Principality of Halych

Principality of Halych or Kalieshi/Kialioshi (meaning 'The Key of Heavens') (Ukrainian: Галицьке князівство, romanized: Halytske kniazivstvo; Russian: Галицкое княжество; Old East Slavic: Галицкоє кънѧжьство; Romanian: Cnezatul Halici), or Principality of Halychian Rus',[1] was a medieval East Slavic principality, and one of main regional states within the political scope of Kievan Rus', established by members of the oldest line of Yaroslav the Wise descendants. A characteristic feature of Halych principality was an important role of the nobility and citizens in political life, consideration a will of which was the main condition for the princely rule.[2] Halych as the capital mentioned in around 1124 as a seat of Ivan Vasylkovych the grandson of Rostislav of Tmutarakan. According to Mykhailo Hrushevsky the realm of Halych was passed to Rostyslav upon the death of his father Vladimir Yaroslavich, but he was banished out of it later by his uncle to Tmutarakan.[3] The realm was then passed to Yaropolk Izyaslavich who was a son of the ruling Grand Prince of Kiev Izyaslav I of Kiev.

The Kingdom of Halycs (blue) and the Kingdom of Hungary (during the reign of Béla III of Hungary)
Principality of Halych
Галицьке князівство
Галицкоє кънѧжьство
Principality of the Kievan Rus'
1124–1199 (1205–1239)
Coat of arms

Halych Principality in the 12th century
 Succeeded from Przemysl-Terebovlia Principality
 United with Volyn Principality
1199 (1205–1239)
Political subdivisionsPrincipalities of Kievan Rus'
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Terebovlia Principality
Principality of Peremyshl
Zvenyhorod Principality
Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
Today part ofPoland, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova


The first recorded Slavic tribes living in the regions of Red Rus' were the White Croats and Dulebes.[4][5][6] In the year 907 the Dulebs were involved in the military campaign against Constantinople led by Rus' Prince Oleg of Novgorod.[7][8] This was the first significant evidence of political affiliation among the native tribes of the Red Rus' region. According to Nestor the Chronicler some strongholds in West Part of Red Rus' were conquered by Vladimir the Great in 981, and in 992 or 993 Vladimir carried out a military campaign against the Croats.[9][10] Around that time the city of Volodymyr was established in honor of him which became the main center of political power in the region. During the 11th century western border cities including Przemysl, were twice annexed by the Kingdom of Poland (1018–1031, and 1069–1080). In the meantime, Yaroslav the Wise established a "solid foot" in the region founding the city of Jarosław.

As part of the territory of the Kievan Rus' the area was later organized as the southern part of the Volodymyr Principality. Around 1085, with the help of the Grand Prince of Kiev Vsevolod I of Kiev the three Rostystlavych brothers - sons of Rostislav Vladimirovich (of Tmutarakan) settled. Their lands were organized into three smaller principalities of Przemysl, Zvenyhorod and Terebovlia. In 1097 the Terebovlia Principality was secured by the Council of Liubech after several years of a civil war with Vasylko Rostyslavych. In 1124 the Halych Principality was given as minor principality to Ihor Vasylkovich by his father Vasylko, the Prince of Terebovlia who removed it from the larger Terebovlia Principality.


The Rostislavich Brothers managed not only politically separate from Volodymyr, but also to defend themselves from external enemies. In 1099, in the battle on Rozhne field the Halychians defeated army of the Grand Prince Sviatopolk II of Kiev and later that year the army of Hungarian king Coloman near Przemysl.[11]

Formation of Halychian Principality in late 11th - early 12th centuries

These two significant victories brought nearly one hundred years of relative peaceful development in the Halychian Principality.[12] The four sons of the Rostystlavych Brothers divided the area into four parts with centers in Przemysl (Rostislav), Zvenyhorod (Volodymyrko), Halych and Terebovlia (Ivan and Yuriy). After the death of three of them Volodimyrko took Przemysl and Halych and gave Zvenyhorod to Ivan - son of his older brother Rostyslav. In 1141 Volodymyrko moved his residence from Przemysl to more geographically advantageous Halych giving birth to a united Halychian Principality. In 1145 citizens of Halych, taking advantage of the absence of Volodymyrko, called Ivan of Zvenyhorod to reign. After the defeat of Ivan under the walls of Halych, the Zvenygorod Principality was also incorporated into the Halychian lands.

Era of Yaroslav Osmomysl

Miniature of St. Mark from 12th century Halych Gospel

Volodymyrko pursued a policy of balancing between neighbors. He managed to strengthen the power of the principality, attach some cities belonging to the Kiev Grand Prince and forced to keep them despite the conflict with both two powerful rulers Iziaslav II of Kiev and king Géza II of Hungary.[13]

In 1152, after the death of Volodymyrko, the Halychian throne was succeeded by his only son Yaroslav Osmomysl. Yaroslav began his reign with the Battle on the river Siret in 1153 with Grand Prince Iziaslav, which resulted a heavy losses for the Halychians but lead to the retreat of Izyaslav, who died shortly thereafter. Thus the danger from the east had passed and Jaroslav via diplomacy reached peace with his other neighbors - Hungary and Poland. Subsequently, thanks to negotiations Jaroslav neutralized his only rival - Ivan, the eldest descendant of the Rostislavich Brothers, former Prince of Zvenyhorod.

These diplomatic successes enabled Yaroslav to focus on internal development of the Principality: the construction of new buildings in capital and other cities, enrichment of monasteries, as well as strengthening his power over the territory in lower courses of Dniester, Prut and Danube rivers. During this time (around 1157) the construction of the Assumption Cathedral - second largest temple of Ancient Rus after St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, was completed in Halych.[14] The city itself grew into a big agglomeration[15] being approximately 11 x 8.5 kilometers in size.[16] Despite his strong position in the international arena Yaroslav was under control of the Halychian citizens whose will he had to consider even sometimes in matters of his personal, family life.

"Freedom in princes"

Church of St. Panteleimon in Halych. End of 12th century.

A significant feature in political life of Halychian Principality was the decisive role of nobles and citizens. Halicyans used the principle of ″freedom in princes″ and themselves invited and expelled princes, also correcting their activities. Contrary to the will of Yaroslav Osmomysl who left the throne to his younger son Oleg, the Halychians invited his brother Vladimir II Yaroslavich, and later, after conflict with him, Roman the Great, prince of Volodymyr. But almost immediately Roman was replaced by Andrew - the son of Hungarian King Bela III. The reason for this choice was a complete freedom of government that was guaranteed by Béla and Andrew to Halychians.[17] This period can be considered as the first experience of self-rule government by noblemen and citizens. However, the vulgar behavior of the Hungarian garrison and their attempts to install Roman Catholic rites[18] led to another change in mood and to the throne again was returned Vladimir II, who ruled in Halych next decade up to year 1199.

Autocracy of Roman the Great and unification with Volhynia

After the death of last descendant of Principality's founders Rostislavich Brothers - Vladimir II in 1199, Halychians started negotiations with the sons of his sister (daughter of Yaroslav Osmomysl) and the legendary Prince Igor (the main hero of the poem The Tale of Igor's Campaign) about succession to the Halychian throne. But Prince of Volodymir Roman with the help of Prince Leszek the White managed to capture Halych despite a strong resistance of residents.[19] Following next six years lasted a period of continued repression against the nobility and active citizens as well as a significant territorial and political expansion that transformed Halych in the main center of all Rus'. Volhynian principality was united with Halychian but this time the new Centre of Galicia-Volhynia principality became Halych. Further successful war with Igorevich Brothers contenders for the Galician throne enabled Roman the Great to establish his control over Kiev and place there his henchmens, one of them with the consent of Vsevolod the Big Nest. After victorious campaigns against the Cumans, and probably Lithuanians, Roman the Great reached the height of its power and was called in the annals as "The Tzar and Autocrator of all Rus'".[20][21][22] After the death of Roman in 1205, his widow to keep power in Halychia called for help Hungarian King Andrew, which sent her the military garrison. However, in next 1206 year Halychians again invited Vladimir III Igorevich - son of Yaroslav Osmomysl's daughter, and Roman widow, along with the sons had to flee the city.

Climax of citizens-nobles rule

Miniature of John Chrysostom, Przemysl' Missal, beginning of 13th century.

Vladimir III reigned in Halychia only for two years. As a result of feuds with his brother Roman II, he was expelled and the latter took the Halychia throne. But very soon Roman was replaced by Rostislav II of Kiev. When Roman II managed to overthrow Rostislav, Halychians called for help the Hungarian king who sent to Halych palatine Benedict.[23] While Benedict remained in Halych citizens called to the throne Prince Mstislav the Dumb from Peresopnytsya, who also with ridicules sent home. In an effort to get rid of Benedict, the citizens again invited the Ihrevychiv Brothers - Vladimir III and Roman II who expelled Benedict and regained their rule in the Principality. Vladimir III settled in Halych, Roman II in Zvenigorod and their brother Svyatoslav in Przemysl. Attempts of the Igorevich Brothers to rule by themselves led to conflict with the Halychians during which many of them were killed,[24] and later the Igorevich Brothers were executed. On the throne was placed a young son of Roman the Great Daniel of Halych. After his mother made an attempt to concentrate power in her hands as regent, she was banished from the city and Mstislav the Dumb was again invited to reign, but he fled fearing Hungarian troops had been called by of Daniel's mother. After the failure of the Hungarian King's campaign, the local community had made a unique step in the history of Rus', enthroned in 1211 or 1213[25] one of the Halychian nobles[26][27] Volodyslav Kormylchych. This episode can be considered as a peak of citizens-nobles democracy in Halych.

Rule of Volodyslav caused aggression of neighboring states and in spite of the Halychian's resistance they managed to overwhelm Volodyslav's army. In 1214 Hungarian King Andrew and Polish Prince Leszek signed an agreement about partition of Halychian principality. The western edge passed to Poland and the rest to Hungary. Palatine Benedict returned to Halych and the son of Hungarian king Andrew Koloman, received the crown from the Pope with the title of "King of Galicia." However, religious conflict with the local population[28] and capture by Hungarians territory that was transferred to Poland, led to the expulsion in 1215 of all foreign forces and the enthronement of Prince Mstislav the Bold from Novgorod under whose reign all power was concentrated in the hands of the nobility[29][30][31] and Prince not disposed even Halychian army. Despite this Mstislav also was not popular among the Halychians, who gradually began to favor Prince Andrew.[32][33] In 1227 Mstislav allowed his daughter to marry him and gave them government in Halychia. Andrew has been a long time favorite of Halychia due to its careful approach to the rights of the nobility. However, in 1233 part of Halychians invited Daniel. As a result of the siege and the death of Andrew Daniel briefly seized the capital, but was forced to leave it not finding support of citizens majority. In 1235, at the invitation of Halychians to the city came Chernigov Prince Michael of Chernigov and his son Rostislav (his mother was the daughter of Roman the Great, the sister of Daniel).[34] During the Mongol invasion, Halych turns in the hands of Daniel, but his power was not certain, because at this time chronicle mentions an ascension to the throne a loсal nobleman Dobroslav Suddych.[35]

Daniel of Galicia and Mongol invasion

In the 1240s in Halychian Principality's history occurred an important changes. In 1241 Наlych was captured by the Mongol army.[36] In 1245 Daniel won a decisive battle over the Hungarian-Polish army of his opponent Rostislav and again unites Halychia with Volhynia. After the victory build his residence in Holm in the western part of Volhynia. After Daniel's visit to Batu Khan, started payments of tribute to Golden Horde. All these factors led to the beginning of cultural, economic and political decline of Halych.

Last rise and decline

Already in the time of Daniel's rule Halychia turned to the hands of his elder son Leo I of Halych, who, after his father's death, gradually takes power in all areas of Volhynia. In the second half of the thirteenth century, he raised the importance of Lviv - a new political-administrative center, founded near Zvenigorod on the border with Volhynia. Near 1300, Leo, in a short time, achieved power over Kyiv, remaining however dependent on the Golden Horde. After the death of Leo, the center of the united Halychian-Volhynian state returns to the city of Volodymyr. In the times of following princes, nobles gradually regained power, and from 1341 to 1349, it came in the hands of nobleman Dmytro Dedko, at the nominal reign of prince Liubartas.[37] In 1349, after the death of Dmytro, Polish King Casimir III the Great marched on Lviv, while coercing with the Golden Horde[38] and the Hungarian kingdom.[39] The result was the end of political independence of Halych and its annexation into the Polish crown.


In 1387 all lands of the Halychian principality were included in to the possessions of Polish Queen Jadwiga, and later in 1434 transformed into Rus' Voivodeship. In 1772, Halychia was attached to the Austrian Empire within which it existed as an administrative unit called "Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria" with the center in Lviv.

Relations with Byzantine Empire

Halychian Principality had a close ties with Byzantine Empire, closest than any other principality of Kievan Rus. According to some records, Volodar of Peremyshl's daughter Irina was married in 1104 to Isaac - third son of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.[40] Her son, future Emperor Andronicus I Comnenus some time lived in Halych and ruled by several cities of principality in years 1164-65.[41][42] According to reports of Bartholomew of Lucca Byzantine Emperor Alexius III fled to Halych after the capture of Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204.[43][44] Halychian Principality and Byzantine Empire were frequent allies in the fight against Cumans.

Princes of Halych

Princes of Halych (according to М. Hrushevsky)
Prince Years Remarks
Ivan Vasylkovych1124–1141son of Vasylko Rostyslavych of Terebovel' (not mentioned in Hrushevsky list)
Volodymyrko Volodarovych1141–1144son of Prince of Przemysl Volodar Rostyslavych
Ivan Rostyslavych Berladnyk1144son of Prince of Przemysl' Rostyslav Volodarovych (not mentioned in Hrushevsky list)
Volodymyrko Volodarovych1144–1153second time
Yaroslav Osmomysl1153–1187son of Volodymyrko Volodarovych
Oleg Yaroslavich1187son of Yaroslav Osmomysl
Vladimir II Yaroslavich1187–1188son of Yaroslav Osmomysl
Roman Mstyslavych1188–1189Prince of Volhynia
Vladimir II Yaroslavich1189–1199son of Yaroslav Osmomysl, second time
Roman Mstyslavych1199–1205second time
Daniel Romanovych1205–1206son of Roman Mstyslavych
Vladimir III Igorevich1206–1208from Chernihov line of Rurik dynasty
Roman II Igorevich1208–1209brother of Volodymyr Igorevych
Rostislav II of Kiev1210son of Rurik Rostislavich of Kiev
Roman II Igorevich1210second time
Vladimir III Igorevich1210–1211second time
Daniel Romanovych1211–1212second time
Mstyslav of Peresopnytsia1212–1213from Volhynian line of Rurik dynasty
Volodyslav Kormyl'chych1213–1214boyar from Halych
Coloman II1214–1219son of Andrew II of Hungary
Mstyslav the Bold1219from Kievan line of Rurik dynasty, grandson of Yaroslav Osmomysl (by female line)
Coloman II1219–1221?second time
Mstyslav the Bold1221?-1228second time
Аndiy Andrievych1228–1230son of Andrew II of Hungary
Daniel Romanovych1230–1232third time
Аndiy Andrievych1232–1233second time
Daniel Romanovych1233–1235fourth time
Michael Vsevolodovich1235–1236from Chernihov line of Rurik dynasty
Rostislav Mikhailovich1236–1238son of Michael Vsevolodovich, from Chernihov line of Rurik dynasty
Daniel Romanovych1238–1264fifth time
Shvarn Danilovych1264–1269son of Daniel, co-ruler of Leo I of Galicia
Leo I of Galicia1264–1301?son of Daniel
Yuri I of Galicia1301?-1308?son of Lev I
Leo II of Galicia1308–1323son of Yuri I
Volodymyr Lvovych1323–1325son of Lev II
Yuri II Boleslav1325–1340from Mazovian princes, grandson of Yuri I
Dmitriy Liubart1340–1349from Lithuanian princes


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