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Yuri Dolgorukiy
Grand Prince of Kiev
Personal details
Born 1099
Died May 15, 1157

Yuri I Vladimirovich (Russian: Юрий Владимирович), known under his soubriquet Yuri Dolgorukiy (Russian: Юрий Долгорукий, literally "Yuri the Long-Armed"; also known in various accounts as Gyurgi, Dyurgi, or George I of Rus), (c. 1099 – 15 May 1157) was a Russian Rurikid prince and founder of Moscow. He reigned as Velikiy Kniaz (Grand Prince) of Kiev from September 1149 to April 1151 and then again from March 1155 to May 1157. Yuri played a key role in the transition of political power from Kiev to Suzdal following the death of his elder brother Mstislav the Great.

Problems in identifying birthdate

According to Vasily Tatishchev Yuri was born on 1090 which makes him a son of Vladimir Monomakh's first wife Gytha of Wessex, a daughter of Harold Godwinson. However according to the "Testament of Vladimir Monomakh" the Gyurgi's mother died on May 7, 1107, while Gytha died on March 10 and probably in 1098. Thus, Yuri Vladimirovich could have been a son of his father's second wife Yefimia, and was born between 1095/97 and 1102. Although his birthdate is uncertain, 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 pushes Yuri's birth to c. 1099/1100.

Also there is version that his son Andrei Bogolyubskiy was born around 1111. It is doubtful that Yuri at that time was younger than 16 or 17.

The question of Yuri's birthday still remains open. The date can be approximated sometime to 1090s.

Activities in Rostov and Suzdal

Map of the Kiev Rus in 1015–1113

In 1108, Yuri was sent by his father to govern in his name the vast Rostov-Suzdal province in the north-east of Kievan Rus'. In 1121, he quarrelled with the boyars of Rostov and moved the capital of his lands from that city to Suzdal. As the area was sparsely populated, Yuriy 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 Dolgoruki had a meeting with Sviatoslav Olgovich in a place called Moscow. In 1156, Yuri fortified Moscow with wooden walls and a moat. Although the settlement probably existed earlier, Dolgoruki is often called "The Founder of Moscow".

Struggle for Kiev

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 long-armed". 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 two years later 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. His sudden death, however, sparked anti-Suzdalian uprising in Kiev. Yuri Dolgoruki was interred at the Saviour Church in Berestovo, Kiev, but his tomb is empty.

Marriages and children

The Primary Chronicle records the first marriage of Yuri on 12 January 1108. His first wife was a daughter of Aepa Ocenevich, Khan of the Cumans. Her paternal grandfather was Osen. Her people belonged to the Kipchaks, 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. She has been tentatively identified with Helena Komnene, a daughter of Isaac Komnenos. The identification would make her a granddaughter of Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina.

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

  • The following are considered elder children and usually attributed to the first wife.
    • Rostislav Yuryevich, Prince of Pereyaslavl (d. 6 April 1151).
    • Ivan Yuryevich, Prince of Kursk (d. 24 February 1147).
    • Olga Yuryevna (d. 1189). Married Yaroslav Osmomysl.
    • Andrei I Bogolyubsky (c. 1111 – 28 June 1174).
    • Maria Yuryevna. Married Oleg Sviatoslavich, Prince of Novhorod-Siverskyi.
    • Sviatoslav Yuryevich (d. 11 January 1174).
    • Yaroslav Yuryevich (d. 12 April 1166).
    • Gleb of Kiev (d. 1171).
    • Boris Yuryevich, Prince of Belgorod and Turaŭ (d. 12 May 1159).
    • Mstislav Yuryevich, Prince of Novgorod (d. 1166).
    • Vasilko Yuryevich, Prince of Suzdal (deposed in 1161).
  • The following are considered youngest and typically attributed to the second wife
    • Mikhail of Vladimir (d. 20 June 1176).
    • Vsevolod the Big Nest (1154 – 12 April 1212).
    • David Yuryevich.
    • Yaropolk Yuryevich.



Muscovites have cherished Yuri's memory as the legendary founder of 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 a medal "In commemoration of Moscow's 800th anniversary", introduced in 1947.

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
Andrei Bogolyubsky
Preceded by
Iziaslav II
Grand Prince of Kiev
Succeeded by
Iziaslav II
Viacheslav I
Preceded by
Rostislav I
Grand Prince of Kiev
Succeeded by
Iziaslav III
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Rostislav Mstislavovich
2nd in line to Grand Prince of Kiev
Succeeded by
Iziaslav II

External links

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