ROMENSKY A.A. On the Interpretation of John Scylitzes’ Evidence About Archontes of Rhos, AM 6544 (1036 AD)


Alexandr A. Romensky

Candidate of Sciences (History), Researcher,

Department of Byzantine History, State Museum-Preserve “Tauric Chersonesos”,

Drevnyaya St, 1, 299045 Sevastopol, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article discusses the information of John Scylitzes about political changes in Rus on the eve of 1036.

Methods. The comparison of the texts of different written traditions is carried out. The testimony of the “Synopsis Historion” by John Scylitzes is analyzed in the context of Russian Primary Chronicles data and other sources.

Analysis. The chronicle of John Scylitzes contains a message about the death of the “archontes of Rhos” Nesisthlavos and Ierosthlavos, and election in their place their relative Zinisthlavos. These persons are traditionally identified with Russian princes Mstislav of Tmutarakan, Yaroslav the Wise and Iziaslav Yaroslavich. The researchers found chronological discrepancies in this evidence which were explained by the usage of different accounts in the chronicle. It seems that John Scylitzes’ narration relied on Byzantine documents only and reproduced the events faithfully. His mistake was not in chronology but in explaining the reasons for the absence of Kievan prince during the siege of the city by Pechenegs in 1036.

Results. As the study shows, the information of John Scylitzes does not contain any chronological contradictions and describes a reliable political situation. While the elder prince Yaroslav was in Novgorod, the Kievan veche elected his son Iziaslav who was a prince of Turov to rule in the city. The defeat of the Pechenegs after prince Yaroslav’s return fits in the context of the Rus-Byzantine military alliance.

Key words: John Scylitzes, Byzantine narrative sources, Yaroslav the Wise, Iziaslav of Kiev, Pechenegs, princely power in Rus.

Citation. Romensky A.A. On the Interpretation of John Scylitzes’ Evidence About Archontes of Rhos, AM 6544 (1036 AD). Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 44-55. (in Russian). DOI:

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On the Interpretation of John Scylitzes’ Evidence About Archontes of Rhos, AM 6544 (1036 AD) by Romensky A.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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