Rus-Byzantium Treaties

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rus’-Byzantium Treaties


911, 944, 971. The first international treaties concluded by ancient Rus’. Only the ancient Russian texts of the treaties, which were translated from Greek and included in the early 12th-century Primary Chronicle, are known.

Treaty of Sept. 2, 911, signed after the successful campaign of Prince Oleg’s retinue against Byzantium around 907. The treaty established good relations between the two states and defined the procedure for redeeming prisoners, the penalties for crimes committed by Greek and Russian merchants in Byzantium, and the rules for court trials and inheritance. It created favorable trade conditions for Russians and Greeks and changed the coastal law. Instead of seizing ships and cargoes that were cast ashore, the country controlling the shore was obliged to aid the ship and its crew.

Treaty of 944, signed after Prince Igor’s unsuccessful campaign against Byzantium in 941 and the campaign of 944. Reaffirming in slightly altered form the principles of the Treaty of 911, the Treaty of 944 required Russian envoys and merchants who wished to enjoy preferential treatment to carry letters from their prince. The treaty introduced a series of limitations on the activity of Russian merchants. Rus’ promised not to lay claim to Byzantium’s Crimean possessions and not to establish fortresses at the mouth of the Dnieper. Both sides pledged mutual military aid.

Treaty of July 971, concluded between Prince Sviatoslav Igorevich and Emperor John Zimisces during the siege of Russian forces at Dorostol’. The treaty, which was drawn up under conditions unfavorable to Rus’, contained provisions obliging Rus’ to refrain from attacks on Byzantium.

The treaties between Rus’ and Byzantium are exceptionally valuable sources for ancient Russian history, ancient Russian and international law, and Rus’-Byzantine relations.


Povest’ vremennykh let, parts 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Pamiatniki russkogo prava, fasc. 1. Compiled by A. A. Zimin. Moscow, 1952. (Bibliography.)


Pashuto, V. T. Vneshniaia politika Drevnei Rusi. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.