After Vladimir I adopted Christianity in the 10th century, the rulers of what would become Russia became prime candidates for dynastic marriage into the great royal houses of Europe. An example of particular interest to the English is the Princess Gytha, daughter of King Harold Godwinson, who married Vladimir’s great-grandson, Vladimir II Monomakh.
IN 862, just before the Great Heathen Army landed in England, the Scandinavian people known as the Rus’ settled at Novgorod and Kiev. Yaroslav the Wise later united the two realms at Kiev, and his grandson Vladimir II Monomakh inherited the Kievan throne in 1113.
Russian sources do not name Vladimir’s first wife, but a near-contemporary, Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus, says she was Gytha, the daughter of King Harold Godwinson of England and his consort Edith Swannesha. After Harold lost his crown and his life at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Gytha and two of her brothers fled to Denmark, and King Sweyn Estridsson subsequently married her to Prince Vladimir, Yaroslav’s heir.
The reigns of Vladimir and of the son Gytha gave him, Mstislav, are remembered as a golden age for Kievan Rus’; and Mstislav’s daughter Euphrosyne married King Géza II of Hungary, making her an ancestor of King Edward III of England through his mother, Isabella of France.