Kievan Rus, 11th century
|Languages||Old East Slavic|
|Government||Monarchy (Rurik Dynasty)|
|Grand Prince of Kiev|
|Legislature||Veche, Prince Council|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Russia|
Kievan Rus', or Kievan Russia, was a medieval polity in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-12th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240. The history of Rus' proper begins in 882, when the capital was moved from Novgorod to Kiev after Varangians (Vikings), who were called Rus, liberated this Slavic city from the Khazars' tribute.
The state reached its zenith in the mid 11th century, when it encompassed territories stretching south to the Black Sea, east to the Volga, and west to the Kingdom of Poland and to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The reigns of Vladimir the Great (980–1015) and his son Yaroslav I the Wise (1019–1054) constituted the "Golden Age" of Kiev, which saw the introduction of Christianity and the creation of the first East Slavic written legal code, the Russkaya Pravda ("Justice of Rus").
Coinciding with the end of the Viking age, the state declined beginning in the late 11th 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 Byzantium due to the decline of Constantinople and the falling off of trade routes, it finally fell to the Mongol invasion of the 1230s. By 1283 it was united under the Grand Duchy of Moscow by Daniel of Moscow.
The various East Slavic principalities were united within the Russian Empire in the 18th century. The modern East Slavic states of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia all derive their identity from the early medieval state.
During its existence, the state was known as "land of the Rus'" (Old East Slavic русьскаꙗ землꙗ, from the ethnonym Рѹ́сь, Greek Ῥώς, Arabic الروس ar-Rūs), in Greek as Ῥωσία, later also Latin pseudo-antique Ruthenia.
The name "Kievan Rus'" (Ки́евская Русь Kievskaya Rus’) was coined in the 19th century in Russian historiography to refer to the period when the center 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 also named Rus. Later, the Russian term was rendered into Belarusian and Ukrainian as Кіеўская Русь Kijeŭskaja Rus’ and Ки́ївська Русь Kyivs'ka Rus’, respectively.
|This article's factual accuracy is disputed. (February 2013)|
In the early 9th century, the Rus, a group of Vikings from the modern-day area of Sweden, became loosely organized under the Rus' Khaganate.[need quotation to verify] The ruler of the Rus during their Anatolian expedition in 839 was called chaganus (i.e. khaqan). In 860, the Rus invaded the Byzantine Empire, and subsequently launched several wars with the Byzantine Empire and expeditions to the Caspian Sea.
However, in 6368-6370 (860-862),
"The tributaries of the Varangians drove them back beyond the sea and, refusing them further tribute, set out to govern themselves. There was no law among them, but tribe rose against tribe. Discord thus ensued among them, and they began to war one against the other. They said to themselves, "Let us seek a prince who may rule over us, and judge us according to the Law." They accordingly went overseas to the Varangian Russes. These particular Varangians were known as Russes, just as some are called Swedes, and others Normans, English and Gotlanders, for they were thus named. The Chuds, the Slavs, the Krivichs and the Ves then said to the Rus, "Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come to rule and reign over us". They thus selected three brothers with their kinfolk, who took with them all the Rus and migrated.
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. The Primary Chronicle says:
"Two of Rurik's boyars, Askold and Dir who were not blood-related to Rurik, asked him to go with their families to Tsargrad. Going down the Dnieper River they noticed settlement named Kiev which they liberated from the Khazars' tribute and settled there, eventually conquering the rest of the Polians' land".
Early Rus and Arab Interaction 
Ahmad ibn Fadlan, an Arab traveler during the 10th century, observed the Rus' during one of his many travels. His account is one of the earliest written descriptions of the Vikings. In his observation, he wrote, "They are as tall as a date palm, blond and ruddy, so that they do not need to wear a tunic nor a cloak; rather the men among them wear garments that only cover half of his body and leaves one of his hands free."  He, like many of the other Eastern civilizations, described the Rus' as unhygienic. That being said, however, he also marveled at their physical build and the way in which they combed their hair.
Foundation of the Kievan state 
The kingdom of the Kievan Rus' was officially founded by Prince Oleg (Helgu in Khazarian records) 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 (Smolensk and Liubech) and Finnic tribes. In 882, Oleg deposed Askold and Dir subordinating Kiev directly to himself and choosing it as the capital city. In 883, Oleg conquered the Drevlians imposing a fur tribute on them. By 884 he managed to subjugate the Polians, Drevlians, Severians, Vyatichs, and Radimichs while at war with the Tivertsi and the Ulichs. The latter were located in the area known among the Greek historians as the Great Scythia (lands of lower Dniester and Dnieper rivers). In 907, Oleg led an attack against Constantinople with 80,000 warriors transported by 2,000 ships, leaving Igor, son of Rurik in Kiev. Through a treaty, Oleg managed to impose a tribute upon Greeks of no less than one million grivna. In 911, he signed a commercial treaty with the Byzantine Empire as an equal partner. After the death of Oleg later in 912, the Drevlians managed to break away, but were conquered again by Igor. In 914, Igor concluded a peace treaty with the Pechenegs, a nomadic tribe that was passing through Rus' towards the Danube River in order to attack the Byzantine Empire.
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 from the Khazars to the Germans (see Raffelstetten Customs Regulations).
Liutprand of Cremona, who was twice (949 and 968) an envoy to the Byzantine court, identifies the "Russi" with the Norse (Rusios, quos alio nos nomine Nordmannos apellamus, "the Russi, whom we call Norsemen by another name") but explains the name as a Greek term referring to their physical traits (Gens quaedam est sub aquilonis parte constituta, quam a qualitate corporis Graeci vocant [...] Rusios, nos vero a positione loci nominamus Nordmannos, "A certain people made up of a part of the Norse, whom the Greeks call [...] the Russi on account of their physical features, we designate as Norsemen because of the location of their origin.").
Following the death of Grand Prince Igor in 945, his wife Olga ruled as regent in Kiev until their son Sviatoslav reached maturity (ca. 963). His decade-long reign over Rus' was marked by rapid expansion through the conquest of the Khazars of the Pontic steppe and the invasion of the Balkans. By the end of his short life, Sviatoslav carved out for himself the largest state in Europe, eventually moving his capital from Kiev to Pereyaslavets on the Danube in 969. In contrast with his mother's conversion to Christianity, Sviatoslav, like his druzhina, remained a staunch pagan. Due to his abrupt death in an ambush in 972, Sviatoslav's conquests, for the most part, were not consolidated into a functioning empire, while his failure to establish a stable succession led to a fratricidal feud among his sons, resulted in two of his three sons being killed.
Reign of Vladimir and Christianisation 
It is not clearly documented when the title of the Grand Duke was first introduced, but the importance of the Kiev principality was recognized after the death of Sviatoslav I in 972 and the ensuing struggle between Vladimir the Great and Yaropolk I. The region of Kiev dominated the state of Kievan Rus' for the next two centuries. The Grand Prince (velikiy kniaz') of Kiev controlled the lands around the city, and his formally subordinate relatives ruled the other cities and paid him tribute. The zenith of the state's power came during the reigns of Vladimir the Great (980–1015) and Prince Yaroslav I the Wise (1019–1054). Both rulers continued the steady expansion of Kievan Rus' that had begun under Oleg.
Vladimir had been prince of Novgorod when his father Sviatoslav I died in 972. He was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 after his half-brother Yaropolk had murdered his other brother Oleg and taken control of Rus. In Scandinavia, with the help of his relative Earl Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, Vladimir assembled a viking army and reconquered Novgorod and Kiev from Yaropolk. As Prince of Kiev, Vladimir's most notable achievement was the Christianization of Kievan Rus', a process that began in 988. The Primary Chronicle states that when Vladimir had decided to accept a new faith instead of the traditional idol-worship (paganism) of the Slavs, he sent out some of his most valued advisors and warriors as emissaries to different parts of Europe. They visited the Christians of the Latin Rite, the Jews, and the Muslims before finally arriving in Constantinople. They rejected Islam because, among other things, it prohibited the consumption of alcohol, and Judaism because the god of the Jews had permitted his chosen people to be deprived of their country. They found the ceremonies in the Roman church to be dull. But at Constantinople, they were so astounded by the beauty of the cathedral of Hagia Sophia and the liturgical service held there that they made up their minds there and then about the faith they would like to follow. Upon their arrival home, they convinced Vladimir that the faith of the Byzantine Rite was the best choice of all, upon which Vladimir made a journey to Constantinople and arranged to marry Princess Anna, the sister of Byzantine emperor Basil II.
Vladimir's choice of Eastern Christianity may also have reflected his close personal ties with Constantinople, which dominated the Black Sea and hence trade on Kiev's most vital commercial route, the Dnieper River. Adherence to the Eastern Church had long-range political, cultural, and religious consequences. The church had a liturgy written in Cyrillic and a corpus of translations from Greek that had been produced for the Slavic peoples. This literature facilitated the conversion to Christianity of the Eastern Slavs and introduced them to rudimentary Greek philosophy, science, and historiography without the necessity of learning Greek (there were some merchants who did business with Greeks and likely had an understanding of contemporary business Greek). In contrast, educated people in medieval Western and Central Europe learned Latin. Enjoying independence from the Roman authority and free from tenets of Latin learning, the East Slavs developed their own literature and fine arts, quite distinct from those of other Eastern Orthodox countries. (See Old East Slavic language and Architecture of Kievan Rus for details ). Following the Great Schism of 1054, the Rus' church maintained communion with both Rome and Constantinople for some time, but along with most of the Eastern churches it eventually split to follow the Eastern Orthodox. That being said, unlike other parts of the Greek world, Kievan Rus' did not have a strong hostility to the Western world.
Consolidation of power 
In the 8th and 9th centuries, the lands of the Rus' had been populated by eastern slavic tribes. To the north were the Slovenes of the Novgorod region and the neighboring Krivichi, who occupied the territories surrounding the headwaters of the West Dvina, Dnieper, and Volga Rivers. To the south, in the area around Kiev, were the Poliane, a group of Slavicized tribes with Iranian origins. To their north the Derevliane inhabited the lands west of the Dnieper extending to its tributary the Pripyat River. East of the Dnieper along its tributary the Desna River were Severiane tribes, and the Viatichi lived to their north and east along the upper Oka River. Kievan Rus' was fringed in the north by the Finnic Churd. To the south, its forested lands, settled by Slav farmers, gave way to steppelands populated by nomadic hersdmen.
Within Kievan Rus there were several noteworthy towns by the late 10th century. Kiev and Novgorod were its southern and northern focal points. In addition, Kievan Rus contained Smolensk, a center of Krivichi, located on the upper Dniper. West of Smolensk was the town of Polotsk, which Vladimir had seized from Rogvolod, located on the Polota River. South of Polotsk on the Pripyat River was the Dregovich center of Turov (Turau). On the east side of the Dnieper, Chernigov was the major center of the Severiane tribes. Pereiaslavl, situated southeast of Kiev on the Trubezh River, was the town nearest the steppe frontier. Rostov, located on Lake Nero, had also been founded by the era of Prince Vladimir.
In addition to collecting tribute, Vladimir's sons were responsible for defending the orthodox missions and protecting their borders. These functions, as well as military engagements for conquest, required each prince to have a military force at his disposal. Like their forefathers, Vladimir and his sons each relied on a Druzhina, a military force they supported and maintained in permanent service. By dispersing his sons around the country Vladimir also ensured that their military forces would be stationed at some distance from one another, where they could defend the frontiers of Kievan Rus' and also be less likely to fight each other. Yet, in a pressing situation, any one of the princes could supplement his military force with auxiliary troops, drafted among the slav population or hired from abroad. Although Varangians were originally foot soldiers, the armed forces of Kieven Rus' princes increasingly became horsemen. Their armor included helmets, cuirasses, and shields; their weapons consisted of swords, spears, maces, and battle-axes. Bows and arrows were also used, usually by auxiliary troops. Commercial opportunities had been one of the most compelling features that had initially attracted the Varangians to the Slavic lands. Vladimir and his sons sold local products as well as prisoners taken in battle for silver and commodities that were more useful or valuable to them for military purposes as status symbols, or, after 988, for conducting religious services and ceremonies. Thus, the rulers of Kievan Rus' were vitally concerned with commerce and with the protection of the trade routes that ran through their lands.
The vast river system that stretched across Kievan Rus' formed two main trade routes that connected the Baltic Sea in the north with the Black and Caspian seas in the south. Both were demarcated and dominated by the major towns of Kievan Rus', whose positions along those routes explain the importance the Rus' princes placed on controlling them. Novgorod regulated traffic to and from the Baltic through the Gulf of Finland and a series of rivers leading to the city. In a parallel manner, Polotsk guarded access to and from the Baltic along the West Dvina. Smolensk controlled access from Novgorod or Polotsk to the Dnieper River and Kiev, located downstream.
A principle concern of the Rus' was the Khazar Khaganate, which had dominated southeast Europe until the middle of the 10th century but had disintegrated by the beginning of Vladimir's reign. Centered north of the Caspian Sea, the Khazar state had consisted of a largely Muslim and Turkic-speaking population. In the 9th and 10th centuries Khazaria controlled territories extending from the North Caucasus to the mid-Volga. The formation and development of Kievan Rus' constituted a direct challenge to Khazaria. The Poliane and the area of Kiev had before the advent of the Rus' formed the western frontier of Khazaria, so despite their commercial contacts, the Rus' and Khazars were rivals. In 965 prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev conducted an attack on Sarkel, a Khazar fortress that stood on the Don River guarding the approaches to the Khazar Empire from the Black Sea, and on Khazar territories in the North Caucasus. His victory is considered to have delivered a fatal blow to Khazaria, which subsequently collapsed. Its demise, recorded in both the Primary Chronicle and Islamic sources, shocked and destabilized the entire region of the lower Volga, Caspian, and North Caucasus.
Golden age 
Yaroslav, known as "the Wise", struggled for power with his brothers. A son of Vladimir the Great, he was vice-regent of Novgorod at the time of his father's death in 1015. Subsequently, his eldest surviving brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, killed three of his other brothers and seized power in Kiev. Yaroslav, with the active support of the Novgorodians and the help of Viking mercenaries, defeated Svyatopolk and became the grand prince of Kiev in 1019. Although he first established his rule over Kiev in 1019, he did not have uncontested rule of all of Kievan Rus' until 1036. Like Vladimir, Yaroslav was eager to improve relations with the rest of Europe, especially the Byzantine Empire. Yaroslav's granddaughter, Eupraxia the daughter of his son Vsevolod I, Prince of Kiev, was married to Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor. Yaroslav also arranged marriages for his sister and three daughters to the kings of Poland, France, Hungary and Norway. Yaroslav promulgated the first East Slavic law code, Russkaya Pravda; built Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod; patronized local clergy and monasticism; and is said to have founded a school system. Yaroslav's sons developed the great Kiev Pechersk Lavra (monastery), which functioned in Kievan Rus' as an ecclesiastical academy.
In the centuries that followed the state's foundation, Rurik's descendants shared power over Kievan Rus'. Princely succession moved from elder to younger brother and from uncle to nephew, as well as from father to son. Junior members of the dynasty usually began their official careers as rulers of a minor district, progressed to more lucrative principalities, and then competed for the coveted throne of Kiev.
Combined, the tribute commercial profits and fees assessed on specific segments of Rus' society provided the Ryurikid dynasty with the revenue necessary to support themselves and their military retainers or armies as well as the Church. In return the princes provided their subjects with protection and the priests offered spiritual guidance. Together they transformed an agglomeration of settlements surrounding forts, trade ports and sites for worship into a dynamic state dotted with economically thriving cities adorned with architectural mounuments which heightened the prestige of the members of the secular and ecclesiastical elites who sponsored their construction. The effects of the mingling of the Ryurikid dynasty, the Orthodox Church and the eastern slavs society were dramatic.
By the reign of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, Kievan Rus' reached it's golden age. This era was marked by an unsual degree of political unity and peace. The first version of the Ruskaya Pravda and the construction of the Church of St. Sophia with its school and library have been identified as its great achievements. The spirit of optimism was also found in the literature: The Sermon on Law and Grace composed between 1307 and 1051 by Hilarion, the first native of Kievan Rus to become Metropolitan of Kiev and All-Rus' is an example. The law code introduced by Yaroslav was repeatedly adapted to the changing social and economic conditions of the next two centuries and was adopted virtually throught the realm. The expanded Ruskaya Pravda, as it emerged in the thirteenth century survived as the legal norm for the Russian principalities through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, long after the Kievan Rus' disappeared.
Fragmentation and decline 
The gradual disintegration of the Kievan Rus' began in the 11th century, after the death of Yaroslav the Wise. The position of the Grand Prince of Kiev was weakened by the growing influence of regional clans.
Unconventional power succession system where the power was transferred not from father to son, but to the eldest member of the ruling dynasty, i.e. in most cases to the eldest brother of the ruler, bred constant hatred and rivalry within the royal family. Familicide was a rather common way to obtain power. That particularly could be traced during the time of Yaroslavichi rule (sons of Yaroslav the Wise) when the established rota system was skipped with establishing of Vladimir II Monomakh as the Grand Prince of Kiev in turn creating big squabbles between Olegovichi from Chernihiv, Monomakhs from Pereyaslav, Izyaslavichi from Turov/Volhynia, and Polotsk Princes.
By 1130 all descendants of Vseslav the Seer were exiled to the Byzantine Empire by Mstislav the Great. The most fierce resistance to Monomakhs posed Olegovichi when the izgoi Vsevolod II managed to become the Grand Prince of Kiev. Rostislavichi who have initially established in Halych lands by 1189 were defeated by the Monomakh-Piast descendant Roman the Great.
The decline of Constantinople — a main trading partner of Kievan Rus', played a significant role in the decline of the Kievan Rus'. The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, along which the goods were moving from the Black Sea (mainly Byzantine) through eastern Europe to the Baltic, was a cornerstone of Kiev wealth and prosperity. Kiev was the main power and initiator in this relationship, once the Byzantine Empire fell into turmoil and the supplies became erratic, profits dried out, and Kiev lost its appeal.
The most prominent struggle for power was the conflict that erupted after the death of Yaroslav the Wise. The rivaling Principality of Polotsk was contesting the power of the Grand Prince by occupying Novgorod, while Rostislav Vladimirovich was fighting for the Black Sea port of Tmutarakan belonging to Chernihiv. Three of Yaroslav's sons that first allied together found themselves fighting each other especially after their defeat to the Cuman forces in 1068 at the Battle of the Alta River. At the same time an uprising took place in Kiev, bringing to power Vseslav of Polotsk who supported the traditional Slavic paganism. The ruling Grand Prince Iziaslav fled to Poland asking for support and in couple of years returned to establish the order. The affairs became even more complicated by the end of the 11th century driving the state into chaos and constant warfare. On the initiative of Vladimir II Monomakh in 1097 the first federal council of Kievan Rus took place near Chernihiv in the city of Liubech with the main intention to find an understanding among the fighting sides. However even though that did not really stopped the fighting, it certainly cooled things off.
The last ruler to maintain united state was Mstislav the Great. After his death in 1132 the Kievan Rus' fell into recession and a rapid decline, and Mstislav's successor Yaropolk II of Kiev instead of focussing on the external threat of the Cumans was embroiled in conflicts with the growing power of the Novgorod Republic. In 1169, as the Kievan Rus' state was full of internal conflict, Andrei Bogolyubsky of Vladimir sacked the city of Kiev. The sack of the city fundamentally changed the perception of Kiev and was evidence of the fragmentation of the Kievan Rus'. By the end of the 12th century, the Kievan state became even further fragmented and had been divided into roughly twelve different principalities.
The Crusades brought a shift in European trade routes that accelerated the decline of Kievan Rus'. In 1204 the forces of the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople, making the Dnieper trade route marginal. At the same time the Teutonic Knights (of the Northern Crusades) were conquering the Baltic region and threatening the Lands of Novgorod. Concurrently with it the Ruthenian Federation of Kievan Rus' started to disintegrate into smaller principalities as the Rurik dynasty grew. The local Orthodox Christianity of Kievan Rus', while struggling to establish itself in the predominantly pagan state and losing its main base in Constantinople was on the brink of extinction. Some of the main regional centers that later have developed were Novgorod, Chernigov, Galich, Kiev, Ryazan, Vladimir-upon-Klyazma, Vladimir of Volyn, Polotsk, and others.
Novgorod Republic 
In the north, the Republic of Novgorod prospered because it controlled trade routes from the River Volga to the Baltic Sea. As Kievan Rus' declined, Novgorod became more independent. A local oligarchy ruled Novgorod; major government decisions were made by a town assembly, which also elected a prince as the city's military leader. In the 12th century, Novgorod acquired its own archbishop Ilya in 1169, a sign of increased importance and political independence, while about 30 years prior to that in 1136 in Novgorod was established a republican form of government - elective monarchy. Since then Novgorod enjoyed a wide degree of autonomy although being closely associated with the Kievan Rus.
In the northeast, Slavs from the Kievan region colonized the territory that eventually became the Grand Duchy of Moscow by subjugating and merging with the Finnic tribes already occupying the area. The city of Rostov, the oldest centre of the northeast, was supplanted first by Suzdal and then by the city of Vladimir, which become the capital of Vladimir-Suzdal'. The combined principality of Vladimir-Suzdal asserted itself as a major power in Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century. In 1169 Prince Andrey Bogolyubskiy of Vladimir-Suzdal sacked the city of Kiev. Prince Andrey then installed his younger brother, who ruled briefly in Kiev while Andrey continued to rule his realm from Suzdal. Roman of Halych (1160–1205) also claimed primacy in Rus at the time. In 1299, in the wake of the Mongol invasion, the metropolitan moved from Kiev to the city of Vladimir and Vladimir-Suzdal.
To the southwest, the principality of Halych had developed trade relations with its Polish, Hungarian and Lithuanian neighbours and emerged as the local successor to Kievan Rus'. In the early 13th century, Prince Roman Mstislavich united the two previously separate principalities, conquered Kiev, and assumed the title of Grand Duke of Kievan Rus'. His son, Prince Daniil (r. 1238–1264) was the first ruler of Kievan Rus' to accept a crown from the Roman papacy, apparently doing so without breaking with Constantinople. Early in the 14th century, the patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople granted the rulers of Galicia-Volhynia a metropolitan to compensate for the move of the Kievan metropolitan to Vladimir. Lithuanian rulers also requested and received a metropolitan for Novagrudok shortly afterwards. Early in the 15th century, these Metropolia were ruled again from Kiev by the "Metropolitan of Kiev, Galich and all Rus'".
However, a long and unsuccessful struggle against the Mongols combined with internal opposition to the prince and foreign intervention weakened Galicia-Volhynia. With the end of the Mstislavich branch of the Rurikids in the mid-14th century, Galicia-Volhynia ceased to exist; Poland conquered Galich; Lithuania took Volhynia, including Kiev, conquered by Gediminas in 1321 ending the rule of Rurikids in the city. Lithuanian rulers then assumed the title over Ruthenia.
Final disintegration 
The state finally disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of Rus'. The state fragmented into successor principalities, tributary to the Golden Horde (the so-called Tatar Yoke). In the late 15th century Muscovite Grand Dukes began taking over former Kievan territories and claimed themselves to be the sole legal successors of the Kievan principality according to the logic of the medieval theory of translatio imperii.
In the western periphery, the Kievan Rus' was succeeded by the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Later, as these lands along with the territories of modern central Ukraine and Belarus fell to the Gediminids, the powerful, largely Ruthenized Grand Duchy of Lithuania, drew heavily on Rus' cultural and legal traditions. Due to the fact that the economical and cultural core of Rus' was located on the territory of modern Ukraine some Ukrainian historians and scholars consider Kievan Rus' to be a founding Ukrainian state.
On the northeastern periphery of Kievan Rus' traditions were adapted in the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality that gradually gravitated towards Moscow. In the very north, the Novgorod and Pskov Feudal Republics carried on a separate and less autocratic version of Rus' legacy into the 16th century until they were absorbed by the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
During this Kievan period the Rus' experienced a period of great economic expansion. The people began to open trade routes with the Vikings to the north and west and the Byzantine Greeks to the south and west; traders also began to travel south and east eventually making contact with Persia and the peoples of Central Asia.
Peasants lived in their own huts with their nuclear families and farmed their own plots of land using their own tools and livestock. Their households were grouped into rural villages and organized into communes (verve or miry), which had their roots in the tribal and clannic ties among the population. By the Kievan era, the communes had a territorial identity as much as a clannic one. Members of each commune shared common pasture lands, meadows and forests and fishing and hunting rights. They also shared responsibilities for tax payment and other legal obligation. The lands of Kievan Rus' which the peasants farmed were located primarily in two climatic zones, the forest belt and the forest steppe. The vegetation that grew naturally in these regions was forest. The spruce and fir that prevailed in the northern taiga gave way to cedar and birch then to oak further south. The forestlands were well watered: extensive river systems flowed through them and they normally received adequate precipitation to sustain agriculture. Their grey and dark grey soils however were not particularly rich. Fertile black soils were located only west and south of Kiev. Furthermore the lands of Kievan Rus' most of which were located north of the fiftieth parallel had short growing seasons. 
To accommodate these conditions the Slav peasants most commonly applied a method of farming known as slash and burn. To clear a section of forest for cultivation they cut deeply into the bark of the trees and left them to die and dry, then burned them. The resulting ash added to the soil sufficient nutrients to provide a fertile medium for several years. When the nutrients in the soil of one clearing were depleted, the peasants moved their corps to another, which they had prepared in the interim. The favored instrument of farming was Sokha. Pulled across the ground by a draft animal or a farmer, the Sokha's forked end, fitted with iron shoes, scratched furrows in the light ash-covered soil of the forest clearing. The farmers also used sickles for reaping, scythes for mowing hay and mattocks. 
In the forest clearing the farmers generally raised cereal grains: rye in the north, millet in the south supplemented by wheat, buckwheat, oats and barely. They also produced other corps such as peas and lentils, flax and hemp. The farmers also raised livestock. Horses,cattle, oxen, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry were the most common animals in the kingdom. The surrounding forests also supplied the rural population with berries, fruits, nuts and mushrooms. Also, farmers regularly fished in the river, lakes and steams, hunted for game and fur pelts and kept beehives for production of wax and honey. 
Due to the expansion of trade and its geographical proximity, Kiev became the most important trade center and chief among the communes; therefore the leader of Kiev gained political "control" over the surrounding areas. This princedom emerged from a coalition of traditional patriarchic family communes banded together in an effort to increase the applicable workforce and expand the productivity of the land. This union developed the first major cities in the Rus' and was the first notable form of self-government. As these communes became larger, the emphasis was taken off the family holdings and placed on the territory that surrounded. This shift in ideology became known as the verv'.
In the 11th century and the 12th century, the princes and their retinues, which were a mixture of Slavic and Scandinavian elites, dominated the society of Kievan Rus'. Leading soldiers and officials received income and land from the princes in return for their political and military services. Kievan society lacked the class institutions and autonomous towns that were typical of Western European feudalism. Nevertheless, urban merchants, artisans and labourers sometimes exercised political influence through a city assembly, the veche (council), which included all the adult males in the population. In some cases, the veche either made agreements with their rulers or expelled them and invited others to take their place. At the bottom of society was a stratum of slaves. More important was a class of tribute-paying peasants, who owed labour duty to the princes. The widespread personal serfdom characteristic of Western Europe did not exist in Kievan Rus'
The change in political structure led to the inevitable development of the peasant class or smerdy. The smerdy were free un-landed peoples that found work by laboring for wages on the manors which began to develop around 1031 as the verv' began to dominate socio-political structure. The smerdy were initially given equality in the Kievian law code, they were theoretically equal to the prince, so they enjoyed as much freedom as can be expected of manual laborers. However in the 13th century they began to slowly lose their rights and became less equal in the eyes of the law.
Historical assessment 
|This article or section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (April 2011)|
Kievan Rus', although sparsely populated compared to Western Europe, was not only the largest contemporary European state in terms of area but also culturally advanced. Literacy in Kiev, Novgorod and other large cities was high. As birch bark documents attest, they exchanged love letters and prepared cheat sheets for schools. Novgorod had a sewage system and wood paving not often found in other cities at the time. The Russkaya Pravda confined punishments to fines and generally did not use capital punishment. Certain inalienable rights were accorded to women, such as property and inheritance rights.
The economic development of Kievan Rus may be translated into demographic statistics. Around 1200, Kiev had a population of 50,000, Novgorod and Chernigov both had around 30,000. Constantinople had population of about 400,000 around 1180. The Soviet scholar Mikhail Tikhomirov calculated that Kievan Rus' on the eve of the Mongol invasion had around 300 urban centers.
Kievan Rus' also played an important genealogical role in European politics. Yaroslav I the Wise, whose stepmother belonged to the greatest dynasty to rule Byzantium, married the only legitimate daughter of the king who Christianized Sweden. His daughters became queens of Hungary, France and Norway, his sons married the daughters of a Polish king and a Byzantine emperor (not to mention a niece of the Pope), while his granddaughters were a German Empress and (according to one theory) the queen of Scotland. A grandson married the only daughter of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Thus the Rurikids were the most well-connected royal family of the time. The Rurik Dynasty were the ruling the Kievan Rus' successor principalities of Galicia-Volhynia (after 1199), Chernigov, Vladimir-Suzdal, and the Grand Duchy of Moscow, as well as the early Tsardom of Russia (after 1168).
Foreign relations 
From the 9th century, the Pecheneg nomads began an uneasy relationship with Kievan Rus. For more than two centuries they launched random raids into the lands of Rus, which sometimes escalated into full-scale wars (such as the 920 war on the Pechenegs by Igor of Kiev reported in the Primary Chronicle), but there were also temporary military alliances (e.g. the 943 Byzantine campaign by Igor). In 968, the Pechenegs attacked and then besieged the city of Kiev. There exist some speculations that the Pechenegs drove away the Tivertsi and the Ulichs to the regions of the upper Dniester river in Bukovina. The Byzantine Empire was known to support the Pechenegs in their military campaigns against the Eastern Slavic states.
Boniak was a Cuman khan who led an invasions on Kievan Rus'. In 1096 Boniak attacked Kiev, plundered the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, and burned down the prince's palace in Berestovo. He was defeated in 1107 by Vladimir Monomakh, Oleg, Sviatopolk and other Rus princes.
Byzantine Empire 
Between 850 and 1100, the Byzantine Empire developed a mixed relationship with the Rus' state emerging to the north, across the Black Sea. In The Life of St. George of Amastris the Rus' are described as a barbaric people "who are brutal and crude and bear no remnant of love for humankind."  Leo the Deacon, a Byzantine historian and chronicler, often referred to the Rus' as Scythians. This relationship would have long-lasting repercussions in the history of East Slavs. Byzantium quickly became the main trading and cultural partner for Kiev, but relations were not always friendly. The most serious conflict between the two powers was the war of 968–971 in Bulgaria, but several Rus' raiding expeditions against the Byzantine cities of the Black Sea coast and Constantinople itself are also recorded. Although most were repulsed, they were concluded by trade treaties that were generally favourable to the Rus'.
Rus'-Byzantine relations became closer following the marriage of the porphyrogenita Anna to Vladimir the Great, and the subsequent Christianization of the Rus': Byzantine priests, architects and artists were invited to work on numerous cathedrals and churches around Rus', expanding Byzantine cultural influence even further. Numerous Rus' served in the Byzantine army as mercenaries, most notably as the famous Varangian Guard.
Administrative divisions of Rus 
- 11th century
- Novgorod Land 862–1478 (the allied territory of Kievan Rus', since 1136 the Novgorod Republic)
- Principality of Rostov-Suzdal (until 1125 Rostov Principality, later in 1155 Vladimir-Suzdal Principality)
- Principality of Polotsk 9th century-14th century (separatist territory, partial suzerainty under Kievan Rus)
- Principality of Smolensk (from 1054)
- Principality of Pereyaslavl
- Principality of Volyn
- Principality of Kiev (1132–1399)
- Principality of Chernigov
- City of Tmutarakan (from 988 and until sometime in the 12th century)
- Belaya Vezha (from 965 and until sometime in the 12th century)
- Southern dependencies (Oleshky, New Galich, Peresechen')
- Drevlian territories (?-884 (annexation to Rus' by Oleg) 912–946 (vassal of Rus' since 914, Drevlians Uprising in 945))
Principal cities 
- Veliky Novgorod
- Chernigov, capital along with Kiev in 1024–1036 (joined rule of Yaroslav and Mstislav)
- Belgorod Kievsky, capital of Rus under Rurik Rostislavich
- Vyshgorod, prince residence and royal library (at Mezhyhirya)
- Rostov Veliky
- Minsk, the center of Principality of Minsk
- Staraya Ladoga
- Pereyaslavets (Bulgaria), capital of Rus' in 969–971
In 988 the Christian Church in Rus' territorially fell under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople after it was officially adopted as the state religion. According to several chronicles after that date the predominant cult of Slavic paganism was persecuted.
It is uncertain the exact date of creation the Kiev Metropolitan as well as who was the first leader of the church. Predominantly it is considered that the first head was Michael I of Kiev, however some sources also claim Leontiy who is often placed after Michael or Anastas Chersonesos, became the first bishop of the Church of the Tithes. The first metropolitan to be confirmed by historical sources is Theopemp, who was appointed by Patriarch Alexius of Constantinople in 1038. Before 1015 there were five dioceses: Kiev, Chernihiv, Bilhorod, Volodymyr, Novgorod, and soon thereafter Yuriy-upon-Ros. The Kiev Metropolitan sent its own delegation to the Council of Bari in 1089.
After the sacking of Kiev in 1169, part of the Kiev metropolitan started to move to Vladimir-upon-Klyazma, concluding the move sometime after 1240 when Kiev was taken by Batu Khan. Metropolitan Maxim was the first metropolitan who chose Vladimir-upon-Klyazma as his official residence in 1299. As a result, in 1303 Lev I of Galicia petitioned Patriarch Athanasius I of Constantinople for the creation of a new Halych metropolitan, however it only existed until 1347.
The first Cathedral Temple was chosen the Church of the Tithes. In 1037 the cathedral was transferred to the newly built Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. Upon the transferring of the metropolitan seat in 1299, the new cathedral was chosen the Dormition Cathedral, Vladimir.
By the mid 13th century there were following dioceses of Kiev Metropolitan (988): Kiev (988), Pereyaslav, Chernihiv (991), Volodymyr-Volynsky (992), Turov (1005), Polotsk (1104), Novgorod (~990s), Smolensk (1137), Murom (1198), Peremyshl (1120), Halych (1134), Vladimir-upon-Klyazma (1215), Rostov (991), Bilhorod, Yuriy (1032), Chełm (1235), Tver (1271). There also were dioceses in Zakarpattia and Tmutarakan. In 1261 there was established Sarai-Batu diocese.
Novels about Kievan Rus' 
- Antonin Ladinsky
- When Chersonese has Fallen (1959; first variant is The Dove under Pontus, 1938)
- Anna Yaroslavna, Queen of France (1960, published in 1973)
- The Last Way of Vladimir Monomakh (1960, published in 1966)
- Valentin Ivanov
- Stories of Ancient Years (1955)
- Great Rus' (1961)
- Primary Rus' (1966)
- Semen Skliarenko
- Sviotoslav (1959, Russian translation from Ukrainian in 1961)
- Vladimir (1962, Russian translation from Ukrainian in 1963)
- Boris Vasilyev
- Oleg the Prophetic (1996)
- Olga, Queen of Ruses (2002)
- Prince Sviotoslav (2006)
- Vladimir Red Sunny (2007)
- Vladimir Monomakh (2010)
See also 
- Rus' (people)
- Rus (name)
- Rulers of Kievan Rus'
- Rurik Dynasty
- Slavic studies
- De Administrando Imperio
- "Oleg". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 30 January, 2013.
- "The Russian Primary Chronicle".; see also  and 
- "Kievan Rus' and Mongol Periods".
- "Civilization in Eastern Europe Byzantium and Orthodox Europe".
- Plokhy, Serhii (2006). The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 10–15. ISBN 978-0-521-86403-9. Retrieved 2010-04-27. "For all the salient differences between these three post-Soviet nations, they have much in common when it comes to their culture and history, which goes back to Kievan Rus', the medieval East Slavic state based in the capital of present-day Ukraine."
- (Russian) Назаренко А. В. Глава I // Древняя Русь на международных путях: Междисциплинарные очерки культурных, торговых, политических связей IX—XII вв. — М.: Языки русской культуры, 2001. — c. 42—45, 49—50. — ISBN 5-7859-0085-8.
- "Российский и русский". Грамота.ру (in Russian). Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- Tolochko, A. P. (1999). "Khimera "Kievskoy Rusi"". Rodina (in Russian) (8): 29–33.
- Vasily Klyuchevsky, A History of Russia, vol. 3, pp. 98, 104
- Due to the plurality of "Russias" or "Rus'es" that existed at the time, the Russian tsars, beginning with Ivan IV styled themselves "Tsar and Grand Duke of all the Rus'es" (Царь и Великий князь всея Руси)
- Donald Logan, F (2005). The Vikings in History. ISBN 9780415327565.
- See, e.g., Franklin and Shepard 33–36; Jones 249–250; Christian 340–341 Pritsak passim for additional sources, see Rus' Khaganate.
- Golden, Peter Benjamin. The Question of the Rus' Qaganate. Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, 1982. pp. 77–92
- Noonan, Thomas (2001). "The Khazar Qaghanate and Its Impact On the Early Rus' State: The translatio imperii from Itil to Kiev". In Khazanov, Anatoly Mikhailovich; Wink, Andre. Nomads in the Sedentary World. Richmond, England: Curzon. pp. 76–102. ISBN 0-7007-1370-0.
- Duczko, Wladyslaw (2004). Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. ISBN 90-04-13874-9.
- Milner-Gulland, Robin (1999). The Russians. Blackwell Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 0-631-21849-1.
- Angus Somerville, R. Andrew McDonald, The Viking Age: A Reader, p. 309
- "Excerpts from the Russian Primary Chronicles".
- Fadlan, Ibn (2005). (Richard Frey) Ibn Fadlan's Journey to Russia. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers.
- (Polish) Henryk Paszkiewicz (2000). Wzrost potęgi Moskwy, s.13, Kraków. ISBN 83-86956-93-3
- James Lea Cate. Medieval and Historiographical Essays in Honor of James Westfall Thompson. p.482. The University of Chicago Press, 1938
- If Olga was indeed born in 879, as the Primary Chronicle seems to imply, she would have been about 65 at the time of Sviatoslav's birth. There are clearly some problems with chronology.
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 1995), p. 6-7
- Franklin, Simon (1992). "Greek in Kievan Rus'". Dumbarton Oaks Papers 46: 69–81. doi:10.2307/1291640.
- Colucci, Michele (1989). "The Image of Western Christianity in the Culutre of Kievan Rus'". Harvard Ukrainian Studies. 12/13: 576–586.
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 3-4
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 3-4
- Thomas, S. Nooman, "Why the Vikings first came to Russia (1986), pp. 340-342
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 14
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 16-19
- Vernadsky George , Kievan Russia (The History of Russia Series), 1973, p. 94-95
- Franklin, S.: Sermons and Rhetoric of Kievan Rus (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991) p.xxi
- Vernadsky George , Kievan Russia (The History of Russia Series), 1973, p. 96-97
- Pelenski, Jaroslaw (1987). "The Sack of Kiev of 1169: Its Significance for the Succession to Kievan Rus'". Harvard Ukrainian Studies 11: 303–316.
- Kollmann, Nancy (1990). "Collateral Succession in Kievan Rus". Harvard Ukrainian Studies 14: 377–387.
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 60
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 61-62
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 2007 (second edition)), p. 61-63
- Sherman, Charles Phineas (1917). "Russia". Roman Law in the Modern World. Boston: The Boston Book Company,. p. 191. "The adoption of Christianity by Vladimir... was followed by commerce with the Byzantine Empire. In its wake came Byzantine art and culture. And in the course of the next century what is now Southeastern Russia became more advanced in civilization than any western European State of the period, for Russia came in for a share of Byzantine culture, then vastly superior to the rudeness of Western nations."
- Tikhomirov, Mikhail Nikolaevich (1956). "Literacy among the citi dwellers". Drevnerusskie goroda (Cities of Ancient Rus) (in Russian). Moscow. p. 261.
- Vernadsky, George (1973). "Russian Civilization in the Kievan Period: Education". Kievan Russia. Yale University Press. p. 426. ISBN 0-300-01647-6. "It is to the credit of Vladimir and his advisors they built not only churches but schools as well. This compulsory baptism was followed by compulsory education... Schools were thus founded not only in Kiev but also in provincial cities. From the "Life of St. Feodosi" we know that a school existed in Kursk around the year of 1023. By the time of Yaroslav's reign (1019–54), education had struck roots and its benefits were apparent. Around 1030 Iaroslav founded a divinity school in Novgorod for three hundred children of both laymen and clergy to be instructed in "book-learning". As a general measure he made the parish priests to "teach the people.""
- Miklashevsky, N.; and others (2000). "Istoriya vodoprovoda v Rossii". History of water-supply in Russia (in Russian). Saint Petersburg, Russia: ?. p. 240. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/5-8206-0114-0|5-8206-0114-0 [[Category:Articles with invalid ISBNs]]]] Check
- "The most notable aspect of the criminal provisions was that punishments took the form of seizure of property, banishment, or, more often, payment of a fine. Even murder and other severe crimes (arson, organised horse thieving, robbery) were settled by monetary fines. Although the death penalty had been introduced by Vladimir the Great, it too was soon replaced by fines." Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine, p. 90, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-0830-5.
- (Russian) Tikhomirov, Mikhail Nikolaevich (1953). Пособие для изучения Русской Правды (in Russian) (2nd ed.). Moscow: Издание Московского университета. p. 190.
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 1995), p. 72
- Vernadsky, George (1973). "Social organization: Woman". Kievan Russia. Yale University Press. p. 426. ISBN 0-300-01647-6.
- Janet Martin, Medieval Russia, 980–1584, (Cambridge, 1995), p. 61
- J. Phillips, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople page 144
- (Russian) Tikhomirov, Mikhail Nikolaevich (1956). "The origin of Russian cities". Drevnerusskie goroda (Cities of Ancient Rus) (in Russian). Moscow. pp. 36, 39, 43.
- "In medieval Europe, a mark of a dynasty's prestige and power was the willingness with which other leading dynasties entered into matrimonial relations with it. Measured by this standard, Yaroslav's prestige must have been great indeed... . Little wonder that Iaroslav is often dubbed by historians as 'the father-in-law of Europe.'" -(Subtelny, Orest (1988). Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 35. ISBN 0-8020-5808-6.)
- "By means of these marital ties, Kievan Rus’ became well known throughout Europe." —Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine, p. 76, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-0830-5.
- Ibn Haukal describes the Pechenegs as the long-standing allies of the Rus, whom they invariably accompanied during the 10th century Caspian expeditions.
- Lowe, Steven; Ryaboy, Dmitriy V. The Pechenegs, History and Warfare.
- Jenkins, David. "The Life of St. George of Amastris". University of Notre Dame Press.
- Leo the Deacon, (Talbot, Alice-Mary; Sullivan, Denis) (2005). The History of Leo the Deacon. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks.
Further reading 
- Christian, David. A History of Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia. Blackwell, 1999.
- Franklin, Simon and Shepard, Jonathon, The Emergence of Rus, 750–1200. (Longman History of Russia, general editor Harold Shukman.) Longman, London, 1996. ISBN 0-582-49091-X
- Fennell, John, The Crisis of Medieval Russia, 1200–1304. (Longman History of Russia, general editor Harold Shukman.) Longman, London, 1983. ISBN 0-582-48150-3
- Jones, Gwyn. A History of the Vikings. 2nd ed. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1984.
- Martin, Janet, Medieval Russia 980–1584. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993. ISBN 0-521-36832-4
- Obolensky, Dimitri, The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe 500–1453. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1971. ISBN 0-297-00343-7
- Pritsak, Omeljan. The Origin of Rus'. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1991.
- Stang, Håkon. The Naming of Russia. Meddelelser, Nr. 77. Oslo: University of Oslo Slavisk-baltisk Avelding, 1996.
- Alexander F. Tsvirkun E-learning course. History of Ukraine. Journal Auditorium, Kiev 2010
- Velychenko, Stephen, National history as cultural process : a survey of the interpretations of Ukraine's past in Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian historical writing from the earliest times to 1914" Edmonton,1992.
- Velychenko, Stephen, "Nationalizing and Denationalizing the Past. Ukraine and Russia in Comparative Context", Ab Imperio 1 (2007).
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies. – Russia
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kievan Rus|
|Look up Kievan Rus in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Historical map of Kiev Rus' from 980. to 1054.
- Historical map of Rus'-Ukraine from 1220. to 1240.
- Graphic History of Kievan Rus from c. 800 to 988
- Rus’, Encyclopedia of Ukraine
- Ancient Rus: trade and crafts
- Chronology of Kievan Rus' 859-1240.