Kievan Rus: Some Regional Features of State and Ethnic Development

  • Oleksandr Motsia Corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, DSc, Head of the Old Rus and Medieval archaeology Department in the Institute of Archaeology, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Keywords: Rus, Rus land, state, ethnos, Eastern Slavs, nomads, Balts, Finno-Ugric peoples, monarchical and republican tendencies


The insufficient knowledge of the processes of state development of the society of Kievan Rus, known to contemporaries as “Rus” or “Rus Land”, suggests once again addressing the issue of the impact on this global event of a historical scale associated with the transition from primitive communal relations in the Eastern Slavic world to civilizational, on the part of multiethnic components in the composition of the local population in different regions of the country. After all, it is known that Rus, besides the Slavs-autochthons, inhabited the Balts and Finno-Ugrians in the North-West and North-East; for several centuries, in the south, farmers were in close contact with nomads (Khazars, Pechenegs, Torques, Polovtsy). In the latter case, representatives of nomadic societies as a whole did not enter the new ethnic composition of the country, in contrast to the Scandinavians, who, after several generations, “disappeared” in the East Slavic majority. A different fate was traced for the Balts, who, before the resettlement of new settlers on their lands, constituted the main group of the substrate element. Some of them were assimilated by the Slavs, and the other part developed in its own way and subsequently formed a state called the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus and Samogitia. A different share was expected of the Finno-Ugrians in the North of Eastern Europe and in the Volga region: having come under administrative pressure from the Old Rus princes, the local ancient population was one of the components of the future authoritarian Moscow state.

Probably, there should be taken into account the old point of view of M. Aleshkovsky and V. Yanin, according to which the study of the formation of northern urbanization centers, and, first of all, Novgorod the Great, involves not only the Slavic component, but also other components, primarily the Finnish substrate.


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