Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

The Israelite Origins of the Russian Empire!

Modern Russia can trace its origins to the Israelite Swedish nation that was founded in Novgorod and Kiev by Prince Rurik in the 800s A.D. and which later expanded to become not only the largest contemporary European state in terms of area, but also one of the most culturally advanced for its time. Modern Russia can trace a lineage to the historic Kievan Rus' via the Grand Duchy of Vladimir which evolved into the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

by John D. Keyser

Nestor the Chronicler is considered to be the father of Russian history for his Russian Primary Chronicle (otherwise known as the Tale of Bygone Years) -- the earliest of Eastern Viking Rus' chronicles. Little information has been preserved about Nestor. The few facts that historians believe to be true are that he came to live in the Kievan Caves Monastery (in the city of Kiev in the Ukraine) as a youth, and lived there nearly forty years as a monk. He began writing the chronicles of the Viking Rus' as part of his obedience service at the Monastery.

Apparently Nestor was one of the most educated men in the late 11th-and early 12th century Kievan Rus' -- his knowledge extending to theology, history, literature and Greek. He lived during the reign of Prince Svyatopolk II, who tried to steer the Viking Rus' away from Greek influence back to their Scandinavian roots.

Nestor died around 1114 A.D., having left to the Pechersk monk-chroniclers the continuation of his great work. His successor in the writing of the chronicles was Hegumen (Abbot) Sylvestr, who added the contemporary accounts to the Russian Primary Chronicle. The main work in the life of Nestor was compiling the early parts of this chronicle, sometime during 1112-1113 A.D. He introduces his work by saying:

"Here is the account of years past, how the Russian land came to be, who the first Prince of Kiev was and how the Russian land is arrayed."

Nestor's Chronicle covers a vast range of early Russian history from the very beginning up to his, and his successor's, time. It is from the Russian Primary Chronicle that we know the key events that shaped the ancient Viking Rus', the settlement of the Slavs along the Dnieper River, their fights with neighboring tribes, the invitation of the Slavs to have the Scandinavian Prince Rurik to rule Novgorod and the first mention of the Russian nation in historical sources in the year 866 A.D.

Nestor used a wide variety of sources such as Russian sayings and prior monastery records, the Byzantine Chronicles, various historical collections, the accounts of tradesmen, soldiers and travelers. He unified them while writing his accounts and, because of that, the history of Russia appeared as an inclusive part of world history. Writes Olga Prodan --

"In some ways Nestor has been compared to Moses, who recorded the early days of his nation [Israel]. Without him the memory passed down the generations would have died long ago. His chronicles not only preserved the history, of which there would be very little known otherwise but also have entered the ranks of the significant creations of world literature."

The Background

In the book, Sweden, Past and Present, the author tells us that the sea kings from Rodslagen (coastal region of Uppland, Sweden) conquered Uppsala and stepped into the priest-kings position. Next they united the Svea dominion of East-central Sweden with the land of the Goths, or the southern part of the country. Thus the Kingdom of Sweden was formed" (page 48).

S. Gusten Olson adds that "In time, the Sveas put an end to the many chieftains of the interior. Slowly, a Swedish farmer-state came into being. This was the basis or the base for Viking expeditions to the East."

Olson continues --

"During the eighth century [A.D.], the North had active relations with Western Europe. Because of geographical reasons, the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes conducted their Viking expeditions in separate regions. At times they made joint expeditions.

"In Byzantine and Arabian accounts, the Swedish Vikings are called 'rus,' and Sweden today is called 'Ruotsi' by the Finns.

"Before the middle of the ninth century, the Swedes succeeded in establishing an independent center in Northern Russia. These people, called 'rus'" gave their name to Russia.

"The main area of activity for the Swedes was toward the East. Trading colonies were established at the most important points along the main waterways -- even as remote as the Black and Caspian Seas" (The Incredible Nordic Origins, pp. 116-117).

The Settlement Near Lake Ladoga

One of the first Swedish settlements in what is today Russia was Aldeigjuborg just south of Lake Ladoga (Aldeigja in Norse) -- and it was settled by at least the year 753 A.D. For a hundred years Aldeigjuborg was the primary Scandinavian settlement in what is now northwestern Russia until the more famous Holmgard (Novgorod) was established.

Having settled by Lake Ladoga by the 750s, Viking Rus' forces played an important role in the early ethno-genesis of the Russian people and in the formation of the early 9th century Russian Khaganate. The Viking Rus' left a number of rune stones in their native Sweden that tell of their journeys to what is today Russia, Ukraine, Greece and Belarus. Most of these rune stones can be seen today, and are a telling piece of historical evidence. The Viking Rus' rune stones tell of many notable Viking Rus' expeditions -- and even account for the fates of individual warriors and travelers.

The Russian Primary Chronicle offers a small glimpse into these historical events that came before Rurik (who ruled Russia from the 860s). We hear of the early, invading Viking Rus' nation with its base in Aldeigjuborg, that had forced four native tribes of both Finnish and Slavic origin to pay tribute to themselves. The four tribes united against the Viking Rus' and forced them back to Scandinavia where they originally came from. The first entry in the Chronicle -- for the years 860-862 -- states:

"The four tribes who had been forced to pay tribute to the Varangians [Viking Rus'] -- Tschudes, Slavs, Merians, and Krivichs drove the Varangians back beyond the sea [to Scandinavia], refused to pay them further tribute, and set out to govern themselves."

However, according to the Chronicle, once the Scandinavian forces had left Russia (sometime between 800-850 A.D.) the remaining native tribes found that they were incapable of ruling themselves -- notice:

"But there was no law among them, and tribe rose against tribe. Discord thus ensued among them, and they began to war one against the other."

And then, relates the Chronicle, the native tribes amazingly invited the Scandinavian invaders back!

"They said to themselves, 'Let us seek a prince who may rule over us, and judge us according to custom.' Thus they went overseas to the Varangians, to the [Viking] Rus'. These particular Varangians were known as Rus', just as some are called Swedes, and others Normans and Angles, and still others Gutes [Goths], for they were thus named. The Tschudes, the Slavs, the Krivichs and the Veps then said to the [Viking] Rus', 'Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come reign as princes, rule over us.' Three brothers, with their kinfolk, were selected. They brought with them ALL THE RUS' and migrated."

(It is interesting to note that the alternate names mentioned here for the Varangians are all peoples descended from the Tribes of Israel -- the Swedes are descended from Naphtali; the Normans from Benjamin; the Angles from Ephraim and the Gutes (Goths) from Gad).

Rurik of Novgorod

A Scandinavian prince thus became the first to rule all the tribes of Russia and, as well, establish an actual, multicultural Russian nation.

The Chronicle goes on to say --

"The oldest [of the brothers], Rurik, located himself in Novgorod; the second, Sineus, in Beloozero; and the third, Truvor, in Izborsk. From these Varangians [Viking Rus'], the Russian land received its name [prozvalas' Russkaia zemlia]. Thus those who live in Novgorod are descended from the Varangian tribe, but earlier they [the former inhabitants] were Slavs."

According to the entries in the Radzivil and Hypatian Chronicles under the years 862-864, Rurik's first residence was in Aldeigjuborg. It is only later that he moved his seat of power to Novgorod, then a fort built not far from the source of the Volkhov River -- notice!

"They took with them all the Russes and came first to the Slavs (Slovene), and they built the city of Ladoga [the modern Staraja Ladoga]. Rurik, the eldest, settled in Ladoga, Sineus, the second, at Beloozero, and Truvor, the third, in Izborsk. From these Varangians the land of Rus' received its name. After two years Sineus died, as well as his brother Truvor, and Rurik assumed the sole authority. He then came to Lake Il'men' and founded on the Volkhov a city which they named Novgorod, and he settled there as prince, assigning cities..." (op. cit., p. 233).

The meaning of this place-name in medieval Russian is "new fortifications," while the current meaning ("new town") appeared only later. There is a large, 9th-century funerary barrow in Novgorod Oblast, reminiscent of the mounds found at Old Uppsala in Sweden, which is called Shum Gora and which remains unexcavated to this day. The local inhabitants refer to it as Rurik's Grave.

Continues the Russian Primary Chronicle:

"Within two years, Sineus and his brother Truvor died. Rurik gathered sole authority into his own hands, parceling out cities to his own men, Polotsk to one, Rostov to another, and to another Beloozero. The Varangians [Viking Rus'] in these cities are colonists, but the first settlers in Novgorod were Slavs; in Polotsk, Krivichians; in Beloozero, Ves; in Rostov, Merians; and in Murom, Muromians. Rurik had dominion over all these folk."

When you look at the distances between these centers it is a vast area that Rurik and the Viking Rus' controlled: Polotsk is 230 miles south of Novgorod; Rostov is 408 miles east of Novgorod; Beloozero (Belozersk) is 253 miles northeast of Novgorod and Muron is 453 miles southeast of Novgorod. This is a huge area and would have required a large force of men to successfully control. The Russian Primary Chronicle states that Rurik brought "all the Rus" with him and migrated to Early Russia -- so this must have been thousands of people.

Relates Katie Lane in her dissertation entitled, Vikings in the East: Scandinavian Influence in Kievan Rus',

"The Chronicle states that two men, Askold and Dir, had come with Rurik and decided to go [558 miles] south from Novgorod. They took over Kiev, with the help of other Varangians [Viking Rus'], and ruled at the same time as Rurik [in Novgorod]. After Rurik's death...one of his relatives took over until his son Igor' was old enough to rule. Oleg led his newly acquired troops south and took over Kiev from Askold and Dir" (page 19).

Continues the Chronicle:

"He [Oleg] then came to the hills of Kiev, and saw how Askold and Dir reigned there....requesting that they should come forth to greet them as members of their [Viking Rus'] race. Askold and Dir straightway came forth. Then all the soldiery jumped out of the boats, and Oleg said to Askold and Dir, 'You are not princes nor even of princely stock, but I am of princely birth.' Igor' was brought forward, and Oleg announced that he was the son of Rurik. They killed Askold and Dir....Oleg set himself up as prince in Kiev, and declared that it should be the mother of Russian cities."

Thus was the genesis of the Kiev Rus' state consisting of the cities mentioned above.

The Archaeological Evidence

The Ukrainian historian and archaeologist Fedir Androshchuk, who is a research fellow at Stockholm's Museum of Swedish History, has spent much of his adult life investigating the ties between Scandinavia and the early medieval Kiev Rus' state founded by Oleg. He states that the available historical and archaeological evidence amply demonstrates the existence of deep ties between the Kiev Rus' state and Scandinavia.

"Mr. Androshchuk points to the discovery in the twentieth century of Viking artifacts at Kyiv [Kiev] Rus era burial sites throughout modern-day Ukraine, and says that in Sweden there have been similar finds that suggest close ties of kinship and trade....he confirms that evidence abounds of a strong Scandinavian presence in the region....'We know that the Vikings were here from some time in the ninth century and were engaged in trade and military functions. Arabic chroniclers have provided numerous accounts of their presence,' he offers....One Frankish chronicle from the same ninth century period goes even further, referring to a 'Rus' presence in the region which is specifically said to have come from modern-day Sweden" (Business Ukraine, Wednesday, 29 July 2015).

"Meanwhile," continues the Business Ukraine, "in Sweden itself, discoveries of Kyiv [Kiev] Rus' jewelry and household items point to the extent to which the Swedish warriors and traders of the time were connected to the land of modern-day Ukraine. Mr. Androshchuk highlights the example of the royal Viking city of Sigtuna, where Kyiv [Kiev] Rus' necklaces and ceramics have been uncovered. Sigtuna was also the childhood home of the Swedish princess Ingegerd Olofsdotter, who would become the wife of the celebrated Kyiv Rus' ruler Yaroslav the Wise."

The Israelite Origin of the Viking Rus'

In Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, book 9, chapter 14, section 1 it says that "the king of Assyria...besieged Samaria three years...and quite demolished the government of the Israelites, and transplanted all the people into Media and Persia." Also the Book of Tobit 1:1-14 says, "Tobit...of the tribe of NAPHTALI...I did many alms deeds to my brethren, and my nation, who came with me to Nineveh...and I went into Media, and left in trust with Gabael...at Rages a city in Media ten talents of silver." "Nephthalim" is a common form of Naphtali (Matthew 4:13; Revelation 7:6). The rendering in the Vulgate Old Testament is "Nephthalim."

Procopius' History of the Wars, Vol. 1, pp. 13-15 says,

"At a later time the PERSIAN king Perozes became involved in a war concerning boundaries with the nation of the EPHTHALITAE HUNS, who are called White Huns, gathered an imposing army and marched against them. The EPHTHALITAE are of the stock of the Huns in fact as well as in name; however they do not mingle with any of the Huns known to us, for they occupy a land neither adjoining nor even very near to them; but their territory lies immediately to the north of Persia; indeed their city, called Gorgo, is located over against the PERSIAN frontier, and is consequently the center of frequent contests concerning boundary lines between the two peoples.

"For they are not nomads like the other Hunnic peoples, but for a long period have been established in a goodly land. As a result of this they have never made any incursion into the Roman territory except in company with the Media army. They are the only ones among the Huns who have WHITE BODIES and countenances which are not ugly. It is also true that their manner of living is unlike that of their kinsmen, nor do they live a savage life as they do; but they are ruled by one king and since they possess a lawful constitution, they observe right and justice in their dealings both with one another and with their neighbors, in no degree less than the Romans and the Persians."

The eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica mentions that in the Turkish forms of the name "Huns" may lurk the cryptic meaning "Ten Tribes." Sweden is a white country and the people are not ugly. The name "Hun" occurs in many Swedish place names. For instance: "Hunehals" (south of Gothenburg) means "neck of Hun." The name "Hunn" occurs in Ostergotland. In the county of Kronoberg we find Hunnamala." In the counties of Alvsborg and Skaraborg is a long mountain called "Hunneberg." Almost straight west of there, on Skagerrak (a bay of North Sea between Norway and Denmark) appears the name "Hunnebostrand" which means "the beach of the dwelling of Huns."

In the county of Jonkoping, is a place called "Hunnerstad." The name "Hunnestad" (meaning "town of Huns") occurs both near the southern tip of Sweden in Malmohus county and also near the west coast of Sweden in the county of Halland. An island off the east coast of Sweden in the county of Kalmar is called "Huno" ("Hun Island"). In Norway also, due west of Hamar, lies "Hunndalen" ("The valley of the Huns").

Sweden's Nobel Prizes are the "goodly words" (Genesis 49:21) from Naphtali, anciently called "Thule" (Procopius calls Sweden Thule -- Brit. 26:197a), and when in China they were still called EPHTHALITES or White Huns (9:679). The name Naphtali means "My wrestling." "The hind let loose" (Genesis 49:21) may refer to permissive sexual freedom in Sweden. A son of Naphthali was called GUNI and in Sweden today the name "Gunnar" (masculine), "Gunhild" and "Gunn" (feminine) are very common but unique to Scandinavia. Even the name "Hun" can be derived from Guni or Chuni in Eastern Europe (Ptolemy 3:5). He came from Guna, Gangpur, Ganjam and Gangotri India.

Another son was called JAHZEEL who named the Jizil River Arabia (2:264, C3) and Jeysulmere India, Yusli Baluchistan and the Yeshil Irmak River. Coming to Europe he named Josselin France (10:778, C4), Zealand Denmark (also known as Seeland) and Zeeland Holland and the country of New Zealand. He also named Ysel River, Yselmonde island, Ysselmonde and Yselstein Holland. In Switzerland is Seeland District. Another son JEZER named the Jazlrat ut tavilah Island and Jazlrah i daraz island both in Persia and Jessore India became the Jassians (Jazyges tribe) and named the Yser River in Belgium and Jezero Austria. Another son SHILLEM named Selmas District Persia (3:81a) and Salem India. Moving to Europe he became the Silingae tribe (23:648, D1). The Salambria River in Germany and Salmio Sweden.

Writes Steven M. Collins,

"They [Naphthali] are one of the easiest tribes to locate in Asia as their tribal name remained virtually unchanged.

"History records them as the 'Ephthalite," or 'Nephthalite' Huns, and also as the 'White Huns,' as they were members of the fair-skinned (Caucasian) race. The striking similarity between the Israelite 'Naphthalites' and the Asian 'Ephthalites' is obvious. The fact that this tribe went into captivity as a whole unit (rather than in piecemeal clans) likely explains why they continued to be known by their Israelite tribal name as late as the sixth century A.D.

"The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that before their arrival in the region of the old Parthian Empire, the Ephthalites 'were originally a tribe of the great Yue-Chi, living to the north of the Great Wall.' Rawlinson places the arrival of the Yue-Chi tribes in Parthian regions during the second century B.C. when they migrated southward out of Central Asia. That these Yue-Chi tribes were known collectively as the 'Sacae' (bearing the name of Isaac) confirms their Israelite origins.

"When Parthia fell, the Ephthalites did not join the Parthian/Scythian migration toward Europe. They fought many battles against the Sassanian Persians (who drove out the Parthians), and even ruled a portion of West India for a time. Their capital, Sakala, preserved the name of their forefather Isaac. However, in the sixth century A.D., they were defeated and disappeared from Asia. The Encyclopaedia Britannica comments that the defeat of the Ephthalites 'completed the ruin of the White Race of the plains from the Oxus to the Don.' It is logical that the Ephthalites migrated toward Europe where the rest of Asia's white tribes had previously relocated; therefore, the descendants of the tribe of Naphthali would be found somewhere in Europe....The...clues of biblical prophecy indicate that Sweden is latter day Naphthali" (The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel...Found! 1995. Boring, OR: CPA Books).

An interesting after note is found in Rick Sherrod's booklet draft, Israel in Prophecy: Where Are the Lost Ten Tribes? -- notice!

"Another provocative connection might be made between Sweden and Napthali, the second and last son born to Bilah, and the tribe that...in recent years has [been] associated with the Swedes. During the Thirty Year's War (1618-1648), Swedish king Gustavus II Adolphus (1594-1632) made a very nearly successful bid for regional hegemony. His spectacular leadership and military organization enabled him to piece together an impressive Scandinavian empire. Had Gustavus Adolphus not met an untimely death at the Battle of Lutzen (1632), it would have been interesting to see what kind of long-term impact Sweden might have had on European affairs" (1997, item 107).

The Scandinavian races are Israelite -- including the Finns mentioned by Nestor in his Chronicle. Along with the Naphtali there could be traces of Dan and Benjamin in the Rus' since they came under the Viking cloak. The way in which the traditions of Odin are bound up equally with the Scandinavian and Saxon mythology, as well as similarities between English and Swedish customs, indicates the Israelite origins of the Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and some of the Finns. The Scandinavians, almost alone, preserved the later history of the Scythians, which is one of the links connecting the chain of Palestine to Britain. The only ancient Saxon composition Beowulf is identical in style and matter with one of the Scandinavian sagas.

The Nature of the Viking Rus'

We would know little about the culture and customs of the Viking Rus' were it not for a number of Muslim chroniclers. One such person -- Ibn Fadlan -- whose 9th-century Risala (Letter) is the richest account of them all, kept a journal that details his encounters with the Viking Rus' along the Volga River.

Unlike the Europeans, Arab chroniclers bore no grudge against the Viking Rus' and, therefore, the Arab reports are more detached and, in the eyes of many scholars today, more reliable. Most experts note that the Vikings were, in general, victims of a medieval "bad press" because the military excursions of Charlemagne, and other Europeans of the time, were no less ruthless than theirs. Since the Scandinavians had only a runic alphabet -- suited for only inscribing grave-stones and place-markers -- they were hardly in a position to set the record straight themselves. Their oral sagas of heroes and gods would not be written down until the 12th century.

Astronomer and geographer Ahmad Ibn Rustah, writing between 903 and 913 A.D., reports:

"As for the [Viking] Rus', they live on an island...that takes three days to walk around and is covered with thick undergrowth and forests: it is most unhealthy....They harry the Slavs, using ships to reach them; they carry them off as slaves and...sell them. They have no fields but simply live on what they get from the Slav's lands...When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, 'I shall not leave you any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon.'

"They carry clean clothes and the men adorn themselves with bracelets and gold. They treat their slaves well and also they carry exquisite clothes, because they put great effort in trade. They have many towns. They have a most friendly attitude towards foreigners and strangers who seek refuge."

Ibn Rustah also described the Viking Rus' as carrying excellent swords and wearing baggy trousers that were tight below the knee -- a style that evidently reflected the Eastern influence in their attire. They were, in his estimation, heroic men who displayed great loyalty to each other.

In his Risala, Ibn Fadlan described the numerous peoples he encountered in his journeys -- and roughly one-fifth of his account is devoted to the Viking Rus'.

"I saw the Rusiyyah [Viking Rus'] when they had arrived on their trading expedition and had disembarked at the River Atil [Volga River]. I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs -- they are like palm trees, are fair and reddish, and do not wear the qurtaq or the caftan. The man wears a cloak with which he covers one half of his body, leaving one of his arms uncovered. Every one of them carries an axe, a sword and a dagger and is never without all of that which we have mentioned. Their swords are of the Frankish variety, with broad, ridged blades. Each man, from the tip of his toes to his neck, is covered in dark-green lines [tatoos], pictures and such like...

"Each woman has, on her breast, a small disc, tied around her neck, made of either iron, silver, copper or gold, in relation to her husband's financial and social worth. Each disc has a ring to which a dagger is attached, also lying on her breast...

"Every day the slave-girl arrives in the morning with a large basin containing water, which she hands to her owner. He washes his hands and his face and his hair in the water, then he dips his comb in the water and brushes his hair, blows his nose and spits in the basin..."

Although Ibn Fadlan acknowledged that the Viking Rus' washed their hands, faces and heads every day, he was appalled that they did so "in the dirtiest and filthiest fashion possible" in a communal basin of water -- an ancient Germanic custom that caused understandable revulsion in a Muslim who typically bathed only in poured or running water. In the same year, however, Ibn Rustah commended the Viking Rus' he encountered as being "clean in their dress and kind to their slaves."

Most of the Viking Rus' continued to observe their own religious practices, which included the offering of sacrifices. Ibn Rustah makes mention of a professional priesthood of Viking Rus' shamans (whom he calls attibah) who enjoyed very high status among them, and who had the power to select, as a sacrifice to their gods, whichever men, women or cattle they fancied. Witnessing a band of Viking Rus' merchants celebrating the safe completion of a Volga River voyage in 922, Ibn Fadlan described how they prayed to their gods and offered sacrifices to wooden figures stuck into the ground.

Ibn Fadlan also witnessed, along the Volga River, the dramatic funeral of a chieftain who was cremated, in Viking fashion, along with his ship. His oft-quoted description of this rite is one of the most remarkable documents to come out of the Viking Age. It is filled with grim details of the dead chieftain laid out in his boat amid a treasury of expensive items, rich foods and strong drink -- as well as a dog, horses, oxen and poultry and accompanied by the body of a slave girl who had volunteered for the honor of being slain and cremated with her master.

Other Muslim writers found some Viking Rus' traits praiseworthy, particularly their prowess in battle. The philosopher and historian Miskawayh described them as men with "vast frames and great courage" who carried an impressive arsenal of weapons, including swords, spears, shields, daggers, axes and hammers. He noted that their swords "are in great demand to this day for their sharpness and excellence."

The Viking Rus' and the Byzantines

The Kievan Rus' eventually became powerful enough to take on the Byzantine Empire in June of 860 A.D. The Viking Rus' were in contact with the Empire as early as 838 A.D., but did not have the resources and manpower to raid the capital at Constantinople prior to 860. The 838 date is verified by a Byzantine account that records that a party of Viking Rus' traders had to turn back to Constantinople because their way north up the Dneiper River was blocked by "savage tribes" -- perhaps the Magyars.

Before the deaths of Askold and Dir, the two brothers launched an attack on Constantinople. Writes Les Kachkovsky in The Day newspaper for April 18, 2000:

"On the night of June 18, 860, a thunderstorm was raging over Constantinople (also known as Tsarhorod in Old Rus'). The secure Greeks were making merry and tower guards were drunk, being so certain that no harm could befall their queen of cities' impregnable stone walls. In the morning, Constantinople was shocked: several hundreds [some sources say as many as 2,000] of foreign ships were lined up menacingly in the Golden Horn, the bay the entry to which was especially closely guarded. A new, hitherto unknown, enemy came under the walls of the Byzantine capital. The Greeks soon came to know its name: [Viking] Rus'....The only thing that brooks no doubt is that the Kyivan [Kievan] princes commanded a strong military force and were so powerful that they could not only guarantee the independence of the [Kievan] Rus' but also challenge their mighty neighbors."

The Kievan Rus' attack of June, 860 A.D. is best described in the Greek sermons of the Patriarch Photius, who described the fury of the attack, the terror of the Greeks, and the great loss of life and property outside the city. Photius says that the attack took the Greeks completely by surprise, "like a thunderbolt from heaven." Photius goes on to describe the Kievan Rus' as a fierce and savage tribe of barbarian people, completely unknown and insignificant to the Greeks until they became famous in this attack.

Despite the Greeks being taken by surprise -- and the fact that Constantinople was inadequately defended in the absence of their fleet with its deadly weapon, Greek Fire -- for some reason the Kievan Rus' did not take the city. The Greek sources attribute this to a miracle, brought about by the singing of hymns to the Virgin Mary and a procession around the city walls, led by Photius himself, bearing the robe of the Virgin about the city -- which apparently resulted in a huge storm that scattered the Kievan Rus' forces and saved the city. Undoubtedly, the detail about the storm is accurate! Russian sources -- including the Russian Primary Chronicle -- state that the Viking Rus' under Askold and Dir returned to Kiev ignominiously, claiming no victory. Perhaps any plunder that might have been gained in sacking the outlying areas of Constantinople were lost in the flight before the storm.

What the 860 A.D. expedition against Constantinople bought the Viking Rus' was international recognition. Even Photius had to admit, "A hitherto unknown people has been greatly acclaimed since it made an expedition against us."

In the year 867 A.D., a party of Kievan Rus' were sent to Basil I -- the newly enthroned Byzantine Emperor -- to negotiate a peace treaty after the 860 attack, and many of the members of this embassy specifically requested instruction in Christianity. It is thought that perhaps the Greek claims of the miracle of the Virgin's robe may have impressed the pagan Rus' embassy! This marks the beginning of a period of amicable relationships between the Greeks and the Viking Rus' -- for it is at this point that the Viking Rus' began making themselves available for service in the Byzantine army.

However, after the deaths of Askold and Dir, Oleg acquired enough power to be able to launch his own attack upon Constantinople in 907 A.D. according to the Russian Primary Chronicle. When Oleg's forces arrived in the Golden Horn, they found the sea-lanes closed by the great chain closing the mouth of the Horn. The Kievan Rus' disembarked, killed the Greek garrison, and mounted their ships on wheels or rollers and let the wind help carry the boats overland to reach the Bosphorus and so come to the city. Evidently the Byzantines weren't able to match the Viking Rus' militarily, and the Russian Primary Chronicle states that the Greeks, under the guise of friendship, tried to feed Oleg and his men poisoned food -- which they shrewdly refused. When this ruse failed, the Greeks promised to pay Oleg tribute, which he demanded in silk sails for his ships and wine, gold and fruit. The Chronicle records that Oleg hung his shield over the city gate as a sign of victory, although this is disputed by some historians.

In 907 A.D., and later in 911, the Byzantines negotiated a trade treaty with the Kievan Rus' which put an end to assaults against Constantinople for many years.

The next assault against Constantinople is stated by the Russian Primary Chronicle to have occurred in 941 A.D., and was led by Igor, the son of Rurik and foster-son to Oleg. This attack is corroborated by a detailed account by Liutprand -- later Bishop of Cremona -- who happened to be in Constantinople in 949 on a diplomatic mission. He heard the details from his step-father who had been present for the 941 attack.

According to this report the Greeks met this threat from the Kievan Rus' by quickly equipping a number of older ships and galleys with Greek Fire projectors, and launched these against the Rus'. When the fleets met, the seas were clear and calm -- perfect for the use of the deadly Greek Fire. Large numbers of the Kievan Rus' soldiers threw themselves into the sea in full armor rather than face the flames of the world's first flame thrower. Only those men who managed to get their ships to the shore quickly enough survived, because the Greek ships with their much deeper draught could not follow them into the shallows. A number of the captured Kievan Rus' were later publicly beheaded.

In 944 A.D. Igor returned with yet another fleet -- including an army of Slavs and Pechinegs along with his Viking Rus'. The Byzantine Emperor, getting an advance word of this attack, decided to pay tribute rather than attempt to engage this overwhelming force. This was known as the "Danegeld," which literally means "Dane tribute" and was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking raiders to save a land or city from being ravaged. The Kievan Rus' forces then turned to attack the Caspian area Arabs. During this attack, a great portion of the Kievan Rus' forces were either poisoned as described in the Arabic sources -- or more likely contracted a virulent epidemic that decimated their forces.

It is clear that the Viking Rus' were a powerful military presence in the world of the time and, with better luck and desire, could have brought down the Byzantine Empire.

The Descendants of Rurik

(The Viking-Israelite Rurikid Dynasty went on to rule the Kievan Rus and, ultimately, the Tsardom of Muscovy, until 1598 A.D. Numerous noble Russian and Ruthenian (later name for the Kievan Rus') families claim a male-line descent from Rurik and, via Anne of Kiev (wife of Henry I of France), Rurikid ancestry can also be argued for numerous Western European lineages).

1). Oleg of Novgorod (Old Norse: Helgi)
879-912 A.D.

On his deathbed, Rurik bequeathed his kingdom to Oleg, who belonged to his kin, and entrusted his young son Igor into his hands to raise until old enough to rule. Born in Denmark, Oleg is credited by the Rus' Chronicles with moving from either Aldeigjuborg or Novgorod the Great, and seizing the power in Kiev from Askold and Dir and, by doing so, laying the foundation of the powerful state of Kievan Rus'. He also launched at least one attack on Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.

2). Igor of Kiev (Old Norse: Ingvar Roriksen)
912-945 A.D.

Igor I was a Viking-Israelite ruler of Kievan Rus', and was the son of Rurik, the first Viking-Israelite king of Novgorod. Igor was killed while collecting tribute from the Drevlians in 945. His death was later avenged by his wife, Olga of Kiev.

3). Olga of Kiev (Old Norse: Helga)
945-960 A.D.

Olga was a regent of Kievan Rus' for her son Svyatoslav from 945 until 960. By some accounts, she was the daughter of Oleg of Novgorod. Upon her husband's death their son, Svyatoslav, was 3 years old -- making Olga the official ruler of Kievan Rus' until he reached adulthood. She is known for her obliteration of the Drevlians, a tribe that had killed her husband Igor of Kiev, and for her efforts to spread Christianity through the Viking Rus'; however, it would be her grandson Vladimir that would convert the entire nation to Christianity. Olga changed the system of tribute gathering (poliudie) in the first legal reform recorded in Eastern Europe.

4). Sviatoslav I of Kiev (Old Norse: Sveinald Ingvarsson)
960-972 A.D.

Sviatoslav I Igorevich (the son of Igor of Kiev and Olga) is famous for his incessant campaigns in the east and south, which precipitated the collapse of two great powers of Eastern Europe -- Khazaria and the First Bulgarian Empire. He also conquered numerous East Slavic tribes, defeated the Alans and the Volga Bulgars. His 12-year-long reign over the Viking Rus' was marked by rapid expansion into the Volga River valley, the Pontic steppe and the Balkans. By the end of his short life, Sviatoslav carved out for himself the largest state in Europe -- eventually moving his capital (in 969 A.D.) from Kiev (modern-day Ukraine) to Pereyaslavets (modern-day Romania) on the Danube. Sviatoslav remained a staunch pagan all of his life. Sviatoslav was tutored by a Swedish Viking named Asmund. The tradition of employing Swedish Viking tutors for the sons of ruling princes of the Viking Rus' survived well into the 11th century.

5). Vladimir the Great (Old Norse: Valdamarr gamli)
980-1015 A.D.

Following Sviatoslav's death in 972, tensions between his sons grew. A war broke out in 976 between his legitimate sons, Oleg and Yaropolk, at the conclusion of which Oleg was killed. In 977 Vladimir fled Novgorod to escape Oleg's fate and went to Scandinavia. In Sweden, with the help from his relative Ladejarl Hakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, he assembled a Swedish Viking army and re-conquered Novgorod from Yaropolk. By 980 Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from modern-day Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarian, Baltic and eastern nomads.

In 981 he conquered the Cherven towns from the Poles; in 981-82 he suppressed a Vyatichi rebellion; in 983 he subdued the Yatvingians; in 984 he conquered the Radimichs; and in 985 he conducted a military campaign against the Volga Bulgars -- planting numerous fortresses and colonies on the way. In 988 he took the town of Chersonesos in Crimea and founded the city of Belgorod in 991.

In 992 Vladimir went on a campaign against the Croats that lived on the border of modern Ukraine. In 1014 his son Yaroslav the Wise stopped paying tribute. Vladimir decided to chastise his insolent son and began gathering troops against him. However, Vladimir fell ill (most likely of old age) and died at Berestovo, near Kiev. Originally a pagan, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988 and Christianized the Kievan Rus'.

6). Rogneda of Polotsk (Old Norse: Ragnhild)

Rogneda was a Princess consort of the Viking Rus'. She was the daughter of Ragnvald (Slavic: Rogvolod) who came from Sweden and established himself at Polatsk in the mid-10th century. It has been speculated that Rogneda belonged to the Ynglings royal family of Norway. In or about 980, Vladimir, on learning that she was betrothed to his half-brother Yaropolk I of Kiev, took Polotsk and forced Rogneda to marry him. Having raped Rogneda in the presence of her parents, he ordered them to be killed, along with two of Rogneda's brothers. Rogneda bore him several children.

The four sons were Yaroslav the Wise, Vsevolod, Mstislav of Chernigov, and Izyaslav of Polotsk. She also bore two daughters, one of whom is named by Nestor the Chronicler as Predslava (taken as a concubine of Boleslaus I of Poland, according to Gallus). A later chronicle tells a story, most likely taken from a Norse saga, of Rogneda plotting against Vladimir and asking her elder son, Izyaslav, to kill him. As was the Norse royal custom, she was sent with her elder son to govern the land of her parents, i.e. Polotsk. Izyaslav's line continued to rule Polotsk and the newly found town of Izyaslavl until the Mongol invasion of 1237-1240 A.D.

7). Sviatopolk I the Accursed (Old Norse: Sveinpolk Iaropolksson)
1015-1019 A.D.

Killed three of his brothers and seized power in Kiev. He was defeated by Yaroslav in 1019.

8). Yaroslav the Wise (Old Norse: Jarizleifr Valdamarsson)
1019-1054 A.D.

Yaroslav I, known as Yaroslav the Wise, was three times Grand Prince of Novgorod and Kiev and united the two principalities for a time under his rule. A son of the Viking Rus' Vladimir the Great, he was vice-regent of Novgorod at the time of his father's death in 1015. Subsequently, his eldest surviving brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, killed three of his other brothers and seized power in Kiev. Yaroslav, with the active support of the Novgorodians and the help of Swedish Viking mercenaries, defeated Svyatopolk and became the ruler of Kiev in 1019.

Another brother, Mstislav of Tmutarakan, whose distant realm bordered the Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea, moved on Kiev and, despite reinforcements led by Yaroslav's brother-in-law King Anund Jacob of Sweden, inflicted a heavy defeat on Yaroslav in 1024. Yaroslav and Mstislav then divided Kievan Rus' between them. The area stretching left from the Dnieper, with the capital at Chernihiv, was ceded to Mstislav until his death in 1036.

Under Yaroslav the codification of legal customs and princely enactments was begun, and this work served as the basis for a law code called the Russkaya Pravda ("Rus' Truth [Law]). During his lengthy reign, the Viking Israelite Rus' reached the zenith of their cultural flowering and military power.

9). Izyaslav, Sviatolav and Vsevolod
Ruled as Triumvirate for 20 Years

Upon the death of Yaroslav the Wise, his realm was divided between three of his older sons (Vladimir of Novgorod died before that), Izyaslav, Sviatoslav, and Vsevolod, creating the Yaroslavichi triumvirate that ruled the country for the next 20 years.

Anne of Kiev (Married King Henry I of France)
(See French Royalty for a continuation of this line)

History books remember Anne as a golden-haired girl from an exotic land who became queen consort and, later, regent of France. Anne was born to Yaroslav the Wise -- ruler of Kiev and the initiator of the "golden age" of Rus' -- and his wife Ingigerd of Sweden. Her parents insisted on giving her a good education and, by the age of 18, under the supervision of her mother, she had mastered Latin, Ancient Greek and the basics of medicine. In 1048, a French delegation arrived in Kiev with a mission to arrange a marriage between the king of France, Henry I and Anne. Rumors of Anne's exquisite beauty, literacy and wisdom had reached many corners of Europe.

10). Izyaslav I of Kiev (Old Norse: Izjasleifr(?) Jarizleifsson)
1054-1068 A.D., 1069-1073 A.D., 1076-1078 A.D.

Iziaslav was the oldest son of Yaroslav I the Wise by his second wife Ingigerd Olafsdottir. Iziaslav succeeded his father, after Yaroslav's oldest child, Vladimir (the only child by Yaroslav's first wife), had predeceased his father. Iziaslav was one of the authors of "Pravda Yaroslavichiv" -- a part of the first legal code of Rus', called Russkaya Pravda. In 1043 his father Veliki Kniaz (Grand Prince) Yaroslav made an agreement with King Casimir I of Poland that recognized Chervenas part of Kiev. The agreement was sealed with a double marriage -- Casimir to Dobronega, Yaroslav's sister; and Iziaslav to Gertrude, Casimir's sister.

As a result of the popular uprising in 1068, Iziaslav was deposed and fled to Poland. In 1069 he retook Kiev with the help of the Polish army; however, he was ousted again by his brothers in 1073. Iziaslav turned to the German king Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Polish king Boleslaw II the Bold, and Pope Gregory VII, for help on several occasions. He succeeded in retaking Kiev once again in 1076, but soon died in an internecine war against Princes Oleg Sviatoslavich and Boris Vyacheslavich.

11). Sviatoslav II of Kiev (Old Norse: Sveinald Jarizleifsson)
1073-1076 A.D.

A brief ruler during his brother Iziaslav's official reign. The Russian Primary Chronicle relates that Sviatoslav was staying "at Vladimir" (Volodymyr-Volynskyi in the Ukraine) in Volhynia around the time his father fell seriously ill before his death. According to the historian Martin Dimnik, the Chronicle's report shows that Yaroslav the Wise had, most probably in about 1040, appointed Sviatoslav to rule this important town of the Kievan Rus'. On his deathbed, Yaroslav the Wise divided the most important towns in the Viking Kievan Rus' among his sons -- to Sviatoslav he gave Chernigov (Chernihiv, Ukraine), and to Izyaslav, Kiev. According to the Chronicle, "the cutting of a sore" caused Sviatoslav's death in 1076.

12). Vsevolod I of Kiev (Old Norse: Vissivaid Jarizleifsson)
1078-1093 A.D.

Son of Yaroslav I the Wise and Ingigerd of Sweden, Vsevolod usurped the throne from his nephew, Yaropolk Iziaslavich. After Iziaslav's death, Vsevolod, as their father's only surviving son, took the Kievan throne, thus uniting the three core principalities -- Kiev, Chernigov and Pereyaslav -- in Kievan Rus'. He appointed his eldest son, Vladimir Monomach to administer Chernigov. The Russian Primary Chronicle writes that the "people no longer had access to the Prince's justice, judges became corrupt and venal". Vsevolod followed his young councilors' advice instead of that of his old retainers in his last years.

Vsevolod spoke five foreign languages, according to Vladimir Monomach's Autobiography. Historian George Vernadsky, says these probably included Greek and Cuman, because of the nationality of his two wives, and he likely spoke Latin, Norse and Ossetian. He lost most of his battles, his eldest son, Vladimir Monomakh, a grand and famous warrior, did most of the fighting for his father. The last years of his reign were clouded by grave illness, and Vladimir Monomakh presided over the government.

13). Yaropolk (III) Izyaslavich (Old Norse: Iaropolk Izjasleifsson)
1078-1087 A.D.

Son of Iziaslav and Gertrude of Poland. As hereditary King of the Viking Rus' (title assumed until his death), Yaropolk was a legitimate contestant for the throne, usurped by his uncle.

14). Sviatopolk II (Old Norse: Sveinpolk Izjasleifsson(?))
1093-1113 A.D.

Son of Iziaslav and Gertrude of Poland, Sviatopolk recovered the throne of his father from his uncle. However, his descendants lost their rights to the Kievan throne.

15). Vladimir II Monomakh (Old Norse: Valdamarr Vissivaldsson)
1113-1125 A.D.

Son of Vsevolod and Anastasia of Byzantium, he is considered to be the last ruler of the united Viking Kievan Rus'. He married Gytha of Wessex who was one of several daughters of Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. According to Saxo Grammaticus, Gytha and two of her brothers escaped to the court of their uncle, King Sweyn Estridsson of Denmark. The two brothers were treated by Sweyn with hospitality, while their sister was married to Vladimir II Monomakh, one of the most famous rulers of the Viking Kievan Rus'.

16). Mstislov I the Great (Old Norse: Haraldr Valdamarrsson)
1125-1132 A.D.

Son of Vladimir II Monomakh and Gytha of Wessex. In the Norse sagas, Mstislav is called Harald, after his grandfather. After his reign the Kievan Rus' fell into recession starting a rapid decline.

Decline of the Viking Kievan Rus'

After the Council of Liubech in 1097 Kievan Rus' entered a feudal period and was divided into principalities ruled by the Rurikid (Viking Rus') family princes who were in a constant power struggle with each other. Major principalities were: Galicia-Volhynia, Kiev, Chernigiv, and Pereyaslav. In the period of 1240-1362, the three latter ones were forced to accept the Golden Horde (Mongol) overlordship. All the Tsars of Russia claimed descent from the Viking Israelite Rus', until that bloodline died out when Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) killed his intended heir and his other son died childless -- after which the Romanov dynasty came to power following a very chaotic and bloody period of unrest.

The Meaning of the Word "Rus'"

How the Rus' received their name is somewhat of an enigma. Like the name "Viking" itself, the name "Rus'" has several possible sources. In the Annals of Saint Bertin, and indeed in several other sources, they are referred to as the "Rhos," which has led some historians to hypothesis a connection with their tribal home of Roslagen in Sweden. Others think that the name was given to them by the Finns, who today still call the Swedes "Ruotsi" -- a word that means "those who row." If the second origin theory of the name "Rus'" is correct -- the theory tying it to the Finnish word "Ruotsi" -- the name "Russia" may actually mean "the land of those who row," indicating the Viking Israelite people who founded the nation.

Eldar Heide, of the University of Bergen in Norway, makes the following observations:

"Rus is derived from the Old Swedish genitive ržs, in the borrowing process separated from compounds and made into a word of its own. The nominative of ržs is ržer, which essentially means 'rowing'. The terms Russia and Russian originally did not refer to Russia’s Slavic people, but to the Scandinavian ruling class of the oldest Russian state (cf. Melberg 1951:195 ff.), in the oldest Russian sources called rus. Thomsen’s (1877:92 ff.) etymology of this word is generally accepted by serious scholars: Rus is a borrowing from Old Swedish through Finnic, cf. Modern Finnish Ruotsi ‘Sweden’.

"The origin is the Swedish genitive ržs, in the borrowing process separated from compounds and made into a word of its own. The dental (ž) is reflected in the Finnic forms, and according to Melberg (1951:196, referring to Jacobsohn 1918:309-12), the early Russian form seems to have been ruts- and not rus-, to judge from the testimony of Finno-Ugrian tongues that must have adopted the word directly or indirectly from Russian -- the Zyrian rtš and Votiak duts'.

"The nominative of the Swedish ržs is ržer m., which has a basic sense ‘rowing’ (derived from the verb roa ‘to row’), and the derived senses ‘warlike sea journey’, ‘fleet of conscripted warships’ (= OSw ležunger, ON leišangr), and ‘the coast areas that fit out the conscripted warships’ (cf. present day Roslagen in Uppland. After Söderwall 1884 II:263). People associated with ržer/Ržer could be called ržskarlar, ržsmęn, ržsbyggiare etc. (Thomsen 1877:96, Granlund 1969), literally ‘men of rowing’ (‘…of the sea journey districts’). The semantic development of ržer is parallel to what I suggested for vķking:

"1. The original meaning is ‘rowing’,

"2. from this meaning a secondary meaning ‘warlike sea journey’ is derived, and

"3. a word for ‘sea-farer’ is formed"

(Rus' "Eastern Viking" and the Viking "Rower Shifting" Etymology. Department of Nordic Languages and Literature/Center of Medieval Studies).

Notes the Wikipedia --

"According to the most prominent theory, the name Rus', like the Finnish name for Sweden (Ruotsi), is derived from an Old Norse term for "the men who row" (rods-) as rowing was the main method of navigating the rivers of Eastern Europe, and that it could be linked to the Swedish coastal area of Roslagen (the rowing crews) or Roden, as it was known in earlier times. The name Rus' would then have the same origin as the Finnish, Estonian, Võro and Northern Sami names for Sweden: Ruotsi, Rootsi, Roodsi and Ruoŧŧa.

"It is remarkable enough that the local Finnic and Permic peoples in northern Russia proper use the same (Rus'-related) name both for Sweden and Russia (depending on the language): thus the Veps name for Sweden and Swedish is Rocinma/Rocin, while in the neighboring Komi language the etymologically corresponding term Romu/Roc means already Russia and Russian instead.

"The Danish scholar Tor Karsten has pointed out that the territory of present-day Uppland, Söderman and East Gothland in ancient times was known as Rošerorrošin. Thomsen accordingly has suggested that Rošer probably derived from rošsmenn or rošskarlar, meaning seafarers or rowers. Ivar Aasen, the Norwegian philologist and lexicographer, noted the Norwegian dialect variants Rossfolk, Rosskar, Rossmann."

In Old East Slavic literature, the East Slavs refer to themselves as "[muzhi] rusichi" ("Rus' men") or, rarely, "rusichi." The East Slavs are thought to have adopted this name from the Varangian elite, which was first mentioned in the 830s in the Annales Bertiniani. The Annales recount that Louis the Pious's court at Ingelheim am Rheinin in 839 (the same year as the first appearance of Israelite Varangians in Constantinople), was visited by a delegation from the Byzantine emperor. The delegates included two men who called themselves "Rhos" ("Rhos vocari dicebant"). Louis inquired about their origins and learned that they were Swedes. Fearing that they were spies for their brothers the Danes, he jailed them. They were also mentioned in the 860s by Byzantine Patriarch Photius under the name, "Rhos."

The Israelite Influence in Formative Russia

Viking Novgorod was considered to be the second main city in Russia after Kiev in the Medieval years. It was a rich and powerful city, and the State of Novgorod was as large as the modern country of Sweden. The power of the Novgorod State was based on the international trade that passed through its port. Because it was the main Russian port for many centuries, and was important to the Baltic Sea trade, Novgorod participated in what was known as the Hansa Union (the union of the richest Baltic ports). Also, one of the main routes for medieval Europe led through Novgorod, and it was on the way from Northern Europe to the Roman Empire and Constantinople.

Viking Kievan Rus', although sparsely populated compared to Western Europe,was not only the largest contemporary European state in terms of area but also one of the most culturally advanced.

In fact, records Gwyn Jones, the medieval Norse referred to the Kievan Rus' as "Svipjod hinn mikla" -- Sweden the Great! (A History of the Vikings, footnote p. 248).

Notes the New World Encyclopedia,

"The adoption of Christianity by Vladimir…was followed by commerce with the Eastern Empire. In its wake came Byzantine art and culture. And in the course of the next century what is now Southeastern Russia became more advanced in civilization than any western European State of the period, for Russia came in for a share of Byzantine culture, then vastly superior to the rudeness of the Western nations. At the time when only a few European monarchs could spell their name, most children in Kiev, Novgorod and other large cities [of the Kievan Rus'] were literate.

"It is to the credit of Vladimir and his advisors they built not only churches but schools as well. This compulsory baptism was followed by compulsory education…Schools were thus founded not only in Kiev but also in provincial cities. From the Life of St. Feodosi we know that a school existed in Kursk around the year of 1023. By the time of Yaroslav's reign (1019-54), education had struck roots and its benefits were apparent. Around 1030 Yaroslav founded a divinity school in Novgorod for three hundred children of both laymen and clergy to be instructed in 'book-learning.' As a general measure he bade the parish priests to 'teach the people'" (article, "Kievan Rus'")

As birch bark documents attest, they exchanged love letters and prepared cheat sheets for schools! At the time when Paris was full of sewage and refuse, Novgorod boasted a sewage system and wood paving. When most legal codes of Europe regarded torture as a preferred way of eliciting truth, and often abused the death penalty, the Russkaya Pravda confined punishments to fines and did not provide for capital punishment at all. Certain inalienable rights were accorded to women, such as property and inheritance rights.

The economic development of Kievan Rus' may be translated into demographic statistics to get an idea of its power and scope. Around 1200 A.D., Kiev had a population of 50,000 people, Novgorod and Chernigov both had around 30,000 people. By comparison, in Anglo-Norman England, where urbanization was as advanced as anywhere in Europe north of the Mediterranean, London had around 12,000 inhabitants, and England's second city, Winchester, about 5,000. The Soviet scholar Mikhail Tikhomirov calculated that Kievan Rus', on the eve of the Mongol invasion, had around 300 urban centers.

Kievan Rus' played an important genealogical role in European politics as well. Yaroslav the Wise, whose step-mother belonged to the greatest dynasty to rule Byzantium, married the only legitimate daughter of the king who Christianized Sweden. His daughters became Queens of Hungary, France, and Norway, his sons married the daughters of a Polish king and a Byzantine emperor (not to mention a niece of the Pope), while his granddaughters were a German Empress and (according to one theory) the Queen of Scotland. A grandson married the only daughter of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Actually, no other contemporary royal family was so well-connected as the Rurikids. "By means of these marital ties, [the Viking Israelite] Kievan Rus’ became well known throughout Europe."

Unsurprisingly, Kievan Rus' left a powerful legacy. The leader of the Riurikid Dynasty united a large territory inhabited by East Slavs into an important, albeit unstable, state. After Vladimir accepted Eastern Orthodoxy, Kievan Rus' came together under a church structure and developed a Byzantine-Slavic synthesis in culture, statecraft, and the arts.

In the Western periphery, Rus' legacy was carried for two more centuries by the Principality of Halych-Volhynia. Later as these lands, along with the territories of modern central Ukraine and Belarus, fell to the Gediminids the powerful, largely Ruthenized Grand Duchy of Lithuania, drew heavily on Rus' cultural and legal traditions. On the northeastern periphery of Kievan Rus', those traditions were adapted to form the legacy that gradually gravitated towards the Moscow rulers, eventually leading to modern Russian statehood. Thus, modern Russia can trace a lineage to historic Rus' via Vladimir-Suzdal, Muscovy, and the Russian Empire. In the very north, the Novgorod and Pskov Feudal Republics carried on a separate and less autocratic version of the Rus' legacy well into the sixteenth century -- until they were absorbed by Muscovite Russia.

Once again descendants of Israel -- even though pagan for a time -- had an innate sense of YEHOVAH God's laws and were able to transform themselves into one of the most powerful states in Medieval Russia, and thus formed the basis for the modern nation of Russia.

A Viking in the White House?

Every time there is a general election in the United States, the European genealogists rush to their family trees to ascertain whether the new president has any links to royalty -- and what his ancestral background is. This was no different with the election of Donald Trump. On November 14, 2016, Mailonline ran this headline on its website, which pronounced:

"Donald Trump Believed to Be Direct Descendant of Rurik the Viking Who Established Russian State"

Then, in a byline, it went on to say -- "President-elect Donald Trump believed to have some Viking ancestry. Genealogist claims he has links to Rurik who established the Russian state."

The article, in its entirety, goes to state:

"Soon to be US President Donald Trump may get his assertive rather than passive manner from his alleged Viking ancestors.

"Russian genealogists claim that Mr. Trump is a direct descendant of Rurik the Viking who established the Russian state.

"Whilst others believe it is his mother's heritage that may provide the Viking link.

"According to the nationalist's newspaper Estonian World Review Russian genealogist Aleksey Nilogov says Mr. Trump has ties to European royalty but he...is also a descendant of Rurik. More descendants include Henry III of England, the first three King Edwards, and Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots.

"Mr. Nilogov believes Mr. Trump descends over the course of 35, 36 or 38 generations from the ninth century ruler, Rurik, via three distinct female lines.

"According to the first Russian annals, the Primary Chronicle, Rurik was a Scandinavian 'from the tribe of Rus' whom the people of Novgorod invited in 862 to assume rule over them, as they had been unable to govern themselves.

"Accompanied by his family and retinue, Rurik settled in Novgorod, and his brothers took control of adjacent regions. The area under their authority came to be called 'the land of the Rus' and eventually 'Rus.'

"It is claimed Rurik, who ruled until his death, was not good at taking criticism, and followed paganism.

"Whilst blog Face to Face claimed that Trump's Viking links came from his mother.

"If our future President is more willing to go on the unrelenting attack rather than take a beating lying down, it may owe to Viking heritage on his mother's side.

"His mother, a Scottish immigrant, hailed from the highlander Clan MacLeod on the Isle of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides islands off the western shore of Scotland that was raided and settled by Vikings during the 9th through 13th centuries, when it belonged to the Norse Kingdom of the Isles. In fact, the MacLeods ruled Lewis from the end of the Viking heyday through the early modern era, when they were eclipsed by the Mackenzies in the 17th century.

"Genetic evidence points to their Norse invader lineage. From an article discussing the Y-chromosome that belongs to nearly half of MacLeod men:

"It is found in Lewis, Harris and Skye, core MacLeod territory, but also in Orkney, Shetland and Norway, with a few examples in Sweden. Despite extensive screening, S68 is very specifically located, showing up only once in the east of Scotland and once in England. This is a classic pattern for a Viking marker in Britain, but one much rarer than M17. MacLeods determinedly claim descent from a common name father, a Norse aristocrat called Ljot, a relative of Olaf, King of Man. They are probably right to continue to claim that -- science for once supporting tradition.

"The Norsemen may have failed to secure a foothold in North America one-thousand years ago, but they may be vindicated yet with the election of the first Viking President."


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