Kievan Rus' was a loose federation of East Slavic and Finnic peoples in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Varangian Rurik dynasty. The modern nations of Belarus and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors, with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it. At its greatest extent, in the mid-11th century, it stretched from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south and from the headwaters of the Vistula in the west to the Taman Peninsula in the east, uniting the majority of East Slavic tribes. According to Russian historiography, the first ruler to start uniting East Slavic lands into what has become known as Kievan Rus' was Prince Oleg, he extended his control from Novgorod south along the Dnieper river valley to protect trade from Khazar incursions from the east, he moved his capital to the more strategic Kiev. Sviatoslav I achieved the first major expansion of Kievan Rus' territorial control, fighting a war of conquest against the Khazars.
Vladimir the Great introduced Christianity with his own baptism and, by decree, extended it to all inhabitants of Kiev and beyond. Kievan Rus' reached its greatest extent under Yaroslav the Wise; the state declined beginning in the late 11th century and during the 12th century, disintegrating into various rival regional powers. It was further weakened by economic factors, such as the collapse of Rus' commercial ties to the Byzantine Empire due to the decline of Constantinople and the accompanying diminution of trade routes through its territory; the state fell to the Mongol invasion of the 1240s. During its existence, Kievan Rus' was known as the "land of the Rus'", in Greek as Ῥωσία, in Old French as Russie, Rossie, in Latin as Russia, from the 12th century Ruthenia. Various etymologies have been proposed, including Ruotsi, the Finnish designation for Sweden, Ros, a tribe from the middle Dnieper valley region. In the Norse sources, the sagas, the principality is called Garðariki, the peoples, according to Snorre Sturlason, are called Suiones, the confederation of Great Sviþjoð were made up of the peoples along the Dniepr called Tanais that separated Asia and Europe, all the way to the Baltics and Scandinavia.
The term Kievan Rus' was coined in the 19th century in Russian historiography to refer to the period when the centre was in Kiev. In English, the term was introduced in the early 20th century, when it was found in the 1913 English translation of Vasily Klyuchevsky's A History of Russia, to distinguish the early polity from successor states, which were named Rus; the Russian term was rendered into Belarusian and Ukrainian as Кіеўская Русь and Ки́ївська Русь, respectively. Prior to the emergence of Kievan Rus' in the 9th century AD, the lands between the Baltic Sea and Black Sea were populated by eastern Slavic tribes. In the northern region around Novgorod were the Ilmen Slavs and neighboring Krivichi, who occupied territories surrounding the headwaters of the West Dvina and Volga Rivers. To their north, in the Ladoga and Karelia regions, were the Finnic Chud tribe. In the south, in the area around Kiev, were the Poliane, a group of Slavicized tribes with Iranian origins, the Drevliane to the west of the Dnieper, the Severiane to the east.
To their north and east were the Vyatichi, to their south was forested land settled by Slav farmers, giving way to steppelands populated by nomadic herdsmen. Controversy persists over whether the Rus' were Slavs; this uncertainty is due to a paucity of contemporary sources. Attempts to address this question instead rely on archaeological evidence, the accounts of foreign observers, legends and literature from centuries later. To some extent the controversy is related to the foundation myths of modern states in the region. According to the "Normanist" view, the Rus' were Scandinavians, while Russian and Ukrainian nationalist historians argue that the Rus' were themselves Slavs. Normanist theories focus on the earliest written source for the East Slavs, the Primary Chronicle, although this account was not produced until the 12th century. Nationalist accounts have suggested that the Rus' were present before the arrival of the Varangians, noting that only a handful of Scandinavian words can be found in modern Russian and that Scandinavian names in the early chronicles were soon replaced by Slavic names.
Archaeological evidence from the area suggests that a Scandinavian population was present during the 10th century at the latest. On balance, it seems that the Rus' proper were a small minority of Scandinavians who formed an elite ruling class, while the great majority of their subjects were Slavs. Considering the linguistic arguments mounted by nationalist scholars, if the proto-Rus' were Scandinavians, they must have become nativized, adopting Slavic languages and other cultural practices. Ahmad ibn Fadlan, an Arab traveler during the 10th century, provided one of the earliest written descriptions of the Rus': "They are as tall as a date palm and ruddy, so that they do not need to wear a tunic nor a cloak. Liutprand of C
Achille-Louis-Joseph Sirouy was a French engraver, lithographer and illustrator. He worked in Aurillac and Paris between 1849 and 1904. A pupil of Émile Lassalle and Thomas Couture, Sirouy produced numerous lithographs after Delacroix, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Meissonier and Ludwig Knaus, large numbers of portraits of celebrities and politicians, he depicted many mythological and biblical scenes, such as The Punishment of Tantalus, The Mirror, The Prodigal Son and The Sphinx. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour in 1869 for his lithographic work. Sirouy illustrated Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huck Finn, he was given a number of commissions by the State, including the décor of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur known as l'Hôtel de Salm, when its interior was devastated by a fire in 1871. Thieme-Becker, Bd. 31, 1937, S. 103
State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum of Russia is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of prehistoric tribes that lived on the territory of present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty; the total number of objects in the museum's collection comes to millions. The place where the museum now stands was occupied by the Principal Medicine Store, built by order of Peter the Great in the Moscow baroque style. Several rooms in that building housed royal collections of antiquities. Other rooms were occupied by the Moscow University, founded by Mikhail Lomonosov in 1755; the museum was founded in 1872 by Ivan Zabelin, Aleksey Uvarov and several other Slavophiles interested in promoting Russian history and national self-awareness. The board of trustees, composed of Sergey Solovyov, Vasily Klyuchevsky and other leading historians, presided over the construction of the museum building. After a prolonged competition the project was handed over to Vladimir Osipovich Shervud.
The present structure was built based on Sherwood's neo-Russian design between 1875 and 1881. The first 11 exhibit halls opened in 1883 during a visit from the Tsar and his wife. In 1894 Tsar Alexander III became the honorary president of the museum and the following year, 1895, the museum was renamed the Tsar Alexander III Imperial Russian History Museum, its interiors were intricately decorated in the Russian Revival style by such artists as Viktor Vasnetsov, Henrik Semiradsky, Ivan Aivazovsky. During the Soviet period the murals were plastered over; the museum went through a painstaking restoration of its original appearance between 1986 and 1997. Notable items include a longboat excavated from the banks of the Volga River, gold artifacts of the Scythians, birch-bark scrolls of Novgorod, manuscripts going back to the sixth century, Russian folk ceramics, wooden objects; the library boasts the manuscripts of the Chludov Psalter, Svyatoslav's Miscellanies, Mstislav Gospel, Yuriev Gospel, Halych Gospel.
The museum's coin collection alone includes 1.7 million coins. In 1996, the number of all articles in the museum's collection reached 4,373,757. A branch of the museum is housed in the Romanov Chambers Moscow Kremlin. In 1934 The Museum of Women's Emancipation at the Novodevichy Convent became part of the State Historical Museum; some of the churches and other monastic buildings are still affiliated with the State Historical Museum. Official website Photo Google Maps satellite photo
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers west-southwest of Moscow. Population: 326,861 ; the walled city in the center of Smolensk was destroyed several times throughout its long history because it was on the invasion routes of the Mongol Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, First French Empire and Nazi Germany. Today, Smolensk is noted for its electronics, food processing, diamond faceting industries; the name of the city is derived from the name of the Smolnya River. The origin of the river's name is less clear. One possibility is the old Slavic word "смоль" for black soil, which might have colored the waters of the Smolnya. An alternative origin could be the Russian word "смола", which means tar, or pitch. Pine trees grow in the area, the city was once a center of resin processing and trade; the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII recorded its name as "Μιλινισκα". The city is located in European Russia on the banks of the upper Dnieper River, which crosses the city within the Smolensk Upland, the western part of the Smolensk–Moscow Upland.
The Dnieper River flows through the city from east to west and divides it into two parts: the northern and southern. Within the city and its surroundings the river takes in several small tributaries. In the valleys are stretched streets, high ridges and headlands form the mountain. Smolensk is situated on seven hills; the old part of the city occupies the rugged left bank of the Dnieper River. The area features undulating terrain, with a large number of tributaries and ravines. Smolensk is among the oldest Russian cities; the first recorded mention of the city was 863 AD, two years after the founding of Kievan Rus'. According to Russian Primary Chronicle, Smolensk was located on the area settled by the West Slavic Radimichs tribe in 882 when Oleg of Novgorod took it in passing from Novgorod to Kiev; the town was first attested two decades earlier, when the Varangian chieftains Askold and Dir, while on their way to Kiev, decided against challenging Smolensk on account of its large size and population.
The first foreign writer to mention the city was the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. In De Administrando Imperio he described Smolensk as a key station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks; the Rus' people sailed from the Baltics up the Western Dvina as far as they could they portaged their boats to the upper Dnieper. It was in Smolensk that they mended any leaks and small holes that might have appeared in their boats from being dragged on the ground and they used tar to do that, hence the city name; the Principality of Smolensk was founded in 1054. Due to its central position in Kievan Rus', the city developed rapidly. By the end of the 12th century, the princedom was one of the strongest in Eastern Europe, so that Smolensk Dynasty controlled the Kievan throne. Numerous churches were built in the city including the church of Sts. Peter and Paul and the church of St. John the Baptist; the most remarkable church in the city is called Svirskaya. Smolensk had its own veche since the beginning of its history.
Its power increased after the disintegration of Kievan Rus', although it was not as strong as the veche in Novgorod, the princes had to take its opinion into consideration. Although spared by the Mongol armies in 1240, Smolensk paid tribute to the Golden Horde becoming a pawn in the long struggle between Lithuania and the Grand Duchy of Moscow; the last sovereign monarch of Smolensk was Yury of Smolensk. After the city's incorporation into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, some of Smolensk's boyars moved to Vilnius. With tens of thousands of people living there, Smolensk was the largest city in 15th-century Lithuania. Three Smolensk regiments took part in the Battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic Knights, it was a severe blow to Lithuania when the city was taken by Vasily III of Russia in 1514. To commemorate this event, the Tsar founded the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow and dedicated it to the icon of Our Lady of Smolensk. In order to repel future Polish–Lithuanian attacks, Boris Godunov made it his priority to fortify the city.
The stone kremlin constructed in 1597–1602 is the largest in Russia. It features numerous watchtowers. Heavy fortifications did not prevent the fortress from being taken by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1611 after a long twenty-month siege, during the Time of Troubles and Dimitriads. Weakened Muscovy temporarily ceded Smolensk land to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Truce of Deulino and for the next forty-three years it was the seat of Smolensk Voivodeship. To recapture the city, the Tsardom of Russia launched the so-called "Smolensk War" against the Commonwealth in 1632. After a defeat at the hands of king Wladislaw IV, the city remained in Polish–Lithuanian hands. In 1632, the Uniate bishop Lew Kreuza built his apartm
Vladimir the Great
Vladimir the Great. Vladimir's father was prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty. After the death of his father in 972, prince of Novgorod, was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 after his brother Yaropolk had murdered his other brother Oleg and conquered Rus'. In Sweden, with the help from his relative Ladejarl Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, he assembled a Varangian army and reconquered Novgorod from Yaropolk. By 980, Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from modern-day Belarus and Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarian, Baltic tribes and Eastern nomads. A follower of Slavic paganism, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988 and Christianized the Kievan Rus'. Born in 958, Vladimir was the natural son and youngest son of Sviatoslav I of Kiev by his housekeeper Malusha. Malusha is described in the Norse sagas as a prophetess who lived to the age of 100 and was brought from her cave to the palace to predict the future. Malusha's brother Dobrynya was most trusted advisor.
Hagiographic tradition of dubious authenticity connects his childhood with the name of his grandmother, Olga of Kiev, Christian and governed the capital during Sviatoslav's frequent military campaigns. His place of birth is identified as Budyatychi or Budnik. Transferring his capital to Pereyaslavets in 969, Sviatoslav designated Vladimir ruler of Novgorod the Great but gave Kiev to his legitimate son Yaropolk. After Sviatoslav's death at the hands of the Pechenegs in 972, a fratricidal war erupted in 976 between Yaropolk and his younger brother Oleg, ruler of the Drevlians. In 977, Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod. On his return the next year, he marched against Yaropolk. On his way to Kiev he sent ambassadors to Rogvolod, prince of Polotsk, to sue for the hand of his daughter Rogneda; the high-born princess refused to affiance herself to the son of a bondswoman, so Vladimir attacked Polotsk, slew Rogvolod, took Ragnhild by force.
Polotsk was a key fortress on the way to Kiev, capturing Polotsk and Smolensk facilitated the taking of Kiev in 978, where he slew Yaropolk by treachery and was proclaimed knyaz of all Kievan Rus. Vladimir continued to expand his territories beyond his father's extensive domain. In 981, he seized the Cherven towns from the Poles. Although Christianity spread in the region under Oleg's rule, Vladimir had remained a thoroughgoing pagan, taking eight hundred concubines and erecting pagan statues and shrines to gods, he may have attempted to reform Slavic paganism in an attempt to identify himself with the various gods worshipped by his subjects. He built a pagan temple on the a hill in Kiev dedicated to six gods: Perun - the god of thunder and war "a Norse god favored by members of the prince’s druzhina". Slav gods Dazhd ` bog. A mob killed his son Ioann. After the murder of Fyodor and Ioann, early medieval Rus' saw persecutions against Christians, many of whom escaped or concealed their belief. However, Prince Vladimir mused over the incident long after, not least for political considerations.
According to the early Slavic chronicle called Tale of Bygone Years, which describes life in Kievan Rus' up to the year 1110, he sent his envoys throughout the civilized world to judge first hand the major religions of the time, Roman Catholicism and Byzantine Orthodoxy. They were most impressed with their visit to Constantinople, saying, "We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth… We only know that God dwells there among the people, their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations." The Primary Chronicle reports that in the year 987, after consultation with his boyars, Vladimir the Great sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths. The result is described by the chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them, only sorrow and a great stench, he reported that Islam was undesirable due to its taboo against alcoholic beverages and pork.
Vladimir remarked on the occasion: "Drinking is the joy of all Rus'. We cannot exist without that pleasure." Ukrainian and Russian sources describe Vladimir consulting with Jewish envoys and questioning them about their religion, but rejecting it as well, saying that their loss of Jerusalem was evidence that they had been abandoned by God. His emissaries visited pre-schism Latin Rite Christian and Eastern Rite Ch
The Varangians was the name given by Greeks, Rus' people, others to Vikings, who between the 9th and 11th centuries, ruled the medieval state of Kievan Rus', settled among many territories of modern Belarus and Ukraine, formed the Byzantine Varangian Guard. According to the 12th century Kievan Primary Chronicle, a group of Varangians known as the Rus' settled in Novgorod in 862 under the leadership of Rurik. Before Rurik, the Rus' might have ruled an earlier hypothetical polity. Rurik's relative Oleg conquered Kiev in 882 and established the state of Kievan Rus', ruled by Rurik's descendants. Engaging in trade and mercenary activities, Varangians roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, as the areas north of the Black Sea were known in the Norse sagas, they controlled the Volga trade route, connecting the Baltic to the Caspian Sea, the Dnieper and Dniester trade route leading to the Black Sea and Constantinople. Those were the critically important trade links at that time, connecting Medieval Europe with Arab Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire.
Attracted by the riches of Constantinople, the Varangian Rus' initiated a number of Rus'-Byzantine Wars, some of which resulted in advantageous trade treaties. At least from the early 10th century many Varangians served as mercenaries in the Byzantine Army, constituting the elite Varangian Guard. Most of them, both in Byzantium and in Eastern Europe, were converted from paganism to Orthodox Christianity, culminating in the Christianization of Kievan Rus' in 988. Coinciding with the general decline of the Viking Age, the influx of Scandinavians to Rus' stopped, Varangians were assimilated by East Slavs by the late 11th century. Medieval Greek Βάραγγος Várangos and Old East Slavic Варягъ Varjagŭ are derived from Old Norse væringi a compound of vár'pledge' or'faith', gengi'companion', thus meaning'sworn companion','confederate', extended to mean'a foreigner who has taken service with a new lord by a treaty of fealty to him', or'protégé'; some scholars seem to assume a derivation from vár with the common suffix -ing.
Yet, this suffix is inflected differently in Old Norse, furthermore, the word is attested with -gangia and cognates in other Germanic languages in the Early Middle Ages, as in Old English wærgenga, Old Frankish wargengus and Langobardic waregang. The reduction of the second part of the word could be parallel to that seen in Old Norse foringi'leader', correspondent to Old English foregenga and Gothic fauragaggja'steward'; the terms “Varangian” and “Rus” can sometimes be used interchangeably but there are slight differences between the two groups. Both refer to the peoples of Scandinavian descent who settled in the Dnieper-Volga region during and after the 8th century; the Varangians are a more definable group. They were Scandinavians in Eastern Europe who were associated with Byzantium and the Byzantine emperor’s Varangian Guard; these mercenaries were entirely men who either returned to their Scandinavian homeland or married into the local Slavic culture. The term “Rus” is more difficult to define.
The Rus were more inclined to settle in towns with their families. The term “Rus” is sometimes used in primary sources to describe Slavic peoples as well as Scandinavians, its definition becomes clearer in the period when it developed from the name of a people to the name of a political entity and area of land. The confusion in the primary sources about the meaning of Rus' has led to arguments between scholars about whether Russia was named after a Scandinavian people or a Slavic people; these are grouped into anti-Normanist views. Current scholarship supports the Normanist argument – that the Rus were a Scandinavian people – but there have been heated debates in the last century between certain scholars fueled by nationalism, it is now accepted that the Rus' were of Scandinavian origin but adopted Slavic cultural characteristics quickly. Having settled Aldeigja in the 750s, Scandinavian colonists played an important role in the early ethnogenesis of the Rus' people and in the formation of the Rus' Khaganate.
The Varangians are first mentioned by the Primary Chronicle as having exacted tribute from the Slavic and Finnic tribes in 859. The Vikings were expanding in Northern Europe: England began to pay Danegeld in 859, the Curonians of Grobin faced an invasion by the Swedes around the same period. Due to geographic considerations, it is argued that most of the Varangians who traveled and settled in the eastern Baltic and lands to the south came from the area of modern Sweden. In the 9th century, the Rus' operated the Volga trade route, which connected Northern Russia with the Middle East; the Volga route declined by the end of the century, the Dnieper and Dniester routes overtook it in popularity. Apart from Ladoga and Novgorod and Gotland were major centres for Varangian trade. According to the Primary Chronicle, in 862, the Finnic and Slavic tribes in the area of Novgorod rebelled against their Varangian rulers, driving them overseas back to Scandinavia, but they soon started to conflict with each other.
The disorder prompted the tribes to invite the Varangians back "to come and rule them" and bring peace to the region. Led by
The Norse people or Norsemen were a group of Germanic people who inhabited Scandinavia and spoke what is now called the Old Norse language between c. 800 and 1300 AD. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages and is the predecessor of the modern Germanic languages of Scandinavia. In the late eighth century Norsemen embarked on a massive expansion in all directions; this was the start of the Viking Age. In English-language scholarship since the nineteenth century, the Viking Age Norsemen, seafaring traders and warriors have been referred to as Vikings; the Norse Scandinavians established polities and settlements in what are now England, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Russia, Greenland, Belgium, Finland, Latvia, Germany and Canada as well as Sicily. The word Norseman first appears in English in the early nineteenth century: the earliest attestation given in the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is from Walter Scott's 1817 Harold the Dauntless; the word was coined using the adjective norse, borrowed into English from Dutch in the 16th century with the sense'Norwegian', which by Scott's time had acquired the sense "of or relating to Scandinavia or its language, esp in ancient or medieval times".
Like the modern use of the word viking, the word norseman has no particular basis in medieval usage. The term Norseman does, echo terms meaning'Northman' applied to Norse-speakers by the peoples they encountered during the Middle Ages; the Old Frankish word Nortmann was Latinised as Normannus and was used in Latin texts. The Latin word Normannus entered Old French as Normands. From this word came the name of the Normans and of Normandy, settled by Norsemen in the tenth century; the same word entered Hispanic languages and local varieties of Latin with forms beginning not only in n-, but in l-, such as lordomanni. This form may in turn have been borrowed into Arabic: the prominent early Arabic source al-Mas‘ūdī identified the 844 raiders on Seville not only as Rūs but al-lawdh’āna. In modern scholarship, Vikings is a common term for attacking Norsemen in connection with raids and monastic plundering by Norsemen in the British Isles, but it was not used in this sense at the time. In Old Norse and Old English, the word meant'pirate'.
The Norse were known as Ascomanni, ashmen, by the Germans, Lochlanach by the Gaels and Dene by the Anglo-Saxons. The Gaelic terms Finn-Gall, Dubh-Gall and Gall Goidel were used for the people of Norse descent in Ireland and Scotland, who assimilated into the Gaelic culture. Dubliners called them Ostmen, or East-people, the name Oxmanstown comes from one of their settlements. In the 8th century the inrush of the Vikings in force began to be felt all over Pictland; these Vikings were savages of the most unrestrained and pitiless type. They were composed of Finn-Gall or Norwegians, of Dubh-Gall or Danes; the latter were a mixed breed, with a Hunnish strain in them. However, British conceptions of the Vikings' origins were not quite correct; those who plundered Britain lived in what is today Denmark, the western coast of Sweden and Norway and along the Swedish Baltic coast up to around the 60th latitude and Lake Mälaren. They came from the island of Gotland, Sweden; the border between the Norsemen and more southerly Germanic tribes, the Danevirke, today is located about 50 kilometres south of the Danish–German border.
The southernmost living Vikings lived no further north than Newcastle upon Tyne, travelled to Britain more from the east than from the north. The northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula was unpopulated by the Norse, because this ecology was inhabited by the Sami, the native people of northern Sweden and large areas of Norway and the Kola Peninsula in today's Russia; the Slavs, the Arabs and the Byzantines knew them as the Rus' or Rhōs derived from various uses of rōþs-, i.e. "related to rowing", or from the area of Roslagen in east-central Sweden, where most of the Vikings who visited the Slavic lands originated. Archaeologists and historians of today believe that these Scandinavian settlements in the Slavic lands formed the names of the countries of Russia and Belarus; the Slavs and the Byzantines called them Varangians, the Scandinavian bodyguards of the Byzantine emperors were known as the Varangian Guard. In the Old Norse language, the term norrœnir menn, was used correspondingly to the modern English name Norsemen, referring to Swedes, Norwegians, Faroe Islanders, etc.
The modern Scandinavian languages have a common word for Norsemen: the word nordbo, is used for both ancient and modern people living in the Nordic countries and speaking one of the Scandinavian Germanic languages. The word Vikings: Vikinger in Danish and Norwegian Bokmål, Vikingar in Swedish and Norwegian Nynorsk is not used as a word for Norsemen by natives, as "Viking" is the name for a specific activity/occupation, not a demographic group; the Vikings were people partaking in the raid. On occasions Finland is mentioned as a "Scandinavian country". Th