Riurik, Sineus, and Truvor

Riurik, Sineus, and Truvor


according to legends in the Russian chronicles, three brothers who were konungrs and leaders of Varangian druzhiny (military retinues). The three supposedly were invited “from beyond the sea” by the Slavs of Novgorod for the purpose of ending internecine strife in Novgorod; the brothers allegedly founded the state of ancient Rus’. According to this version, Riurik (sometimes spelled “Rurik” in English) settled in Novgorod, Sineus in Beloozero, and Truvor in Izborsk. The early death of his two younger brothers made Riurik the sole ruler of the Novgorod Land. According to one opinion, Sineus and Truvor did not exist, and the information about them is the result of an incorrect reading by the Russian chronicler of a foreign text stating that Riurik came to the land of the Slavs with his house (sine hus) and his faithful druzhina (tro voring).

Initially Riurik ruled in Ladoga. He was not invited “from beyond the sea” but, taking advantage of internal conflicts, seized power in Novgorod in 862. There resulted an uprising under Vadim the Brave against the Varangians. Riurik executed Vadim and his “advisers”; other Novgorodians fled to Kiev. The legend of the inviting of the Varangians was created in Novgorod or Ladoga in the 11th century. It was made use of in the editing of the Primary Chronicle in the early 12th century to glorify and explain the origin of the ruling Russian princely dynasty, whose founder was considered to be Riurik. This version was the basis for the unscholarly Norman theory. The legend of Riurik’s creation of the state of ancient Rus’ is refuted by a considerable amount of evidence in the sources, which indicates that the Slavs created a state system long before the ninth century and that the state of ancient Rus’ was a result of internal social development.


Mavrodin, V. V. Drevniaia Rus’. Moscow, 1946.
Grekov, B. D. Kievskaia Rus’. Moscow, 1953.
Kuz’min, A. G. “K voprosu o proiskhozhdenii variazhskoi legendy.” In the collection Novoe o proshlom nashei Rodiny. Moscow, 1967.