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(d. 1167), grand prince of Kiev and the progenitor of the Rostislavichi, the dynasty of Smolensk.

After Rostislav's father Mstislav Vladimirovich gave him Smolensk around 1125, he freed it from its subordination to southern Pereyaslavl, fortified it with new defensive walls, founded churches, and patronized culture. Around 1150, despite opposition from Metropolitan Kliment (Klim) Smolyatich and the bishop of Pereyaslavl, he also freed the Church of Smolensk from its dependence on Pereyaslavl by making it an autonomous eparchy. Manuel, a Greek, was its first bishop, and the Church of the Assumption, built by Rostislav's grandfather Vladimir Vsevolodovich "Monomakh," became his cathedral. Rostislav also issued a charter (gramota ) enumerating the privileges of the bishop and the church in Smolensk. The document is valuable as a source of ecclesiastical, social, commercial, and geographic information.

Rostislav had political dealings with neighbouring Polotsk and Novgorod, but his most important involvement was in Kiev. After 1146 he helped his elder brother Izyaslav win control of the capital of Rus. Following the latter's death in 1154, the citizens invited Rostislav to rule Kiev with his uncle Vyacheslav Vladimirovich, but his uncle Yury Vladimirovich "Dolgoruky" replaced him in the same year. Although Rostislav regained Kiev in 1159, his rule was not secured until 1161, when his rival Izyaslav Davidovich of Chernigov died. As prince of Kiev, he asserted his authority over the so-called kernel of Rus and placated many of the princes. He failed, however, to stop the incursions of the Polovtsy. He died on March 14, 1167, and was buried in Kiev.

See also: izyaslav mstislavich; kievan rus; vladimir monomakh


Dimnik, Martin. (1983). "Rostislav Mstislavich." In The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, ed. Joseph L. Wieczynski, 31:162165. Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press.

Martin Dimnik

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