The Principality or, from 1253, Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia (Old East Slavic: Галицко-Волинскоє князство, romanized: Galitsko-Volinskoe kniazstvo; Ukrainian: Галицько-Волинське князівство, romanized: Halytsko-Volynske kniazivstvo; Latin: Regnum Galiciae et Lodomeriae), also known as the Kingdom of Rus (Ukrainian: Королівство Русь, romanized: Korolivstvo Rus, Latin: Regnum Rusiae), was a medieval state and vassal of the Golden Horde in the Eastern European regions of Galicia and Volhynia that existed from 1199 to 1349. Its territory was predominantly located in modern-day Ukraine and Belarus. Along with Novgorod and Vladimir-Suzdal, it was one of the three most important powers to emerge from the collapse of Kievan Rus’. The main language was Old East Slavic, the predecessor to the modern languages of Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian, and the official religion was Eastern Orthodoxy.
The Grand Prince of Kiev, Roman the Great, united the principalities of Halych and Volhynia into a single state at the turn of the 13th century. Following the destruction wreaked by the Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus’ (1239 to 1241), Prince Danylo Romanovych was forced to pledge allegiance to Batu Khan of the Golden Horde in 1246 as other princes of Rus did. He strove to rid his realm of the Mongol yoke, by formally drawing closer to Western Europe, however when Batu Khan ordered him to destroy city walls of his eastern cities he did so. He was crowned “Rex Rusiae” by a papal legate in 1253, becoming officially an Orthodox subject of the Vatican. He also unsuccessfully attempted to establish military alliances with other European rulers. The Polish conquest of the kingdom in 1349 ended its vassalage to the Golden Horde but it also ended its autonomy; the principality of Galicia was fully absorbed by Catholic Poland. Upon annexing it, Polish King Casimir III the Great adopted the title of King of Poland and ruler of Ruthenia, and the territory was transformed into the Province of Ruthenia (Latin: Palatinatus Russiae) in 1434.
Geographically, western Galicia–Volhynia extended between the rivers San and Wieprz in what is now south-eastern Poland, while eastern territories covered the Pripet Marshes (now in Belarus) and the upper reaches of Southern Bug river in modern-day Ukraine. During its time, the kingdom was bordered by Black Rus, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Principality of Turov-Pinsk, the Principality of Kiev, the Golden Horde, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Poland, the Principality of Moldova and the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was populated by East Slavic people, identified with groups called Buzhans, Dulebes and White Croats. The southwestern edge of the land was probably part of the Great Moravian state. In 907, White Croats and Dulebs were involved in the military campaign against Constantinople led by Rus Prince Oleg of Novgorod. This is the first significant evidence of the political affiliation of native tribes. The area was mentioned in 981 (by Nestor), when Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus’ took over on his way into Poland. He founded the city of Volodimir (Volynskii) and later Christianized the locals. In the 12th century, the Principality of Halych was formed there by descendants of Vladimir the Great. It merged at the end of the 12th century with the neighboring Principality of Volhynia into the principality of Galicia–Volhynia, which existed with some breaks for a century and a half.
Rise and apogee
Volhynia and Galicia had originally been two separate principalities, assigned on a rotating basis to younger members of the Kievan dynasty. The line of Prince Roman the Great of Vladimir-in-Volhynia had held the principality of Volhynia, while the line of Yaroslav Osmomysl held the Principality of Halych (later adopted as Galicia). Galicia–Volhynia was created following the death in 1198 or 1199 (and without a recognized heir in the paternal line) of the last Prince of Galicia, Vladimir II Yaroslavich; Roman acquired the Principality of Galicia and united his lands into one state. Roman’s successors would mostly use Halych (Galicia) as the designation of their combined kingdom. In Roman’s time Galicia–Volhynia’s principal cities were Halych and Volodymyr-in-Volhynia. In 1204 he captured Kiev. Roman was allied with Poland, signed a peace treaty with Hungary and developed diplomatic relations with the Byzantine Empire. At the height of his reign he briefly became the most powerful of the Rus princes. He married the niece of the Byzantine emperor Alexios III, for whom Galicia was the main military ally against the Cumans. The relation with Byzantium helped to stabilize Galicia’s relations with the Rus’ population of the Lower Dniester and the Lower Danube.
In 1221, Mstislav Mstislavich, son of Mstislav Rostislavich, liberated Galicia–Volhynia from the Hungarians, but it was Daniel Romanovych (Daniel I of Galicia or Danylo Romanovych or Danylo Halytskyi), son of Roman, who formed a real union of Volhynia and Galicia. In 1239 and 1242 he captured Kiev, attempting to become the Grand Prince of all Rus, but he lost the city the first time after a few weeks, the second after a year. Danylo defeated the Polish and Hungarian forces in the battle of Yaroslav (Jarosław) and crushed their ally Rostislav Mikhailovich, son of the prince of Chernigov, in 1245. He also strengthened his relations with Batu Khan by traveling to his capital Saray (Sarai) and acknowledging, at least nominally, the supremacy of the Mongol Golden Horde. After meeting with Batu Khan, Danylo reorganized his army along Mongol lines and equipped it with Mongolian weapons, although Danylo himself maintained the traditional attire of a Rus prince. Danylo’s alliance with the Mongols was merely tactical; he pursued a long-term strategy of resistance to the Mongols.
In 1245, Pope Innocent IV allowed Danylo to be crowned king. Danylo wanted more than recognition, commenting bitterly that he expected an army when he received the crown. Although Danylo promised to promote recognition of the Pope to his people, his realm continued to be ecclesiastically independent from Rome. Thus, Danylo was the only member of the Rurik dynasty to have been crowned king. Danylo was crowned by the papal legate Opizo de Mezzano in Dorohochyn 1253 as the first King of all Rus (Rex Russiae; 1253–1264). In 1256 Danylo succeeded in driving the Mongols out of Volhynia, and a year later he defeated their attempts to capture the cities of Lutsk and Volodymyr-Volynskyi. Upon the approach of a large army under the Mongolian general Boroldai in 1260, however, Danylo was forced to accept their authority and to raze the fortifications he had built against them.
Under Danylo’s reign, Kingdom of Rus was one of the most powerful states in east central Europe. Literature flourished, producing the Galician–Volhynian Chronicle. Demographic growth was enhanced by immigration from the west and the south, including Germans and Armenians. Commerce developed due to trade routes linking the Black Sea with Poland, Germany, and the Baltic basin. Major cities, which served as important economic and cultural centers, included Lviv (where the royal seat would later be moved by Danylo’s son), Vladimir-in-Volhynia, Galich, Kholm (Danylo’s capital), Peremyshl, Drohiczyn, and Terebovlya. Galicia–Volhynia was important enough that in 1252 Danylo was able to marry his son Roman to the heiress of the Austrian Duchy in the vain hope of securing it for his family. Another son, Shvarn, married a daughter of Mindaugas, Lithuania’s first king, and briefly ruled that land from 1267 to 1269. At the peak of its expansion, the Galician–Volhynian state contained not only south-western Rus lands, including Red Rus and Black Rus, but also briefly controlled the Brodnici on the Black Sea.
After Danylo’s death in 1264, he was succeeded by his son Lev, who moved the capital to Lviv in 1272 and for a time maintained the strength of Kingdom of Rus. Unlike his father, who pursued a Western political course, Lev worked closely with the Mongols, in particular cultivating a close alliance with the Tatar Khan Nogai. Together with his Mongol allies, he invaded Poland. However, although his troops plundered territory as far west as Racibórz, sending many captives and much booty back to Galicia, Lev did not ultimately gain much territory from Poland. Lev also attempted, unsuccessfully, to establish his family’s rule over Lithuania. Soon after his brother Shvarn ascended to the Lithuanian throne in 1267, he had the former Lithuanian ruler Vaišvilkas killed. Following Shvarn’s loss of the throne in 1269, Lev entered into conflict with Lithuania. From 1274 to 1276 he fought a war with the new Lithuanian ruler Traidenis but was defeated, and Lithuania annexed the territory of Black Ruthenia with its city Navahrudak. In 1279, Lev allied himself with king Wenceslaus II of Bohemia and invaded Poland, although his attempt to capture Kraków in 1280 ended in failure. That same year, Lev defeated Hungary and annexed part of Transcarpathia, including the city of Munkács. In 1292 he defeated Poland and added Lublin with surrounding areas to the territory of Kingdom of Rus.
Decline and fall
After Lev’s death in 1301, a period of decline ensued. Lev was succeeded by his son Yuri I, who ruled for only seven years. Although his reign was largely peaceful and Kingdom of Rus flourished economically, Yuri I lost Lublin to the Poles in 1302 From 1308 until 1323 Kingdom of Rus was jointly ruled by Yuri I’s sons Andrew and Lev II, who proclaimed themselves to be the kings of Kingdom of Rus. The brothers forged alliances with King Władysław I of Poland and the Teutonic Order against the Lithuanians and the Mongols, but the Kingdom was still tributary to the Mongols and joined the Mongol military expeditions of Uzbeg Khan and his successor, Janibeg Khan. The brothers died together in 1323, in battle, fighting against the Mongols, and left no heirs.
After the extinction of the Rurikid dynasty in Kingdom of Rus in 1323, Volhynia passed into the control of the Lithuanian prince Liubartas, while the boyars took control over Galicia. They invited the Polish prince Boleslaw Yuri II, a grandson of Yuri I, to assume the Galician throne. Boleslaw converted to Orthodoxy and assumed the name Yuri II. Nevertheless, suspecting him of harboring Catholic feelings, the boyars poisoned him in 1340 and elected one of their own, Dmitry Detko, to lead the Galician state. In Winter 1341 Tatars, Ruthenians led by Detko, and Lithuanians led by Liubartas were able to defeat the Poles, although they were not so successful in Summer 1341. Finally, Detko was forced to accept Polish overlordship, as a starost of Halych. After Detko’s death, Poland’s King Casimir III mounted a successful invasion, capturing and annexing Galicia in 1349. Galicia–Volhynia ceased to exist as an independent state.
Danylo’s dynasty attempted to gain support from Pope Benedict XII and broader European powers for an alliance against the Mongols, but ultimately proved unable to compete with the rising powers of the centralised Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. Only in 1349, after the occupation of Galicia–Volhynia by an allied Polish-Hungarian force, was the Kingdom of Rus finally conquered and incorporated in Poland. This ended the vassalage of Kingdom of Rus to the Golden Horde.
From 1340 to 1392 the civil war in the region transitioned into a power struggle between Lithuania, Poland, and Hungary. The first stage of conflict led to the signing of a treaty in 1344 that secured the Principality of Peremyshl for the Crown of Poland, while the rest of the territory belonged to a member of the Gediminis family, Liubartas. Eventually by the mid-14th century, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania divided up the region between them: King Casimir III took Galicia and Western Volhynia, while the sister state of Eastern Volhynia together with Kiev came under Lithuanian control, 1352–66.
After 1352 most of the Ruthenian Voivodeship belonged to the Crown of the Polish Kingdom, where it remained also after the Union of Lublin between Poland and Lithuania. The present-day town of Halych is situated 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) away from the ancient capital of Galicia, on the spot where the river port of the old town was located, and where King Liubartas of Kingdom of Rus constructed a wooden castle in 1367.
By the treaty of the Union of Lublin of 1569, all of the former principality of Galicia–Volhynia became part of Poland. In 1772, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (who was also Queen of Hungary) revived the old Hungarian claims to the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria (Regnum Galiciæ et Lodomeriæ), using them to justify the participation of Austria in the partitions of Poland.
The Galician-Volhynian Chronicle reflected the political programme of the Romanovich dynasty ruling Galicia–Volhynia. Galicia–Volhynia competed with other successor states of Kievan Rus’ (notably Vladimir-Suzdal) to claim the Kievan inheritance. According to the Galician–Volhynian Chronicle, Kingdom of Rus King Daniel was the last ruler of Kiev preceding the Mongolian invasion and thus Galicia–Volhynia’s rulers were the only legitimate successors to the Kievan throne. Until the end of Galician-Volhynian state, its rulers advanced claims upon “all the land of Rus’.” The seal of King Yuri I contained the Latin inscription domini georgi regis rusie.
In contrast to their consistent secular or political claims to the Kievan inheritance, Galicia’s rulers were not concerned by religious succession. This differentiated them from their rivals in Vladimir-Suzdal, who sought to, and attained, control over the Kievan Church. Rather than contest Vladimir-Suzal’s dominance of the Kievan Church, Kingdom of Rus’ rulers merely asked for and obtained a separate Church from Byzantium.
Galicia–Volhynia also differed from the northern and eastern principalities of the former Kievan Rus’ in terms of its relationship with its western neighbors. King Danylo was alternatively an ally or a rival with neighboring Slavic Poland and partially Slavic Hungary. According to historian George Vernadsky, Kingdom of Rus, Poland and Hungary belonged to the same psychological and cultural world. The Roman Catholic Church was seen as a neighbor and there was much intermarriage between the princely houses of Galicia and those of neighboring Catholic countries. In contrast, the Westerners faced by Alexander, prince of Novgorod, were the Teutonic Knights, and the northeastern Rus experience of the West was that of hostile crusaders rather than peers.
The principality was divided into several appanage duchies and lands.
- Principality of Halych
- Principality of Peremyshl
- Principality of Zvenyhorod
- Principality of Terebovlia
- Principality of Volhynia
- Principality of Lutsk
- Principality of Dorohobuzh
- Principality of Peresopnytsia
- Principality of Belz
- Land of Chełm (Lublin 1289–1302)
- Land of Berestia
- Black Ruthenia, a fief of Grand Duchy of Lithuania after a treaty between Daniel of Galicia and Vaišvilkas
- Principality of Kiev (1230–1240)
- Principality of Turow (1230s)
- Zakarpattia (1280–1320) ???