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Ukraine - Research

Ukraine Coat of Arms Before the 12th Century, the Kieven Rus’ state was the largest, most powerful nation in Europe. It was founded in 880 by Scandinavian traders, at Kiev. According to the sole Scandinavian records for Kieven Rus, early leaders were Scandinavian warrior-elites, who within three generations, had merged with the Slavic natives. The eventual decline of Kievan Rus’ power was due to the “decline of Constantinople, the drying up of trade routes, and the subsequent Mongol invasion of Rus'.”

The reigns of Vladimir the Great, from 980 to 1015, and his son, Yaroslav I the Wise, from 1019 to 1054, are considered Kiev’s Golden Age. Vladimir brought Christianity to Kieven Rus - replacing the native paganism - to strengthen ties to Constantinople. Constantinople was central to Kievan Rus’ trade routes. Control of these routes: the Volga, between the Black Sea and the Orient; the Dneiper, between the Baltic and Black Seas, and an unnamed route between the Khazars and the Germans, along with furs, beeswax and honey, were central to Kievan Rus’ power.

The choice of Eastern Christianity had long range political and cultural significance. Eastern Christian liturgy was written in Cyrillic instead of Latin, like the Western and Central European Christian liturgies. Thus, Kieven Rus developed a literature and art tradition quite distinct from Western and Central Europe. Vladimir’s son, Yaroslav I, introduced the first written Eastern Slav legal code, Russkaya Pravda.

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