The Formation of Russia: Slavs, Vikings, and Byzantium

Russia in World History

More than a thousand years ago, the Rus recognized a group of Norsemen as their overlords.

An excerpt from Russia in World History:

Two centuries after the events they reported, the composers of the Primary Chronicle or Tale of Bygone Years described the formation of Kievan Rus, the earliest forerunner of modern Russia, and its disparate features: a population of Slavic, Finnic, and Baltic tribes; a ruling dynasty descended from a Scandinavian Viking; and an official religion, Christianity, borrowed from Byzantium. Piecing together bits of fact and legend, the chroniclers recorded that in the year 859 CE, “Varangians from beyond the sea imposed tribute” on a group of Finnic and Slavic tribes. Within just a few years, however, “the tributaries of the Varangians” rebelled and “drove [the Varangians] back beyond the sea.”


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