguished guests - a dinner where the ear of the church was delighted by the best church choirs of Constantinople. At the same time various stage performances took place. During lunch on September 9 (and October 18), Olga sat at the imperial table, along with the empress and her children.
During the reception there were some important deviations from the usual diplomatic ritual. Thus, at the beginning of an audience of a foreign representative to the throne for praskiyesa (falling down on the imperial feet), usually two eunuchs were letting their hands. However, this order has been changed. Olga walked alone, unaccompanied, and remained standing and talking with the emperor standing.
Then the Russian princess was accepted by the empress. Their conversation also passed through a special person. After a break, there was her meeting with the imperial family, which had no precedent during the reception of ordinary ambassadors. In a narrow circle of the imperial family, Olga and the emperor had a conversation on important topics. No ordinary foreign embassy enjoyed such privileges in Constantinople.
Apparently, the high level of reception was associated with the need for military support from Russia. According to A. N. Sakharov and some other researchers, Olga wanted to arrange a dynastic marriage for Svyatoslav with one of the daughters of Constantine VII for this help. It was a symbol of recognition of Russia equal to Byzantium. So, at one time the Khazars, who sent a cavalry army to help Constantinople to fight the Avars and the Persians, obtained this right. As a result, the Khazar princess, adopting Christianity, became the wife of the son of Leo IV, the future emperor Constantine V. Later, the Bulgarian Tsar Peter married the princess Maria, the granddaughter of Roman I. In addition, the Byzantine court bore the idea of a dynastic marriage with the empire of the Franks.
However, the Byzantines politely, but persistently rejected, exorbitant, in their opinion, the requirements of the Russian embassy. Perhaps this was one of the knots of the contradictions between Svyatoslav and Byzantium. The young prince did not forgive the arrogance and pride of the Byzantine court. In essence, he dedicated the fight against the “Second Rome”, most of his life. Although of course, that this insult cannot be considered the main reason for Svyatoslav’s dislike for Byzantium. In his policy, he solved important strategic problems.
The second important proposal of the princess, in exchange for the confirmation of the articles of the military-allied character of the Russian-Byzantine treaty, was Olga's baptism. This is what the Tale of Bygone Years reports. It was not just a baptism, but a political act that was supposed to help raise the political prestige of the Russian princess. Speech about the baptism of all Russia was not yet. Most of the squad with the young prince continued to praise the Russian gods and did not feel any reverence for Christian shrines.
At the same time, Constantinople had the experience of the baptism of Bulgaria. At the beginning of the 950-s, two Hungarian princes Gyula and Bulchu were baptized. The remnants of pagan Europe fell into the networks of Rome or Constantinople. Byzantium frantically placed nets for catching not many souls of new parishioners, but rather political benefits, since secular imperial power stood behind the Patriarch of Constantinople. It was the emperor who dictated his political decisions to the church. The church was a tool in the big game.
Olga tried to make an important step towards the Christianization of Russia. Constantine VII in his notes is silent on this issue. But the Russian chronicle colorfully conveyed the history of Olga's baptism. This story is very symbolic. Olga at baptism set the condition that the Byzantine emperor himself be the godfather. This was the case with Bulgaria, when Emperor Michael became the successor of Bulgarian Tsar Boris, who gave him his Christian name. In addition, the Russian princess asked her to be given the Christian name of Helen. That was the name of the wife of Constantine VII and mother of Constantine I, who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Finally, Olga asked Basileus to officially name her his daughter. In the early Middle Ages, such concepts as father, son, brother, daughter, in relations between the monarchs of different states had a great political meaning. In particular, there are cases when foreign rulers tried to get the title of “son of the Byzantine emperor” for children to increase their prestige. To the Bulgarian tsar, emperors treated with the title “son.” Therefore, Olga wanted to seriously improve the status of Russia in relations with Byzantium.
Judging by the Russian chronicles, all its requirements were met: “And the king baptized her with the patriarch. She was baptized her name at the baptism of Helen, as well as the ancient queen, the mother of Great Constantine. ” In conclusion, it is said that the emperor let her go "calling him his daughter" and gave great gifts: gold, silver, pavoloki. Thus, Olga received the title, which the Bulgarian tsar and the Persian Shah wanted before her.
It seems that both sides were unhappy with each other. Olga and Svyatoslav were irritated by the arrogance of the Byzantines, who did not want to see the “Russian barbarians” equal to themselves. This was emphasized by a humiliatingly long wait for reception and the refusal of Constantine VII in a dynastic marriage. This fact is confirmed by Svyatoslav’s actions when he heads Russia and Olga’s interest in Rome. In 959, the Russian princess Olga sent the German King Otto I a request to send a bishop to Russia to preach Christianity (the so-called Adalbert mission). And Olga will not provide warriors with the help of Byzantium immediately, but only after the arrival of the Byzantine embassy in Kiev.
The plans of Olga and Byzantium for the careful Christianization of Russia ran into the iron will of Svyatoslav. When Olga began to cautiously but persistently persuade Svyatoslav to adopt Christianity, he, although he did not prevent others from accepting another faith (pagan Russia was tolerant), he did not want to be baptized and scoffed at Christians: there is". To other persuasions of his mother, Svyatoslav also refused, appealing to his retinue: “What do you want to inject into law? But the squad of mose laugh start. ” When mother again raised this question: you are baptized - others are baptized too. Svyatoslav stood his ground.
Apparently, the question of Christianity led to the appearance of a certain crack in the relationship of Olga and Svyatoslav. In Kiev, two political parties will be clearly formed: Christian, led by Olga, who stood for the baptism of Russia and orientation to the West (Byzantium or Rome); Pagan led by the husband of Svyatoslav. This crack will clearly manifest itself when Bishop Adalbert arrives in Kiev to preach the western version of Christianity (and possibly the second attempt to baptize Russia). Svyatoslav will head the pagan party and force out this informational aggression.