Yarosláv I may have hoped that this written instructions would prevent a recrudescence of the dynastic struggles, in which he had been victorious. But the immense territory from Nóvgorod to Kíev was too vast for one hand to govern; and, if it were subdivided, there was no means of enforcing proper subordination. The story, down to 1224 is one of continuous disintegration, at the best abated for a while by some great prince.
The reign of Izyasláv I was marked by internal dissension and incursions from without. He was an unpopular ruler, but during he first years of his reign the pressure of the Polovsk invasion curbed the brotherly factions.
In 1054 or 1055 the Pólovtsy under Bolus [or Blus or Bus] made a first appearance on the marches of Russia, and Vsévolod of Pereyáslavl’, the third brother, bought them off [створи миръ]; "and they returned again whence they had come."
But the methods of an Ethelred the Unready are always ineffective; in 1061 the Pólovtsy for the first time invaded Russian soil; Vsévolod set out on the second of February of this year and was defeated. "This was the first disaster [зъло] from the Pagan and godless enemy. Their prince was Iskal [or Sokal]."
The danger was momentarily passed, and internal trouble began. Vséslav Bryánčislavič of Polotsk followed his father's example in 1021 and seized and sacked the wealthy city of Nóvgorod, which had been assigned by Yarosláv I to Izyasláv. Izyasláv with his son Svyatopólk, and his brother Vsévolod marched to Minsk and took bloody revenge, "slaying men and women, and seized the children as booty [дѣти вдаша на щиты] i.e. enslaved them."
Vséslav encountered them on the Nemíga, was beaten, and with his two sons treacherously imprisoned at Kíev. This battle was fought in deep snow and was very bloody; the Chronicles are concise and detailed at this period. No doubt, the political motive may have been jealousy of the independence of Polotsk.
In 1067 the Pólovtsy invaded Russia anew in great force and again defeated the three brothers Izyasláv, Svyatosláv and Vsévolod on the Alta [or Льта]. The citizens of Kíev demanded arms for self-defence; Izyasláv would not accede; they rose against him, acclaimed Vséslav as Grand-prince, a position he held for nine months, when he fled surreptitiously on hearing of Izyasláv's approach with Polish troops.
Svyatopólk Izyaslávič carried the war into Polotsk, which he captured for Kíev; Vséslav recovered his inheritance [дѣдина] in 1071 from Svyatopólk Izyaslávič.
In 1071 the Pólovtsy reappeared at Rostevets near Neyátin [or Нежатинъ;? the river Нея in the Government of Kostromá an affluent of the Unža in the former territory of the Meri].
Meanwhile Izyasláv was quarrelling with his brothers. In 1078 Oleg Svyatoslávič (after whom the house of the Ólgoviči was named) had to flee to Tmutarakáń, and Glěb, his brother, (whom the Chronicles eulogize as a merciful prince) was murdered.
Svyatosláv and Vsévolod had again expelled Izyasláv from Kíev in 1073; Svyatosláv died in 1076, after assuming the title of grand-prince of Kíev; from 1076 to 1078 Izyasláv with Polish troops held Kíev. Svyatopólk Izyaslávič had possessed himself of the lands of Glĕb Svyatoslávič.
This injustice had to be punished, but the method adopted was a terrible precedent.
In 1078 Olég Svyatoslávič and Borís Vyačeslávič headed the Pagan Pólovtsy against Russia, to recover their rights. Vsévolod sided with Izyasláv. At the battle of the Nežátin plain [Нежатина нива] Vsévolod and the Russians were defeated; Borís and Izyasláv were slain.
In the following year, another Svyatoslávič, Román led the Pólovtsy once more against Vsévolod to the Voïna near Pereyáslavl’. Vsévolod bribed the enemy off; and the nomads murdered Román.
The rift between Vsévolod Yaroslávič and the Svyatosláviči arose from the act of Vsévolod and Izyasláv after 1076; when, on the death of Svyatosláv of Černígov, they, in accord with the theory of the удѣлъ, declined to assign Černígov to the изгои, the Svyatosláviči, his sons. In 1097 at the synod of Lyúbeč, Černígov was constituted the independent отчина of this branch of the family.
But there was little good will between the Monomákhoviči, the descendants of Vladímir II and the Ólgoviči of Kíev. In this period Van Vyšátin, (who is very likely identical with Boyán of the Slóvo) is frequently mentioned as a councillor, especially in relation to the house of Polotsk. The years between Vladímir I and Vladímir II seem to be embraced in the expression старое время (the olden time), used with regard to Boyán throughout the poem.
The inglorious reign of Izyasláv I was marked by interminable civil war within, and the successful occupation by the Pólovtsy of the old realms of the Khozars and Pečenegs, so that Russia was now cut off from the waterways of the Don and the Volga, as well as from the lower stream of the Dnĕpr.
At the close of this reign, Izyasláv was succeeded, in accordance with the rule of lateral devolution in the eldest branch, by his brother Vsévolod I, who maintained his position mainly through bis son Vladímir. Vladímir Vsévolodovič, born in 1053, in 1067 was assigned the удѣлъ of Smolénsk, and served the princes of Kíev faithfully against Emperor
[paragraph continues] Henry IV in 1075, and against Polotsk in 1077; and every year against the wild peoples of the steppes; his name inspired terror into the Pólovtsy. Vsévolod his father was a just and educated ruler of no great individuality. Through Vladímir's agency, David Ígorevič, the изгой was established in his father's seat as Vladímir Volýnsk. In 1087 Yaropólk Izyaslávič was murdered, one of the few whom the Chroniclers delight to honour.
In the year 1093 Vsévolod. I died. The Pólovtsy invaded Russia in force, and again routed the Russians at the battle of the Stúgna (near Trépol’). Rostíslav Vsévolodovič was drowned in this battle, (an incident on which, for some reason, the Chroniclers dwell).
One cause of defeat may have been divided councils; Vladímir wished for war, Svyatopólk Izyaslávič peace; and Svyatopólk followed the enemy up to be repulsed anew on the Želan.
On Vsévolod's death, Vladímir, studious for lawful succession, allowed his cousin Svyatopólk, the eldest collateral to take the throne of Kíev. In 1094 Svyatopólk made peace with the Pólovtsy and ratified the treaty by marrying the daughter of Tugorkan their leader. Evidently, the same process of fusion was beginning, as had assimilated the Pečenegs of the past period. Henceforth there is frequent mention of the tame and the wild [дикій] Pólovtsy: the former must be those already Christianized.
In 1094 the изгой Olég of Tmutarakáń, together with his Polovsk allies made war on Vladímir at Černígov, who found it prudent to retire to Pereyáslavl’.
In the next year, the Polovsk ambassadors Itlar and Kytan were treacherously and unnecessarily murdered, in the raid that followed, Olég would not help the Russians, and Kíev was desolated by Bonyák, the Polovsk leader.
But fortune was at last favouring the Russians in this desultory campaign against the Svyatosláviči and the Pólovtsy. In 1096 Olég Svyatoslávič was defeated at Starodúb, and Tugorkan on the river Trubež; Tugorkan "the father-in-law and foe of Svyatopólk" was brought to Kíev and buried at the crossroads outside Berestovo (a suburb of Kíev).
It is because the popular ballads recorded these details so well and enlarged on them, because the Chroniclers dilate on them at such length, and lastly, because the Slóvo refers to them specifically that the events prior to the accession of Vladímir II as Great Prince of Kíev must be stated with some particularity.
In 1096 Olég was again defeated on the river Klyážma, (very far North, not far from Moscow).
The outcome of all this endless disorder was a renewed attempt at some territorial concordat at the Synod of Lyúbeč 1097. Svyatopólk, Vladímir, Olég and David Svyatoslávič, David Ígorevič, Vasílko Rostíslavič were amongst those summoned.
Turov and Kíev were assigned to Svyatopólk; Pereyáslavl’, Smolénsk and Rostóv to Vladímir; Nóvgorod to Mstíslav Vladímirovič; Černígov, Peremýsl’ to Olég, David and Yarosláv, the Svyatoslâviči; and Polotsk was acknowledged to belong to Vséslav Bryáčislavič (this was a mere recognition of fact); whilst to David Ígoŕevič, was given his father's удѣлъ of the principality Vladímir Volýnsk.
But, that same year 1097, David Ígorevič discontented with his share as compared with the grants to the two Rostíslaviči, Vasilko and Volodáŕ, brutally blinded the former, boring out one eye after the other, a gross treachery that raised up against him all the conscience of Russia; after further disputes and fighting, David Îgorevič had to surrender his new inheritance [отчина] of Vladímir Volýnsk.
Thus, Russia was finally partitioned into heritable principalities with no common allegiance; with at best, only a shadowy deference to the senior prince of Kíev. Tranquillity had been secured for a time, and in 1103, 1106, 1107, 1109, 1110, 1113, crushing victories were obtained over the Pólovtsy, and the Russian arms once again proved themselves formidable, even as far as the Don and beyond, e.g. in the year 1116.
In 1113 Yarosláv Svyatoslávič began a campaign against the unruly Yatvyági (on the Lithuanian frontier), and extended the sphere of Russian influence.
The Chronicles provide very full accounts of the successful campaigns of this decade, give all the names of the Polovsk leaders who were captured; of these is worth noting Šarokan (1107). whose name recurs often in the popular ballads); Bonyák (1107); and Taz (1107): (Strabo Lib. VII Cap. III of οἱ Ῥωζολανοὶ στρατηγὸν ἔχοντες Τάσιον) and, no doubt, many of these names could be elucidated by a Turanian philologist.