Olga Kiev: The Princess Who Buried People Alive

WORLD HISTORY | March 25, 2019

Olga's avenge to the Drevlians, before 1839. Artist: Bruni, Fyodor Antonovich (1800-1875) Source: (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Why Was She So Vengeful?

There are very few known details about the age of Olga. What is known is that she married Prince Igor, who was a part of the Rurik Dynasty of Russian tzars. They took the throne of Kievan, Russia in 912. They also had a son in 942 and named him Svyatoslav. In 945 Prince Igor traveled to meet up with a Slavic tribe, the Drevlyans, who owed him tribute money. Instead of paying Igor, the Drevlyans killed him.

Painting of Saint Olga. Source: (aleteia.org)

Olga Rules

Now that Olga’s husband had been killed, her three-year-old son was next in line to rule. Because he was so young, Olga became his regent until he was old enough to take over. It was rare to have a woman in charge of the government, but the military supported her rule. The Drevlyans did not support her at all. They sent ambassadors to arrange a marriage to Prince Mal – the leader they wanted to rule. This did not sit well with Olga.

Olga of Kiev. Source: (historyanswers.co.uk)

Princess Olga Strikes

Olga commanded that a deep ditch is dug in the large hall of the castle. As Olga sat on her throne in the hall she sent for the Drevlyans. Fearing a trap of some sort, they insisted that they be brought by boat to see Olga. As they arrived at the great hall, the men who had brought the Drevlyans dropped them into the deep ditch. Olga went to the edge of the ditch and asked them if they found their visit to be to their taste. They were screaming as she orders them to be buried alive. And so they were.

Depiction of Olga of Kiev burning people alive. Source: (pinterest.com)

Olga Is Still Mad!

Burying people alive did not satisfy her thirst for revenge. She sent for better suitors from the Drevlyans so they sent a second group to see Olga. This time, she locked them into a bathhouse and set it on fire. They all burned to death. Then, she paid a visit to the Drevlyans to collect the taxes they still owed. She ordered everyone who came to her feast to be killed. It is reported that nearly 5,000 men were killed at this feast.

Olga of Kiev with her death pigeon. Source: (museumhack.com)

Olga Is Still Not Done!

Her last act of revenge on the Drevlyans was when she attacked the city looking to collect the taxes they owed. Instead of taking what was owed, she only asked them for three pigeons from each household. Of course, they agreed, thinking that they got a great deal! Olga gave each of her soldiers a pigeon and had them attach a thread with a piece of cloth wrapped sulfur to each bird. At dusk, they released the birds and they flew home to their nests located in the homes they came from. As they landed, the sulfur sparked and caught fire. All the homes and structures caught fire at once to it was impossible to control it. As the people fled the burning city, Olga’s troops caught them. Some of the captives she had killed and the others she kept as slaves.

Olga of Kiev becomes a Saint. Source: (youtube.com)

How Did Olga End Up A Saint?

Before Olga took over rule, society had been Pagan. Olga converted to Christianity and was baptized. When her son was old enough to take over ruling, he did not approve of Christianity. While Svyatoslav was off on military campaigns he left his son, Vladimir the Great home to stay with Olga. She influenced him greatly because when Vladimir took over he declared Christianity the official religion of Kiev. Before Olga died, she was able to get her last rites by a Catholic priest. Olga was made a saint because of her efforts to create a Christian nation.

Tags: Olga of Kiev

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