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The Rus Primary Chronicle.
Fragment.Adaptation D.S. Likhachyov.

Translation N.Khrapunov

...And after a year had passed, in 6496 (AD 988), Vladimir proceeded with an army against Korsun' (Cherson), a Greek city, and the people of Korsun' barricaded themselves therein. And Vladimir halted at the farther side of the city beside the harbor, a bowshot from the city, and its inhabitants resisted energetically while Vladimir besieged the city. Eventually, however, they became exhausted, and Vladimir said to the citizens: "If you do not surrender, I will remain in this place for three years." They failed to heed this threat. Vladimir, having prepared his troops, ordered the construction of an earthwork in the direction of the city. While they constructed it, the people of Korsun dug a tunnel under the city wall, stole the heaped-up earth, carried it into their city, and piled it up in the center of the city. The soldiers kept on building, and Vladimir persisted. Then a certain man of Korsun', Anastasios by name, shot an arrow on which he wrote "Dig down and cut off the water which flows in pipes from wells behind you to the east" into the Rus' camp. When Vladimir heard about this, he looked to heaven and said: "If this is realized, I will be baptized." And he immediately ordered to cut off the water. The people were overcome by thirst and surrendered. Vladimir entered the city with his retinue and dispatched delegates to the emperors Basil and Constantine to tell to them: "Behold, I have taken your glorious city. I heard that you have a virgin sister; if you do not give me her hand in marriage, I will deal with your capital similarly as I have dealt with this city."


Fragment of diorama "Capture of Korsun' by prince Vladimir".
Artists I. S. Petrov, R. V. Serdyuk

When the emperors heard this, they were troubled. And they sent him the following message: "It is not appropriate for Christians to agree to marriage with pagans; however, if you were baptized, you would have her and receive the kingdom of God, and be our companion in faith. If you do not do this, then we cannot give you our sister in marriage".

Having heard this Vladimir said to the emperors' delegates: "Tell your emperors the following: I will be baptized because I have already pursued some study of your religion, and your faith and ritual as described by the emissaries sent to me by you pleased me well." Having heard this the emperors rejoiced, and prepared their sister, Anna by name, and sent a message to Vladimir, saying: "Submit to baptism, and then we will send our sister to you." Vladimir replied: "Come with your sister and baptize me then."

And the emperors complied and sent forth their sister, dignitaries, and priests. She did not want to go, saying: "It is as if I were setting out into captivity. Better were it for me to die at home." And her brothers said: "Perhaps through you God will guide the land of the Rus' to repentance, and you will relieve Greece from dangerous war. Do you see how much evil the Rus' have brought upon the Greeks? If you do not go now, they will bring us the same misfortunes as they did Korsun'." And they overcame her hesitation with great difficulty.

She embarked upon a ship, tearfully embraced her kinsfolk, and set forth across the sea. And she arrived in Korsun', and the people came forth to greet her, and led her into the city, and settled her in the palace.

By divine agency, Vladimir was suffering at that moment from an eye disease, and he could see nothing. He was in great distress, and he did not know what was to be done. And the Queen sent word to him: "If you desire to be relieved of this disease, you should be baptized as soon as possible; if you are not baptized, you cannot be cured." Having heard this Vladimir said: "If this proves true, then the Christian God is really great." And he ordered that he should be baptized. The bishop of Korsun' with the Queen's priests baptized Vladimir. And as [the bishop] laid his hand upon him, he straightaway received his sight.

Upon experiencing this miraculous cure, Vladimir glorified God: "Now I have perceived the one true God." Many of his guards had seen this, and they were also baptized. He (Vladimir) was baptized in the Church of St. Basil, which stood in the city of Korsun' in the center of the city where the people assembled for trade; the palace of Vladimir stands at the corner of the church to this day, and the Queen's palace is behind the altar. After his baptism Vladimir received the Queen in marriage.

Those who do not know the truth say that Vladimir was baptized in Kiev, while others insist on Vasilyev, while still others suggest other places. When [the priests] baptized Vladimir and explained the Christian faith to him, they told him the following: "Let no heretics tempt you, and you should have faith, declaring: 'I believe in one God the Father, the Almighty, who created heaven and earth…' and proclaim this Symbol of Faith to the end." Afterwards, Vladimir took the Queen, Anastasios, the priests of Korsun' carrying the relics of St. Clement, and Phoebos, his (Anastasios') disciple, taking also sacred vessels and images for his blessing. And he erected a church in Korsun' on the hill which had been raised in the center of the city with the earth removed from his embankment; this church stands to the present day.

Departing, he also appropriated two copper idols and four copper horses which now stand behind the Church of the Holy Mother of God, and which the ignorant think are made of marble. He gave Korsun' back to the Greeks as a dowry for the Queen, and he himself returned to Kiev. And when he arrived, he ordered that all idols should be destroyed, some should be cut to pieces, and others burned with fire.



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