Early Russian History - History of Russia

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Early Russia

Ukraine landscape
Ukrainian landscape

By 500 BC, some of the people living in Russia were called the Scythians. Russian people had some hard times between about 300 and 600 AD, when they were invaded by the Ostrogoths, the Avars, and the Huns.

But the first time that those people united into one country was about 800 AD (the same time as Charlemagne in Western Europe).

Santa Sophia cathedral in Novgorod (1050 AD)

About this time, Vikings from Scandinavia (modern Norway, Denmark, and Sweden) discovered that they could trade with the Byzantine Empire on the Black Sea and - even most importantly - with Central Asian Silk Road traders on the Caspian Sea, by sailing down the Volga and Dnieper rivers, through Russia. They could trade their furs and slaves for excellent steel for swords. When the Vikings did this in the 800s AD, they met the Slavs, who were also moving into Russia, and together the Vikings and the Slavs united Russia into a kingdom with its capital at Novgorod. The medieval kingdom of Russia included only the westernmost part of what is now Russia, but it also included most of modern Ukraine.

Learn by doing: make and eat borscht
More Russian history

Bibliography and further reading about the Russians:

More Russian history
Central Asia
Medieval Europe
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Copyright 2012-2015 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated September 2015.

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