Kievan Rus’ – the Beginning of the Ukrainian History

Dear friends,

Ukraine has not only beautiful women and nature. This fascinating country has a rich, long and turbulent history and culture. First of all, Ukrainians are proud of Kievan Rus’, an ancient empire, the cradle of three modern-day nations. So today, we discuss Kievan Rus’ and the beginning of the Ukrainian history.

A country without a memory is a country of madmen.

George Santayana

Slavic tribes

Ukraine that adopted her present name in the 19th century has a unique history. During the first century BC, parts of Ukraine were under the control of Sarmatians, Scythians, and Cimmerians. Later on in the century, it was ruled by the Bulgars, Huns, Avars, Pechenegs and Goths. The history of Ukraine can be traced to the East Slavs, who are the predecessors of the modern day Belorussian, Ukrainians and Russians. During the 6th century, Slavic tribes moved to Ukraine from their ancestral home that was located in the northern side of the Carpathian Mountains.

Kievan Rus

The first Slavic tribe in the Kiev region was the Antes tribal federation that settled in the region between the 4th and 7th century. A Scandinavian dynasty known as the Varangian Norsemen, settled in present day Kiev, and united all the Slavs princely states under the Kievan Rus’. This powerful dynasty of Kievan Rus’ was mainly made up of the Ukrainian people, which is an important historical aspect of Ukraine.

Rus was a name given to the lands found in Kiev, but was later changed to include the other parts of Ukraine. The Kievan Rus’ settlements were established along Dnepr River valley, which served as the capital city of the dynasty. The dynasty stretched from the White Sea, to the Black Sea, and from River Volga, to the Carpathian Mountains.

Establishment of Kievan Rus’

Kievan Rus’, a powerful East Slavic state dominated by the city of Kiev, was established by several states that aimed at controlling the trade routes between Byzantine Empire and the Scandinavian. The empire controlled the movement of goods such as slaves, fur and wax between the two empires along River Dnieper trade route. The Slavic population was more predominant in the empire by 10th century, since they intermarried with other minority tribes.

The dynasty adopted the Eastern Orthodox religion, due to its interaction with the Byzantine Empire. This synthesis resulting from the interaction between the Slavic and Byzantine culture, defined the Ukrainian and Russian culture.

ukrainian history

The empire experienced prosperity under two great leaders—Prince Vladamir 1 and Yaroslav the Wise. Under the rule of Prince Vladamir 1, Christianity was adopted as the main religion in the Kievan Rus’. The adoption of Christianity in Kievan Rus’, led to introduction of the first written language—the church Slovak. Yaroslav the Wise enhanced the relations of Kievan Rus’ with the rest of Europe, by formulating the Russkaya Pravda (the Slavic law code), building cathedrals and introducing a school system.

During its most successful period of between 11th and 10th centuries, Kievan Rus’ was Eastern Europe’s main cultural and political center. Its architecture and economy was flourishing, in comparison to those of other empires in Eastern Europe. The empire declined in the 12th and 13th centuries, due to the power struggles between the princely family that had come together to form it. There were armed fights between the princely families, as they competed to control the wealthy empire.

ukraine history

Other factors that contributed to the decline of the empire are the change in the trade routes, and the invasion by the Kipchak. Kievan Rus’ was eventually conquered by the Mongol during the middle of the 13th century leading to its fall.



Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert 🙂 (s. here: Contact Krystyna)



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