6505 (997). When Vladimir went to Novgorod after upland troops with which to fight the Pechenegs (for there was desperate and constant conflict with them), the latter, on perceiving that for the moment there was no prince at hand, came and beset Belgorod. They allowed no sally from the city, and great famine prevailed. Vladimir could not bring succor, for he had no troops with him, and the number of the Pechenegs was great. The seige was thus prolonged, and the famine grew increasingly severe. The inhabitants thus held a council in the city, and said among themselves, "We are about to die from hunger, and no aid is to be expected from the Prince. Is it not better to die? Let us surrender to the Pechenegs, and let them spare some, though they kill others. We are perishing of famine as it is." Thus they came to a decision. But one old man was not present at the council, and inquired what it was about. The people told him that on the morrow they would surrender to the Pechenegs. Upon hearing this decision, he summoned the city-elders, and remarked that he understood they intended to surrender to the nomads. They replied that the people would not endure famine. Then the ancient said, "Listen to me: do not surrender for three days, and do as I tell you." They gladly promised to obey, and he directed them to collect a measure of oats, wheat, or bran apiece. They gladly went in search of these supplies. Then he bade the women prepare the liquid with which they brew porridge, and ordered them to dig a pit. In this pit he bade them place a tub, and to pour the liquid into the tub. Then he ordered them to dig a second pit, and place a tub in the latter likewise. He next commanded them to bring honey, so they fetched a basket of honey that was stored in the prince's storehouse. He then bade them dilute it greatly, and to pour it into the tub in the other pit.
Upon the morrow, he directed them to send messengers to the Pechenegs. The citizens went forth to the Pechenegs, and offered them hostages, so that ten of the nomads should come into the city to see what was happening in their town. The Pechenegs rejoiced, thinking that they wished to surrender. They therefore accepted the hostages, and selected the chief men of their own party, whom they sent into the city to look over the town and learn what was occuring. The Pecheneg representatives entered the town, and the inhabitants said to them, "Why do you waste your strength? You cannot overcome us if you besiege us for ten years. We secure our sustenance from the earth. If you do not believe it, behold it with your own eyes." They thus conducted the Pecheneg envoys to the pit where the brew was, then drew some up in a pail and poured it into pots. After they had brewed porridge, they conducted the Pechenegs to the other pit. They hauled up the buckets and after eating from them themselves, offered them to the Pechenegs. The latter were astonished, and exclaimed, "Our princes will not believe this marvel, unless they eat of the food themselves." So they poured out a bowl of brew and buckets of mead from the pits, and gave them to the Pechenegs, who returned to their camp and recounted all that had happened. After brewing the porridge, the Pecheneg princes ate it, and were amazed, and upon recovering their own hostages and returning those given by the city, they raised the siege and returned home.
Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor (translators), The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text, pages 122-123.