The Battle of the River Bug 1018 AD

It’s late July of the year 1018. The summer sun was slowly reaching its zenith as the camp dwellers on the Eastern bank of the Bug River bustled around preparing a midday meal. Then, the droning clamour of soldiers and servants moving around were spurred by the unexpected sound of clashing swords and human agony coming from the river. A moment later, a handful of breathless guards rushed into the camp, straight towards the officer’s tent. Grand Prince Yaroslav and his retainers stormed out yelling orders. The battle was about to begin. It’s spring of the year 1014. For the last twenty five years the vast lands of Kievan Rus were ruled by Grand Prince Vladimir, arguably one of the most prominent representatives of the Rurik dynasty to date. He was not only the first Eastern Slavic ruler to abandon paganism in favour of Christianity, but he also consolidated the Kievan realm from the medieval Ukraine to the Baltic, strengthening the frontiers in the process. However, Vladimir’s successful reign was quite frequently marred by his uneasy relationship with his many sons, to the point that by his mid-fifties the matter of Vladimir’s succession was still open, which unsurprisingly caused some unrest among his offspring. By 1014 it was already rather obvious that Vladimir was leaning towards bequeathing the Kievan throne to one of his younger sons, which in turn outraged his two oldest sons – Sviatopolk and Yaroslav. Both of them started acting against their father, eventually compelling Vladimir to take more drastic measures to douse the sparking rebellion. Sviatopolk was imprisoned, and a military campaign was being prepared against Yaroslav, who ruled the remote city of Novgorod in his father’s name. In the summer of 1015 Vladimir was ready to depart Kiev on a military expedition north to subdue his disobedient son. But Yaroslav was never to suffer the ire of his father and overlord, as Vladimir unexpectedly fell ill and after a couple of weeks died, leaving the fate of the Kievan realm to his quarrelsome sons. As the death of the Grand Prince happened so suddenly, the only one who was able to capitalize immediately on Vladimir’s death was Sviatopolk, who managed to set himself free and seize the Kievan throne before his other brothers could react. Subsequently, to solidify his claim, Sviatopolk orchestrated the murder of his three younger siblings, so the only other serious contender remaining was the acting Prince of Novgorod, Yaroslav. We ought to mention, that due to the poor reliability of the primary sources, it was entirely possible that Vladimir’s younger sons could well have been eliminated by Yaroslav, who then made sure to properly influence the chroniclers. Regardless of who committed the fratricide, Kievan Rus was soon to be the stage of a civil war as in early 1016 Yaroslav gathered an army and marched south to challenge Sviatopolk for the throne in Kiev. The two contenders met in battle some kilometres north of the city at the banks of Dnieper River and Yaroslav’s host eventually routed Sviatopolk’s army, forcing him to flee to the West. While the Novgorodian army marched further south to seize Kiev for Yaroslav, Sviatopolk sought refuge at the court of his father-in-law, Boleslav the Brave, the ambitious Duke of Poland. Sviatopolk’s flight to the West was not all that unexpected for the Polish duke, as Boleslav had already assisted Sviatopolk’s struggle for power before. However this time Boleslav was unable to provide immediate support, as the Duchy of Poland was in the middle of a lengthy conflict with Henry II, the King of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor. It was not until early 1018, when the Treaty of Bautzen ended the hostilities on Boleslav’s western frontier that he could concentrate his attention on the East and possibly expand his influence onto Kievan Rus. In the summer of the same year, Boleslav led a plentiful Polish contingent intending to take over Kiev and install Sviatopolk on the throne. Boleslav’s forces were supplemented by a few hundred German knights, Hungarian mercenaries and a sizeable unit of Pecheneg riders. Seemingly, Grand Prince Yaroslav could have mounted the defence at the border strongholds or even at the capital, but being aware that Sviatopolk’s faction in the Kievan Rus was still going surprisingly strong; he had to make sure his brother was not allowed to set foot within the Kievan domain. Thus, Yaroslav’s host of roughly equal size to that of the Polish duke rushed out West to face the enemy. Before he was able to reach the bordering Bug River, Yaroslav received reports that Boleslav’s Pecheneg allies managed to ride straight to Kiev unhindered and had laid the siege of the city. Yaroslav sent some of his men back to bolster the Kievan garrison, but the main body of his army continued the march West, arriving at the eastern bank of the Bug river on 22nd of July. Soon, the scouts brought news that Boleslav’s host was already pitching tents on the other bank of the river. While Yaroslav was undoubtedly worried about the situation in Kiev, at least the tactical position of his main army was much better, as it was Boleslav who had to take the risk of crossing the river. Initially, both sides engaged mostly in minor skirmishes and verbal swordplay while the Polish side prepared the equipment and makeshift bridges to cross the river. It all appeared to be a lengthy standoff, especially as Boleslav ordered the preparation of a feast for his troops. But in the morning of the very next day, events escalated quickly. Upon seeing Polish soldiers and servants gutting animals near the river, Yaroslav’s vanguard made some attempts at harrassing the camp dwellers. In response, enraged Polish skirmishers crossed the river and managed to kill some of Yaroslav’s skirmishers and push back the rest, unexpectedly gaining a foothold on the Eastern bank of the river in the process. Both rulers were swiftly informed of these new circumstances, but Boleslav’s response was much quicker. In no time, using bridges, boats and horses, Boleslav’s men crossed the river and stormed Yaroslav’s host, which had barely even started forming the battle line. Battle ensued as Yaroslav struggled to muster as many men as he could to supress the rising number of enemy soldiers who managed to cross the river. But, as the clash raged, Yaroslav’s ill-prepared defence grew weaker and casualties mounted. The Kievan ruler knew that his men were not inferior, and still hoped to the last moment that the tide would turn. Yet Boleslav and his retinue would not let the victory slip out of their hands. It was not even an hour into the battle when the Kievan host was forced to retreat to avoid further losses. It was a significant loss to Yaroslav, whose casualties were so considerable that he didn’t even attempt to relieve Kiev but retreated straight back to Novgorod to treat wounds and resupply. Boleslav, on the other hand, marched to the city besieged by the Pechenegs and soon received the surrender of its forsaken garrison. Sviatopolk was reinstated as the Grand Prince of Kiev and a couple of months later Boleslav, content with the positive outcome of his eastern campaign, departed on his way back to Poland with his carts full of loot and treasures. For Sviatopolk however, the intervening months were not so fortunate. Despite the considerable following he had in Kiev, he failed to capitalize on this and create a strong centre of power. Just a year later, he was once again threatened by Yaroslav, who gathered another host but this time defeated Sviatopolk in the field. Sviatpolk once again attempted to flee to Poland and the support of his father-in-law, but instead he died of wounds on his way there. Thus, Yaroslav was left as the only claimant to the Kievan throne. Despite his initial setbacks Yaroslav maintained the position of Grand Prince for the next 35 years, elevating Kievan Rus to one of the strongest medieval states in the region and posthumously gaining the telling nickname of Yaroslav the Wise. This video is sponsored by Audible. Before there was writing, there was the spoken word. Until the end of July, Audible is offering an amazing deal to all Amazon Prime members: Head over to or text bazbattles to 500 500, and get your first three months for only $4.95 per month, a third of what you would ordinarily pay. Thereafter, it’s just $14.95 a month. With the largest collection of audio books on the planet you can have your pick of any title per month along with 2 Audible Originals exclusive titles produced specifically for Audible by some of the worlds finest authors and narrators. A strong recommendation for fans of our channel would be A History of War in 100 Battles, a look at 100 conflicts of the past that influence us, today. Support our channel, go to or if you’re in the US you can also SMS bazbattles to 500 500, sign up before the end of July and if you’re an Amazon Prime customer receive your first three months each at a third of the regular cost.

100 thoughts on “The Battle of the River Bug 1018 AD

  1. Thank you so much! Not enough videos covering Ukraine and this time period. Please keep them coming, maybe do one on Volodymyr and svyatoslav?

  2. Good video, but of all the decisive battles, why this one? It's of almost no importance. You say it yourself – after the battle, the Polish king, leaves with some payment (half of which he would probably get as a guest), while the things in the Rus return to the same old and actually develop well for them. Just wondering. Otherwise – great job. I love learning about less famous battles in such detail. 🙂

  3. This wasn't a great video. It used to be that this channel focussed on fascinating battles, giving the context before explaining in detail how the tactics and drama of the battle. This video just gave context before a short and underwhelming battle that hardly involved revolutionary tactics.

  4. The downfall of baz battles. 7 min long video. Once a month. Moreover, months ago they had the best quality on youtube. Not anymore. And.. let me tell you. Yeah fine, kievan rus, interesting. But not for a once a month video. Come on guys! You were leading the pack! You were the best. Your competitors are outmatching you. Make baz battles great again!

  5. Oh shit, I'm so surprised you covered this battle! This is such an overlooked episode of history in Poland, Bolesław is indeed nicknamed "the Brave", but his reign is poorly discussed in our education system and absent from the public interest.

    There are a number of fascinating battles fought in the 17th century if you want to cover these. Chocin, Kirholm and Kłuszyn, were all quite spectacular and should be enjoyed by your audience.

  6. First I LOOOOOVE your videos and history altogether, but i came to wonder, why dont you cover battles in europe from 1400 to 1900? When i look at your channel i see battles from 500 bc to 1300 ac in europe, sengoku jidai and some battles in ww2. Why dont you cover the thirty years war?? Why dont you cover the seven years war?? Why dont you cover the franco prussian war?? Why dont tou cover the area from 1500 to 1900 where the most ineteresting geopolitical events, at least in my opinion, unfold. I would be really happy if you answer my question. Thanks in advance.

  7. The first Eastern Slavic ruler to accept Christianity was Tsar Boris of Bulgaria during 864 AD.

  8. To anyone Caught Up with Vinland Saga(the Manga NOT the Anime) Thumbs Up if you'd love to see the Author have Thorfinn and Co. enter Kievan Rus and meet Sviatopolk and Yaroslav.

  9. a shame what would happen to the pechenegs a few decades later at the hands of Alexios

  10. Crazy. I thought it was a gameplay(i.e. Battle Realms) still a sweet serendipity too tho.

  11. Keep doing these Baz. Infinitely more interesting than the naval battles

  12. Great video, but..
    Unfortunately, the borders 1:00 are not exactly presented. Boleslaw in 1018 just ended a long, victorious war against the king and emperor – Henry II.
    Peace of Bautzen decided that Bolesław kept the whole territory of Lusatia, but you didn't show it on the map.

  13. Yaroslav was surprised because Poles started to build bridges, but suddenly they rushed and crossed the river, Spontaneously or tricky?

    The chroniclers wrote: the ruthenian voivode Blud insulted Bolesław personally, threatening him that his javelin would pierce the fat Boleslaus belly. (that's btw why we know that Bolesław liked to eat well.)

    Bolesław was then supposed to tell his warriors:

    "If it does not offend you, then I will avenge this insult myself!"

    And then polish warriors rushed through the river to beat up the cheeky enemy. Blud was killed in battle.

    Some more interesting and important things: Sviatopelk was the son-in-law of Bolesław, and Yaroslav kidnaped his family.

    Bolesław did not regain his daughter, who was imprisoned by Yaroslav, but in Kiev, he caught Yaroslav's beloved sister and ally -Predslava. He raped her and abducted.

    A legend about the origin of the coronation sword of Polish kings is connected with this war expedition.

    The war actually began in 1017, When Yaroslav tried his luck and unsuccessfully attacked one of the Polish strongholds when Bolesław was involved in the fight against Germans

    Kiev was then one of the richest cities in all of Europe. The spoils gathered by Bolesław after 10 months of occupation were legendary enormous. He returned to Poland as an triumphant,

    but Yarosłav was waiting for occasion to revenge, revenge in which would help him The Last Viking himself.

  14. Wow! I am from Kiev, and I never knew any of this. All I learned in school is that Vladimir the Great died, and Yaroslav the Wise became the next ruler, peacefully and legitimately.

  15. This is so high quality. And you actually managed to pronounce slavic words correctly. Huge respect!

  16. I knew Yaroslave would not win this battle when he was so incompetent he was not guarding the river with his full army.

  17. The problem of monarchies is the succession. 
    If the monarchy can solve this it is the best system available.
    Expecting angry comments praising democracy :)))

  18. 1018: The Hungarian kingdom is well established in the Carpathian basin.
    Pechenegs rule all of the lands outside the Carpathians.
    Romanians are nowhere to be found.

  19. I love both Bazbattles and Kings and Generals, and I get there might be a little rivalry there, but both channels have strengths and weaknesses. Bazbattle's narration is far superior (K&G narration is kinda robotic) and I love BB's humourous asides. On the other hand K&G has slightly better graphics though, and I like that they go into the matters of state other than battles, such as military technology, economy, and infrastructure. I hope both channels keep going for as long as possible!

  20. Everybody gangsta till some enraged polish skirmishers cross the river.

  21. Im from Kiev. We studied this battle at school, but your storytelling is more interesting

  22. I know that the main theme is not Hungary in this video, but what's with the hungarian – polish border? Did Boreslav conquer North-Hungary?
    There is no way that happened. Stephen the First was the king (first king of Hungary) and there is a tones of evidence that he had connection to that region. He appointed the bishop of Nyitra, Eger and so on.

  23. A great 1018 Kiev
    campaign, which allowed us to strengthen our political position and gain new lands. In 1025, Bolesław was crowned and became the first king of Poland. And becom Bolesław the Great the first of his name, king of Poland!

  24. BazBattles could you do more battles from history of Poland like Grunwald of 1410, or Warsaw of 1920 (18th battle that changed the course of history after all (acording to Edgar D'Abernon)?

  25. Actualy the treaty with German Emperor, so called "deal" was decisive. Not only the Polish king has defeated the German empire but he also has forced his enemy, defeated German emperor, to give him troops for his war in the east. Boleslav of Poland nicknamed "the Brave" , was one of the most cunning and most succcesful rulers of medieval Europe.

  26. wow Boris gets the spot i guess he was the Slav king before he was cool

  27. 2:00
    squints…….. hmmmmmmmm ¬.¬
    squints even harder….. HMMMMMMM…. I call bullshit.

  28. That Polish-Hungarian border is very weird…..Polland never occupied or posessed lands south of the Carpathians

  29. The map is not correct! The power range of Polish King Bolesław I the Brave was greater!
    Expansion of Poland under Bolesław I the Brave
    Bolesław I the Brave was first King of Poland in 1025.

  30. Good video. Speaking of early Polish history the battle of Cedynia would be another interesting battle to talk about from that period.

  31. Have you ever been insulted so hard, that you crossed the river, to beat the shit out of the other motherfucker?

  32. Дякую за відео, і за історію.

  33. What’s up with everyone moving so slow
    A Roman legion could march faster then their cavalry can run.
    The hells going on?
    Is it just the way the video is?

  34. Do you know anything about England in 1066 a family member of mine did my family's genealogy and my ancestors on that side of the family were in England in 1066 fighting people there's not much specifics about it just that they were in England in 1066 killing people and taking names.

    Edit: Their last name was Seely or Hosler not sure which.

  35. i have never figured out what those rectangle blocks with the X's across them mean. Can anyone explain?

  36. That river was BUGed – Poles didn't recieve penalty – 50% for attacking across the river!

  37. I dont understand the armies. Why do some have a bigger x while some have a smaller one

  38. this is a great channel but i can't believe you pick this shitty battles to tell about.
    there are tons of important battles between Persia, Egyptians, Romans and Greeks.

  39. @BazBattles the Bulgarian price Boris I adopted Christianity in 864 AD long before Vladimir in Kievan Rus

  40. Can we make a version like this, but instead the history of how edison made the light bulb or how the first rope was invented and properly used.. lol

  41. Well in 1030, Yaroslav had his revenge on the poles taking back what was lost and a bit more, and capturing many poles as prisoners, by doing exactly the same move:)


  43. How about some Golden horde battles? It used to rule all of Rus principalities.

  44. Can someone answer me…
    Is this the real history illustrated by some kind of simulator?

  45. How did the Rus survive out near the steppe with the nomads? How did they defend themselves?

  46. Where did you find these icons for the princes of Rus?
    They did not wear beards – only a mustache. Beards for them were painted half a millennium later in Muscovy.

  47. Michelle Obama is a Man, Joan Rivers said as she lay dieing!! And…………….. Epstein Didn't Kill Himself 🤔 🤪😘

  48. Did they resolve that bug with the river in the new update ver. 1.1 ?

  49. When you say "the battle is about to begin" it reminds me of Doug Marcaida saying "it will kill" on Forged in Fire. 🙂

  50. Yaroslav soldiers: harrasses Polish bois

    Polish skirmishers: im about to end this mans whole career

  51. Random officer: My king, how much time do we need to beat Yaroslav's army?

    King Boleslav: Yes

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