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Yaroslav the Wise was the Grand Prince of Kiev since 1016 until his death in 1054 (with break in 1018-1019). As many historians believe, under Yaroslav Kievan Russia reached a peak of its cultural bloom and military power.
Yaroslav was eager to extend Russian boundaries. During his reign he organized a number of military campaigns, which were for the most part successful. New territories were reclaimed in the North, North-East and North-West of the country, and new towns were founded there. In 1037 Yaroslav defeated the tribes of Pincenates, whose raids had been a long-lasting problem in the country's Southern territories.
Among other top priorities of Yaroslav's policy was promoting the spread of Christianity in the country, which turned from paganism to orthodoxy in 988.
He launched translation of religious books from Byzantine Empire and other countries into Old Russian. In 1028 he established the first large school in Novgorod for some 300 children of priests and the elders. He was the one who founded the first monasteries in Russia in 1030 – the Yuriev monastery in Novgorod and the Kiev Pechersk Monastery in Kiev. Yaroslav also introduced a religious holiday on November 26th, which later became known as the “Yuriev Den” (Yury's Day), to honor the saint George also known in Russia as Yury or Yegory. In 1051 Yaroslav appointed the first Russian Metropolitan Illarion whose candidacy was approved without the sanction of the Constantinople Patriarch attempting to make Kiev the center of eastern Christianity.
To defend his state from the Pechenegs and other nomadic tribes threatening it from the south he constructed a line of forts, composed of Yuriev, Boguslav, Kaniv, Korsun, and Pereyaslav. To celebrate his decisive victory over the Pechenegs in 1036 he sponsored the construction of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in 1037. Other celebrated monuments of his reign, such as the Golden Gates of Kiev, have since perished.
During his reign Kiev has become a major trade, administrative and cultural center. A bigger part of the city was circled by wide vellum up to 14 meters high. Book writing and translation developed under his rule – he was a very educated man and owned an impressive personal library. He organized first schools for children, the most talented ones were brought to Kiev from all Russian lands. In the north east the prince founded a new city and gave it his own name – Yaroslavl.