Battle on the river Nemiga
(Сраже́ние на Неми́ге) was a combat
of the Russian
feudal period that occurred on March 3 1067
on the river Nemiga
. The description of the battle is the first reference to Minsk
in the chronicles of Russian history.
Background of the battle
At the end of the X century
the Novgorod kniaz (prince) Vladimir Svyatoslavich (the Great)
, killed the reigning Rogvolod
, and took his daughter Rogneda
as a wife by force, adding the city to his territorial possessions. In 1020
the Polotsk prince Bryachislav
the grandson of Vladimir Svyatoslavich attacked Novgorod
, but on the return route, was overtaken by the Vladimir's son Yaroslav of Novgorod (the Wise)
on the Sudoma River
, where his forces were routed
, after leaving prisoners and the hoard amassed from previous pillage. Yaroslav
pursued and in 1021
forced Bryachislav to agree to a conditional peace. The son of Bryachislava, the Polotsk prince Vseslav
by the nickname
“Charodei” (sorcerer) besieged Pskov
, defeated the Novgorod
prince Mistislav Izyaslavich
(son of Izyaslav Yaroslavich
) and pillaged Novgorod
again, by this action continuing the war for the authority over Rus
between Ryurik families
, this time with the cousins of Vseslav, princes of Yaroslav (sons of Yaroslav Mudry), begun before him.
Progress of the battle
The troops came together on the banks of the river Nemiga
and for seven days stood facing each other in the deep snow. Finally Vseslav of Polotsk began his attack and many troops were killed from both sides. In the words of the Kiev chronicler, Vseslav was defeated by the three Yaroslav princes - Izyaslav of Kiev
, Svyatoslav of Chernigov
and Vsevolod of Pereyaslavl'
The battle is described in The Tale of Igor's Campaign, and is one of the largest and bloodiest feudal battles of Russian history.
In the words of the Kiev chronicler, Vseslav was defeated and ran to Polotsk, but the Yaroslav princes did not pursue him. Four months after the battle the Yaroslav princes called for negotiations, “kissed the cross” and made promises of future safety; however, they reneged on their promise, kidnapping Vseslav together with two of his sons and bringing them to Kiev, where they were incarcerated in an earthen prison.
Minsk, which was a Principality of Polotsk town, was burnt down by the Kievan army. 1067 is now widely attributed as a founding year of Minsk.
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia 980-1584, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995
- Leonard Magus, "Tale of the Armament of Igor," available online at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/tai/tai40.htm
- Roman Jakobson, Marc Szeftel, "The Vseslav Epos," in Roman Jakobson and Ernest J. Simmons, eds., Russian Epic Studies. Memoirs of the American Folklore Society 42 (Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1949 available online at Volkh Vseslav'evich Bylina: A Poem of Vseslav the Sorcerer