Борис Бурда
Author: Boris Burda
Journalist, writer, bard. Winner of the «Diamond Owl» intellectual game «What? Where? When?»
Liberal ArtsNomina
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ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi – the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part I. Before Kalka)
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The princes had time to prepare for the next invasion from the east – it was completely wasted. What they did – internecine showdowns, the conclusion of alliances, dissolved over trifles, and recalling old grievances – they continued to do so.

Danylo’s relationship with his illustrious father-in-law deteriorated after Kalka. It is not entirely clear why – his marriage to Mstislav’s daughter Anna brought the princely couple five sons and three daughters. Maybe this is just some kind of curse of pre-Mongol Rus? Everyone did that …

It got to the point that before his death, Mstislav Udatnyi decided to transfer Halych not to Danylo, but to his other son-in-law – the Hungarian prince Andrew, the brother of that Koloman, who had already been expelled from Halych. Not only Danylo was dissatisfied with this decision – many boyars were against it.

Danylo did not take up Halych right away – after the murder of Leshek Bely by the conspirators, he sided with his brother Konrad Mazowiecki and made a campaign in Poland. There he laid siege to the city of Kalisz, took tribute from it. The chronicler notes: “Another prince did not enter the land of Lyadsk only deeply, other than Volodymyr the Great, who baptized the earth.” It took a while.

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
Danylo Halytskyi




Not everything is obtainable by will. Andrey Korolevich, having reigned in Halych, did not have a solid support. Very soon Danylo received an offer from a significant part of the Galician boyars to return and “sit on his father’s table.” They already trusted him and had reasons for it.

Danylo laid siege to Halych, but did not storm it – he did not need extra blood. The blockaded city, cut off from sources of supply, surrendered on its own. After the victory, Danylo, contrary to the spirit of the times, was not fond of repressions and even sent Andrew “with honor” to his homeland.

Andrew’s brother, the Hungarian king Bela IV, tried to recapture the city. His first attempt failed – the army besieging Halych fell victim to an epidemic, torrential rains made it difficult for his retreat, besides, Danylo stubbornly and skillfully pursued them, inflicting considerable losses on them.

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
Hungarian King Bela IV. Thirteenth century miniature

His alliance with Alexander Belzsky turned out to be fragile – he believed that he would rule Halych no worse than Danylo, and prepared a conspiracy to burn Danylo and Vasilko Romanovich during a feast. But the conspiracy was revealed and Alexander did not go well.

The next Hungarian attack was more successful – Bela found allies among the Galician boyars, and Danylo had to flee to Kyiv. But thanks to his diplomatic skills, he convinced the Kyiv prince to help him and conquered the city again. Alexander Belzsky first returned under the arm of Danylo, but betrayed him again, after the fall of Halych he was captured and died in prison.




Continuing his favorite princely games – internecine wars – Danylo entered into an alliance with the Kyiv prince Vladimir Rurikovich against Mikhail of Chernigov. It did not lead to anything good – soon at Torchesk he was defeated by the Polovtsy allied to Mikhail Chernigov.

The Galician boyars did not need a prince who had failed, and they united with Mikhail of Chernigov. Vladimir was expelled from Halych, and his rival Mikhail became his prince. Danylo had to flee to Hungary again – to look for temporary allies.

Meanwhile, the prince of Kyiv died, and Danylo claimed the throne of his ally. At first they were unsuccessful – Mikhail of  Chernigov occupied Kyiv in 1238, and put his son Rostislav in Halych. The fact that at this time the Tatars ruined their neighbors, they did not even notice.

And Danylo got stronger, found allies and in 1239 expelled Rostislav from Halych. Galician boyars supported him – it seems that any prince bored them very quickly … Therefore, Danylo did not resort to repression – it was not his method at all. He just started building a new capital in the city of Holm.

Soon he took possession of Kyiv as well. His brother and vassal Vasilko sat in Vladimir-Volynsky, Halych was supplemented by other conquests, including Kyiv, – Danylo became the most powerful prince in Rus. Vladimir and Suzdal, devastated by the Mongols, ceased to be noticeable competitors, and the Mongols left again. Did he think the Mongols would not come again?

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
Prince Danylo Romanovich captures the princely table in Kyiv




They came – and moreover to the lands that now belong to Danylo. Actually, they approached Kyiv during the invasion of 1237, but the Khan Mengu who commanded them did not storm the city, but only informed the people of Kyiv that Kyiv was being transferred to Vladimir Rurikovich (after his death – just to Danylo). How was it possible? And they were already allies of the Mongols …

The Mongols quickly forgot about this alliance. In 1240 they took Kyiv by storm and ravaged it to the ground. The tysyatsky Dmitry appointed by Danylo, who led the defense of Kyiv, stubbornly resisted (for his courage, Batu even left him alive), but what could he do?

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
Batu Khan. Figure XIII century.

After the capture of Kyiv, Batu led his troops directly to the Galicia-Volynia principality. Volodymyr-Volynsky, Halych, Kamenets, and many more cities were taken. However, Batu could not take some fortresses (for example, Kremenets), and he bypassed some, and they survived.

At this time, Danylo and his family were hiding with Prince Mazovetsky – he could not resist. But when Batu, having passed a significant part of Hungary and Poland, again went east, he returned to the devastated Halych and began to rebuild the destroyed, attracting refugees from other places.




Danylo’s attempts to find allies to fight the Horde were unsuccessful – the Hungarians and Poles again considered that the Horde was not in danger of them, and many princes (for example, Alexander Nevsky) considered the Horde to be an inevitable evil that must be dealt with. And he could not afford to fight the Horde alone.

Only the younger brother of Alexander Nevsky, Andrey Yaroslavich, tried to fight the Horde. Danylo entered into an alliance with him and married his daughter Anastasia to him. But the fact that the chances of military success in the fight against Batu are negligible, they both understood perfectly well. They had to wait.

Fearing the return of Batu, Danylo decided to go to him himself. It was quite dangerous – his rival Mikhail of Chernigov refused to pass between the “cleansing fires” before accessing the khan, considering it paganism, and was brutally killed. It was clearly not worth going for this …

Danylo showed flexibility and diplomacy, and in the end was received with the utmost goodwill. Batu even, noticing his dislike for the Mongols’ national drink, kumis (also considered a pagan ritual), sent him wine, more familiar to the prince.

But he still had to recognize the supremacy of Batu and pledge to pay him tribute – it was hard for both Danylo and his subjects. A noteworthy phrase appeared in the annals that Danylo was “more evil than evil Tatar honor.” It was necessary to look for other options for resistance.


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Danylo began to strengthen ties with his western neighbors. It was not easy – the Poles and Hungarians knew how to throw allies no worse than the princes of Kievan Rus. But he married his son Roman to the daughter of Bela IV, which, according to complex dynastic laws, gave him the right to the Austrian throne.

But his hopes for an alliance with Andrey Yaroslavich did not come true. His subjects began an uprising against the Tatar tax collectors, and the Horde sent a huge army that ravaged his lands almost to the ground. There was no point in counting on him anymore as an ally.

However, even without the Tatars, his authorities began to threaten – the son of Mikhail  Chernigovsky Rostislav, remembering that his father owned Halych. Once he even captured Halych, but he was quickly kicked out of there. Then he married the daughter of Bela IV and made an alliance with the Hungarians and Poles.

His forces laid siege to the city of Yaroslavl belonging to Danylo on the San River. There were also the Hungarians, led by the voivode Philnius, and the Poles, and the Galician boyars who were dissatisfied with Danylo (where can we go without this?). Here, near Yaroslavl, in 1245, a decisive battle took place, ending the war.

At first, Danylo was even captured by the Hungarians, but he managed to escape and was able to turn the tide of the battle. The enemies rushed to flee through the ravine and suffered huge losses. Contrary to his custom of not resorting to reprisals, Danylo executed the Hungarian governor Philnius and the Galician boyar Vladislav Yuryevich. But Danylo’s power over the Galicia-Volynia principality became complete.




It was irrelevant to look for allies against Batu in the east, and Danylo turned his gaze to the west. The papal ambassador to the Horde, Plano Carpini, began the negotiations, discussing with Danylo the reunification of churches and the crusade against the Mongols. This conversation was not forgotten.

Danylo held more detailed negotiations with Pope Innocent IV – mutual distrust extended their term, but did not prevent the achievement of an agreement, according to which, among other things, the papal legate in 1253 in Drogichin crowned Danylo as the first king of Rus.

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
The papal nuncio presents Prince Danylo I with the royal crown

But the agreement was not implemented. Calls for a crusade went unanswered, Danylo did not change his faith himself and did not force his subjects. The new Pope Alexander IV lost interest in affairs in the East, and in 1264 Pope Urban IV even ranked the Rusichis as enemies of Christianity.

So the agreement with the Pope remained a pure declaration. Unlike the royal title, Danylo not only wore it himself, but was also able to pass it on to descendants. Did this titling change his powers, did it give him additional power? For his subjects, no. But it didn’t hurt either …




Without waiting for the fruits of the alliance with the Pope, Danylo began to resist the Horde on his own. He was able to achieve a certain balance of power with the commander of the Horde troops Temnik Kuremsa. But Batu and Berke, who replaced him, clearly did not suit – Kuremsa was replaced by Temnik Burundai.

Burundai moved to the lands of Danylo with a huge army, which was not possible to cope with. Danylo entered into negotiations and agreed that he would not fight the Galicia-Volynia principality if Danylo himself erected the fortifications of the cities. He had to obey.

“How was it possible?” some will ask. “After all, Burundai was drowned together with his troops in the Carpathians by the cunning of Zakhar Berkut, we were taught that way at school!” Yes, everything is exactly like that in Ivan Franko’s story, but this is just fiction, where the author has the right to create.

In different schools they teach different things – we, for example, were taught that under Olmutz, the Czechs, under the leadership of Yaroslav from Sternberk, defeated Batu and he was forced to leave for the steppe. And this is information from the Kraledvor manuscript – the famous forgery of the early 19th century. Nowhere else is there a word about it.

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
The Battle of Olmutz, which never happened

It is easy to understand this – wounded pride invents myths to calm it down. But in fact, Danylo did not succeed in shaking the dominion of the Tatars. But they managed to soften it with their diplomatic skill, and seriously – the princes of these lands did not go to the Horde anymore.




For the rest of his life, Danylo already owned his lands relatively calmly. It was not that he did not have to fight at all – for example, it was necessary to repulse the pagan Yatvingians, who constantly disturbed his lands with predatory raids. He coped with this successfully.

At the end of his life, he had a chance to make war with the Lithuanians – despite the fact that his second wife was the niece of the Lithuanian prince Mindaugas, and his son Shvarno (most likely, this is a distortion of the name Severin, usual in those parts) was married to his daughter. Remember – “the stone has no veins …”?

But the construction clearly delighted Danylo more. He not only rebuilt cities destroyed by enemies, but also founded new ones – there are many of them, and we know best of all Lviv, named after his son Lev Danilovich. He clearly got along better with artisans and merchants than with the boyars …

The prince died in 1264 in his new capital, Kholm, where he was buried. The chronicler, grieving over his death, calls him “the second in Solomon”, thus emphasizing his wisdom. The novel about his life had a happy ending – everything that was taken from him in childhood, Danylo was able to return.




And in our time, Danylo Romanovich Halytsky is not forgotten. Monuments to him have been erected in Lviv, Halych, Ternopil and Volodymyr-Volynskiy, and in Dnipro, Lutsk and Vinnytsia there are streets that bear his name. I think there are even more of them – you just have to look …

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
Monument in Lviv

At least two full-length feature films have been shot about him – the 1987 Soviet film Danylo – Prince Halytsky and the Ukrainian film of 2018 King Danylo. And in Lviv, a new airport has been named after King Danylo of Halytsky since 2011.

In addition, in Lviv there is the Danylo Halytsky National Medical University, in Ivano-Frankivsk – the Ivano-Frankivsk University of Law named after King Danylo, and the Obolon company, back in 2007, launched the production of King Danylo beer with his portrait on the label.

Even the state award of Ukraine, established in 2003, bears his name – the Order of Danylo Halytsky. But the main thing is not in all these memorial events, but in the fact that we remember him as a living character of history who ruled in difficult times, but did everything he could.

ROOTS AND WINGS with Boris Burda: Grand Prince of Kyiv Danylo Halytskyi - the first king of Rus (Part II. After Kalka)
Order of Danylo Halytsky


All illustrations from open sources

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