Kievan Rus'

Kievan Rus'

Рѹсь (Old East Slavic)
Realm of Kievan Rus' at its height (with dependent lands)
Realm of Kievan Rus' at its height
(with dependent lands)
Common languagesOld East Slavic
Grand Prince of Kiev 
• 882–912
Oleg the Seer
• 980–1015
Vladimir the Great
• 1019–1054
Yaroslav the Wise
• 1236–40
Saint Michael of Chernigov
LegislatureVeche, Prince Council
• Established
• Conquest of Khazar Khaganate
c. 988
early 11th century
1000[1]1,330,000 km2 (510,000 sq mi)
• 1000[1]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Rus' Khaganate
Novgorod Slavs
Volga Finns
Polans (eastern)
White Croatia
Principality of Kiev
Novgorod Republic
Principality of Chernigov
Principality of Pereyaslavl
Principality of Volhynia
Principality of Halych
Principality of Polotsk
Principality of Smolensk
Principality of Ryazan

Kievan Rus' (Old East Slavic: Рѹсь (Rus' ), Рѹсьскаѧ землѧ (Rus'skaya zemlya); Latin: Rus(s)ia, Ruscia, Ruzzia, Rut(h)enia[2][3]) was a loose federation[4] of East Slavic and Finnic peoples in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century,[5] under the reign of the Varangian Rurik dynasty.[5] The modern nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors,[6] with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it.

At its greatest extent, in the mid-11th century, it stretched from the White Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south and from the headwaters of the Vistula in the west to the Taman Peninsula in the east,[7][8] uniting the majority of East Slavic tribes.[4]

According to Russian historiography, the first ruler to start uniting East Slavic lands into what has become known as Kievan Rus' was Prince Oleg (882–912). He extended his control from Novgorod south along the Dnieper river valley to protect trade from Khazar incursions from the east,[4] and he moved his capital to the more strategic Kiev. Sviatoslav I (died 972) achieved the first major expansion of Kievan Rus' territorial control, fighting a war of conquest against the Khazars. Vladimir the Great (980–1015) introduced Christianity with his own baptism and, by decree, extended it to all inhabitants of Kiev and beyond. Kievan Rus' reached its greatest extent under Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054); his sons assembled and issued its first written legal code, the Rus' Justice, shortly after his death.[9]

The state declined beginning in the late 11th century and during the 12th century, disintegrating into various rival regional powers.[10] It was further weakened by economic factors, such as the collapse of Rus' commercial ties to the Byzantine Empire due to the decline of Constantinople[11] and the accompanying diminution of trade routes through its territory. The state finally fell to the Mongol invasion of the 1240s.


During its existence, Kievan Rus' was known as the "land of the Rus'" (Old East Slavic: Рѹ́сьскаѧ землѧ, from the ethnonym Рѹ́сь; Greek: Ῥῶς; Arabic: الروسal-Rūs), in Greek as Ῥωσία, in Old French as Russie, Rossie, in Latin as Russia (with local German spelling variants Ruscia and Ruzzia), and from the 12th century also Ruthenia.[2] Various etymologies have been proposed, including Ruotsi, the Finnish designation for Sweden, and Ros, a tribe from the middle Dnieper valley region.[12] In the Norse sources, the sagas, the principality is called Garðariki, and the peoples, according to Snorre Sturlason, are called Suiones, the confederation of Great Sviþjoð (Þjoð means people in Norse; cf. etymology of Sweden) were made up of the peoples along the Dniepr called Tanais that separated Asia and Europe (called Enea by Snorri Sturluson), all the way to the Baltics and Scandinavia.[13]

The term Kievan Rus' (Ки́евская Русь Kievskaya Rus’) was coined in the 19th century in Russian historiography to refer to the period when the centre was in Kiev.[14] In English, the term was introduced in the early 20th century, when it was found in the 1913 English translation of Vasily Klyuchevsky's A History of Russia,[15] to distinguish the early polity from successor states, which were also named Rus. Later, the Russian term was rendered into Belarusian and Ukrainian as Кіеўская Русь (Kijeŭskaja Rus’) and Ки́ївська Русь (Kyivs'ka Rus’), respectively.