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Here is a story about Olga, Princess of Kiev, grandmother of Vladimir I. (Kiev, not as the city, but as the Kievan state. Pre-Imperial Russian history, but not too pre). Olga ruled as regent for her husband, Igor, while he was off doing the world conquest thing. She then ruled as regent for her son, Sviatoslav I, until he came of age, and then a good deal while he was off conquering various things, and she was not shy about crushing small helpless things herself. In terms of historical accuracy, this story is probably not true beyond Olga's husband being killed and Olga going to great lengths to subjugate the perpetrators, but this is much more fun. There are a number of versions of this story out there, including an account in the Russian Primary Chronicle, this is an amalgamation of those, in an attempt to make the best story out of it.

Now Olga's husband, Igor, was a greedy and mean leader and he tried to collect tribute from the Derevlians multiple times in one year, and he collected it by force and with the help of his army. So their Prince, Mal, engaged him in battle, killed him and sent a group of emissaries over to collect Olga and bring her back to him, as a war prize.

Since this was Russia, they traveled by boat, cause that's how you get around. They arrived at the castle and delivered their message from Mal. Olga greeted them warmly and said

"Of course I'll come marry your Prince, but this is what you must do first: Go back to your boat and wait there. Tomorrow I'll send for you, but you must be arrogant and insist on being carried through the city in your boat."

So the Derevlians returned to their boat and waited out the night, more than happy to do as she asked. They would not only be carrying out their Prince's orders, but they would be honored with a grand procession through the town and surely there would be a huge feast and much mead for them following.

In the meantime Olga had all her strongest and best men dig a huge trench. The next day when she sent for the Derevlians they insisted that they be carried through the streets in their boat. The peasants lamented that their Prince was dead, Olga to marry his murderer, and they must slave to carry their enemy through the streets in aboat. But the Derevlians insisted and Olga sent out her strongest and best men, though perhaps a bit tired. When they got to the palace, Olga had them dump the boat in the big trench and quickly poured the dirt back in on top, burying the Derevlians alive.

Once the emmissaries were taken care of, Olga sent advance notice to Dereva that she was on her way to marry Mal, and that they must make as much mead as possible, so that they could properly celebrate. When Olga arrived with a small band of her people, the Derevlians had made enough mead to amuse everyone thoroughly and they all sat down to feast. The Derevlians drank and drank of their mead, but Olga and her band were demure. When nightfall came, the Derevlians were thoroughly besotted and Olga and her band proceeded to systematically slaughter as many of them as possible before they returned home.

Olga then sent news to the Derevlian city that she wanted to make peace with them. If each major house in Dereva would send her a Dove she would begin discussing some sort of treaty. But as the doves arrived, Olga gave each a burning branch and set it free to fly back to its home and mate. And thus she burned most of Dereva to the ground.

Olga then sent her army to Dereva, where they easily crushed the rest of the Derevlians, and thus Olga conquered Dereva and revenged her husband's death.

Info from these guys. And also some vague background knowledge from an Imperial Russian History course at Michigan State University, taught by Dr. Elvira M. Wilbur.




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