The Cherven Cities or Cherven Grods (Polish: Grody Czerwieńskie, Ukrainian: Червенські городи), often literally translated as Red Cities, Red Forts or Red Boroughs, was a point of dispute between the Kingdom of Poland and Kievan Rus' at the turn of 10th and 11th centuries, with both sides claiming their rights to the land.
Originally, the name "Cherven Cities" probably identified a territory between the Bug and Wieprz rivers. Its name is derived from Czerwień (cf. Proto-Slavic *čьrvenъ "red"), a gord that existed there, possibly on the site of the present village of Czermno. The first mention of the "Cherven cities" is given by the Primary Chronicle (12th century), when Volodymyr the Great captured them from the Lendians (Lyakhs) in 981.
In early medieval times, whether the Cherven Cities were inhabited by the Early Slavic tribes of Lendians (Lyakhs) or White Croats, and a territory independent from both Poland and Kievan Rus', is part of a wider ethnographic dispute between Polish and Ukrainian-Russian historians.
Cosmas of Prague (c. 1045 – 1125) relates that the Přemyslid rulers of Bohemia controlled the land of Kraków until 999. In support of Cosmas, the foundation charter of the Archdiocese of Prague (1086) traces the Eastern border of the archdiocese, as established in 973, along the Bug and Styr (or Stryi) rivers. Abraham ben Jacob, who travelled in Eastern Europe in 965, remarks that Boleslaus II of Bohemia ruled the country "stretching from the city of Prague to the city of Kraków".
In the 970s, Mieszko I of Poland took over the region: the Primary Chronicle infers this when reporting that Vladimir the Great conquered the Red Cities from the Lyakhs in 981. He took over the Red Ruthenian strongholds in his military campaign on the border with the land of Lendians. Nestor reports in his chronicle that: "Volodymyr marched upon the Lyakhs (Poles) and took their cities: Peremyshl (Przemyśl), Cherven (Czermno), and other towns".
In 1018, Poland re-took the area under Bolesław I the Brave, in 1031 it fell again to Rus'. The Rus'ian expedition against Poland (1030–1031) had as its object not only the recovery of territories previously lost (1018); it also delivered a powerful blow against the Polish Metropolis of Slavonic rite. In 1031, Harald and his men reached the land of the Kievan Rus, where they served the armies of Yaroslav I the Wise, the Grand Prince of the Rus, whose wife Ingigerd was a distant relative of Harald. In the spring 1031, where he became chief of Yaroslav's bodyguard jointly with Eilifr, son of that Rognvaldr who had originally come to Novgorod with Ingigerd. Harald served a military apprenticeship, fighting in the Polish campaign of 1031, and against the Læsir (Lendians). The gord of Sutiejsk was most likely founded in 1034 - 1039 by Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, who built the fortified settlement to guard the border with Poland.
- (in Ukrainian) Въ лЂто 6478  - 6494 . Лаврентіївський літопис
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- In Slavic loanwords ja was replaced with æ, e.g., læsir = Ljach, plural Ljasi, meaning 'Poles', [in:] s. Axel Olrik i Festskrift til Vilh. Thomsen, 126 f.; [in:] trans. Arkiv för nordisk filologi: t. 19-20. page 280