Connected Central European Worlds, 1500-1700

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Lecture by Talia Zajac

"Anna Yaroslavna, Queen of France, in History and in Ukrainian Imagination"


12:00 ET | 17:00 LONDON | 18:00 PARIS | 19:00 KYIV

Register for Zoom link here.


In 1051, Anna Yaroslavna (d. circa 1075/1079), the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise of Kyiv (d. 1054) and Ingigerd of Sweden (d. 1050), married King Henry I of France (d. 1060) in Reims Cathedral.  This extraordinary long-distance marriage alliance linked Henry I’s Capetian dynasty with the ruling clan of early Rus’ and led to Anna ruling France first as queen consort and, second, following her husband’s death, as co-regent during the minority of her son Philip I (d. 1108).  Particularly since the early twentieth century, Anna Yaroslavna’s reign has wielded enormous influence over Ukrainian popular and scholarly imagination. Some two hundred popular works devoted to Anna Yaroslavna exist, in addition to a 1969 Ukrainian opera and several recent television biopics. This presentation will begin by discussing some of the major surviving medieval narrative and documentary sources on Anna Yaroslavna’s reign before turning to key examples of post-medieval Ukrainian retellings of her life. The presentation thus critically examines how and in what contexts Anna Yaroslavna’s story was told and retold for Ukrainian audiences.  It will consider such questions as: What purpose did the fictionalizing and retelling of her reign serve? How does Anna’s life story inform Ukrainian constructions of both the medieval past and of aspirations for the future? Investigating sources and retellings of Anna Yaroslavna’s life offers unexpected insights into Ukrainian understandings of this historic relationship with France and with Western Europe.


Talia Zajac (PhD, University of Toronto, 2017) is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library, University of Manchester, UK. She is currently working on the research project titled, “Royal Women, Cultural Exchanges, and Rus’ Ecumenical Marriages, circa 1000 –1250”, which examines the political, patronage, and diplomatic roles of royal brides from Kyivan Rus’ at Latin Christian (Catholic) courts in the eleventh to mid thirteenth centuries.  Previously, Zajac has pursued this research as an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, Canada (2020– 2021) and as an Eugene and Daymel Shklar Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (2018).

Zajac has published on re-naming of Latin Christian brides in Pre-Mongol Rus’ in Byzantinoslavica (2020), on the social and position of princesses within Rus’ in A Companion to Global Queenship, edited by Elena Woodacre (Arc Humanities Press, 2018) as well as articles on Anna Yaroslavna and on Anastasia Yaroslavna in the Royal Studies Journal (2016) and in the volume Moving Women, Moving Objects (400 –1500), edited by Tracy Chapman Hamilton and Mariah Proctor-Tiffany (Brill, 2019). In addition to her academic publications, she also engages in creative work. Her trilingual (French, Ukrainian, English) libretto for the oratorio Golden Harvest, set to music by composer Larysa Kuzmenko and celebrating the 125th anniversary of the settlement of Ukrainian-Canadians, won the Anna Pidruchney Award for New Writers in 2016.


Bautier, Robert-Henri. “Anne de Kiev, Reine de France, et la politique royale au XIe siècle, étude critique de la documentation.” Revue des études slaves 57.4 (1985): 539 – 564.

Bogomoletz, Wladimir V. “Anna of Kiev: An Enigmatic Capetian Queen of the Eleventh Century: A Reassessment of Biographical Sources.” French History 19.3 (2005): 299 – 323.

Delorme, Philippe. Anne de Kiev: Une reine de France venue d’Ukraine. Histoire des reines de France. (Paris, 2015).

Hallu, Roger. Anne de Kiev: Reine de France (Rome, 1973).

Luniak, Ievhen. Anna Ruska— koroleva Frantsii v svitli istorichnikh dzherel. Foreword by Volodymyr Richka (Kyiv, 2010).

Musin, Aleksandr. “Anna Kievskaia: Mezhdu istoriografieĭ i istorieĭ.” Kniazha doba: istoriia i kul’tura 8 (2014): 145 –172.

Raffensperger, Christian. “The Princess of Discord: Anna of Kyiv and Her Influence on Medieval France.” Krytyka. Thinking in Ukraine (June, 2017). <>

 —–. Ties of Kinship. Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage in Kyivan Rus’ (Cambridge, MA, 2016).

Shishkin, Vladimir Vladimirovich. “Anna Yaroslavna vo frantsuzskoĭ literature epokhi Vozrozhdeniia (vtoraia polovina XV – XVI v.): rozhdenie Anny Russkoĭ. ” Drevniaia Rus’: Voprosy medievistiki 85 (2021): 60 – 74.

Ward, Emily Joan. “Anne of Kiev (c.1024 – c.1075) and a Reassessment of Maternal Power in the Minority Kingship of Philip I of France,” Historical Research 89.245 (2016): 435 – 453.

Zajac, Talia. “Gloriosa Regina or ‘Alien Queen’? Some Reconsiderations on Anna Yaroslavna’s Queenship (r. 1050–1075),” Royal Studies Journal 3.1 (2016): 28–70.

—–. “Remembrance and Erasure of Objects Belonging to Rus’ Princesses in Medieval Western Sources: the Cases of Anastasia Iaroslavna’s ‘Saber of Charlemagne’ and Anna Iaroslavna’s Red Gem.” Moving Women, Moving Objects (400 –1500). Eds. Tracy Chapman Hamilton and Mariah Proctor-Tiffany (Leiden; Boston, 2019), 33–58.


Part of a lecture and discussion series ‘From Kyivan Rus’ to Modern Ukraine: Virtual Conversations on History, Art, and Cultural Heritage’ co-organized in collaboration with Dumbarton Oaks and North of Byzantium.


Return to the lecture series here.