Olga of Kiev

She's wondering who to slaughter next.

She’s looking around wondering who needs a good killin’.

Zach – Welcome back to another episode of Minimum Wage Historian! (applause) Today me and my co-host, the lovely and highly intelligent Anna Komemne, have a very special guest for you.
Anna – Special and prone to violence.
Zach – Now, now, she’s a saint in your own church. Be nice.
Anna – Don’t get me wrong, I love our guest! Just don’t make her angry.
Zach – I’ll try to remember that. Our guest is St. Olga of Kiev!
(Zach and Anna stand up as Olga walks out on stage. They shake hands and Olga sits down on the chair closest to Zach’s desk.)
Olga – It is…how do you Americans say? Fantastico. Yes. Is fantastico to be here. Da!
Zach – Well, Olga, tell us a bit about yourself for our readers that may not know you.
Olga – Not know me? This is silly thing. Of course they know me! I first Russian to conv…converge? Convert! Yes, I first Russian to convert to Christian faith.
Zach – That’s not all you’re known for. You also embarked on a Kill-Bill style revenge fueled rampage.
Olga – Da, I had many enemies that would not have the courtesy of dying. I had to help them with the dying.
Zach – And help them you did. But before we get into that, let’s talk about where you came from.
Olga – I from Pskov, city in Russia. I was born in 879. My father was Oleg of Novgorod. He from a Varyag family. Favorite color is the purple.
Zach – What’s a Varyag?
Anna – In Constantinople we called them “Varangians.”
Zach – Ah! Vikings! Yes your family was descended from Rus, the man that gave Russia its name. The Vikings sort of took over leadership in what was to become Russia.
Olga – Da, Zach. Norsemen they sometimes called.

I get my sunny disposition from my Russian blood and my peaceful nature from my Viking side

Zach – So, then you married a nobleman by the name of… (Flips through notes.)
Olga – Igor of Kiev. Very noble family. Many Tsars.
Anna – You got “Tsar” from us Romans! (sighs) Or Byzantines as you may know us. You came down to Constantinople and were so impressed by our ceremonies and the glories of Hagia Sophia, that you felt you needed to emulate us.
Olga – Yes, we look for new religion. We need to be closer to other countries. Countries that weren’t trying to kill us. I saw…what is word? Like Edward.
Anna – Sparkling?
Olga – No.
Zach – Glittering?
Olga – Yes! Glittering pictures in churches. Very beautiful. I want Kiev to be like Constantinople.
Anna – Mosaics.

The splendor of Hagia Sophia, the church of Holy Wisdom. No wonder Olga was impressed and demanded to be baptized.

Olga being baptized. The emperor was so impressed by her that he baptized her himself.

Olga – We look at Jewish religion, but they no eat bacon. We look at Islam, but they no drink. Ever hear of Russian that does no drink? Nyet! Impossible. We invite Latin Catholics in, but they not as Edward as Orthodox in Constantinople so we send them packing. Maybe kill a few in process.
Anna – Glittering.
Olga – Da? Is what I said.
Anna – No, you said…never mind.
Zach – So, you went down to Constantinople and were so impressed that you decided to convert. Did you convert during your visit or after?
Olga – In Constantinople. But that was late in life. But Emperor Constantine VII and wife liked me very much. Constantine said (imitating manly voice)”You are fit to reign in this city with us.”
Anna – Amazing. It takes a great deal to impress a Byzantine.
Zach – So, your blood soaked vengeance came before you converted?
Olga – (laughs) Da. I was young and my husband went to collect monies from the Drevlians, another tribe of Russians. He go there and they kill him. After they kill husband, they send twenty men to Kiev to propose marriage with Drevlian prince! They see woman on throne and think she weak and need man to protect her! Ha!

We’ll kill her husband and then ask her to marry me! This won’t end badly for us at all! She’ll be flattered. What could go wrong?

Anna – They killed your husband and then sent a proposal of marriage? That goes beyond barbaric and is just plain inhuman.
Olga – They want Kiev for themselves. They came by boat. I was angry. You can imagine, da? But I no act angry. I say “Great men, this proposal is good thing. My husband is dead and I need new one. But I want to give you great honor. Walking or riding horse is too good for you, da? So my people will carry you in boats to my palace in morning. Men waited to next morning and my people carry them in boats. They sit in boats with puffed chests and much pride. During night I had people dig trench in my palace. When people arrive carrying boats, they dump men and boats into trench! (laughs) I bend down at trench and say “You find this honor to your taste?”
Anna – That’s horrible!
Olga – Isn’t it? Next I send letter to Drevlians saying I accept proposal but my people no let me go unless you send you greatest, most important men to escort poor Olga to Drevlian city. They send greatest nobles they have and when they arrive I send them to big bathhouse. We Russians like three things; drinking, baths and…I no think of third one. Maybe just two. But important men go into bathhouse and my men close and lock doors. Then I burn bathhouse down. Men still inside of course.
Zach – Anna, please remind me to never piss off Olga of Kiev.
Anna – I’m writing that in my notebook right now.
Olga – So, then I go to Drevlian city. I send word to have feast ready for me with lots and lots of mead! We throw mourning feast for dead husband and I cry and cry while begging Drevlian men to keep drinking.

Olga sees body of husband and plans to bury him. Then she plans on burying many more bodies.

They keep drinking and all get very drunk. While men too drunk and pass out, I order my men to go and kill everyone. We kill…(counts on fingers) Five thousand.
Anna – You killed five thousand people?!
Olga – Da. Then I go home to Kiev and gather army. Drevlians send word that they want to talk. They give me anything so I no destroy their city. I go to Drevlians with my army. I no ask for gold or furs, I ask for three pigeons and three sparrows from each house. I say “You people too poor now. I no ask much.” The Drevlians celebrate my kindness and gladly bring me three pigeons and three sparrows from each house.

Surely this Olga will be reasonable and forgiving, yes?

During night I have soldiers attach fire brands to each bird and let them go. Little birds go back home to nests, da? When they go back to homes they catch thatch roofs on fire. No house escaped. Fire everywhere all at same time. Whole city burned down! People flee and army catches them. I kill leaders, give others as slaves, leave rest to pay tribute.
Zach – Wow…I guess times were rough back then. You should listen to a Prodigy song called “Fire Starter.” You might like it.
Olga – I no like people killing my family. (shrugs) So, I rule for long time until baby son grow up.
Zach – But he didn’t convert to Christianity, did he? But your grandson did. It was him that converted Russia to Orthodoxy, right?
Olga – Da, Grandson converted Russia. That other story. Not my story. When he was king he off fighting or hunting so much that I rule kingdom, not him.
Zach – But you’re the first Russian Orthodox saint and for that they gave you the title “equal to the apostles.”
Olga – Title fits, da?
Zach – (slightly afraid) Yes! Yes, indeed it does. Very much so.
Olga – Anna, we should have lunch sometime.
Anna – Of course! (also afraid) Whenever you want.
Olga – Good, good.
Zach – Well, that’s all we have for you today. Remember, sometimes history can be stranger than movies and Russian saints have different ideas of being saintly.

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14 comments on “Olga of Kiev

  1. Tim Heise says:

    Very good. That’d make a great story line.

  2. Joe in PNG says:

    I get the feeling that #3 on the list of Russian likes has got to be ‘vengance’.

  3. skaramine says:

    Olga likes her some Robert Pattenson. :p

    But hey, no flies on her. Any woman who kills 10,000 of her enemies can like whatever pretty man she likes!

    • zacharyhill says:

      Robert Patterson?
      And yes Olga can like whatever she wants. I’m certainly not going to get in her way. Here at Minimum Wage Historian HQ she got her own bathroom. I don’t have my own bathroom. Even Napoleon’s scared of her. (she likes to play with the flamethrower.)

  4. Glenda says:

    Freaking awsome post. Holy cow, what a woman. No guilt, no regrets. That’s just plain scary.

  5. Desert Rat says:

    She’s the kind of badass Russian that prompted Larry Correia to quip that, “Badass Russians only have three emotions–depression, revenge, and vodka.” Yep, pretty much.

    Olga was hardcore.

    • Joe in PNG says:

      I was going to suggest that Olga be given the MHI books to read… but what if she doesn’t like the way Larry writes about vampires…(shudder)

      • Olga of Kiev says:

        Da, I have these Monster Hunter books. Alpha was very good. I like the Russian werewolf. But he should have won. Of course American makes American hero win. The Russian should have won. Clearly. I like Larry’s vampires. They savage beasts: not sparkles.

  6. Pierre from Ontario says:

    Nice lady, Olga. Russian, you say? Are you sure she was not Klingon?

    BTW: Go check out this Youtube Channel, for a lady who is almost as formidable as Olga.
    At least when it comes to singing and dancing. She has not killed 5,000 people. She does have over 18,000 subscribers. Her creative partner is a very nice guy.

    YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/historyteachers/videos

    Oh, and Their web page is here (under construction):
    http://www.historyteacherz.com/

    They facebook here:
    https://www.facebook.com/historyteacherz

    They Tweet as:
    @historyteacherz

  7. It ain’t no lie that Russians, as Desert Rat said “only have three emotions–depression, revenge, and vodka.” I witnessed this display when a friend got me to watch some clips from Big Brother: Russia. It’s nothing but, drinking, fighting and ummm….sex……I didn’t watch that part.

  8. Dude you rock, oops, I mean, ma’am you rock.

  9. Melissa D says:

    St. Olga of Kiev was my 21st great grandmother. I always thought that fierce family loyalty came from my maternal grandmother. Apparently, as my husband would say, “I come from a very long line of tough, old broads!”

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