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Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky

List of Medieval Killers found Inscribed on Cathedral Wall may help solve Murder Mystery

A group of restorers working inside the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia, have discovered an ancient inscription on one of the walls which details the names of twenty Medieval murderers and conspirators involved in the assassination of the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1174 AD. The finding helps shed light on one of the great murder mysteries of 12 th century Russia.

Discovery News reports that the inscription was found on the east wall of the cathedral during restoration work. The text refers to a well-known event in history in which Andrey Bogolyubsky, the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal and one of the most powerful princes of the time, was murdered. 

The inscription is in two columns. The right column reads: “On the month of June 29 Prince Andrey had been killed by his servants. Memory eternal to him and eternal torture to them [lost text].” The left column contains a list of twenty individuals involved in Bogoyubsky’s murder. Three of the people listed are already known to have been involved from historical records. However, the other names were unknown, providing new information about this ancient murder mystery.

The inscription briefly describes the events leading to Bogoybusky’s murder and concludes: “These are murderers of Great Prince Andrey. Let them be cursed.”

Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia, where the ancient inscription referring to a well-known murder were found

Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia, where the ancient inscription referring to a well-known murder were found ( public domain ).

Andrey Bogolyubsky, Powerful Prince of Vladimir

Andrey Bogolyubsky (“Andrew the God-Loving”) was Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, a major principality that succeeded Kieven Rus, from 1157 until his death in 1174.  Bogolyubsky was largely responsible for the rise of Vladimir as the new capital city of Rus and the decline of Kiev’s rule over northeastern Russian lands.

“Seeing their power strongly reduced, the boyars, or upper nobility, plotted against the autocratic prince,” reports Discovery News.

Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, by Viktor Vasnetsov

Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, by Viktor Vasnetsov ( public domain )

The Murder of a Prince

On the night of June 28, 1174, twenty of Bogolyubsky’s disgruntled retainers burst into his bedchamber and stabbed the prince to death.

According to Russiapedia, one of the killers was his wife’s brother, Yakim Kichka, who wanted revenge for the execution of his brother. Indeed, Yakim’s name is listed on the newly discovered inscription.  The other two known murderers were Petr Fralovich and Ambal, also on the list, however, the other conspirators were never known until now.

“The plotters robbed Andrey Bogolyubsky’s possessions, and Andrey’s body was brought to the church, but fearing the anger of the plotters, the clergy didn’t carry out a requiem mass for Andrey,” reports Russiapedia. “Only on the third day was his body put into a coffin. The city of Vladimir suffered from riots and priest Mikulitsa, who had helped Andrey move the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God to the city, walked around the city with the icon and a miracle happened – the riots stopped. Six days after Andrey’s death, his body and the body of his son Gleb, who was only twenty when he died, were moved to Vladimir from Bogolyubovo. People saw that the bodies of Andrey and his son remained incorruptible. After some time Andrey and his son were consecrated saints and their incorruptible relics are said to cure many people.”

Andrey Bogolyubsky (Murder) by Sergei Kirillov

Andrey Bogolyubsky (Murder) by Sergei Kirillov ( russiapedia.rt.com)

Inscription Sheds New Light on Murder

“The murder of the prince is one of the most dramatic and mysterious events of the second half of the 12th century,” Nikolai Makarov, director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in a statement [via Discovery News].

Now some of this mystery has been resolved with the full list of killers, the number of which corresponds to historical records, now available. 

Historians believe the inscription may have been a type of official announcement about the murder of Prince Andrey, possibly sent by the Vladimir authorities to the main cities of the northeastern Russian lands to be inscribed on the walls of churches. If this is the case, there may have been other inscriptions made on cathedral walls.

Featured image: Main: Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky ( public domain ). Inset: Detail of the left column of an inscription found in a Russian cathedral that names men who murdered a prince. Credit: Discovery News .

By April Holloway

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