Prince Igor and Princess Olga were said to be the most beautiful couple in Russia. He was a powerful and glorious ruler known as a capable military leader and a wise monarch. She was popularly known simply as - beautiful. They lived in the middle of the 10th century, and their love was already known all over the country.
And then an unimaginable tragedy struck the princely couple. In the year 914, Igor fought wars with the Slavic tribe Drevljani, which he defeated and ordered them to pay tribute to him in the future. They initially agreed, but probably even then set out to conspire to avenge the conqueror.
The opportunity for that appeared after Igor's unsuccessful war against Byzantium. In the fall of 945, Igor went to Drevljani to take tribute. The Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon noticed that they received him nicely at first, and then captured him for fraud. The chronicler also noticed the prince's death - heavy wood was tied to his legs and then dismembered.
A widow with a plan of revenge
Olga was inconsolable. Not only was she left without love and a great protector, but after the death of her husband, she also became the regent of Igor's heir and her three-year-old son Svyatoslav.
Her grief over the loss of her husband and her anger over the way he died did not subside over time. On the contrary! It began to be said among the people that no one should even mention marriage to the princess or that she could remarry. Whoever made such a proposal would end up executed.
Olga ruled with a steely hand and did not allow any interference in state affairs, nor in her personal life.
And then an incredible offer arrived from Drevljani…
Revenge is forged cold
In the letter that arrived at the court, the people of Drevlje stated that her husband Igor was a tyrant and that they had to get rid of him. On the other hand, she is a wise and honest ruler for them, against whom they will not protest, but want to have her on their side.
That is why they propose that Olga marry their prince Mala and thus strengthen the alliance.
The envoys of the Ancients who dared to play Cupid Olga were buried alive! However, for Mala, who dared to propose marriage to her, she had an even scarier plan.
She sent him a message that she agreed to marry him, but that he must first send his highest associates to Kiev to meet future subjects and take her to the wedding.
Mal agreed, and Olga received the guests nicely from the beginning. She was cheerful and hospitably entertained them and after the feast offered them to enjoy the spa (which was the custom after dinner at the time). Unsuspecting, the people of Drevlje accepted the offer and completely relaxed.
Olga then ordered the saunas to be closed and burned them all alive!
Then she went to her "fiancé", but not as a young woman but as a conqueror! She launched a large campaign against the beheaded Drevljani and conquered their entire country.
Legend has it that she then ordered them to pay her tribute in birds. They obeyed her and handed her all the birds they could find, and Olga tied a piece of cloth dipped in sulfur to each one. When night fell and the people of Drevlje lit torches because of the light, Olga let the birds towards them.
She burned the whole city. Grace showed to no one!
Princess Olga ruled until her son came of age, proving to be extremely capable. In the year 957, she came to Constantinople, where she was baptized, taking the name Jelena, after the first Christian empress, the mother of Constantine the Great. That is how she became the first Russian ruler to accept Christianity.
After Svyatoslav became a prince, she performed administrative tasks and took care of the country while he was at war.
She died on July 11, 969, during the siege of Kiev by the Pechenegs, while her son Svyatoslav was at war with the Bulgarians. Today, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates that day as the day of St. Olga of Kiev.