The Varangian Rus 2/3




Published on Dec 15, 2011

Generally speaking, the Norwegians expanded to the north and west to places such as Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Greenland; the Danes to England and France,
settling in the Danelaw (northern/eastern England) and Normandy; and the Swedes to the east, founding the Kievan Rus, the original Russia. However, among the
Swedish runestones which mention expeditions over seas, almost half tell of raids and travels to western Europe. And in todays Sweden it has been found more Arabic coins from the Viking age then the Arabs has found themself from this era plus there has been found tonnes of viking treasures in todays Sweden which made the areas in todays Sweden to among the most riches places on earth during the viking age. So its easy due archeology to track the Varangian Rus til todays Sweden. But also, according to the Icelandic sagas, many Norwegian Vikings went to eastern Europe. The names of Scandinavian kings are known
only for the later part of the Viking Age. Only after the end of the Viking Age did the separate kingdoms acquire distinct identities as nations, which went
hand in hand with their Christianization. Thus the end of the Viking Age for the Scandinavians also marks the start of their relatively brief Middle Ages.

According to the Primary Chronicle, compiled in Kiev about 1100-1200 Ad , one group of Varangians was Rus' people. Their name became that of the land of Rus'
this happened because one of Rus' princes, Rurik (Old Norse: Hrörekr) had been recognized by several East Slavic and Finno-Ugric peoples as their ruler,
founding the Rurikid Dynasty, which later would rule over Rus' and after its fall over Russia for many centuries. Rurik first came to Staraya Ladoga in
862 and then moved his capital to Novgorod in 864, while his relative Oleg (Old Norse: Helgi) conquered Kiev in 882 and established the state
of Kievan Rus', later inherited by Rurik's son Igor (Old Norse: Ingvarr).
Sviatoslav was the first ruler of Rus' who is recorded in the Primary Chronicle with a name of Slavic origin (as opposed to his predecessors, whose names
are ultimately derived from Old Norse). This name is however not recorded in other medieval Slavic countries. Even in Rus', it was attested only among the
members of the house of Rurik, as were the names of Sviatoslav's immediate successors: Vladimir, Yaroslav, Mstislav). Some scholars speculate that the
name of Sviatoslav, composed of the Slavic roots for "holy" and "glory", was an artificial derivation combining those of his predecessors Oleg and Rurik
(they mean "holy" and "glorious" in Old Norse, respectively).

Engaging in trade, piracy and mercenary activities, Varangians roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, as Rus' lands were known in
Norse sagas. They controlled the Volga trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Arabs), connecting Baltic to the Caspian Sea, and the Dnieper
trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Greeks) leading to the Black Sea and Constantinople. Those were the critically important trade links
at that time, connecting Europe with wealthy and developed Arab Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire;via those routes most of the
silver coinage came from the East to the West. Attracted by the riches of Constantinople, Rus' Varangians 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,
comprising the so-called Varangian Guard (the personal bodyguards of Byzantine Emperors). Eventually most of them, both in Byzantium and in
Eastern Europe, were converted from paganism into Orthodox Christianity, culminating in the 988 Christianization of Kievan Rus'. Coinciding with the
general decline of the Viking Age, the influx of Norsemen to Rus' stopped, and Varangians were eventually assimilated by East Slavs by the late
11th century.