Vladimir Svyatoslavich the Great (c. 958 – July 15, 1015, Berestovo), also known as Saint Vladimir of Kiev, was the grand prince of Kiev who converted to Christianity in 987 and is generally credited as the person most responsible for the Christianization of Russia.
The illegitimate son of Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev, Vladmir consolidated the Kievan Rus' from the Ukraine to the Baltic Sea through his military exploits. During his early reign, he remained a zealous pagan, devoting himself to the Slavic-Norse deities, establishing numerous temples, and practicing polygamy. In 987, however, he converted to Christianity as a condition of a marriage alliance with Anna, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. He then ordered the conversion of Kiev and Novgorod to the Orthodox Church and began the destruction of other faiths.
|The Christianity of Rus'|
After his conversion, and with the Byzantine Empire now his ally, Vladimir was able to live for the most part in peace with his neighbors and devote new resources to education, legal reform, and charitable works. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the feast day of St. Vladimir on July 15. A large number of legends and Russian folk songs were written in Vladimir’s memory.