Friday, January 21, 2022

Marble sarcophagus of Grand Prince of Rus Yaroslav the Wise and his wife Queen Ingegerd Olofsdotter of Sweden, 1054 AD


This king basically stole the bride of Norwegian king Olaf the Saint, the Swedish princess Ingegerd. (if I am not mistaken she was also placed in this sarcoohagus).

A daughter of Yaroslav and Ingegerd married Harald Hardrada (but to earn that right, Harald had to spend years in Byzantine Empire accumulating wealth. 

Harald Hard Ruler invaded England in force in 1066, mere months before William the future Conqueror did, requiring Harold Godwinson of England to march up to York and successfully fight and defeat him at Stamford Bridge. This probably led to the Norman victory later in the south, when William was able to overcome Harald's tired and not yet fully re-formed army at Hastings.

The sarcophagus is at St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. It is of marble and weighs 6 tons.


  1. There were 19 days between the Battle of Stamford Bridge and the Battle of Hastings. Harold won decisively but then had a forced march almost the full length of England to get to Hastings. Upon such slender slices of luck does the world turn sometimes.

  2. Actually, Harold took an arrow in an eye and died. Had he lived and his army held its ground as he had been commanding it to the battle may have ended in an Anglo-Saxon victory.

    Dan Kurt

    1. It was close, but I think Harold's death was after the battle had already been lost. His death turned a defeat into a total rout.

    2. Indeed, Dan. Alas, the giving up of the high ground was, as you say, the immediate cause of the defeat. Harold had almost no cavalry and few archers, he had infantry, a hill and a shield-wall. And so when his men pursued the not-fleeing Normans, probably though ill discipline but it is not clear, they did so on foot. And now we have two armies neither of which is on a hill.

      It was thought also that William might be dead etc. A proper mediaeval mayhem battle now, a tired army, no strategic forces. I'd have stayed on my hill and retired as best I could under darkness maybe. Winter not far off. Every day more fresh men and supplies. He knew their size now - not enough to take England. The invaders would have died in the fields in their thousands.

      Harold's arrow came - if it did - at the denouement, his thanes and housecarls around him, the battle all but lost by then. Much of the story is the tapestry btw. I reckon that if Stamford Bridge hadn't happened, William would have found himself with a much harder task.

      BTW I live 100 yards from where a traitor later let William cross the Thames and get access to London to cement his victory.