My Russian History class briefly touched upon this figure, so I decided to learn a bit more about him through this blog post.
Born to the Grand Prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus, Yaroslav the Wise was originally sent to rule a northern province near Rostov. In 1010, at the age of thirty-two, he was transferred to Novgorod, despite the fact that his relationship with his father was steadily declining. Four years later, he refused to pay tribute to Vladimir at Kiev, but, before events escalated any further, the Grand Prince died.
Soon afterwards, the oldest of Vladimir's twelve sons, Svyatopolk, claimed the throne and subsequently ordered the deaths of his two youngest brothers, Boris and Gleb. Yaroslav took it upon himself to avenge the deaths of his brothers and, with the help of Novgorod, defeated Svyatopolk and forced him to flee to Poland.
However, in 1018, Svyatopolk returned with Polish troops and conquered Kiev. Yaroslav led troops against his brother and, once more, he fled to the West.
Despite his defense of the realm, though, Yaroslav was attacked by another sibling, Mstislav, and the two ruled the divided lands of Rus for some twelve years. After Mstislav died, Yaroslav recovered these lands and ruled them for the remainder of his life.
During his reign, Yaroslav created a predecessor to the oldest Russian code of laws (titled Yaroslav's Justice), in addition to serving as a patron of the arts and attempting to expanding the borders of Kievan Rus. He promoted the spread of Christianity, partially by supporting translations of religious books from the Byzantine Empire into Old Russian, and also by establishing schools for the children of priests in Novgorod. At the same time, Kiev became a major center of commerce and an administrative center of the surrounding region.
As a quick side note: Some historians believe that Yaroslav was the brother who called for the deaths of Boris and Gleb. A Norse saga mentions Varangian warriors who were hired by Yaroslav the Wise to kill Burizleif, his brother; others, however, consider Burizleif a misinterpretation of Boleslaw (who was a Polish ruler allied to Svyatopolk).
Recording (with Collin Dougher):