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Russian History - Slavs

Course Code
Wayne Dowler

of 3
Sept. 17
x Late 6th Century- 9th Slavs were well established (in considerable numbers)
o Mode of Life:
They were cattle herders
Grew various crops (oats)
Most of the population were engaged in agriculture and fishing (rural
Local trade and international trade (Baghdad) increasingly occupied a
portion of the Slavic population
x Towns were formed where the main occupation was trade.
(urbanized- much more developed than most western Europe)
No overall Slav ruler, the rulers were Asiatic nomadic group
Subject to tribute (tax) used for military development
x Norman Theroy:
o Rested on the authority of the Russian Primary Chronicle (written by Russian
monks)--- about the origins of the Russian state
Not a contemporary account
Argues that the slav tribes were unable to establish to any authority
therefore they were always at war with each other
In order to overcome this problem, they invited the varangian (Viking)
prince (Rurik, Rurikides are the descendents of Rurik)
Kievan state was the creation of Vikings, not Slavs
Russian historians in the Soviet period said that the Slavs DID have
x They say varangians did not conquer the cities, just Kiev in 882
x Argument of the founders of the state (Vikings or Slavs?)
x Where does the word Rus derive from?
o Finish word for Viking is Rootsi
Linguisticly, Rus can be derived from Rootsi
Some argue that the Alans (the Rukh-As) brought the word Rus
x One the state was established, we know that it was a trading state
o The military protected the trade routes
o Derived its wealth from trade
o Spice and silk routes from China, fur routes and the amber route (pine gum
turned to stone) from Baltic Coast
o It was the amber and the fur trade that attracted the Vikings
They began to appear in the eastern regions (8th Cen.)
Along the coast, they began to understand the coins were the result of
various trade
They wanted to participate in this trade in order to gain the coins
which came from the middle eastern countries
The story about rurik was an invention (there is no evidence that rurik
The princes of 12th century say that they are legitimate because they
are descendents of Rurik, therefore they have the right to rule.
x Population of Scandanavian countries outgrew the land space
o Overcrowding led to Vikings raids
o They established themselves in Britain
o They were in northern france (Normans)
o They were in Sicily (settled in the 9th Cen)
o They also went east into present day Russia (they wanted to establish
themselves in the fur and amber trade routes)
They became known as the vulgar rus (rootsi)
o Vikings moved south
o Oleg led a group, arrived at Kiev (did not establish)
Captured that city, he left some of his children behind and they
became the princes of Kiev (Oleg existed unlike Rurik)
Kiev was the centre of trade. It was worth capturing because it was a
Oleg gave Kiev more militaristic characters and enlarged the trade
Vikings required the Slav subjects to pay tax so it could be sold for
profit (tribute: honey, wax, slaves etc.)
By capturing kiev, the Vikings became the middleman and soon
dominated in north-south Russia
The domestic policy was dominated by the need to collect trade goods
Foreign policy is dominated by keeping the trade routes
open/protected and to get better markets
War parties appeared in order to demand better trade terms
The trade routes between Constantinople was contested by Vikings
and Asians (they also wanted to trade)
x Was frequently at war with Asians
Dnieper River was not an easy passage
x Broad in some areas and some narrow areas with gorges
x The narrow spaces allowed attacks and invasion
x Kiev was raided often
o Prompted defence and military
x Galich (west of Kiev) and Pereiaslavl (east) engaged in trade
o The descendents of a single dynasty were place to rule in each of the city
o Governance was a family business (Rurikides)
x Kiev had dynastic, commercial and diplomatic relationships with other cities
o Vikings formed this strong culture with very little effort
o They also had little impact on the Slavs
o They had military strengths but were inferior in culture
o They had no written literature, they were an oral culture (no records)
o Islam had long traditions of written literature
o Only 6 words in the russian language derived from scandanavian roots
o Varangians left very little trace on slavik culture
o Vikings were absorbed into the culture where they settled
o In kiev, vikings married into rich families (merchants)
As a result, within a few generations, Vikings were assimilated into
the slavik culture
o The constant economic ties with the slavs, brought slavs into the byzantine
culture. They moved into this Byzantium orbit.
x Novgorod was a city that came into existence in 950
o Very important for trade
o It had escaped invasions because of where it was located (difficult for raids)
o With goods water routes to the Baltic Sea, it was well situated in the trade
o It became an important commercial city
o It became a member of the Hanseatic lead
o it emerged as a manufacturing center (it shipped raw materials and
manufactured goods)
o it became a major varangian hold
o 1095, they expelled the prince
o Emerged as a Republic (city was run by the town assemble, the Veche)
The mayor was elected as well as other city officials
The princely tradition (autocratic) and a Republican tradition emerged
(for those who oppose princely rule)