The Viking Rus

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  • Topic: Kievan Rus', Kiev, Varangians
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  • Published : May 6, 2013
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The Viking Rus

The Viking Rus
In the early 9th century, the Rus, a group of Vikings from the modern-day area of Sweden (Logan 2005: 180-207)(etymonline.com), became loosely organized under the Rus' Khaganate. The ruler of the Rus during their Anatolian expedition in 839 was called chaganus (i.e. Khaqan) (Golden 1982: 77-92). In 860, the Rus invaded the Byzantine Empire, and subsequently launched several wars with the Byzantine Empire and expeditions to the Caspian Sea. The early leaders of Rus were most likely a Norse elite that ruled a majority of Slavic subjects (britannica.com). According to The Primary Chronicle, the earliest chronicle of Rus', the territory of the future Kievan state was divided between Varangians and Khazars (uogeron.edu). The three brothers: Rurik (the oldest), Sineus, and Truvor - established themselves in Novgorod, Beloozero and Izborsk, respectively. After two years, two of Rurik's brothers died leaving Rurik the sole ruler. He in turn installed his nakhodniks to assist him in governing the land. The principals' cities became Novgorod (capital) ruling over Ilmen Slavs, Polotsk – Krivichi, Rostov – Merya, Beloozero – Veps, and Murom – Muroma. The chronicle names him as the progenitor of the Rurik Dynasty(Somerville 2010: 309).

Foundation of the Kievan state
The kingdom of the Kievan Rus' was officially founded by Prince Oleg about 880. The territory of his state was much smaller than the later state of Yaroslav "the Wise". During the next 35 years, Oleg and his warriors subdued the various Eastern Slavic and Finnic tribes. In 911, he signed a commercial treaty with the Byzantine Empire as an equal partner (britannica.com). The new Kievan state prospered because it had an abundant supply of furs, beeswax and honey for export and because it controlled three main trade routes of Eastern Europe: the Volga trade route from the Baltic Sea to the Orient, the Dnieper trade route from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, and the trade route...
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