1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Who founded Russia? August 31, 2008

It is an intesting part of the Russian history and apparently not very popular for political reasons. Who founded Russia? The general belief says it were Slavs, but that was not exactly so. It was the Vikings whom Russian earlier history should be thankful to – the first Russian prince was a Sakandinavian named Rurik, but not only that…There is a fasicinating historical material behind.

The Vikings came to Russia through the trade routes from Sweden down the Russian rivers, particularly the Don and the Dnieper, which led south to the markets of Bulgar, Khazaria, Byzantium and the Caliphate. Some reached as far East as the Caspian Sea and as far south as Baghdad. They traded amber, furs, honey, slaves, wax and weapons, for the luxuries of civilization, silk and silver (large hoards of Arab dirhems have been found throughout Scandinavia.)

 image via sunnyway

They founded the great cities of Starja Ladoga, Kiev and Novgorod. They were known as Rus, a name whose origins are the subject of some controversy. The majority view seems to be that it is a Finnish name for the Vikings of Sweden, but it seems to have ended up being used to describe all Russians, whether Norse or Slavic. The Rus were described in 922 by the Arab diplomat Ibn Fadlan thus:
“Never before have I seen people of more perfect physique. They are tall as date-palms, blonde and ruddy.”(Roesdahl, 1991)
Interestingly, archeological diggings show that the population in the Russian cities of that time was of Scandinavian background, at the same time the peasants were mostly Slavs.

The social organisation of Russia was rather democratical: The Rus were ruled by Princes, with an advisory body, the Duma, made up of nobles called boyars, who were sometimes more powerful than the Tsar himself. Below these was an assembly of free men, known as the Veche, who could be summoned by any citizen ringing the Veche bell. In Novgorod there was a freely elected burgomaster, known as the posadnik, who ruled with the consent of the Veche and defended the interests of the town against the Prince of Kiev. Novgorod was independent of Kiev, and its relative democracy may be because of its connections with Scandinavia and the merchant towns of Western Europe.

From the early days when the Kievan Rus state was founded, a unique and very interesting situation in the material culture of the East-European peoples occurred, when the local national Slavic and Finnish traditions were just strongly mixed and influenced by the rich cultural products of the Scandinavian military settlements, West European neighbours, the Byzantine civilization and religious mentalities, and of course, the constant cooperation in resisting the Oriental nomadic opponents from the steppes.

To sum it up, Russia has grown and matured under the wildest combination of nations and cultures, what gives her a wired compexity and, at the same time, the mysterious beauty….

P.S. … and I wonder why I feel so much attracted by Scandinavia? 🙂

LOVE, axinia


18 Responses to “Who founded Russia?”

  1. odzer Says:

    Nice post, I enjoyed reading it immensely. I hear some Russian people can be very nationalist and the same is true in India as well. I have a question how do Russians view the Asian conquest of Russia during the Mongol times? I also want to know what the Russian reaction is to Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese war?

  2. vishesh Says:

    nice post 😛 it is always interesting to know the countries were founded….but before that it was uninhabited ?

  3. axinia Says:

    before that it was not really a country 🙂 there have been some tribes…although…there an intresting commention to India in even earlier times – will post on it later.

    Good questions! According to Russian historians, the Mongol-Tatars invaded Russia and occupied it over 300 years (since 1223). There is the alternative theory by famous historian Lev Gumilev, though, which say that it was not the occupation but a cooperation.
    UNfortuantely I can not say much about teh Russo-Japan war, it was never highlited to us specially.

  4. swaps Says:

    But Axinia, Russia has made one of the greatest movies “Battleship Potemkin” with Russo-Jap war as background. I am surprised to know that Russia doesn’t highlight that defeat,on the other hand, we were taught it was one of the causes (or enabler) for Bolshevik revolution. Our history textbook also had a picture from the film.

    I would like to mention here that “Russian Ark” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318034/) is a must see. It literally walks the viewer through Russian history (and the State Hermitage Museum) ending with a beautiful finale (mazurka).

    Axinia, this post is timely. Because we feel that today’s Russia is acting more like the Czarist one. They say, the more things change, the more they remain same.

  5. axinia Says:

    i wonder if Russia will ever change..

  6. Interesting post, Axinia. Now I know where the Russian parliament got its name from! 🙂

  7. axinia Says:

    thank you, Swaps! – it is indeed intresting to see who is the heroe in Russia.
    My favourite is Pushkin, he is the genios of Mozart caliber – I percept his poetry excactly like MOzart`s music, it also has same vibrations…Pushkin is absolutely great. He is considered to be the founder of the modern Russian language.
    And it`s a shame, that someone was pushing Stalin in this list. He was nothing less than a rakshasa.

  8. swaps Says:

    Axinia, I only know Pushkin was a famous poet who died in a duel. Hopefully I will know why he was great.

    I am sorry not to see Khrushchev. Why nobody talks of him. I think he was sensible….perhaps too sensible for Soviet ways. (Or is it because he was Ukranian?)

  9. axinia Says:

    You have to know Russian language and soul to understand Pushkin…:)

    Khrushchev? He was never taken seriously, kind of “not intelligent enough”, he has done much good and he had a good heart, but somehow, he was never that popular – in the same way like Gorbatchev.

  10. Taras Says:

    You are referring to Nikita Khruschev am I right? His son is a very well known and popular professor who teaches at a university in California, and I would love to meet him.


  11. majorgeeek Says:

    Vikings never founded Kiev – Kyiv existed hundreds of years before smelly beserks ransacked it and set back christianity hundreds of years – Kyiv was and always will be Slav city of Ukraine

    • Eleonor Says:

      100 %

      Kiev was the first capital of Russia and at that time was called Kievan Rus.
      Now Kiev capital of Ukraine

  12. Howard Zerbe Says:

    Russia is a great country ,by what happened I WW 2 for all the ones who
    Gave their lives ,and how the course of the war was changed due to them
    For which they receive almost no credit now…..a WW 2 Vetrean of the war
    In the Pacific……

  13. Viktor Says:

    Don’t mix Ukrainian and Russian history- Kiev, it’s Ukraine and has his own history, that Russians politicians trying to still and reveal to the world as their. There was no boyars and Duma in Kiev Rus’, match older than Novgorod.

  14. Paul Slager Says:

    Rus just means “men who row”. FYI Hence Russia was born from the Viking influence.

  15. Anna Says:

    In actuality Russians asked vikings to come and help to rule Russ because country was in war and not united.

    • Viktor Says:

      Before 17 century Russia was Moscovia. After Pereyaslav Treaty in 1726 Moscovia occupied Ukraine and start call itself Big Rus’ and later Russia. Rus’- it’s a historical name of Ukraine.

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