Where did Russia come from,
why is it so big,
and what are the differences between it and its neighbors?
The answers lie in an epic storyof seafaring warriors,
and the rise and fall of a medieval state known as Kievan Rus.
In the first millennium,
a large group of tribes spread through the dense woodlands of Eastern Europe.
Because they had no writing system,
much of what we know about them comes
from three main sources:
accounts from literate scholars
of the Roman Empire and the Middle East, and,
lastly, an epic history calledthe Primary Chronicle
compiled in the 12th centuryby a monk named Nestor.
What they tell us is
that these tribes who shared a common Slavic language
and polytheistic religion
had by the 7th century split into western,
southern and eastern branches,
the latter stretching fromthe Dniester River
to the Volga and the Baltic Sea.
As Nestor’s story goes,
after years of subjugation by Vikings from the north, who,
by the way, did not wearhorned helmets in battle,
the region’s tribes revoltedand drove back the Northmen,
but left to their own devices,they turned on each other.
Such chaos ensued that, ironically,
the tribes reached out to the foreignersthey had just expelled,
inviting them to returnand establish order.
The Vikings accepted,
sending a prince named Rurik and his two brothers to rule.
With Rurik’s son, Oleg,expanding his realm into the south,
and moving the capitol to Kiev,
a former outpost of the Khazar Empire,
the Kievan Rus was born,
“罗斯”来自一个古老的挪威语 意思是 “划桨人”
“Rus” most likely deriving froman old Norse word for”the men who row.”
The new princedom had complex relationswith its neighbors,
alternating between alliance and warfarewith the Khazar and Byzantine Empires,
as well as neighboring tribes.
Religion played an importantrole in politics,
and as the legend goes, in 987,
the Rus prince Vladamir I decided
it was time to abandon Slavic paganism,
and sent emissariesto explore neighboring faiths.
Put off by Islam’s prohibition on alcohol
and Judaism’s expulsionfrom its holy land,
the ruler settled on Orthodox Christianity
after hearing odd accountsof its ceremonies.
With Vladimir’s conversion and marriageto the Byzantine emperor’s sister,
as well as continued tradealong the Volga route,
the relationship betweenthe two civilizations deepened.
Byzantine missionaries created an alphabetfor Slavic languages
based on a modified Greek script
while Rus Viking warriors served as theByzantine Emperor’s elite guard.
For several generations, the Kievan Rus flourished from its rich resources and trade.
Its noblemen and noblewomen marriedprominent European rulers,
while residents of some citiesenjoyed great culture, literacy,
and even democratic freedomsuncommon for the time.
But nothing lasts forever.
Fratricidal disputes over successionbegan to erode central power
as increasingly independent citiesruled by rival princes vied for control.
The Fourth Crusadeand decline of Constantinople
devastated the trade integralto Rus wealth and power,
while Teutonic crusadersthreatened northern territories.
The final blow, however, wouldcome from the east.
Consumed by their squabbles,
Rus princes paid little attentionto the rumors
of a mysterious unstoppable hoard
until 1237, when 35,000 mountedarchers led by Batu Khan
swept through the Rus cities,
sacking Kiev before continuingon to Hungary and Poland.
The age of Kievan Rus had come to an end,
its people now divided.
In the east, which remainedunder Mongol rule,
a remote trading post, known as Moscow,
would grow to challengethe power of the Khans,
conquering partsof their fragmenting empire, and,
in many ways, succeeding it.
As it absorbed othereastern Rus territories,
改变了原来的名字 用了希腊发音 叫Ruscia 与此同时
it reclaimed the old namein its Greek form, Ruscia. Meanwhile,
the western regionswhose leaders had avoided destruction
through political maneuveringuntil the hoard withdrew
came under the influence of Polandand Lithuania.
For the next few centuries, the former lands of
Kievan Rus populated by Slavs, ruled by Vikings,
taught by Greeks, and split by Mongols would develop
最终形成了社会 语言 文化的多元
differences in society, culture and language
that remain to the present day.