The Earliest States of Eastern Europe
DG-2019-2020, 256-266

Foreign Policy of Smolensk Princes (second half of the 12th – beginning of the 13th century)

E. L. Konyavskaya

The article is devoted to the analysis of the early chronicle material concerning the foreign policy of the Smolensk princes. Smolensk land has become one of the most important and influential principalities by the middle of the 12th century. The Smolensk princes fought for the Kievan throne and had possessions in the Kiev principality. But it is possible to consider their general policy and specific actions from the perspective of the interests of Smolensk.
Their northern neighbor — Novgorod was in the sphere of influence of the Smolensk princes. Rostislav Mstislavich while ruling in Smolensk (1125–1159) set his sons on the Novgorod throne and aspired to control Novgorod. The connections with the powerful southern neighbor, the principality of Chernigov, was important for Smolensk. The matrimonial policy of Rostislav Mstislavich of Smolensk and his sons, a number of political actions of the Smolensk princes aimed to establish such connections. In specific political situations Rostislav patronized Chernigov princes gaining allies. Allied relations were established also with the further southeast neighbor Ryazan’. Ryazan’ princes looked for this union. Continuation of the alliance developed into family ties. Another important area of Smolensk foreign policy was Polotsk. Smolensk princes sought control over Polotsk and reigned in Vitebsk. Perhaps, another territory that Smolensk princes might have sought to control was Berlad’. The relations with the Suzdal land were no less significant for them. The agreement of Rostislav Mstislavich with Andrey Bogolyubsky concerning Novgorod is noted in the article. Also the complex union-diplomatic relations between Vsevolod Yurievich, Rurik Rostislavich and Davyd Rostislavich are taken into account. The question of the Byzantine policy of Rostislav Mstislavich (church aspect) is dealt with as well as the relationship of Smolensk princes with Polovtsy.
The information on the persons who played the role of ambassadors is considered. We can conclude that it was the boyars who were allowed to participate
in foreign policy matters. In one episode a priest appears as an ambassador.
It is obvious, that Rostislav Mstislavich and his descendants, Smolensk princes, along with the desire to get the Kiev throne, pursued a consistent policy of establishing control over Polotsk and Novgorod and strengthening beneficial alliances with powerful and influential neighbors — Chernigov, Suzdal, and Ryazan’ lands.

Smolensk in the second half of the 12th — beginning of the 13th century, Smolensk princes, foreign policy, matrimonial relations

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