During the Viking Age, the Norsemen traveled from their northern dwellings to trade, plunder, and control much of Northern Europe. While the documentation of the Viking raids in Western Europe, especially in the British Isles, has been well researched for many years, there is still a lack of scholarship about their excursion into Eastern Europe. The Vikings created one of the largest trading, military, and control networks in Eastern Europe from 750 until 1100. This trading network, which existed for over three hundred years throughout the rivers of modern-day Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, created a network for trading between Northern Europe, the Byzantine Empire, and the Abbasid Caliphate.

The Vikings in Eastern Europe were identified by the name “Rus” from the Finnish inhabitants of the area, which the Finns coined by adapting the Norse word for “rows man” into their own language.1Władysław Duczko, Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 253.The Vikings set up trade routes that connected the rivers Volga, Oka, Dnieper, Volkhov, and the Lake Ladoga area. The Viking Rus left a noticeable impact on the culture, economy, and political environment of Eastern Europe, as evident in the archeological finds in Eastern Europe. It created a unique culture that mixed Slavic and Nordic traditions via their establishment of trade settlements at Staraja Ladoga, Riurikovo Gorodishche, Gnezdovo, and eventually Kiev. This allowed the Rus to become a major player through the traffic of fur and coinage between the main settlements of the Norse at Birka, and Hedeby. As this occurred, the Rus develop a military and political complex to control the local populace. This allowed them to control the Slavic natives and become a viable foreign player in Byzantium politics through raiding and mercenary work.

The Viking Age began a period of widespread exploration and the ports of Birka and Hedeby displayed the trade from both the West and East; however, historians’ documentation of the eastern trade routes is limited. This was mainly due to the lack of primary written sources in Eastern Europe. The two main sources for information were the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate, but they had little concern with the internal conflicts of the Viking Rus or in later years the Varangians. They were, however, highly concerned with the trade system that the Rus set up.2Ingmar Jansson, The Viking Heritage: A Dialogue between Cultures (Borås: Statens Historiska Museum, 1996), 11. The presence of Norse style goods and tools discovered from this time displays the existence of the Rus near the majority of the trade centers of Medieval Russia, which is also described in many primary sources, such as the Russian Primary Chronicler. The type of artifacts discovered in the region of the Viking Rus that display Viking origin include arm rings, brooches, religious artifacts like amulets displaying Thor’s hammer, and etchings of Odin in tools and wares discovered at the Russian trading sites.3Ibid., 35–55.

A major primary source displaying the Rus’ Viking origin is Ibn Fadlan’s Risala. Fadlan was an Arab traveler on a diplomatic mission to the Volga Bulghars in 921–922. In his travels, he witnessed the burial of a chief of the Rusiya, which was similar to a Viking burial tradition using a ship for the act of cremation.4Duczko, Viking Rus, 135,152. A short passage of Fadlan’s account explains the burning of the boat for burial, which is a common part of Viking burial practices. Fadlan describes how “then the people came with kindling and other firewood, each having a brand burning at the end, and laid this stick in the pile of wood. Fire then spread through the wood and spread to the kindling, the boat, the man, the maiden, and everything that was in the boat.”5Ibn Fadlan, Journey to Russia, trans. Richard N. Frye (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2005), 70. The similarities of the Rus and the Vikings are unmistakable.

The first major trading area to be set up by the Rus was Staraja Ladoga, which was centered around the Ladoga area, on the Volkhov River, around 750 A.D. This settlement was used by the Rus to develop trade with the interior of Russia, specifically for fur but also for rare metals, which at the time were extremely valuable in Scandinavia.6Thomas Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, ed. Peter Sawyer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 141. Evidence suggests that a Viking settlement in Staraja occurred as early as 750 A.D., with the noteworthy findings of Scandinavian-Baltic tools used for creating metal in the stratum of the 750s. These findings display the importation of Scandinavian techniques.7Duczko, Viking Rus, 68. In addition, we have evidence of two types of housing in Staraja, with one being more of a Scandinavian design and the other being of Slavic design. Fjodor Androshchuk describes them: “One of them is represented by large houses with a central fireplace and is usually interpreted as Scandinavian. Another Slavic tradition is represented by small rectangular wooden houses with a fireplace in one of the corners.”8Fjodor Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” in The Viking World, ed. Stefan Brink and Neil Price, (London: Routledge, 2008), 520. This early evidence of Scandinavian housing and smithing techniques suggests that the Vikings began trading with the East as early as 750 A.D. This is earlier than the Lindisfarne date of 793 A.D., which is considered the beginning of the Viking Age. The trade center began to expand rapidly, and by the mid-780s, the first Arabic dirhams were deposited in Ladoga. At the same time, a smaller hoard was deposited on the island of Gotland, demonstrating the connection of Staraja to the Scandinavian network as early as 780 A.D. In addition to coins being traded, the influence of Nordic design on goods and tools became evident. A pair of blacksmith tweezers from the early 760s was discovered, which had an outline of a man with a horse. Similar designs were found decorating other artifacts throughout Scandinavia. These tweezers were discovered in Gatebo on Odland in Sweden and in three places in Denmark.9Duczko, Viking Rus, 71–74. The connection to Sweden and Denmark allowed for the early trade of the coinage from Arabia and Byzantium to come to Scandinavia.

As a result, the demand for the coinage began to facilitate the expansion of Staraja. In the 830–840s the settlement expanded greatly as the increasingly lucrative Eastern trade led to the establishment of not only the original metalworkers, but also Staraja-based antler and amber workers and glass bead makers.10Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” 520. In addition, the settlement of Staraja began to trade with the Slavic territory of Great Moravia, as evidenced by the fact that molds for production of pendants that bore a unique Slavic design have been discovered in the sediment from this period. While the written source of Louis the Child dated to 904–906 A.D., historians are able to agree that the Rus began to frequent the middle Danube around Great Moravia sometime during the middle of the ninth century, as evidence exists of their trading market, named Ruzaramarcha.11Duczko, Viking Rus, 76–77.

Staraja continued to be the center of the Rus in Northern Russia even after a fire destroyed the town in the late 860s, which the Russian Primary Chronicle attributes to Prince Rurik. Yet, Duczkvo insists, “we have to see the story of Rurik as an extreme simplification, in which many elements were invented and others heavily distorted.”12Ibid., 81. The devastation of Staraja Ladoga in the middle of the ninth century is more likely, according to Duczkvo, to be a rival Rus group in the Lake Ladoga area or an attack of Vikings coming from the Baltic region as the success of Staraja trade would have been noticed. The important thing to note is that in 894 A.D. on the Zemljanoe Gorodischei site there was constructed a large house that was used until 930 A.D. According to Androshchuk, wealthy Scandinavian traders likely used the house. This is attributed to what artifacts have been found there, which include fragments of oriental cups of glass, gaming pieces, combs, and an iron amulet of Thor’s hammer.13Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” 521.

Staraja did exist into the early eleventh century, as evident with the control of the city being given as a dowry in 1019 to the Swedish Jarl Ragnvald, but the trading city played an important role in Eastern trade and politics much earlier.14Duczko, Viking Rus, 83–95. In 860 A.D., Constantinople noted an attack by “a fleet of Rhosi, under the leadership of two chieftains, by the names of Nestor the Annalist, Askold, and Dir which are clearly corruptions of the Norse names Hoskuldr and Dyri.”15Sigfús Blöndal and Benedikt Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 33. This attack signaled to the Byzantine Empire and to the citizens of Constantinople that there existed an enemy to the north, and led these citizens to seek out and try to recruit the Rus as mercenaries. What this shows historians is that because Kiev in the mid-ninth century was an insignificant settlement, the Norse raiders would have had to organize from a stable trade settlement farther north. This trade settlement would most likely have been Staraja, again displaying the significance the settlement had on the Rus.16Duczko, Viking Rus, 83–86. Staraja is distinctly Norse as archeologists discovered a ring pin, which males used for their dress. Its adoption by the Norse is considered a symbol of activity of the Hibro-Norse culture. These pins have been discovered throughout Scandinavia, in Dublin and in Staraja, suggesting strong connections between Staraja and the Viking trade routes.17Lesley Abrams, “Diaspora and Identity in the Viking Age,” Early Medieval Europe 20, no. 1 (2012): 31.

The expansion of the Viking Age in Eastern Europe did not end with Staraja Lagoda, but continued with the trading center of Riurikovo Gorodishche. Riurikovo Gorodishche was situated further down the Volkhov River on Lake Ilmen, which protected it from raids of the Swedish and Gotlandic Vikings by of a series of rapids. This trading settlement shows how the Rus began to expand southward, as a hoard of Norse-designed farm implements were discovered thirteen kilometers north of Gorodishche.18Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 143. This settlement, which is near the medieval and current city of Novgorod, would rise to command much of Northern Russia. It was the center of Rus strength and culture for approximately the next 150 years of the Viking Age, from the late ninth century until the end of the tenth century.19Duczko, Viking Rus, 101. The evidence for settlement is not just in the artifacts discovered there, but also the existence of a fortified building on a hill that had a four and a half meter deep ditch built on both the north and east sides to protect the hill. This implies that it was a residence of the social elite of the settlement and it is likely that the Rus lived there.20Ibid., 103.

The archeological finds from the site show a presence of Swedish Vikings and their integration into the Rus, as the majority of the artifacts have analogies in the important Swedish trading center of Birka. In addition, the site still had a connection with the Eastern European trade system as shown by the discovery of two deposits of dirhams, which were in Gorodishche sometime after 860, including both Oriental and Byzantine coins.21Ibid. One of the unique pieces found at Gorodishche is “a figure of a small flat, two-sided animal head made of lead: the animal has an open mouth with bared teeth and curled tongue, the eyes are round and protruding, and on the top is a kind of crest.”22Ibid., 106. This find is unique to Gorodishche, but not in the Viking world. Similar pieces have been found in Lake Malar around the trading center of Birka, the Swedish island of Gotland, and in the Slinkbacken cemetery near Söderby, not far from Uppsala. Uppsala is also the site of Adam of Bremen’s temple, where the worship of the Norse Gods was prevalent.23Ibid.

This shows that not only was Gorodishche central to the power and control of Northern Russia for the Rus, but that it also had a direct connection with the royal power of Sweden. The importance of Gorodishche prior to the establishment of Novgorod and its rise as a political center should not be underestimated, as argued by N.A. Makarov, E.N. Nosov, and V.L. Yanin in “The Beginning of Rus through the Eyes of Modern Archeology.” They state that Gorodishche “became the ‘strength knot’ of the entire adjacent agrarian region, its administrative center, and an original key to trade-military routes from the Baltic Sea to the Volga and the Arab Orient and to the route ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks.’”24N.A Makarov, E.N. Nosov, and V.L. Yanin, “The Beginning of Rus’ through the Eyes of Modern Archaeology,” Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences 83, no. 3 (2013): 215. This trade with the East grew moderately until the large increase in Norse settlers around the 940s in both Staraja and Gorodishche. Not surprisingly, it also led to the expansion of trade towards the south with the new settlement Gnezdovo. The trade also led to the establishment of Novgorod as the earliest dated stratum came from 940 A.D. By the late tenth century, it had become the main center for Northern Russia, which was an important player in Russian politics. Noonan believes that the rise of Novgorod was due to the Rus leader Vladimir’s conversion to Christianity and that “Ladoga was too vulnerable to be the political centre, while Riurikovo was situated very close to the pagan sanctuary at Peryn.”25Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 150. This shift is significant, as the Russian Primary Chronicle uses Novgorod as the seat of Rus power in the North, specifically with Rurik clan. However, it is common in both European Russia and Scandinavia for an early trading settlement to be replaced by a more permanent port since Sigtuna replaced Birka; Hedeby replaced Schleswig, and the next great Viking Rus trading settlement Smolensk replaced Gnezdovo.26Ibid., 151.

Gnezdovo is a large archeological settlement situated on the right bank of the Dnieper River and consists of a central settlement with a hill fort called Tsentalnoe on the brook Svinets, and a large cemetery that surrounds the hill fort. The hill fort has a large number of burrows and contains many artifacts linked to Scandinavian society.27Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” 526. Gnezdovo allowed merchants a place to trade as they traveled between the Baltic and Black Seas via the Volkhov and Dnieper Rivers, and the site was in use from at least the second half of the ninth century to the first half of the eleventh century.28Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 145. Instead of being settled by a Norse majority, we see the Rus in Gnezdovo become a part of a larger settlement consisting of mainly Slavs, but also multiple Baltic tribes. The evidence of the Norse being there is found in the burial mounds, which surround the center at Gnezdovo. The earliest aspect of Norse culture discovered around Gnezdovo was a Danish Hedeby coin from 825 A.D. It is important to note that the coin was found in a hoard of several hundred dirhams, meaning that the trade of coinage through Eastern Europe did occur in Gnezdovo and would have attracted the Rus from Staraja and Gorodishche.29Duczko, Viking Rus, 157. Gnezdovo has evidence of Norse activity throughout the site, but one of the main finds is in a hoard. A cast ornament was discovered at the site, which represented a variety of pendants and brooches decorated with Norse art. As described by Duczkvo, “among the pendants are two pieces, larger than the other pendants that have a motif of two antithetic elongated s-shaped animals with turned-down heads very similar to the one from a hoard found at Vårby in Sweden.”30Ibid., 183. The rise of Gnezdovo can be attributed to the desire by the Rus to find another route from the Baltic into the interior of Eastern Europe, which was successful as Norse artifacts are prevalent in Gnezdovo. In addition, Gnezdovo has many dirhams from Byzantium and the Islamic world until the late tenth century when the power shifted to Smolensk.31Ibid., 256. The next stage of Rus expansion happened south of Gnezdovo with the establishment of a powerful Rus ruler in Kiev and the establishment of a Kievan Rus state, which dealt directly with Byzantium. The Rus settlements were not just along the Dnieper and Volkhov Rivers, but also along the Volga basin, creating another trade route. Yet, why did these trade routes become important, and what impact did the Rus’ trading have on the Slavic inhabitants?

The rise of trading centers that were designed to control the waterways of Eastern Europe is not unique; water has always been an important way of transporting goods. The trade itself needs to be explored further to understand why the Eastern European trade was so valuable and so important to the Rus, the Norse, and Byzantium. This trade also facilitated the spread of Norse culture and created the environment for the rise of Kiev and the use of Rus troops in the Byzantine army and navy. It is widely known that the Norsemen desired Arabic and Byzantine coinage and would trade their raw materials or raid to acquire these coins, and in the East, the two principal materials traded were slaves and fur. The Rus are described in Islamic literary sources as “merchants and warriors, taking advantage of the agrarian Slavs by robbing them of foodstuff, and catching them for sale as slaves to customers in the Caliphate.”32Duczko, Viking Rus, 123. The massive presence of Arabic coinage would support these passages, and in addition, the Black Sea was notorious for its late-medieval slave trade, and Constantinople certainly possessed a slave market. According to Michael McCormick in The Origins of the European Economy, “by 900 [slaves] were coming from the northern arc as well.”33Michael McCormick, Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce, A.D. 300–900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 760. McCormick mentions this in discussing the importation of slavery to both the Byzantine and Carolingian Empires, but also explains that most went on to the Caliphate, with the Northern arc seeing the transportation of slaves from Scandinavia through the Eastern waters, as the Black Sea was heavily involved in the slave trade into Arab territory34McCormick, Origins of the European Economy, 758–9. The slave trade not only brought success for the Rus and the Arabs who wanted more slaves, but it also encouraged and facilitated the expansion of the Eastern European fur trade, even with non-Rus settlements like Minino.

Minino is situated in one of the major watersheds of Eastern Europe in the Volga and the Northern Dvina River systems, and developed an important fur trade with Novgorod around the middle of the ninth century until the late twelfth century as evidenced by the amount of animal bones that existed in Minino. In Minino, there existed a large deposit of beads similar to that found in Birka. Minino even had coinage from the area of Byzantium. However, Minino was not a unique place where the Slavs or Finns had developed a trading center of their own, which was based on the export of cereals or fur to the Rus in exchange for beads, metals, or coins. Makarov points this out: “Minino is not the only rural site in the Northern Rus’ periphery which has produced evidence of a high level of prosperity as well as evidence that intensive fur-bearing animal trapping and cereal cultivation became important means of subsistence in the eleventh to twelfth centuries.”35N. Makarov, “Traders in the Forest: The Northern Periphery of Rus’ in the Medieval Trade Network,” Pre-modern Russia and Its World: Essays in Honor of Thomas S. Noonan, ed. Kathryn Reyerson, Theofanis George Stavrou, and James D. Tracy (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), 127. The expansion of Norse settlements in the Volkhov, Dnieper, and Volga River basins allowed for the expansion of the slave trade to the Black Sea but also to bring into the European economy the Slavic and Finnish fur traders and settlements on the periphery of what is considered the Viking Rus territory. The establishment of the lucrative slave and metal trades led to the increased expansion southward and eventually the establishment of Kiev as the center of the Rus.

The first mention of the Rus coming to Kiev is in The Russian Primary Chronicle when in the entry for the years 880–882A.D., the successor to Rurik who ruled Novgorod, Oleg, set forth “taking with him many warriors from among the Varangians, the Chuds, the Slavs, the Merians, and all the Krivichians.”36The Russian Primary Chronicle, trans. and ed. Samuel Hazzard Cross and Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor (Cambridge: Medieval Academy of America, 2012), 60–61. On this expedition, Oleg connects the Northern Rus of Novgorod with the Southern Rus of Kiev after he kills the rulers of Kiev, Askold and Dir.37Ibid., 61. This story is disputed as Novgorod did not see its large expansion until 940 A.D., and the writer of the chronicle did not live in the ninth century. Duczkvo notes that much of the “research has shown many times that the story of Oleg, his deeds and legendary death, was an artificial narrative made up by the compiler in order to give a coherent picture of the beginnings of the dynasty of the Rurikids in Kiev.”38Duczko, Viking Rus, 206. The lack of evidence to support the chronicle’s story does not mean that Kiev did not exist in the ninth century or that the Rus led by a Prince Oleg did not exert pressure on Kiev. It simply means that the beginnings of the dynasty of the Rurikids are not clear to both the writer of the Chronicle or the society in which he or she lived. However, the power of the Rus on Kiev was different from in the North, as it came from the power structure of taking tributes from the Slavs in the South, instead of settlement. The Rus would have known that the city of Kiev laid on the valuable trade route connecting the Rus in the North to the Greeks in the South. This trade route also extended from Mainz in the German Empire through Bohemia, to Poland, then into Kievan Rus.39Christian Raffensperger, Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012), 117.

As noted with other trade settlements, the value of Arab and Byzantine metals and coinage in Scandinavia created the necessity to control both the trade routes and settlements. Raffensperger explains that “over one-third of the dirhams imported into the Rusian territory in the late eight to early ninth centuries were exported to Scandinavia.”40Ibid., 119. The Rus controlled Kiev at this time through gained wealth, explained by Lyuba Grinberg in “Is this City Mine or Yours.” Grinberg writes “the princes derived their wealth from raids, taxation, trade, and perhaps money-lending, rather than from landed property that would tie them to a territorial base.”41Lyuba Grinberg, “‘Is This City Yours or Mine?’ Political Sovereignty and Eurasian Urban Centers in the Ninth through Twelfth Centuries,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 55, no. 4 (2013): 912. We do know that the Rus ruled in Kiev as evidenced by the treaties with Byzantium and with archeological evidence in Kiev. The evidence of Rus settlement in Kiev and their connection to Scandinavia is again related to the presence of Rus culture within Kiev’s graves. One of these finds is grave number 105, where “a man was buried with a Norse sword and spear, a bow and a quiver with fifty arrows, some with Norse-type heads.”42Duczko, Viking Rus, 220. The burial of a large number of arrows is a unique custom not only for contemporary nomads, but also in Scandinavia where they appear in the chamber-graves in Birka and boat-graves in Valsgarde and Vendel.43Ibid.

The number of Rus artifacts and graves in Kiev demonstrate less variety and wealth than in Gnezdovo and the other Rus settlements, meaning that without the large written sources that deal with the relationship between the Rus of Kiev and Constantinople, there would be little evidence of the Rus’ political role in Kiev.44Ibid. The Byzantine Empire was always involved with the area that consisted of the Black Sea and the Eurasian Steppe, even prior to the arrival of the Rus. It was involved with the nomadic or semi-nomadic people who inhabited this area by engaging in defensive imperialisms, and they supported certain nomadic powers in the steppe as allies. This gave them trade privileges in order to protect their possession in the Crimea, and most importantly the Balkans.45Dimitri Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe, 500–145 (New York: Praeger, 1971), 164–180.

The Rus launched an expedition from Staraja Lagoda in 860 A.D. This continued in 907 A.D. when chroniclers referenced an expedition by Prince Oleg of Kiev that attacked Constantinople. While it was not successful, it did lead to the signing of a trade pact in 911 A.D. allowing for residence of the Rus in Constantinople, a key factor in allowing the trade of slaves and furs for coinage.46Blöndal and Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium, 36. The next attack did not occur until after a large migration southward of Rus princes and warriors in 941 A.D. led by the Prince of Rus, Igor. According to Matina Stein-Wilkeshui, the Rus “were frightened by Greek fire and supposing that the Greeks had in their possession the lightning from heaven, retired. A delegation consisting of fifty persons set out for Constantinople and started negotiations with the Greek emperors.”47Martina Stein-Wilkeshuis, “Scandinavians Swearing Oaths in Tenth-century Russia: Pagans and Christians,” Journal of Medieval History 28, no. 2 (2002): 160. This treaty’s ratification did not occur until 944 A.D. and was agreed to by a much larger group of envoys, which confirmed the previous treaty of 911 A.D. It also redefined some of the customs, and the restrictions on purchasing of silk and the legal status of slaves.48Ibid. The next treaty in 971 A.D., signed with Sviatoslav, the son of Igor, who fought Byzantine troops in the Dnieper basin, reaffirmed the commitment to peace with the Emperor.49Ibid., 161.

The next major Rus prince who affected Novgorod, Kiev, and Byzantium was Vladimir the Great. Vladimir was the son of Sviatoslav, but after Sviatoslav’s death Vladimir had to flee his seat in Novgorod to Scandinavia after his brother Yaropolk killed their brother Oleg in 977 A.D. Vladimir did not return to Russia until 980 A.D. when his Varangian or Viking allies conquered Novgorod, Polotsk, and marched on Kiev, defeating Yaropolk. This set up Vladimir as a powerful ruler in Kiev who ruled both centers of Rus power in the East until his death in 1015. Vladimir soon sent his Viking mercenaries on to Constantinople realizing that they would destabilize his reign, which marked a significant change in Rus leadership. They viewed themselves as Rus, not Nordic, and refused to give in to the demands of the mercenaries.50The Russian Primary Chronicle, 90–134. In addition to these soldiers, he sent six thousand men to help Emperor Basil II, who was invading Bulgaria during the winter of 686–687, and while there is a history of Rus mercenaries before this large force, the force made Basil II realize the value of the Vikings. In Sigfús Blöndal’s book The Vangians of Byzantium, he notes that in the De re militari “we are told that this unit is sometimes used as infantry, and sometimes as cavalry; and where the life-guards attending the Emperor on campaign are listed as the Grand Hetairia, the Scholae, the Immortals and ‘the other units’, from which we may deduce that these Rhosi formed on of these last-named units.”51Blöndal and Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium, 46. The sending of the Viking mercenaries from Kiev to Constantinople by Vladimir signaled the end of the Norse migration and control in Rus politics, as the Rus now acted independently. Still, however, it did not end the involvement of the Norse in Byzantium; in 1034 the Empire was still using Varangian forces and even had King Harald II of Norway fight for the Empire.52Ibid., 46–54.

The establishment of Vladimir as the ruler of Kiev and Novgorod led to the establishment of the Rurikid Dynasty’s rule over the Rus lands, but also changed the attitude of the Rus. Thomas Noonan described this new attitude as “[the Rus] increasingly saw new immigrants from Scandinavia as foreigners who potentially posed a threat to them.”53Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 155. By the end of Vladmir’s reign, the period of Viking raids and expansion of the Viking Rus had ended and the trade centers they had helped establish were now under the control of the Kievan Rus. This progression signaled the end of the Viking Rus in terms of involvement in Eastern Europe, and led to the end of the Viking Age in general.

The impact of the Viking Rus on Eastern Europe is evident with the Norse artifacts found in the trading centers of Staraja Lagoda, Ruirikovo Gorodishche, and Gnezdovo. This led to the development of important trade routes between the Scandinavian trade centers of Birka and Hedeby, the Byzantine Empire, and the Abbasid Caliphate. These trade routes facilitated the trade of both fur and slaves for the valuable metals and coins desired by Scandinavian chieftains, and the control of these routes became incredibly valuable. The establishment of Novgorod and the Rus’ political control via taxation in Kiev displays the Rus awareness of the value of this trade. This desire for control led to the use of Viking mercenaries, later utilized by the Byzantine Empire to fight its battles against Islam and the emerging Balkan nations. These same mercenaries were, by 1015, viewed by the Rus as outsiders and unsavory characters, spelling the end of the Viking Age in Eastern Europe, but the beginning of the Kievan Rus under Slavic rule. While this signified the rise of a Slavic State, the history of Viking Settlement cannot be glossed over and is significant to the formation of Early Eastern Europe and connecting the Eastern trade to Western Europe.

 

 

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References   [ + ]

1. Władysław Duczko, Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 253.
2. Ingmar Jansson, The Viking Heritage: A Dialogue between Cultures (Borås: Statens Historiska Museum, 1996), 11.
3. Ibid., 35–55.
4. Duczko, Viking Rus, 135,152.
5. Ibn Fadlan, Journey to Russia, trans. Richard N. Frye (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2005), 70.
6. Thomas Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, ed. Peter Sawyer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 141.
7. Duczko, Viking Rus, 68.
8. Fjodor Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” in The Viking World, ed. Stefan Brink and Neil Price, (London: Routledge, 2008), 520.
9. Duczko, Viking Rus, 71–74.
10. Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” 520.
11. Duczko, Viking Rus, 76–77.
12. Ibid., 81.
13. Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” 521.
14. Duczko, Viking Rus, 83–95.
15. Sigfús Blöndal and Benedikt Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 33.
16. Duczko, Viking Rus, 83–86.
17. Lesley Abrams, “Diaspora and Identity in the Viking Age,” Early Medieval Europe 20, no. 1 (2012): 31.
18. Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 143.
19. Duczko, Viking Rus, 101.
20. Ibid., 103.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid., 106.
23. Ibid.
24. N.A Makarov, E.N. Nosov, and V.L. Yanin, “The Beginning of Rus’ through the Eyes of Modern Archaeology,” Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences 83, no. 3 (2013): 215.
25. Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 150.
26. Ibid., 151.
27. Androshchuk, “The Vikings in the East,” 526.
28. Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 145.
29. Duczko, Viking Rus, 157.
30. Ibid., 183.
31. Ibid., 256.
32. Duczko, Viking Rus, 123.
33. Michael McCormick, Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce, A.D. 300–900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 760.
34. McCormick, Origins of the European Economy, 758–9.
35. N. Makarov, “Traders in the Forest: The Northern Periphery of Rus’ in the Medieval Trade Network,” Pre-modern Russia and Its World: Essays in Honor of Thomas S. Noonan, ed. Kathryn Reyerson, Theofanis George Stavrou, and James D. Tracy (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), 127.
36. The Russian Primary Chronicle, trans. and ed. Samuel Hazzard Cross and Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor (Cambridge: Medieval Academy of America, 2012), 60–61.
37. Ibid., 61.
38. Duczko, Viking Rus, 206.
39. Christian Raffensperger, Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012), 117.
40. Ibid., 119.
41. Lyuba Grinberg, “‘Is This City Yours or Mine?’ Political Sovereignty and Eurasian Urban Centers in the Ninth through Twelfth Centuries,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 55, no. 4 (2013): 912.
42. Duczko, Viking Rus, 220.
43. Ibid.
44. Ibid.
45. Dimitri Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe, 500–145 (New York: Praeger, 1971), 164–180.
46. Blöndal and Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium, 36.
47. Martina Stein-Wilkeshuis, “Scandinavians Swearing Oaths in Tenth-century Russia: Pagans and Christians,” Journal of Medieval History 28, no. 2 (2002): 160.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid., 161.
50. The Russian Primary Chronicle, 90–134.
51. Blöndal and Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium, 46.
52. Ibid., 46–54.
53. Noonan, “Scandinavians in European Russia,” 155.