Varangians


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Varangians

(vərăn`jēənz), name given by Slavs and Byzantine Greeks to Scandinavians who began to raid the eastern shores of the Baltic and penetrate Eastern Europe by the 9th cent. Their leader, RurikRurik
, d. 879, semilegendary Varangian warrior, regarded as the founder of the princely dynasty of Kievan Rus. Rurik and his two brothers, at the head of an armed band, apparently seized Novgorod and nearby districts (c.862).
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, established himself at Novgorod in 862, thus laying the traditional foundation for Kievan RusKievan Rus
, medieval state of the Eastern Slavs. It was the earliest predecessor of modern Ukraine and Russia. Flourishing from the 10th to the 13th cent., it included nearly all of present-day Ukraine and Belarus and part of NW European Russia, extending as far N as Novgorod
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. The Varangians, some of whom were known also as Rus or Rhos, made their way down the Dnieper and established the great trade route from Kiev to Byzantium. In the 9th and 10th cent. they repeatedly threatened Constantinople. During the 10th and 11th cent. they served as soldiers of East Slavic princes, but they gradually merged with the Slavs, adopting Slavic culture. Other Varangians served as mercenary troops to the emperors at Constantinople. Varangian migrations paralleled those of the Norsemen and Vikings in the West.

Varangians

 

(late Greek, Bárangoi, from old Scandinavian, vaeringjar: Norman warriors who served the Byzantine emperors) in Russian sources, the Varangians are first mentioned in the legend of the “calling of the Varangians”—recorded in the Primary Chronicle—with which the chronicle began the history of the Russian land. This legend served as the starting point for the creation of the antiscientific Normanist theory of the origin of the Russian state, which appeared in the 18th century and has been discarded because of its flimsiness. In Rus’ during the ninth through 11th centuries, there were quite a few Varangian warrior-bodyguards serving Russian princes and Varangian merchants involved in trade on the route “from the Varangians to the Greeks.” On a number of occasions, the Kievan princes Vladimir Sviatoslavich and Iaroslav the Wise invited hired detachments of Varangians from Scandinavia and used them in internecine wars and wars against neighboring countries and peoples. Failing to play any substantial role in Russian society, the Varnagian warriors and merchants were rapidly slavicized. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the word “Varangian” was also used in Russian sources to mean “Catholic.” In most Russian written monuments, “Varangians” as a general term for all Scandinavians was supplanted as of the second half of the 12th century by concrete names for different Scandinavian peoples— Svei (Swedes), Murmany (Norwegians)—and by the term Nemtsy, which was general for all western peoples. Up to the 18th century, the Baltic Sea was called the Varangian Sea, after the Varangians.

REFERENCES

Gedeonov, A. Variagi i Rus’, parts 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1876.
Tomsen, V. Nachalo Russkogo gosudarstva. Moscow, 1891. Pages 94-111.
Shakhmatov, A. A. Skazanie o prizvanii variagov. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Grekov, B. D. “O roli variagov v istorii Rusi.” Novoe vremia, 1947, no. 30.
Rybakov, B. A. “Predposylki obrazovaniia drevnerusskogo gosudarstva.” In Ocherki istorii SSSR, III-IX vv. Moscow, 1958. Pages 733-878.
Shaskol’skii, I. P. “Normanskaia teoriia v sovremennoi burzhuaznoi istoriografii.” Istoriia SSSR, 1960, no. 1.
Shusharin, V. P. “O sushchnosti i formakh sovremennogo normanizma.” Voprosy istorii, 1960, no. 8. (Bibliography indicated.)
References in periodicals archive ?
If during the Early Middle Ages the term Varangians referred to the Scandinavians of both the Greek and the Latin rite, already by the middle of the 12th century it became synonymous with Scandinavians of the Latin rite.
15) Olga Maiorova argues that the "amicable bargain" between the Rus' and the Varangians represents a foundation narrative that made it possible to "rethink the monarchical empire in nationalistic terms as a product of the activity of the entire nation under the dynasty's leadership.
1969), "The evolution of the Varangian regiment in the Byzantine army", Byzantion, 62, 20-24.
As a Scandinavian, I grew up with school books that detailed how Vikings or Varangians were very active indeed in this period of early state formation, and played the key role in early Russian state formation.
Given that Bykov's Varangians and Khazars are broadly equivalent to "Russians" and "Jews," respectively, ZhD lends itself to accusations of being simultaneously Russophobic and anti-Semitic.
It lies on the route that the Varangians (the Viking founders of Kievan Rus) traveled from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
20) Vladimir was quite forgettable as a ruler but his name is significant in that it demonstrates that the Slavic name was in existence before the supposed "invitation" to the Varangians (reported under the year 862 in the Russian Primary Chronicle).
In the history of Kiev Rus, so important to Russian and Ukranian historians, are aired interpretations long ignored by Soviet historians on the Khazars and the Varangians.
The so-called Norman hypothesis--that "Normans" or Varangians had established the Russian state--was extended into the 19th century.
Beginning in the ancient world and proceeding chronologically, the volume examines the characteristics and tactics of groups such as the Persian Immortals, Spartan Hoplites and Roman Praetorian Guard, Viking Varangians, Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, Ottoman Janissaries, Polish Hussars, and the French Foreign Legion.
11) Indeed, among the evidence supporting the argument that the judicial duel spread to Rus' from the West are the similarity of dueling as practiced in Rus' to the judicial duel as practiced in the West and the fact that the duel was used in Scandinavia at the time when the varangians arrived in Rus'.
1947 "The Later History of the Varangian Guard", The Journal of Roman Studies, 37, pp.