Within eighty years after the above treaty's signing, the pagan Rus' adopted Byzantine Christianity and came under the influence of Byzantine Civilization. This was done through the actions of Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev. As in the case of Constantine in Rome, Vladimir brought about Christianization though his office. Below is an account of this from the Chronicle of Nestor.

Grand Prince Vladimir and the Conversion of Russia,
according to the Chronicle of Nestor [1]

In the year 6495 (987), Vladimir called together his boyars and city elders, and said to them: " There have come to me Bulgarians who said: 'Accept our religion!' Then came the Germans, and they praised their religion; after them came the Jews.[2] But after them came the Greeks, who spoke slightingly of all the other religions, but praised their own. They spoke much about the beginning of the universe and the existence of the whole world. They are cunning of speech, and talk so pleasantly that it is a pleasure to hear them. They say that there is another world, and that if anyone enters into their faith, he would live after his death, and would not die for eternity; but that if he accepts any other faith, he would burn in the other world. Now, what counsel do you give me ? What is your answer ? "

And the boyars and elders said: " You know, O Prince, that nobody detracts his own, but praises it. If you are anxious to find out the truth, you have men whom you can send out to see how they all serve God."

And the speech pleased the Prince and all people. They selected good and clever men, to the number of ten, and said to them: " Go first to the Bulgarians and inquire into their religion ! " And they went, and saw their abominable deeds and worshipping in shrines, and returned to their land. Vladimir said to them: " Go now to the Germans, find out there also, and thence go to Greece! "

And they went to Germany and, having seen their divine service, they came to Constantinople, and went to the Emperor. The Emperor asked them what they had come for, and they told him all as it was. Having heard this, the Emperor was glad, and gave them a banquet on that very day. Next morning he sent to the Patriarch saying: " Some Russians have come to find out about our faith; so have the church and clergy in order, and yourself don the holy garments, that they may see the glory of our God. "

Having heard this, the Patriarch called together the clergy to celebrate the day according to the custom, and he had the censers lighted, and arranged the singing and the choir. The Emperor went with them to church, and they were placed in a prominent place where they could see the beauty of the church, hear the singing and archiepiscopal ministration, and watch the attendance of the deacons in the divine service. They were surprised, and marvelled, and praised their service. And the Emperors Basil and Constantine called them and said to them: " Go to your land ! " and they sent them away with many gifts and honours.

They came back to their country, and their Prince called together his boyars and old men. Said Vladimir: " The men we have sent away have come back. Let us hear what has happened!" And he said: "Speak before the druzhina! " and they spoke: " When we were in Bulgaria, we saw them worshipping in the temple, where they talk in the shrine and stand without their girdles. Having made their obeisance, they sit down and look around hither and thither like madmen, and there is no joy among them, only sadness and a great stench: their religion is not good. And we came to Germany, and we saw many ceremonies in their temples, but of beauty we saw none. We went to Greece, and they took us where they worship their God, and we do not know whether we were in heaven or upon earth, for there is not upon earth such sight or beauty. We were perplexed, but this much we know that there God lives among men, and their service is better than in any other country. We cannot forget that beauty, for every man that has partaken of sweetness will not afterwards accept bitterness, and thus we can no longer remain in our former condition." And the boyars answered and said: " If the Greek religion were bad, your grandmother Olga, who was the wisest of all men, would not have accepted it." And Vladimir answered and said: " Where shall we receive our baptism ? " But they answered: " Wheresoever it may please you ! "

Next year, the year 6496, Vladimir went with his warriors against Korsun,[3] a Greek city, and the Korsunians shut themselves up in the city. Vladimir was encamped at the side of the city nearest the harbour, at one shot's distance from it, and they fought valiantly in the city, and Vladimir beleaguered it. The townspeople were weakening, and Vladimir said to them: " If you do not surrender, I shall stay here, if need be, three years." They paid no attention to it, and Vladimir drew up his soldiers, and ordered them to build a rampart to the city. While they were asleep, the Korsunians undermined the city wall, and, stealing the dirt which they had thrown up, carried it into the city, and deposited it there. The soldiers again filled up the rampart, and Vladimir remained there.

A Korsun man, by the name of Nastas, shot an arrow upon which was written as follows: " It is by the wells that are behind you in the east, that the water is led by pipes into the city; dig them up, and stop the supply ! " Hearing this, Vladimir looked to the heavens and said: " If it shall come to pass, I will be baptised," and immediately he ordered the pipes to be dug up, and the water was intercepted. The people were exhausted with thirst, and they surrendered themselves. Vladimir entered the city with his druzhina, and he sent word to the Emperors Basil and Constantine: "I have taken your famous city. I hear you have a sister who is still a maiden. If you will not give her to me for a wife, I shall do unto your city as I have done unto this. "

And they heard the tsar, and were sad, and gave the following answer: " It does not behoove Christians to give in marriage to a pagan. If you will receive the baptism, you shall get her, and you will receive the kingdom of heaven, and will be of one faith with us. If you do not wish to do so, we cannot give you our sister."

Hearing this, Vladimir said to the messengers of the Emperors: " Tell your Emperors that I will be baptised, that I have inquired before these days into your faith, and am pleased with your belief and divine service, from what the men that had been sent by us have told me."

Which when the Emperors heard, they were glad and persuaded their sister, by the name of Anna, and sent to Vladimir saying: " Receive the baptism, and then are will send our sister to you."

But Vladimir answered: " Let them come with your sister to baptise me ! "

The Emperors obeyed, and sent their sister and a few high officers and presbyters. She did not want to go: " It is as if I were going into captivity," she said. " It were better if I died here." And her brothers said to her: " Perchance God will through you turn the Russian land to repentance, and free Greece from a dire war. Do you not see how much evil the Russians have caused to the Greeks ? If you will not go, they will do even thus to us." They persuaded her with difficulty. She boarded a boat, kissed her relatives under tears and went across the sea. She arrived at Korsun, and the Korsunians met her with honours, and led her into the city and seated her in the palace.

By God's will, Vladimir was at that time ailing with his eyes, and he could not see, and was much worried. The empress sent to him saying: " If you want to be rid of your disease, be baptised at once. If not, you will not be rid of it. "

Hearing this, Vladimir said: " If it will be so in truth, then indeed your Christian God is great. " And he ordered to baptise him. The bishop of Korsun with the priests of the empress received Vladimir as a catechumen and baptised him, and the moment he laid his hands upon him, he regained his eyesight. When Vladimir saw this sudden cure, he praised God and said: " Now have I for the first time found the real God! " When his druzhina perceived this, many were baptised. He was baptised in the church of St. Basil, and that church is situated in Korsun, there where the Korsunians have their market-place. Vladimir's palace by the church is standing up to the present day. The palace of the empress is beyond the altar. After the baptism he led the empress to the betrothal. Those who do not know right say that he was baptised in Kiev; others say in Vasilev; others again say otherwise.

After that, Vladimir took the empress and Nastas, and the Korsun priests with the holy relics of Clement and Phoebus, his disciple, and church vessels, and images, for his own use.

He built a church in Korsun on the hill which they had thrown up in the middle of the city from the dirt they had carried away, and that church is still standing there. Going away, he took along with him two brass statues and four brass horses which stand to-day behind the church of the Holy Virgin, and which the ignorant think to be of marble. He gave as a marriage price Korsun back to the Greeks, for the sake of the empress, and went back to Kiev.

Upon his return, he ordered the idols to be cast down, and some to be cut to pieces, and others to be consumed by fire; but Perún he had tied to the tail of a horse, and dragged down the hill over the Borichev[4] to the brook, and placed twelve men to strike him with rods, not as if the wood had any feeling, but as a scorn to the devil who had in that way seduced people, that he might receive his due punishment from men. As he was dragged along the brook to the Dnieper, the unbelievers wept over him, for they had not yet received the holy baptism, and he was cast into the Dnieper. Vladimir stood by, and said: " Should he be carried anywhere to the banks, push him off, until he has passed the rapids, when you may leave him ! " They did as they were told. When he passed the rapids, and was let loose, the wind carried him on a sandbank, which is named from this " Perun's Bank," and is called so to this day.

After that Vladimir proclaimed throughout the whole city: " Whosoever will not appear to-morrow at the river, whether he be rich or poor, or a beggar, or a workingman, will be in my disfavour." Hearing this, people came gladly and with joy, and said: " If this were not good, the Prince and boyars would not have accepted it." Next morning Vladimir went out with the priests of the empress and of Korsun to the Dnieper, and there came together people without number. They went into the water, and stood there up to their necks, and some up to their breasts, but the younger nearer the shore, and others held the younger ones, while the grown people waded into the water. And the priests stood there and said the prayers; and there was a joy in heaven and upon earth at the sight of so many saved souls, but the devil groaned, and said: " Woe to me! I am driven away from here. Here I had intended to have my habitation, for here are no apostolic teachings, and they do not know God, and I rejoiced in the worship with which they served me. And now I am conquered by ignorant people and not by apostles and martyrs. I shall no longer reign in these lands. "

Having been baptised, the people went to their houses. Vladimir was happy for having, himself and his people, found God, and looking up to heaven he said: " God, Thou hast created heaven and earth ! Guard these Thy new people, and let them, O Lord, find out the real God, such as the Christian people know Him. Strengthen the true and constant faith in them, and help me, O Lord, against my foe, that relying upon Thee and Thy power, I may escape his ambush ! "

The people having been baptised, they all went to their homes, and Vladimir ordered churches to be built, and to place them there where formerly stood the idols. He built the church of St. Basil on the hill where stood the idol Perun and the others, to whom the Prince and others used to bring sacrifices. And he began to locate churches and priests over the towns, and to lead people to baptism in all towns and villages. He sent oat men to take the children of noblemen, and to put them out for book instruction; but the mothers of those children wept for them, for they were not yet firm in their faith, and they wept for them as for the dead.