History of Yaroslavl


Yaroslavl is a medieval Russian city that stands on the banks of Volga river at the confluence with Kotorsl river, 282 km North East of Moscow. The oldest settlement in the city is to be found on the left bank of the Volga River in front of the Strelka (a small cape at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl) and belongs to the 5th–3rd millennium BCE. In the 9th century the so-called Russian Khanate formed, near Yaroslavl, a large Scandinavian-Slavic settlement, known nowadays for a range of burial mounds, in Timerevo. When excavations were carried out a large number of artifacts including Scandinavian weapons with runic inscriptions, chess pieces and the largest collection of Arabian coins (treasure) in northern Europe, (the earliest were struck in the first Idrisid) were found. In Timerevo the fourth set of Scandinavian brooches ever found in Russia was discovered. Apparently, this "proto-Yaroslavl" was a major center for the Volga trade route. Soon after the founding of Yaroslavl, the settlement went into decline, probably in connection with the termination of the operation of the Volga trade route. Upstream of the Volga River, just outside the boundaries of the modern city, archaeologists have studied a large necropolis with a predominance of ordinary graves of the Finno-Ugric-type.


There have been Viking settlements in the 8th and 9th century in the vicinity of the modern day Yaroslavl, but the foundation of the city is owed to a Russian prince that traveled through these lands. Yaroslavl was officialy founded by Yaroslav the Wise, a prince of Kievan Rus', during the period of his ruling the Principality of Rostov (988—1010) when he stepped ashore for the first time near the area now known as 'Strelka', a favorite contemporary park. On this spot which was well protected from attack by the high, steep banks of the Volga, Kotorosl and Medveditsa Rivers, Yaroslavl and his men began to set about building the first Yaroslavl Kremlin. The first recorded event of Yaroslavl occurred as a result of famine, it was recorded as the Rostov Uprising of 1071. The name of the city is traditionally linked to that of its founder: Yaroslav.


By the 12th century, the Petropavlovsky and Spaso-Preobrazhensky monasteries of Yaroslavl had already come into existence; however, at that time they were located well beyond the city limits. During the first two centuries of its existence Yaroslavl remained a minor fortified city of the Rostov-Suzdal lands.

From the beginning of the thirteenth century, Yaroslavl found itself under the lordship of Konstantin and became one of his primary residences. As, just before his death in 1218, Konstantin broke up his land between his various sons, his second son Vsevolod came into possession of the Yaroslavl land, which he from thence onwards ruled as the Principality of Yaroslavl. This principality, of which Yaroslavl became the capital included a number of territories to the north and existed up until its eventual absorption into the Principality of Moscow in 1463.

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Yaroslavl was a city largely built from wood, as a result of which it often found itself plagued by disastrous fires, which in some cases almost destroyed the entire city, a good example of which would be that which took place just before the transfer of power in the city to Vsevolod on 1221. Another constant source of danger for the city and for the many Russian princes of the time came from the East and the many foreign invaders, (usually from the Mongol Horde. A particularly successful attack took place in 1257, when troops from the Golden Horde under Möngke Khan overran the Principality of Yaroslavl and murdered both the larger population of the area and the prince's close family.[26] On the site of that unfortunate event, on the right bank of the Kotorosl, there is now a memorial church and cross.

In 1293 and 1322 there were further disastrous attacks on Yaroslavl launched by the Golden Horde, and in 1278 and 1364 the Plague struck.[27] On many an occasion Yaroslavl had to be completely rebuilt, both in terms of residential buildings which no longer exist, to those larger more permanent structures which remain to this day, such as the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and 1314 Monastery of Maria of Tolga, which is located on the left bank of the Volga. In 1463 the Principality of Yaroslavl was finally absorbed into the Grand-duchy of Moscow, with the area it once covered becoming an oblast within the new structure of the Muscovite state. From this point onwards the history of the city and its lands became completely inseparable from that of Moscow and eventually Russia.


The legend claims that prince traveled through these lands with his men. At the time it was a wilderness with no sight of human settlements. Yaroslav went into woods during a brief stop and was attacked by a bear. Yaroslav drew his weapons and killed the animal. On this site, he ordered the construction of a city named Yaroslavl in his honor. The bear ironically became the symbol of the city.
After fall of Rurik dynasty in the late 16th century that ruled over Russia for centuries period of instability followed that became known as Troubled Times. The solution did not come from aristocratic families. Those were pretty much wiped out by Ivan the Terrible. Instead, it was Orthodox Church and common people that organized an army, armed it, fed it to fight against Polish- Lithuanian invaders that captured Moscow. Tradesman Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky headed the new rebellion. They spent four months in Yaroslavl, gathering money and men for their final push against Polish army. They went on to defeat the Polish- Lithuanian army and liberate Moscow from invaders. Statue dedicated to both men stands on the Red Square in Moscow. After liberation, Moscow and all of Russia neither men tried to claim the throne. Instead, Mikhail Romanov was chosen as the new tsar of Russia.


Even in the 16th century Yaroslavl continued to suffer from large scale fires and the damage they did to the city's developing economy and infrastructure. As a result, the age old tradition of building in wood was abandoned and a new city built of stone began to appear; unfortunately this meant that very little of the Yaroslavl of the Middle Ages remained unchanged. The most prominent example of this is the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery which was destroyed in 1501 and rebuilt in just under a few years. Resultantly the monastery's cathedral was built up in 1506–1516, a building which remains, to this day, the oldest unchanged building in the city. By the middle of the sixteenth century a number of other building works had been completed in the monastery, also, other than this, for the first time in its history, Yaroslavl gained a stone-built wall with a number of large watch towers which were intended to be used to spot attackers from miles away. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, when all the Russian principalities gave up their traditional rights and submitted to the Tsardom of Russia, the two large monasteries of Yaroslavl profited very much from rich gifts from the court of the Tsar, largely because Ivan IV made a number of pilgrimages to Yaroslavl over the course of his life.


New building works were also made affordable by a large upswing in Yaroslavl's economic fortunes which the city experienced in the middle part of the 16th century. The main reason for this largely unexpected improvement in Yaroslavl's fortunes came largely from the city's position on the Volga which allowed trade to be brought from and to Moscow via the river, linking the new Russian capital with the port of Archangelsk darstellte. Resultantly Yaroslavl became an important place for the conduct of international trade and a number of shipping berths and warehouses grew up around the city for the use of merchants, especially those from England and Germany.
During next two centuries the city became a quiet provincial town in the Russian Empire. It grew in size and wealth. During Industrialization it became an important site of textile manufacture. However, all that came to an end when Russian Revolution of 1917 overthrew the monarchy in Russia. Residents of Yaroslavl saw little advantages in sharing their wealth so they started a rebellion on July 6, 1918 against Bolshevik municipal authorities. Soviets responded very quickly by bringing down an uprising with artillery and machine-gun fire. Anti-Soviet rebellion was put down by July 21 resulting in hundreds of dead and dozens of buildings in Yaroslavl damaged or completely destroyed.