There have been many attempts to claim that particular prehistorical cultures can be identified with the Proto-Indo-European (PIE)-speaking peoples, but all such attempts have been speculative.[1] All attempts to identify an actual people with an unattested language depend on a sound reconstruction to identify cultural concepts and environmental factors. Sound reconstruction enables the correlation with particular cultures (such as the use of metals, agriculture vs. pastoralism, geographically distinctive plants and animals, etc).

Indo-European migrations

c4000-1000 BC

c2000 BC- c700 AD

Marija Gimbutas postulated that the Indo-Europeans were a nomadic tribe of the Pontic-Caspian steppe (today in Eastern Ukraine and Southern Russia).[2] That putative tribe expanded in several waves during the 3rd millennium BC. The tribal expansions coincided with the taming of the horse. Leaving archaeological signs of their presence, the tribe subjugated the peaceful native European Neolithic farmers. Gimbutas emphasised the patriarchal, patrilinear nature of the invading culture, sharply contrasting it with the supposedly egalitarian, if not matrilinear, native culture of the invaded natives.

The above theory has been supported by genetic evidence in Scandinavia, where bone remains in Neolithic graves indicated that the megalithic culture was either matrilocal or matrilineal as the people buried in the same grave were related through women. Apparently there is similar evidence of matrilineal traditions among the British Picts. A modified form of this theory dates the migrations to c4000 BC and is less insistent on a violent or quasi-military tribal nature.

The Slavs

The Slavic peoples are an ethnic and linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly in Europe. By about 1500 BC, the early Slavic tribes found a home in south-eastern Poland and north-eastern Ukraine. The Proto-Slavic tribes lived in this area for several centuries, and evidently developed a common language. The Polish botanist J. Rostafinski argued that the original homeland of the Slavs had no beech, larch, or yew trees. He noted that the Slavic words for those trees are all of Germanic origin. Rostafinski located the Slavic homeland in the Pripet marshes, which is devoid of such trees.

In 1500 BC-100 AD, the Slavs began to migrate out of their hostile environment, pulled by the Germanic tribal attacks against Rome, and pushed the migrating Asian Huns. The Slavs were recorded by Greeks, Romans, and Goths as being able hunters and farmers; and skilled in pottery and metal-work. Some of these Slavic tribes became the ancestors of the Russians and gradually settled Western Russia in two waves: one moving from Kiev toward present-day Suzdal and Murom; and another from Polotsk toward Novgorod and Rostov. The Russian people are thus an East Slavic ethnic group, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries. The Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugric tribes.

In c200 AD, Slavs crossed the Carpathian Mountains into what is now Slovakia and Romania, from there they raided Roman Greece. With the fall of Rome and under pressure from the migrating Avars and Huns, the Slavs crossed the Danube. In c540, many Slavs settled in Greece and the Balkans. In c800, the Slavs fought off invasions from the west by Charlemagne. Charlemagne captured so many Slavs, whom he brought back to France as slaves, that their name has become an accepted synonym for slave. However, most Slavs remained in Eastern Europe, where they divided into the Polish Slavs in the north, and the Russian Slavs in the East. Many settled later in Siberia and Central Asia, or emigrated to other parts of the world.

The Vikings & The Rus

Viking river boats


The Rus

The origin of the name Russia is still unclear. A majority of academic opinion appears to tie Russia to Rús and link Rus as a generic name for the Vikings. There is an historical linguistic link for Rus as a term derived from the Finnish name for Sweden: Ruotsi. Apparently the Finns called the adventurous Swedes roosmenn, or men of the rowing-way. The Ruotsi are today the people of Roslagen, historically governed by the Rowing-Law, or Ship-Law, in the coastal area of Swedish Uppland.[3] The Finns had colonised the area of Lake Ladoga prior to the c750 Viking (then called Rus, and also Varangian) occupation of this area of Russia. After translation through several languages and after being applied to all the people of the area, Ruotsi was shortened to Rus and identified both the people and the land of Russia.

If the Finns called the Swedes and Norse Ruotsi, what did the the Swedes and Norse call themselves?[4] Apparently the old Norse term was Væringjar. Væringjar defined those Vikings who ventured eastwards and southwards into Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine. The term was taken up by the Byzantines and Slavs, re-worked as Várangos, or Varangians. The original Norse meaning related to pledge and companion, and was implicit in the Byzantine emperors' own Varangian Guard of fierce Viking warriors. In time the definition was more loosly applied to any sea travellers, merchants, and pirates irrespective of their origin.

Before the beginning of the recorded chronicle history there had been exploration by adventurous Swedes, through Finland and into north-western Russia and Belarus. By 750 the Swedes (called Rus, or Varangians) had faced internal population pressures and had already colonised the Finnish area of Lake Ladoga. In 753, Staraya Ladoga was established as an important trading port between the Baltic and the Franks. The Varangians exploited their mobility via Novgorod and the Don, Dnieper, and Volga rivers to trade first with the Islamic world and then Constantinople. Attracted by the enormous Byzantine wealth the Rus raided into the Byzantine empire for c200 years until finally curbed by Basil II, Basileos of Byzantium. Basil formed an alliance with Vladimir, then prince of Kiev,. and created the Varangian Guard in c995. As Vikings they were members of a warriror society and they had demanded tribute from the domestic Slavs and Finns. Evidently the forced tribute was unpopular with those local tribes who rebelled in 862. The colonising Swedes must have felt vulnerable, because they returned to Sweden.

However, the Slavs soon found that leadership was difficult and after a period of tribal disorder decided to return to the simpler austere order of the earlier Rus (the Swedes). According to the Russian chronicles, in 854 the Varangian (Swedish) Rus were invited "to come and rule them" and bring peace to the region. The Swedish Vikings crossed the Baltic Sea and followed the rivers into Russia. Led by Rurik and his brothers Truvor and Sineus, the Varangian Rus captured Ladoga and founded Holmgård (now called Novgorod) on the Volkhov River in 862.[5] The Varangians joined a culture accustomed to

Kievan Rus Origins

Principalities in Kievan Rus: c1100


Before there was Russia, there was a collection of towns that in c880-c1150 were built into cities and gathered under the Grand Prince of Kiev into the Kievan empire. In 882, According to the Russian Primary Chronicle it was Rurik's successor Oleg who conquered Kiev on the Dnieper River and created Kiev into the first unified Slavic state in the region. Modern archeological evidence suggests that nothing but a hamlet then existed and modern analysis suggests that it was Igor, Oleg's son, who built up Kiev 50 years later. Igor is an historical figure, attested to by recorded Byzantine treaties. Igor threatened Constantinople in 941 by sailing a large fleet of Viking warships filled with the warrior Rus into the Black Sea. A full commercial trade treaty was signed between Byzantium and Kievan Rus in 945, although Igor was apparently killed while returning to Kiev.

Kiev then became the center of a trade route between Scandinavia and the Arabs and Byzantines. Kievan Rus', as the empire came to be known, lasted for three centuries. Kiev grew into the first proto-Russian state in a land where each city, governed by a prince, strived to become an independent city-state, or principality. The Russian Primary Chronicle, is a history of Kievan Rus from c850 to 1110, written in Kiev in c1113.[6] The original chronicle was apparently written by the monk Nestor. He used multiple sources including: earlier (but now lost) Slavonic chronicles; Slavic legends; Byzantine annals and treaties. Nestor worked at the court of Svyatopolk II of Kiev and probably shared his pro-Scandinavian biases. The the trade treaties themselves are important, because they lent an aura of Imperial credibility to Kiev's status and growth.

The early chronicle is rich in anecdotal stories, among which are the arrival of the three Varangian brothers, and the founding of Kiev. The the chronicle details the murder of Askold and Dir, the death of Oleg, and Olga's vengeance over the murder of Rurik's son, her husband Igor.[7] The chronicle describes how the Byzantine Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Orthodox Christianity to the Slavs. Nestor described how Vladimir, St, the Great, Grand Prince of Kyyiv suppressed the worship of Perun and other idols at Kiev In 1116, before converting to Christianity. However, Nestor's text was extensively edited by Sylvester who added his own name at the end of the chronicle. As Vladimir II Monomakh, Grand Prince of Kyyiv was his patron, that prince is the central figure of the later narrative. A third edition centered on Vladimir's son and heir, Mstislav Vladimirovich, Grand Prince of Kyyiv.[8]

Kievan Expansion

The first East Slavic state began with Prince Svyatoslav I Igorjewich (died 972). His victorious campaigns against other Varangian centres, the Khazars, and the Volga Bulgars and his intervention in the Byzantine-Danube Bulgar conflicts of 968–971 underline the power of his clan in Rus. The territory of Rus was immense and sparsely settled. The scattered towns, some probably little more than trading posts, were separated by large primeval forests and swamps. Kiev emerged as a new political force in eastern Europe. Svyatoslav's success indicates the extent of the political vacuum that his clan filled, but he created a clan possession rather than a national state. Svyatoslav was neither a lawgiver nor an organizer; the role of architect of the Kievan state fell to his son  St Vladimir (c980–1015). Vladimir established the dynastic seniority system of his clan as the political structure by which the scattered territories of Rus were to be ruled. He invited or permitted the patriarch of Constantinople to establish an episcopal see in Rus.

By 989, Rurik's great-grandson St Vladimir was ruler of a kingdom that stretched to the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, and the Volga River.[9] Having decided to establish a state religion, Vladimir chose Greek Orthodoxy and thus allied himself with Constantinople and the West. Vladimir was succeeded by Yaroslav I, who codified laws, made shrewd alliances with other states, encouraged the arts, and established prosperity. Yaroslav died in 1054 and succession squabbles broke Rus into regional power centers. Internal divisions were made worse by the depradations of invading Cuman tribe (also known as the Kipchaks). In 1147, Yuri Dolgorukiy, one of the regional princes, held a feast at his hunting lodge overlooking the confluence of the Moskva and Neglina Rivers. This was the earliest mention of Moscow, the small settlement that would become the principal power in Russia.

 Vladimir extended the Kievan realm (to include the watersheds of the Don, Dnieper, Dniester, Neman, Western Dvina, and upper Volga), destroyed or encorporated the remnants of competing Varangian organizations, and established formal diplomatic relations with neighbouring powers. Vladimir exploited organized religion to distinguish contemporary empires and newly established principalities in Poland and Hungary from his own. The Orthodox church provided many concepts of territorial and hierarchical organization that helped to make states out of tribal territories. The church's teachings transformed Vladimir into a responsible national leader, judge, and first Russian Christian. Once Vladimir had adopted Christianity in 988, his rule was supported by the propagation of Byzantine notions of imperial authority.

The successes of Vladimir's long reign made it possible for the reign of his son Yaroslav I (ruled 1019-1054) to produce a flowering of Byzantine cultural life. But neither Yaroslav, who gained control of Kiev only after a bitter struggle against his brother Svyatopolk Vladimirovich (1015-1019), nor his successors in Kiev were able to provide lasting political stability within the enormous realm. There were constant separatist trends fighting Kiev. As Vladimir's 12 sons and many grandsons prospered in their inherited territories they inherited, they too developed conflicts amongst themselves that precluded a unified Kiev. Their conflicts included Turkic nomads (first the Torks, later the Kipchaks - also known as the Polovtsy, or Cumans), and Rurikids and Turks fought on both sides. Finally, in 1097, the leading princes met at Liubech, north of Kiev, and divided Kievan territory. Vladimir II Monomakh made an attempt (1113–1125) to reunite the Rus lands.

Kiev depended on Rurik princely unity and southern trade, but both declined with the First Crusade (1096-1099), which closed the route from the Black Sea. Novgorod began to trade with the cities of the Hanseatic League, which controlled the Baltic trade. Smolensk, Polotsk, and Pskov became increasingly involved in trade along western land routes, while Galicia and Volhynia established closer links with Poland and Hungary. In 1169, Andrei Bogoliubskii Prince of Suzdal captured Kiev and the title of Grand Prince, but he sacked Kiev and returned to his new city, Vladimir, on the upper Volga. (Roman Mstislavich of Galicia and Volhynia repeated the sacking in 1203.) By the middle of the 12th century, the major principalities had developed independence.

While the early rulers of Rus' were Scandinavians, they quickly married into the larger Slavic population. However, in 1019 Yaroslav I, married Ingigerd Anna, a Swedish princess, and then gave asylum to king Óláfr II Haraldsson of Norway. The unity of Kievan Rus' gradually declined into a number of smaller city-states. Kievan Rus' was finally destroyed by the Mongols in 1237, but the name lived on in the later successors Russia, and Belarus.

Individual Rurikid princes broke away from Kiev and controlled city-states and their surrounding area; they maintained small armies led by their boyars (nobles). The princes and boyars gained their revenues from tribute or taxes collected annually. The bulk of the population were apparently free peasants living in traditional agricultural communes. Other than giving up taxes, the peasants had little connection with the princes, or the trading cities. No single culture, including Muscovy, can be called the heir of Kiev, although all the Eastern Slavic states shared Kiev’s inheritance. But “Golden Kiev” was always present, in folklore and academic tradition as a source of inspiration.

In 1237 Batu Khan, a grandson of Ghengis Khan, launched an invasion into Kievan Rus' from Kazan, his Mongol capital on the lower Volga. Over the next three years the Mongols (still then known as Tatars) destroyed the major cities of Kievan Rus' except Novgorod and Pskov. The regional princes were forced to send regular tribute to the Mongol Empire via the Golden Horde. Next, the Swedes invaded Russia in 1240 and then the Teutonic Knights in 1242. Both were decisively defeated by Alexandr Nievskiy, a prince of Novgorod who earned his surname by his victory against the Swedes on the Neva River.

The Mongols

The invading Mongols accelerated the fragmentation of the Rus'. In 1223, the disunited southern Rurikid princes faced a Mongol raiding party at the Kalka River and were soundly defeated. The first major battle between Russia and Mongols was on 31 May 1223, when Subutai's Mongol army of 30.000 had invaded the Black sea steppes and defeated the Alans and Cumins (called Polovtsy by the Russians). The Cumins asked the Russian princes for help and the three strongest princes agreed. Mstislav III Romanovich of Kiev, Mstislav Pantelejmon Svyatoslavich of Chernigov, and Mstislav Mstislavich of Galich, fielded their badly coordinated armies against the Mongols. The Rurikid principalities had been intermittently at war for generations. Kiev was in ruins, Novgorod was preoccupied with commerce and with its northern neighbours, Galicia was being torn internally and drawn increasingly into Polish and Hungarian dynastic squabbles. Vladimir-Suzdal, then the leading principality, was unable to resist the Mongol's organized and skillful mounted bowmen. The Mongols were the greatest military force of that age and were called Tatars in Europe, although the Tatars were only one nomadic tribe from the area near China.

The Mongols wanted to revive the Asian trade across the steppes to vitalize their pastoral nomad economy. As they moved west, they gained support from Turkic nomads, and Persian and Muslim traders along the Silk Road. The Mongols trading efforts were resisted by political and landowning elites. The lands of the Rus were similar to the Central Asian areas already conquered. The former Kievan commercial empire had fallen into warring principalities. The Mongols gained support in Russia from the Polovtsians, who controlled the lower Dnieper, Volga, and Don rivers; and from the Muslim merchants in the Crimea and the upper Volga. In 1223 the merchants showed the way to the Crimea and up the Volga to the old centre of Bulgar. Later the Muslim merchants showed the Mongols the way to Ryazan, Rostov, and the Suzdalian towns; and finally, in 1240, to Kiev and Galicia.

The Mongols who formed the Golden Horde occupied Russia. Originally, however, Genghis Khan had included Kazakhstan, and most of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Genghis was followed by Ogodei Khan and the area of the Golden Horde greatly expanded in size. (In most contemporary sources, the Golden Horde was called the Khanate of the Qipchaq as the Qipchaq Turks were the majority of the nomadic population.) In 1237, a large Mongol army advanced westward. They destroyed the Bulgar khanate on the Volga River, pacified the numerous Turkic tribes of the steppes, and conquered the Russian cities.[10] Domestic wars ruled out a Russian army and the Golden Horde defeated the disunited princes one by one. In the winter of 1237, Batu Khan's Golden Horde devastated the Ryazan principality; the Mongols burned the capital and killed the population. In January 1238, the Golden Horde defeated the army of Vladimir-Suzdal, burnt the city of Vladimir, and captured both Moscow and Suzdal. On February 7 they captured Vladimir. On 4 March 1238, at the Battle of Sit River, they defeated the army of Grand Prince Yurij II Vsevolodovich who was killed in the battle. Only the Novgorod Republic escaped occupation and continued to flourish with the Hanseatic League. In 1240, the Golden Horde invaded Hungary and Poland, defeating the Europeans at Mohi in Hungary and Liegnitz in Poland. As news spread of the Mongols' ferocity, Europe feared an attack that never came. In 1241 Ogodei Khan died and the Mongol armies withdrew to Russia to elect a new khan. 

Although the impact of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' varied, the advanced city culture was almost completely destroyed. While older cities such as Kiev and Vladimir never recovered, the new cities of Moscow, Tver, and Nizhny Novgorod began to compete for power in Mongol-dominated Russia. Moscow and Tver, hardly mentioned in any source before the Mongol period, arose and flourished during the Mongol occupation. Although a Russian army defeated the Golden Horde at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, Mongol domination of Russia and demands for tribute continued until c1480. Russians also reaped advantages of trade and protection; and eventually supplanted the Golden Horde in the Asian steppes.After the initial invasion, the Russians preferred the Mongols to the Swedish or German crusaders on their western border. While the Mongols sometimes exacted onerous demands, they more or less left the Russians alone.

Mongols, Russia, & Tamerlane


Russian princely dynasties continued unchanged in their traditional seats; some princes resisted the new authority and were killed in battle, but no alien princes were ever established in Slavic territory. Few Mongols remained west of the Urals after the conquest; and political and fiscal administration continued by the same Turkic clan leaders and Islamic merchants. The Mongols established a new capital at New Sarai in c1260. Control of the Slavic lands was exercised through the native princes, some of whom spent much of their time at the Mongol capital, and through agents charged with overseeing the activities of the princes and particularly the fiscal levies.

Early in the history of the Golden Horde, the khans of Sarai, who were concerned with the Volga tribes, were challenged by the tribal princes of the west, who controlled the Danube, Bug, and Dnieper rivers. The rivers were the key to the Crimea, which gave gave the western princes considerable political and economic power. In 1313-1341, under Sultan Öz-Beg the Golden Horde reached its pinnacle of wealth, trade, influence, and military might with an army of 300,000 men. Öz-Beg Khan forced the conversion of the Golden Horde to Islam, thus the cities of Sarai and New Sarai emerged as major Muslim centers. During the middle of the fourteenth century, however, the Golden Horde weakened as it suffered from bubonic plague, civil wars, and ineffectual rulers.[11]

In 1260, one of the western chieftains established his own foreign policy, and by the end of the thirteenth century he had seized Sarai itself. Mongol control swayed between their eastern and western chieftains, and then swung south to the Crimea, trade, and the Genoese and Venetians who controlled the ports. In 1357, however, the empire began to reveal serious internal strains; and the eastern Mongols were forced to appeal for help from the Turkic conqueror Timur (widely knwn as Tamerlane).

The Golden Horde’s dismemberment was closely linked with Tamerlane. One of the Tatar princes (Tokhtamysh), in Sarai in the 1370s fled to seek help from Tamerlane. Tokhtamysh returned to Sarai, supported with Tamerlane's help, and vanquished the opposition. Having made peace with his foes, in 1381 Tokhtamysh then killed the khan who had been defeated by Prince Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoi (grand prince of Moscow, 1359–1389). For a brief time the Golden Horde was reunited. Tokhtamysh successfully attacked Moscow again and set about consolidating his gains. However, Tokhtamysh was drawn into a struggle with Timur, who had already conquered much of Iran, the south Caucasus, and eastern Anatolia. Timur, who apparently wanted the east-west trade for his own Transoxanian and north Iranian territories, set out to destroy the Golden Horde. In 1391, Timur defeated Tokhtamysh, Khan of the Golden Horde, at the Battle of Kunduzcha near Russia's Volga River. 1395–1396 Timur's armies systematically annihilated Sarai, Azov, and Kaffa: the Golden Horde never recovered.[12] The final death knell came in 1480 when the Muscovites on the Ugra River defeated the Great Horde.

Moscow Emerges


The first reference to a Moscow as a town, was recorded in an 1147 manuscript. In 1156, Prince Yurij Vladimirovich Dolgurukii erected timber walls and a moat around Moscow.[13] He is apparently regarded as a founder of Moscow, with an honored statue in Moscow. Daniil Aleksandrovich, the youngest son of Alexandr Nievskiy, St, founded the principality of Moscow (known then in the west as Muscovy), which eventually expelled the Mongols from Russia. Moscow was at first only a vassal of Vladimir, but soon it absorbed its parent state. Much of Moscow's success was due to cooperation with the Mongol overlords. The Mongols granted the Muscovite title of Grand Prince of Moscow and empowered them to collect the Mongol's Russian tribute. Moscow's prestige was also greatly enhanced in 1326 with Constantinople's support, when it became the seat of the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia. Moscow was further chosen as the seat of the Grand Prince of Vladimir as it grew in size.[14]

With the Mongols taking tribute in the southwest, the northern cities, first Tver, and then Moscow, had gradually gained some freedom and influence in the early 1300s. To underline Moscow's importance, the patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church was transferred to Moscow. By the latter part of the century, Moscow felt strong enough to challenge the Mongols directly, and in 1380 Prince Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoi attacked and defeated the Mongols at Kulikovo Field. Two years later the Mongol Khan Toktamisch defeated Dmitry and then burned the cities of Moscow, Vladimir, and Perejaslawl. It was another century before Moscow was strong enough to throw out the Mongols. Grand Prince Ivan III. Ivan began by gaining control of Moscow's rival cities, and had created a Russian Alliance before he refused to pay further Mongol tribute. However, it was only under his grandson, lvan IV (the Terrible), that Russia became a unified state.

However, even at the beginning of the Mongol period, the Rurikid princes were disunited, however, in time disunity degenerated into outright warfare. The princes of Moscow and their allies, together with the Mongol khan, generally opposed the princes of Tver, Pskov, and, intermittently, Novgorod. Demonstrating a lack of national vision, the Muscovites supported the Mongol khan's major punitive measures against Russian Tver. The result of the inter-city fighting was to dramtically weaken the other independent city-states. This collaboration between Moscow and the Mongols was central to Moscow’s increasing power and later preeminence. Mongol support enabled Moscow to create a profitable fur trade, and by the same Crimean merchants' contacts with Byzantium, the Muscovites gained a close relationship with the Orthodox patriarchate of Constantinople.

Moscow’s Greek Orthodox contacts evolved into full Byzantine support and led to the eventual rise of Moscow in Russia. Moscow's location in the northeast ensured access to major navigable rivers to carry the trade from the fur-producing steppes and the rich agricultural lands. A succession of shrewd and long-lived princes led Moscow to Russian leadership in the 1300s. The consequence of these circumstances meant that Moscow was best equipped to succeed the Golden Horde after the destruction of the Mongol capitals by Timur.[15]

The struggle to control Moscow began with the death of Basil I Dmitriyevich, a son of Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoi, Grand Prince of Moscow, in 1425. The succession of his 10-year-old son Basil II was challenged by his uncle Yurij IV Dmitriyevich, prince of the important upper Volga commercial town of Galich. Basil II succeeded in claiming Muscovy with the help of powerful Lithuanian and Mongol allies.

In the late 15th century, Ivan III acquired Novgorod and Tver and threw off the Mongols. lvan the Terrible succeeded his father Basil III as Grand Prince of Moscow in 1533 at the age of three. His mother served as regent until she too died when lvan was only eight. For the next eight years, lvan endured a series of controlling regents chosen by the boyars. Finally in 1547, he adopted the title of Tsar and began to crush the boyars, reorganise the military, and prepare to battle the Mongols. In 1552 he conquered and sacked Kazan, and when in 1556 he destroyed Astrakhan, he broke the power of the Golden Horde. lvan's successful Mongol war recovered vast new areas for Russian expansion, including Siberia. However, as he grew older his temper worsened, and by the 1560s his purge of the was terrible, as he executed many boyars and confiscated their lands. In 1581, he killed his own son in a rage, and when lvan died in 1584, he was succeeded by his weak son Feodor, and the end of the Rurikid dynasty. After Boris Godunov the boyars elected Mikhail I Feodorovich Romanov as Tsar, and the Romanovs ruled Russia for the next three centuries until the Russian Revolution.

Orthodox Muscovy

The following is a revealing extract written in c1526 as an address by Filofei, a Russian monk, to Basil III, the Grand Prince of Moscow, or more commonly the Tsar.[16] The monk identifies the tsar as the inheritor of Rome and acknowledges that Basil (also spelt Vassili) was selected by God, a repetition of the earlier European 'divine right of kings'.

To you who have been selected to rule, by the highest, the all-powerful and almighty hand of God, by Whose will all rulers on earth govern and Whom all great people praise and about Whom the powerful write the truth, I address these words to you, the illustrious sovereign, Grand Prince [of Muscovy], occupier of the high throne, the Orthodox Christian Tsar and lord of all, the administrator of all Holy Churches of God and of the Holy Universal and Apostolic Church and of the Church of the Holy Mother of God, that has made such honest and illustrious progress that it has been enabled to triumph over the Church of Rome as well as over the Church of Constantinople.

The Apollinarian heresy caused the downfall of old Rome. The Turks used their axes to shatter the doors of all churches of the Second Rome, the city of Constantinople. Now [in Moscow], the new Third Rome, the Holy Ecumenical Apostolic Church of your sovereign state shines brighter than the sun in the universal Orthodox Christian faith throughout the world. Pious Tsar! Let [people of] your state know that all states of the Orthodox faith have now merged into one, your state. You are the only true Christian ruler under the sky!

Tsar! As long as you hold that position, be mindful always of God. Fear God who has bestowed so much on you. Do not rely on gold, wealth, or glory! All of that is collected here and it will remain here on earth. Tsar! Remember the Blissful who held the sceptre in His hand and the imperial crown on His head and said: "Do not turn your heart to wealth that is running away from you." The wise Solomon said: "Wealth and gold are valued not when they are hidden, but when people offer help to those in need"...... Tsar! During your rule remember [an additional] two commandments.... [The first is]: Do not violate the order which was chosen by your great predecessor [emperor] Constantine, the beatific Vladimir, the great and God-selected laroslav, and all other blissful and saintly [rulers] from whom you have descended. [The second is]: Tsar! Do not harm the Holy churches of God and honest monasteries. [Do not expropriate] that which has been given to God in return for eternal blessing of the memory of a family. The Fifth Great and Holy Ecumenical Council issued a very strict injunction [against such action]....

Now I beg you and beg you again, please remember what I have said. For God's sake, please also remember that now all [Orthodox] Christian kingdoms have merged into your tsardom. Henceforth we can expect only one kingdom to come. That kingdom is eternal. I have written this because, admiring you as I do, I have appealed and have prayed to God that He may bless you. Change your stinginess to generosity and your inclemency to kindness. Comfort those who cry and moan day and night. Protect the innocent from their tormentors. I repeat here what I have written above. Pious Tsar! Listen and remember that all Christian kingdoms have now merged into one, your [tsardom]. Two Romes have fallen. The third stands Ifirm]. And there will not be a fourth. No one will replace your Christian tsardom ...


lvan the Terrible, the first Muscovite tsar, is considered to have founded the Russian state. Although he crushed the power of rival princes and boyars, Russia remained a mediaeval land until the reign of Peter I the Great, grandson of the first Romanov. Peter made extensive reforms aimed at westernization and, through his defeat of Karl XII of Sweden at the Battle of Poltava in 1709, he extended Russia's boundaries to the west. Catherine I the Great continued Peter's westernization program and also expanded Russian territory, acquiring the Crimea, Ukraine, and part of Poland.


1              Adapted from Gwyn Jones, A History of the Vikings, pp. 246-247; Colin Wells, Sailing from Byzantium, pp. 177-282; Kiev at,; Russia: History » From the beginnings to c. 1700 » Kiev » The Rise of Kiev at,; Russia: History » From the beginnings to c. 1700 » The Mongol Period » at,; Kievan Rus' at,

2              Maps are from Proto-Indo-Europeans at; and Andrzej Borzyskowski, The Slavic Ethnogenesis: Identifying the Slavic Stock and Origins of the Slavs: at, The Kiev and Moscow maps are from Encyclopaedia Britannica, History » From the beginnings to c. 1700 » Kiev » Principalities in the Kievan Rus',; and The Mongol Period at,

3              Ruotsi at,

4              Varangians at,

5              See the Russian Primary Chronicle at, See also " The Founding of the City of Kiev", at, which provides the following account.

The Polianians lived apart and governed their families, for thus far they were brethren, and each one lived with his gens on his own lands, ruling over his kinfolk. There were three brothers, Kii, Shchek, and Khoriv, and their sister was named Lybed. Kii lived upon the hill where the Borich trail now is, and Shchek dwelt upon the hill now named Shchekovitza, while on the third resided Khoriv, after whom this hill is named Khorevitza. They built a town and named it Kiev after their oldest brother. Around the town lay a wood and a great pine forest in which they used to catch wild beasts. These men were wise and prudent; they were called Polianians, and there are Polianians descended from them living in Kiev to this day. Some ignorant persons have claimed that Kii was a ferryman, for near Kiev there was at that time a ferry from the other side of the river, in consequence of which people used to say, "To Kii's ferry." Now, if Kii had been a mere ferryman, he would never have gone to Constantinople. He was then the chief of his kin, and it is related what great honour he received frorn the emperor when he went to visit him. On his homeward journey, he arrived at the Danube. The place pleased him, and he built a srnall town, wishing to dwell there with his kinfolk. But those who lived nearby would not grant him this privilege. Yet even now the dwellers by the Danube call this town Kievetz. When Kii retumed to Kiev, his native city, he ended his life there; and his brothers Shchek and Khoriv, as well as their sister Lybed, died there also.

6              See Colin Wells, op. cit., pp.219-221.

7              Ibid, p. 227-229. Igor is the first confirmed Kievan ruler, verified in a Byzantine trade treaty after having attacked Constantinople. His widow, Olga, visited Constantinople in 957 to discuss trade and to be baptised as a Christian.

8              Wells, op. cit., pp.219-220.

9              Vladimir I of Kiev at,

10           The Mongol Invasion and Rise of Moscow at,; Timothy May, Khanate of the Golden Horde (Kipchak) at,; Edward J Vajda, Timur Khan (1336-1405) at,

11           May, op. cit.

12           Ibid.

13           Colin Wells, Sailing from Byzantium, pp. 252-272; Russia: History » From the beginnings to c. 1700 » The Mongol Period » The rise of Muscovy at,; Benjamin McMillan, The Rise of the Russian Nation at,; Russian History before 1800 at,; Treizev, The Rise of Moscow and Peter the Great at,; The Fight between Moscow and Tver. The rise of Moscow at,; Grand Duchy of Moscow at,; Tsardom of Russia at,; History of Russia at,; Geographia, Ancient Russia at,; Proto-Indo-Europeans at; Russians at,; Ziegler & Partner, A short overview of the Russian history at,; Russia The Great at,; RusPhoto, Russia and the Former USSR at,; Russian History, Rurik at,; Mediaeval Sourcebook, and from Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, Vol. 1, pp. 91-93 at,

14           Wells, op. cit., p. 256.

15           May, op. cit.

16           See " MOSCOW THE THIRD ROME", at, which provides a copy of Filofeis address. See Russian History Encyclopedia: Third Rome, for an explanation of the perceived Russian inheritance of reponsibility after '...the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, Muscovy/Russia became the Orthodox monarchy.'

home · introduction · genealogy · background · maps · bibliography · search · contact