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[personal profile] andvaka
Now, this is based off of how it was told to me while I was studying Russian history. My facts are correct, but the way I tell it is a little more fun for me.


Vladimir I was the Prince of Kiev. Vlad had a problem, he had an unruly populace, seriously unruly warriors and his position as Prince was somewhat untenable. So he was looking for a good way to consolidate power. He had decided that a unified religion was the way to do it, and the various pagan religions in his area were not good to set up a power base with. His selection of a faith is a story for another time, but he had pretty well decided on "Orthodox" Christianity as practiced in Byzantium.

About this time, Basil II was Emperor of Byzantium. Basil had a problem. He had this small civil war going on which was going to unseat him if successful. Basil was over-extended so he went to Vladimir and asked if Vlad could help him out.

Vlad agreed quickly. Vlad promised to send 6000 troops to help Basil in exchange for Basil's sister's hand in marriage and with the promise that Vlad would convert. Basil agreed.

Vlad was smart. He gathered up 6000 of his most pagan warriors, the one's who would fight the hardest against Vlad's conversion and any wholesale conversion of Kiev. He told them about the deal and sent them to Byzantium.

They turned the tide for Basil. They won. And Basil kept them in Constantinople to ensure that civil war would not break out again when they left.

Basil then wrote Vlad and told him that the deal was off. Thank you for your help, but upon reconsideration I will not give you my sister's hand in marriage.

Vlad pondered this, and came up with a solution. Kherson was a large trading outpost in the north of the Empire. Vlad came down to Kherson and took it handily.

He then wrote Basil. "Basil" he said, "I took Kherson. I took it easily. I would like you to think about something. I have Kherson. You have 6000 of warriors loyal to me in your capitol. You might want to think about what you're doing. But I'm a nice guy. I'll give you Kherson back if you bring your sister here. I'll convert, we'll get married, and you can have Kherson as a gift on my wedding day."

Basil looked at the troops, and quickly agreed.

Vlad converted, he got married, Basil got Kherson.

And the 6000 troops? They were the start of the Varangian Guard.

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August 2011

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