The Vikings in Russia

Written for The Viking Network by Irina Morozova & Evgeny Karpov

The beginning of the Russian - Scandinavian relationship dated from the 9th century is described in the Russian Primary Chronicle written by Orthodox monks. At that time, different Slav tribes lived in the North - West of Russia along the Neva and the Volkhov rivers as well as around the lakes Ladoga and Ilmen. The great Russian plain covered with forest and grassland was ideal for hunting, fishery and agriculture. Also it represented real trade crossroads between Northern Europe and Byzantine Empire. That was one of the reasons to build there the town of Novgorod which was a capital of the Old Northern Russia and an important commercial centre.

In 862 the Slavs, exhausted by uninterrupted inter-tribal wars, made the following proposal to the Rus (a name borrowed from the Finns to designate the Swedes): "Our country is rich and immense, but it is rent by disorder. Come and govern us and reign over us".

Three Swedish Vikings responded and came to Russia. Rurik became governor of Novgorod, Sineus settled down in Beloozerg and Truvor in Izborsk. Two years later Sineus and Truvor both died and Rurik extended his rule over the whole country. Later two of his lieutenants went down to Kiev, nearly six hundred miles away, and conquered it. In 882 Oleg, Rurik's successor, came to Kiev in his turn. Having established his own leadership over numerous towns and tribes Oleg strengthened considerably the new Russian State and became its master. The new capital, Kiev, little by little became one of the richest towns in Europe.

Rurik's successors became a ruling dynasty in Russia for more than 700 years.

- 14. august 2004 -