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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

East Slavs
Усходнія славяне (be.)
Восточные славяне (ru.)
Восточны славяне (rue.)
Східні слов'яни (uk.)
Slavic europe.svg
     Countries with predominantly East Slavic population
Total population
200+ million
Regions with significant populations
Majority: Belarus, Russia, Ukraine Minority: Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Serbia, Caucasus Azerbaijan, Georgia), Moldova, other former Soviet states.
Languages
East Slavic languages:
Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn, Ukrainian
Related ethnic groups
Other Slavs
Maximum extent of European territory inhabited by the East Slavic tribes - predecessors of Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state[1] - in the 8th and 9th century.
Maximum extent of European territory inhabited by the East Slavic tribes - predecessors of Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state[1] - in the 8th and 9th century.

The East Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking the East Slavic languages. Formerly the main population of the loose medieval Kievan Rus federation state [2], by the seventeenth century they evolved into the Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn and Ukrainian[3] people.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Early East Slavic History
  • ✪ East Slavs of Nordic type
  • ✪ Facial reconstructions of medieval East Slavs
  • ✪ Who are Slavs? [PART 1: A peek into the Slavic history]
  • ✪ From the East - History Of The Early Slavs (2/2)

Transcription

The eastern lands of Europe are a vast flat area called the European plain. It’s intersected with large waterways, thick forests and flush meadows. Such geography meant that throughout History this land had extensive natural resources that could be used for farming, fishing, hunting, etc. supporting a large population. However the flat lands also paved the way for an ease of access to many migrating groups. And such was the early history for most of eastern Europe, with many tribes coming and going but in the grand scheme of things still leaving this vast land largely unpopulated. However one people group that would change this where the eastern slavs. They largely came in to the vast lands of eastern europe during the 6th century slavic migrations. Although valid arguments can be made that some small slavic settlements may have existed in the area for a far longer time. Nonetheless the reason why the eastern slavs where the ones able to populate such a vast area is usually attributed to two main things. First the sheer number of them, and how do we know this? Well even though we can’t know it for sure because we have no written records, archeology combined with the fact that their western and southern brothers that came in to central/western europe in such large numbers that even western authors were surprised it is most likely that eastern slavs did the same maybe even on a larger scale. Second is the fact that eastern slavs as oppose to the other slavs used a slash and burn farming method mixed with hunting and gathering. This combined with no crop rotation and very rich soil and fauna of eastern europe meant that they could produce a lot of food however would have to resettle every few years due to hunting and soil depletion. However these resources could in few years replenish and be used again by a different slavic clan resettling. All this meant that you had a large constantly moving, reproducing, resettling population with more than adequate food supply, which resulted in the fact that these slavs were able to settle this vast area and become in most regions the majority people group. Going down the mostly empty center, going northward and meeting baltic and finno-ugric groups, and eventually also going south meeting first the Avars, then the bulgars, then the Khazars etc. In fact it is largely believed that by the start of the 8th century most eastern slavs living in the south were forced to pay some sort of a tribute to the Khazars. The important thing to understand about these eastern Slavs expanding in to the european plane is that they weren’t as homogeneous in culture and language as we may have thought. Thanks to some findings of slavic birch bark writings in Novgorod dating back to as far as the 10th century, we can tell with pretty good certainty that there was quite a bit of diversity between the many eastern slavic tribes that settled the european plane. And looking at much more recent historical eastern slavic documents or even contemporary ones we can tell by comparison that the eastern slavic cultural and language was very much convergent since the 10th century or even earlier. But i digress. It was also around the 8th century and maybe in some places as early as the 7th century that the slavs slowly started to move from the slash and burn farming method and hunting to more reliable crop rotation farming. This meant that the chaotic autonomous nature of constant resettling started to be replaced by the creation of many small self independent areas of farming communities. These communities where held together by the main family/clan alliances that divided up the arable and pastoral land and together defended it from outsiders. It was in to this Slavic society that the famous Varangians arrived around in the 8th century. Although again arguments can be made that norse people from Sweden may have come to eastern europe even earlier then that but these would only be trading expeditions. However the arrival of the varangians in the 8th century was a much different story. Yes some came for trade but many of them came to plunder and settle the rich areas around the vast waterways of eastern Europe. Side note here, the word Varangian is mostly used to describe norse/viking “outsiders” from sweden that usually but don’t necessarily are in one way or another connected to the eastern lands of europe mostly through service to some kind of a chieftain. With these arriving Varangians also came two major changes. One was the increase in trade between the Blacksee/the middle east and the Baltics and that is how the scandinavians acquired the knowledge of making damascus steel which came from India prompting the creation of the famous viking ulfberht swords. And second was the restructuring of the eastern european predominantly slavic society. This meant that at the beginning of the 9th century the close knit family communities that existed up until now started to make way for the creation of large settlements with ditches, ramparts and market places. This in turn fueled even more trade and economic development but also the centralization of power in to small chieftainses runned from these newly created fortified towns. And since most of these towns were established by incoming Varangians most of these early chieftains where Varangians, ruling over a much larger slavic population. However there most likely existed some small chieftences around, that where just Slavic. It was also during this time that a new word for the Varangians emerged, the Rus. Derived from a norse word to row, as many of the Varangians would do, rowing up and down the eastern european waterways. But it is important to note the difference between the Rus and the Varangians, unlike the Varangians the Rus mostly refered to norse people born and living in eastern Europe including the many chieftains. This is why foreign writers like Ahmad Ibn Fadlan who wrote the first hand account of a viking funeral referred to the Norseman as the Rus, because they came from eastern Europe not Scandinavia. But the word Rus later started to be used not just for the norse people and Chieftains but also their subjects, which where mostly slavic, this combined with the fact that the Rus chieftains and people overtime assimilated in to the much larger Slavic population the word Rus kind got assimilated as well, with all eastern slavs being called the Rus by around the 11th and 12th century. But going back to the 9th century from here as it so often does some chieftenses started to grow more powerful than others and absorb the weaker ones. Forming large town centers some of which we would even recognize today. And this is where most historians start referring to one of the most important Eastern European historical documents, the nestor’s chronicle or the primary chronicle or just Povest. Now there’s many problems with the primary chronicle that could have it’s own entire video like for example the fact it most likely wasn’t even written by nestor, or that it was written 2 to 3 hundred years after the certain events it talks about, or the fact that its starts of with a mistakes stating the wrong starting date of Michael the 3rd’s reign (Byzantine Emperor), etc. However, this is not to say that we should dismiss the entire Primary Chronicle. Because not all of it that we can check with archeology or other documents is wrong. Just some of it is. Therefore we have to be aware that the events it talks about that we at the moment can’t check with other means may be wrong or altered from the truth. So with that in mind I will sight the primary chronicle however also combine it with any other possible sources to try to get the most completely picture as it stands. So hold on to your hats as it gets a bit convoluted from here. The primary chronicle states that the Slavic tribes along with some Finno-Ugric tribes rebelled against their Varangian overlords and chased them out of the Lands of Eastern Europe in the early 9th century. Now this may be true for some chieftences that existed at the time but eastern europe wasn’t one big unified area and what may have occurred in one of the chieftaincies probably didn’t happen in all of them. After that it is said that the people who through out the Varangians started to squabble amongst themselves and chaos ensued. To fix this problem some of these tribes invited back the Varangians to restore order. The Varangians agreed and came in 860 to 862, with a large force lead by a person named Rurik. However it is debated if Rurik really came being invited or just came as another conqueror trying to get land for himself, just like many vikings did in western Europe. It is also very likely that Rurik came to take the land from another Varangian/Rus and the expulsion story never happened, being invented years later to make it seem like a union between the Varangians and the slavs not a conquest. There’s also a Byzantine source stating a Rus siege of constantinople in 860 where the Rus laid siege to the city before retreating. This is the same year as the early estimates of Ruriks arrival to Eastern Europe so we know it wasn’t Rurik. It may have been a different Rus chieftain of eastern Europe, or it may have been a independent raiding expedition of some Rus people wanting to get rich or it may have been an expedition by the Chief of the northern lands that Rurik was now conquering. The ladder would make some sense as Rurik would naturally want to attack during the absence of the Chieftain and his army. On top of that the Byzantines sources state that the Rus suddenly lifted the seage leaving, even though they had the upper hand. So it may have well been the Chieftain quickly trying to get back to his lands because Rurik was there. Whatever may have happened we know that Rurik won, solidifying his reign over the northern lands and supposedly founding Novgorod in the later half of the 9th century. But this has been disproven as archeological finds date the settlement of Veliky Novgorod to late 10th century. However this probably was just a misinterpretation as Novgorod just means new city or new fortification, so Ruriks “new city” wasn’t the “new city”. Shortly after that Rurik died in 879. Leaving his kingdom and a very young son Igor to quote unquote “his kin” Oleg. The primary Chronicle states that Oleg went on an expansionist campaign conquering many chieftaincies and cities including Kiev in 882 which he promptly named as the capital of a kingdom from then on known as the Kievan Rus. He then died in 912 after which Igor, Rurik’s son succeeded him. But there’s a Khazar letter from 940 mentioning Oleg being the king of the Rus, well after the primary chronicle states that he died. So this prompted some historians to think that maybe Oleg didn’t really die in 912 but actually had a power struggle with Igor well in to the 9th century. Whichever it may have been Igor did succeed Oleg eventually becoming the King of the Kievan Rus. In the 940s he went on to fight the Byzantines, probably oversaw raiding expeditions along the Caspian sea and eventually was killed by his own subjects for demanding too many tributes/taxis in 945. But his wife Olga took initiative and as a regent for their young son Sviatoslav hunted down the people that killed her husband, established new frontiered castles, centralized the power within the kingdom and enacted first ever law reforms in eastern Europe. She was also the first high ranking person in eastern europe to convert to Christianity in Constantinople and therefor today she’s known as Saint Olga of Kiev. And even though his mother was a christian Sviatoslav was a starch pagan his entire life. With that said Sviatoslav fought many successful wars against the Byzantines, the Bulgars, the Khazars who were replaced by another invading nomadic group the Pechenegs, etc. Forming at the time the largest Empire in Europe. However in 970 his streak would end being defeated by the Byzantines who then bribed the Pechenegs to ambush him on his way home from the unsuccessful campaign. The ambush was successful killing Sviatoslav in 972. And since he didn’t have time to solidify most of his conquests lots of the land he conquered was lost in the subsequent 6 year long succession crisis between his 3 sons. The eldest, Yaropolk, prince of Kiev, the second eldest, Oleg, prince of Drelinia and the youngest and also a bastard, Vladimir, prince of Novgorod. Yaropolk in Kiev was poised to become the king of the Rus and as such waited to find a causes belly for attacking one of his brothers and when one dubious claim came in 977 he seaced on the opportunity and attacked Oleg. Quickly conquering Drelinia and killing his brother. He then turned his attention to Vladimir but after Vladimir found out about his brothers death he new that the balance of power within the kingdom wasn’t in his favor and fled leaving the Yaropolk as the sole ruler of the Kievan Rus. But Vladimir had a plan in mind. He fled to Scandinavia to one of his relatives Håkon Sigurdsson a vassal king of Norway under the famous Harald Bluetooth. He asked Hakon for help who did, but Vladimir also most likely heavily recruited soldiers on his own, promising land, money and seats at his court ones they retake Kievan Rus. With this new Varangian army assembled, Vladimir returned to Eastern Europe. However on his way to Kiev he stopped by Polotsk and asked the local princess to marry him. She refused to marry a bastard and so Vladimir did the only sensible thing he could have done. Conquered the town, killed her father and forced her to marry him anyways. After that he also conquered Smolensk, after which he could finally move on to besiege Kiev, where in 978 through deceit he managed to kill his brother Yaropolk, ending the 6 year long succession crisis. Vladimir went on to solidify his kingdom and reconquer most of the lands lost since his father's death. But at this point Kievan Rus was a cultural and a religious melting pot. Most of the peasants practiced slavic paganism but there were also Khazar jews, norse pagans, volga bulgar muslims, finno ugric pagans, christians, and even the nobility practiced a weird mixture of norse slavic paganism. All of these different religious believes naturally didn’t provide much stability to the kingdom. So Vladimir decided it’s time to reform the religion of the Rus people and send out envoys to go find out more about all the various religions. He was put off by islams taboo on drinking stating that “Drinking is the joy of all Rus'. We cannot exist without that pleasure.". He rejected Judaism as well as he didn’t like the fact that they lost control of their Holy Land. And In the end he settled on Orthodox Christianity being told their churches were much more lavish and grandiose then the ones of the Catholics in the west. Vladimir was baptized in 988 and set about converting the rest of his subject effectively closing the pages on the formerly pagan Kievan Rus. That is where I will end my early Eastern Slavic History video. Please consider subscribing and or supporting me on Patreon. I am also planning to do more early history of certain people groups at some point in the future so if you’re into that stick around, for History.

Contents

History

Sources

Researchers know relatively little about the Eastern Slavs prior to approximately 859 AD, when the first events recorded in the Primary Chronicle occurred. The Eastern Slavs of these early times apparently lacked a written language. The few known facts come from archaeological digs, foreign travellers' accounts of the Rus' land, and linguistic comparative analyses of Slavic languages.

Very few native Rus' documents dating before the 11th century (none before the 10th century) have survived. The earliest major manuscript with information on Rus' history, the Primary Chronicle, dates from the late 11th and early 12th centuries. It lists twelve Slavic tribal unions which, by the 10th century, had settled in the later territory of the Kievan Rus between the Western Bug, the Dniepr and the Black Sea: the Polans, Drevlyans, Dregovichs, Radimichs, Vyatichs, Krivichs, Slovens, Dulebes (later known as Volhynians and Buzhans), White Croats, Severians, Ulichs, and Tivertsi.

Migration

There is no consensus among scholars as to the urheimat of the Slavs. In the first millennium AD, Slavic settlers are likely to have been in contact with other ethnic groups who moved across the East European Plain during the Migration Period. Between the first and ninth centuries, the Sarmatians, Huns, Alans, Avars, Bulgars, and Magyars passed through the Pontic steppe in their westward migrations. Although some of them could have subjugated the region's Slavs, these foreign tribes left little trace in the Slavic lands. The Early Middle Ages also saw Slavic expansion as an agriculturist and beekeeper, hunter, fisher, herder, and trapper people. By the 8th century, the Slavs were the dominant ethnic group on the East European Plain.

By 600 AD, the Slavs had split linguistically into southern, western, and eastern branches. The East Slavs practiced "slash-and-burn" agricultural methods which took advantage of the extensive forests in which they settled. This method of agriculture involved clearing tracts of forest with fire, cultivating it and then moving on after a few years. Slash and burn agriculture requires frequent movement, because soil cultivated in this manner only yields good harvests for a few years before exhausting itself, and the reliance on slash and burn agriculture by the East Slavs explains their rapid spread through eastern Europe.[4] The East Slavs flooded Eastern Europe in two streams. One group of tribes settled along the Dnieper river in what is now Ukraine and Belarus to the North; they then spread northward to the northern Volga valley, east of modern-day Moscow and westward to the basins of the northern Dniester and the Southern Buh rivers in present-day Ukraine and southern Ukraine.

Another group of East Slavs moved to the northeast, where they encountered the Varangians of the Rus' Khaganate and established an important regional centre of Novgorod. The same Slavic population also settled the present-day Tver Oblast and the region of Beloozero. Having reached the lands of the Merya near Rostov, they linked up with the Dnieper group of Slavic migrants.

Pre-Kievan period

In the eighth and ninth centuries, the south branches of East Slavic tribes had to pay tribute to the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people who adopted Judaism in the late eighth or ninth century and lived in the southern Volga and Caucasus regions. Roughly in the same period, the Ilmen Slavs and Krivichs were dominated by the Varangians of the Rus' Khaganate, who controlled the trade route between the Baltic Sea and the Byzantine Empire.

The earliest tribal centres of the East Slavs included Novgorod, Izborsk, Polotsk, Gnezdovo, and Kiev. Archaeology indicates that they appeared at the turn of the tenth century, soon after the Slavs and Finns of Novgorod had rebelled against the Norse and forced them to withdraw to Scandinavia. The reign of Oleg of Novgorod in the early tenth century witnessed the return of the Varangians to Novgorod and relocation of their capital to Kiev on the Dnieper. From this base, the mixed Varangian-Slavic population (known as the Rus) launched several expeditions against Constantinople.

At first the ruling elite was primarily Norse, but it was rapidly Slavicized by the mid-century. Sviatoslav I of Kiev (who reigned in the 960s) was the first Rus ruler with a Slavonic name.

Post-Kievan period

The disintegration, or parcelling of the polity of Kievan Rus' in the 11th century resulted in considerable population shifts and a political, social, and economic regrouping. The resultant effect of these forces coalescing was the marked emergence of new peoples.[5] While these processes began long before the fall of Kiev, its fall expedited these gradual developments into a significant linguistic and ethnic differentiation among the Rus' people into Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians.[5] All of this was emphasized by the subsequent polities these groups migrated into: southwestern and western Rus', where the Ruthenian and later Ukrainian and Belarusian identities developed, was subject to Lithuanian and later Polish influence;[6] whereas the Russian ethnic identity developed in the Muscovite northeast and the Novgorodian north.

Modern East Slavs

Ethnic Russians in former Soviet Union states according to the most recent census
Ethnic Russians in former Soviet Union states according to the most recent census

Modern East Slavic peoples and ethnic/subethnic groups include:

  • Transitory groups

Image gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ Oscar Halecki. (1952). Borderlands of Western Civilization. New York: Ronald Press Company. pp. 45-46
  2. ^ John Channon & Robert Hudson, Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia (Penguin, 1995), p.16.
  3. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica On-line
  4. ^ Richard Pipes. (1995). Russia Under the Old Regime. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 27-28
  5. ^ a b Riasanovsky, Nicholas; Steinberg, Mark D. (2005). A History of Russia (7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 61, 87.
  6. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (2010). A History of Ukraine: A Land and Its Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 73.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 March 2019, at 14:52
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