Rurik dynasty

Rurik dynasty

Royal dynasty
Personal seal of Yaroslav the Wise
CountryKievan Rus'
Principality of Kiev
Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Moscow
Grand Duchy of Vladimir
Tsardom of Russia
Founded862 (862) (in Great Novgorod)
Final rulerVasili IV of Russia
Alexandrov Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
Dissolution1610 (1610) (in Moscow, Tsardom of Russia)
Cadet branches
  • Izyaslavichi of Turov
  • Izyaslavichi of Polotsk
  • Rostislavichi of Galicia
  • Olgovichi
  • Monomakhovichi
  • Izyaslavichi of Volhynia
  • Rostislavichi of Smolensk
  • Yurievichi
  • Shuysky

The Rurik dynasty, or Rurikids (Russian: Рю́риковичи, romanizedRjúrikoviči; Ukrainian: Рю́риковичі, romanizedRjúrykovyči; Belarusian: Ру́рыкавічы, romanizedRúrykavičy, literally "sons of Rurik"), was a dynasty founded by the Varangian[1] prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year AD 862.[2] The Rurikids were the ruling dynasty of Kievan Rus' (after 882), as well as the successor principalities of Galicia-Volhynia (after 1199), Chernigov, Vladimir-Suzdal, and the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and the founders of the Tsardom of Russia. They ruled until 1610 and the Time of Troubles, following which they were succeeded by the Romanovs. They are one of Europe's oldest royal houses, with numerous existing cadet branches.

As a ruling dynasty, the Rurik dynasty held its own in some part of Russia for a total of twenty-one generations in male-line succession, from Rurik (died 879) to Vasili IV of Russia (died 1612), a period of more than 700 years.


Millennium of Russia monument in Novgorod with Rurik at the center and Vladimir the Great at the left and Dmitry Donskoy at the right (both Rurikids)

The Rurikid dynasty was founded in 862 by Rurik, a Varangian prince. Folk history tells of the Finnic and Slavic tribes in the area calling on "'the Varangians [i.e. Scandinavians], to the Rus' … The Chud, the Slovenes, the Krivichi and the Ves said "Our land is vast and abundant, but there is no order in it. Come and reign as princes and have authority over us!"' Three brothers came with 'their kin' and 'all the Rus' in response to this invitation. Rurik set up rule in Novgorod, giving more provincial towns to his brothers. There is some ambiguity even in the Primary Chronicle about the specifics of the story, "hence their paradoxical statement 'the people of Novgorod are of Varangian stock, for formerly they were Slovenes.'" However, archaeological evidence such as "Frankish swords, a sword chape and a tortoiseshell brooch" in the area suggest that there was, in fact, a Scandinavian population during the tenth century at the latest.[3]

There have also been some suggestions that Rurik and his brothers might have been of Finnish or Estonian descent. In Estonian folklore there is a tale of three brothers, namely Rahurikkuja (Troublemaker), Siniuss (Blue snake) and Truuvaar (Loyal man) (estonianized names for Rurik, Sineus and Truvor), who were born as peasants, but through bravery and courageousness all eventually became rulers in foreign countries.[4]