Principality of Chernigov
Черниговское княжество
Coordinates : 51°30′N 31°17′E / 51.5, 31.283
Principalities of Kievan Rus' (1054-1132).jpg
Principalities of Kievan Rus' (1054-1132)
Capital Chernigov
Religion Orthodox
Government Monarchy
Historical era Middle ages
 -  Established 1024
 -  Disestablished 1401

The Principality of Chernigov is one of the largest state formations of Kievan Rus'. For a time the principality was the second most important after Kiev.


The greater part of Chernigov Principality was located on the left bank of the river Dnieper, within the basins of the Desna and Seim rivers. The principality was supposedly mostly populated by Slavic tribes of Siverians and partially by the Dnieper Polans. Later the territory of the principality was extended to the lands of Radimichs and partially Vyatichs and Drehovichs. The capital of the principality was the city of Chernigov. Other important cities were Novhorod-Siversky, Starodub, Bryansk, Putyvl, Kursk, Lubech, Hlukhiv, Chechersk, Gomel (Homiel), Vyr, etc. Ownership and influence of the Chernihov Principality reached far to the North (the Murom-Ryazan Land) and to the South-East (Tmutorokan Principality).


According to the Primary Chronicle before the 11th century, the principality was ruled by local (tribal) elderly and voevodes from Kiev that were appointed by the Grand Prince to collect tribute from the local population, manage judicial trials, and defend the land from external enemies. In the years 1024–1036 the principality of Chernigov was passed under the administration of son of the Vladimir the Great, Mstislav of Chernigov who came there from the Principality of Tmutarakan. Together with Yaroslav the Wise Mstislav ruled the Kievan Rus establishing Chernihov as one of the most important administration centers within the Rus. Upon the death of Mstislav, Chernigov was incorporated into the realm of Kiev.

After Yaroslav the Wise the principality of Chernigov was passed to one of his sons Grand Prince Svyatoslav, who gave rise to the Chernigov branch of Rurikids. During the Yaroslavichi's civil war Chernigov was contested between sons of Svyatoslav and Vsevolod. Only by the decision of Liubech Congress (1097) the Svyatoslav’s sons Oleg, Davyd, and their descendants finally secured the principality after their family. Since then the principality obtained a certain degree of autonomy and was primarily secured after the Oleg's descendants.

This time Chernigov Principality was split into three main apanage principalities: Chernigov, Novgorod-Seversk and Murom-Ryazan, while, due to its remoteness, the Principality of Tmutarakan became often contested and eventually was overtaken. Murom and later the Principality of Ryazan also drifted away from under the influence of Chernigov and after some time was contested by the Principality of Vladimir. Nonetheless the influence of the Princes of Chernigov remained great and they retained the title of Kiev Grand Prince for sometime. The capital of the principality, Chernigov, was one of the largest economic and cultural centers of Kievan Rus'. The Chernigov dynasty possessed Kiev for some time in the 11th–13th centuries.

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