In the main, the struggle which ensued was to be fought out, as it had been throughout much of the second half of the twelfth century, between the Ros­ tislavichi and the Ol'govichi. Most of the time a state of simmering, some­ times open, warfare existed between them. Occasionally the two families would form an ephemeral alliance, but only with the aim of combating a common enemy in the shape of whoever controlled the west-Russian lands. In the back­ ground to this conflict were the rulers of Vladimir In the north-west, Vsevolod 111 and his sons, sometimes aloof, but always watchful, ready to intervene if the balance of power in the south needed redressing, and aware of their over­ all military and economic superiority. From the great Kievan chronicle1 — in its latter stages, the family chronicle of Ryurik Rostislavich — it is clear that Ryurik recognized this authority and was ready to acknowledge the suzerainty of Vsevolod 111: in the delicate territorial negotiations with Roman Mstislavich and Vsevolod in 1195, negotiations which tottered on the brink of open war, Ryurik told Roman: ‘We cannot exist without Vsevolod; we have placed in him the seniority amongst all [our] cousins in the tribe of Vladimir {MonomakhJ2;

and to Vsevolod he declared: ‘You, brother, are senior to us all in the tribe of Vladimir/3 Maybe this was nothing more than the language of diplomacy, but the Suzdalian (the so-called Lavrent'evskiy) Chronicle - biased though it may have been - points out that it was Vsevolod III who in fact ‘sent his men to Kiev’ when Svyastoslav died in 1194 ‘and put Ryurik Rostislavichi on the throne of K iev.4 In 1203 the same chronicle has Roman of Galicia talk of Vsevolod as 'my father and master (ptets i gm podin f.5