Saint Olga was a mass murderer and her grandson, Saint Vladimir, was a rapist and conducted human sacrifices.
Saint Olga entered into the first royal family of Russia with her marriage to Igor, Prince of Kiev. Igor was the heir of Rurik, a Viking mercenary employed by the people of Novgorod. The Vikings fought the Pechenegs and drove them off. Then Rurik decided he liked Novgorod and conquered his former employers and started a dynasty.
Igor Dies at the Hands of the Drevlians
In the year 945, some of the local tribute payers, the Drevlians, rose up against Igor and refused to pay their annual tribute, thereby causing Igor to head to Iskorosten with a large force. The Drevlians reconsidered and paid the tribute to Igor.
On the way home, Igor decided he wanted more tribute and in one of the dumbest moves in history, he went back to Iskorosten alone to demand more money. The astonished Drevlians politely said no, and then murdered the stupid Igor.
Olga Enacts Revenge Against the Drevlians
The Drevlians then embarked on a scheme that proved even more idiotic than Igor’s. The Drevlians sent a team of twenty ambassadors to Kiev to deliver the news of Igor’s death and a proposal of marriage for his widow, Olga.
Olga shrewdly listened to the proposal and told the ambassadors she would consider the proposal overnight. Meanwhile she had her men dig a big ditch beside her fort. The next morning the ambassadors showed up in their best finery and Olga promptly had them thrown in the ditch. As the ambassadors bewailed their predicament, Olga had them buried alive.
Then Olga persuaded the prince of the Drevlians to send his best men to Kiev so she would have an escort to go to her marriage in Iskorosten. The prince sent his men, after all the prince considered Olga to be a beautiful woman and a great catch. Olga trapped all of the prince’s men in a bathhouse and burned them alive.
The prince, beset with a terminal case of stupidity still wanted to marry Olga. She came to his city and during a banquet, her men stayed sober while the Drevlians drank themselves into a stupor. Then Olga’s men killed all the Drevlians. Still not finished Olga later returned with her soldiers and burned Iskorosten to the ground. The few survivors became slaves.
Olga Becomes a Christian
Nine years after her quenching her vengeance, Olga journeyed to Constantinople. History does not give the circumstances, but sometime during her stay, Olga became a Christian. After her baptism, Olga went back home and tried to convert her people to Christianity, alas to no avail. It would be many years later that her grandson, Vladimir would continue her efforts and succeed where Olga failed. Despite her failures, the Ukrainians and Russians venerate Olga, and her title is the “equal to the Apostles,” for her efforts to bring Christianity to her homeland.
Olga’s son, Svyatoslav, rejected Christianity and he died in battle with the old enemy the Pechenegs. The Pechenegs thought so much of Svyatoslav that they chopped his head off and turned his skull into a beer mug. Svyatoslav’s heir, Yaropolk, did not last long as his younger brother, Vladimir, arranged Yaropolk’s murder. Then Vladimir took his brother’s wife into his harem.
The Rise of Vladimir, Grandson of Olga
Vladimir was famous for his harem. The harem consisted of over eight-hundred women, including his sister-in-law. Vladimir’s concubines lived in the major cities of his realm; the women were available for Vladimir wherever his travels took him.
Vladimir built a gigantic temple to placate the gods of the Rus people. He put up images of the Rus gods and the gods of the Turks. Vladimir also engaged in human sacrifice to placate the gods and some of his first sacrifices were Christian soldiers of his own army.
Vladimir Converts to Christianity
The conversion of Vladimir took place because of his marriage to the Byzantine princess, Anna. This solidified the alliance of Vladimir with that of the Byzantine emperor. Although most thought Vladimir’s conversion a political ploy, Vladimir took his conversion to Christianity to heart.
Upon his return to Kiev with his new bride, Vladimir ordered the destruction of the temple he had built. Next, he ordered the construction of churches throughout his realm, abolished his harem, and outlawed the death penalty. Impressed by his sincerity, the Rus people rapidly adopted Christianity. Together with his grandmother Olga, Vladimir is revered for bringing the Christian faith to the peoples of the Ukraine and Russia.
Craughwell, Thomas J., Saints Behaving Badly, Untied States, Doubleday, 2006