The ‘Norman Problem’ in Historiography: Nationalism and the Origins of Russia

Viktor Vasnetsov. The Invitation of the Varangians: Rurik and his brothers arrive in Staraya Ladoga (1909)

Within the realm of history, several old controversies persist, taking on new meanings within the context of today’s political and cultural imperatives. One of these, often called the “Norman problem,” revolves around the participation of Scandinavians in the origin of the first Russian state at Kiev. This problem still survives, though the historians on each side of the debate are now different; and the problem now involves new issues. What is at stake is the origins of the word “Russia,” the first Russian state, and the Russian and Ukrainian people.

This debate has waxed and waned over the last 300 years. Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, one of the most influential authorities on Russian history in the Anglophone world, is one of today’s foremost experts on the subject. In the seventh edition of his textbook, A History of Russia, published in 2005, Riasanovsky wrote, “The problem of the origin of the first Russian state in Kiev is exceedingly complex and controversial. No other chapter of Russian history presents the same number and variety of difficulties.”[1]

Simply put, the “Norman problem” is the debate over whether Scandinavians founded and ruled the first Russian state. Proponents of the “Norman theory” have used their research to argue that Russia would never have developed “civilization” without influences from the West. Opponents say the Slavs developed civilization independently. Others have argued that the first Russian state was a melding of Scandinavian and Slavic influences. This paper will trace the historiography of the problem, and detail some approaches for further research. It is aimed at an American academic audience in an attempt at stimulating further study on this important issue.

Beginnings of the Problem

The historiography of the problem is quite old. The Chronicle of Bygone Years, which dates from 1116 and traces the then-ruling house of Rurik from the biblical flood to AD 1110, is the earliest known history of the first Russian state. Its narrative is followed by the inscription:

In the hope of God’s grace, I Sylvester, Prior of St. Michael’s, wrote this Chronicle in the year 6624 (1116), the ninth of the indiction, during the reign of Price Vladimir in Kiev, while I was presiding over St. Michael’s Monastery. May whosoever reads this book remember me in his prayers.[2]

Unfortunately, although the basic redaction of Sylvester’s text may date from 1116, the earliest available manuscript of the Chronicle, the Laurentian, was transcribed in 1377. Historians do not know what changes may have occurred in the interval between the original and the Laurentian text. The next available manuscript, the Hypatian, transcribed in 1450 and somewhat different from the first, throws little light on what changes may have occurred before 1377. The pertinent portions of the Chronicle, reproduced here, come from the earlier Laurentian text.[3] In this text, Sylvester is unequivocal about the coming of the Scandinavians. Speaking of the Slavs, he states:

[T]here was no law among them, but tribe rose against tribe. Discord thus ensued among them, and they began to war one against another. They said to themselves, “Let us seek a prince who may rule over us and judge us according to the law.” They accordingly went overseas to the Varangian Russes: these particular Varangians were known as Russes, just as some are called Swedes and others Normans, English, and Gotlanders, for they were thus named. [And the East-Slavic peoples] said to the people of Rus’, “Our whole land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come to rule and reign over us.[4]

Six hundred years later, Peter the Great may have “remembered Sylvester in his prayers,” for in 1722, he directed that all Chronicle texts should be collected and copied at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg for the scholars there. However, no attempt was made to publish the manuscript for a larger audience before 1804—and even then, the publication process was interrupted by the French invasion of Russia. It was during the time that the Chroniclemanuscripts were housed in the Academy that controversies over Russian identity and conceptions of Russian culture first erupted. These controversies have survived, in one form or another, until the present day, and most arguments still mention the Chronicle.

Although known to Russian scholars, the Chronicle remained unknown to Westerners until 1732, when Gerhard Freidrich Muller, a German working at the Academy, published his translation of certain excerpts from the book. These aroused the curiosity of other German scholars, and a number of these, including Muller himself, August Ludwig Schlozer, and Gotlib Bayer, worked out what was named the “Norman theory” of the origin of the Russian state. In it, they claimed that the Varangians—a Germanic-Scandinavian people, known as Vikings or Normans in the West—founded the Kievan Rus. Their theory was unsurprising, considering the Chronicle‘s clarity on the issue.

However, the theory was immediately subjected to sharp criticism. In particular, Mikhail Lomonosov, an influential Russian “natural scientist” of the period, wrote an irate refutation which minimized the role of the Varangians and asserted the primacy of the Slavs. Lomonosov’s counter-conception is known, unsurprisingly, as the “Anti-Norman theory” and has been popular with Russian nationalists ever since. In 1940, the Soviets renamed Moscow State University after Lomonosov, in recognition not just of his work in helping to found the university, but also of his early work in countering the Norman theory of the origin of the Rus.[5]

In 1810, Nikolai M. Karamzin, a Russian historian, attempted to seek reconciliation between the two sides in his A Memoir on Ancient and Modern Russia. For Karamzin, the foundation of Russia’s present and future lay in a blend of East and West, and he conceptualized Russia as having native roots and simultaneously reflecting the influence of the West. Regarding the origin problem, he boldly built upon the Chronicle, and wrote: “Scandinavia, the lair of restless knights…furnished our fatherland with its first sovereigns.… ‘come,’ the Finns and Slavs told them, having wearied of internecine wars, ‘come to reign and rule over us.’”[6] Of the controversy surrounding the origin issue, he wrote:

This difference [between the two theories] was not without profound bearing on Russian politics, for which the attitude to the institutions and ideas of the West was always a touchstone; by it one can often distinguish in Russia conservatives proper from extreme reactionaries.[7]

Through the debates involving Lomonosov and Karamzin, we can see that the origin problem divided scholarship among Russians even as it divided scholarship in the West from that in Russia. In the words of historian Vladimir Volkoff, writing in 1985:

Since even the first redaction [of the Chronicle], which we do not possess, was obviously a compilation of facts, fantasies, interpretations, materials of different origins, interpolated discourses, imitations of other sources and fortuitous or non-fortuitous omissions, modern historians have had a jolly time tearing down the flimsy edifice. No wonder if it collapsed satisfactorily over their own heads. For, having discarded all the evidence, and having nowhere else to look for more, they began replacing it with wishful figments of imagination, each expert brilliantly succeeding in proving exactly what he set out to prove.[8]

This, then, is where the modern trouble over the origin problem began.

Modern Debate Concerning the Norman Problem

In 1947, a young Nicholas Riasanovsky wrote an article entitled “The Norman Theory of the Origin of the Russian State.”[9] In it, he bemoaned the fact that

… most of the literature on the subject which is available in western languages, and in English in particular, strikes one as being one-sidedly and extremely Normanist…practically no anti-Normanist works are available in any language but the Russian.[10]

According to Riasanovsky, the Norman theory, as formulated by Bayer, Schlozer, and Muller, and developed by others, “claimed that the entire Russian culture—religion, customs, political structure, law, art—owed its origin and the first two centuries of its development to Scandinavians-Normans.”[11] For Riasanovsky, “[t]his astounding theory could exist only as long as the ignorance of Russian antiquity was practically complete, and as long as there was no native Russian historical school.”[12]

However, Karamzin’s Memoirs were clearly part of a “native Russian historical school.” It is apparent that Riasanovsky wished to divide debate on the Norman problem with a clear East-West delineation. There are obvious problems with attempting to set all historians within these strict categories. Riasanovsky calls both Nikolai Beliaev and George Vernadsky (who were native Russians) “Normanists of one kind or another…”[13] In fact, Vernadsky was far from a Normanist. His work, which will be discussed in greater detail later in this paper, clearly argues that Russia did not completely owe its origin to Scandinavians.

Until others took up the origin problem in 1996, twentieth-century English-language debate on the issue can be encapsulated within the work of the Riasanovsky family (who argued for the Anti-Norman theory), Henryk Paszkiewicz (who argued a Normanist line) and George Vernadsky (who credits both theories). Of course, each scholar had supporters and detractors, but their positions on the origin problem are representative of most scholarship at the time.

According to the Riasanovskys, “the Slavs of the Kievan state were…the inheritors of centuries of cultural development in southern Russia.”[14] As to culture—language, law, literary traditions, etc.— Nicholas Riasanovsky went so far as to state in a 1947 article that “in fact Russia exercised a considerable cultural influence on Scandinavia.”[15] He later continues:

At the present time most specialists in the field of early Russian history think that the Normans formed merely one of the elements of the Rus, which was fundamentally connected with the natives of southern Russia and their gradual economic and political evolution….The Normans had very little to contribute to Russia…they represented merely a minor or even a superfluous element in the formation of that state.[16]

Riasanovsky’s article relied heavily on the work of G. and S. Gedeonov, Russian historians of the late 1800s. Several times, when Riasanovsky referred to arguments of ostensibly western Normanists, he actually quoted from Russian-language sources. Overall, the article reads like the polemic of a Russian who wished his history to be purely Slavic. [17]

In 1954, Henryk Paszkiewicz, a Polish historian of the Slavic peoples, entered this ongoing controversy with his The Origin of Russia. He continued in 1963 with The Making of the Russian Nation. Both books concentrate on the topics surrounding the Norman problem. Paszkiewicz largely discounted the work of Soviet historians, as he pointed out that nationalist Communist leaders had directed them to find a continuous Slavic primacy. For example, in Russian Nation, Soviet scholar Boris D. Grekov is quoted as having written in 1940 that: “It is not easy to do away with the evidence of the Normanists. I am convinced that it will never be completely suppressed. Too many facts have been verified by this school.”[18] Yet Grekov had changed his tune by 1942, writing simply that: “The Norman thesis was the work of ‘fascist falsifiers of history.’”[19] Paszkiewicz highlights the fact that, in 1940, the Soviets were allied with Germany, while in 1942, these two countries were at war.[20]

Although Grekov’s change in conclusions was timed suspiciously with his country’s change in alliances, he was correct when he stated that the “fascist falsifiers of history” used the Norman theory to further their ends. Adolf Hitler himself said: “Unless other peoples, beginning with the Vikings, had imported some rudiments of organization into Russian humanity, the Russians would be living like rabbits.”[21] However, Grekov was also obviously incorrect with his sweeping generalization that all Norman theorists were fascists.

To return to Paszkiewicz, his basic thesis was as follows:

Our considerations so far throw some light on the provenance of the Rus’. Since they were not Slavs and inhabited the northern lands, on the Baltic; since their journeying—both warlike and commercial—embraced Eastern and Western Europe, only one conclusion can be reached, viz., that they were Norsemen.[22]

Norsemen came to the city of Kiev to rule it, and Kievan rulers were descended from them, just as the Chronicle reported. He also argued that, though the Slavic element quickly became the largest component of the Russian people, the Norse influence continued for some time. Paszkiewicz used a variety of sources, including Byzantine records, Scandinavian epics, and the letters of Turkic traders, as well as varied Russian manuscript evidence including all of the various iterations of the Chronicle, to argue his theories.

The Riasanovsky family responded, via articles, to Paszkiewicz at least twice. First Valentin, Nicholas’s father, accused Paszkiewicz of “an arbitrary use of the sources, an insufficient acquaintance with the literature on the subject, and unsubstantiated conclusions.”[23] Alexander V. Riasanovsky, Nicholas’ brother, wrote an article entitled “‘Runaway Slaves’ and ‘Swift Danes’ in Eleventh-Century Kiev.” It appeared in Speculum in 1964, and was a direct response to Paszkiewicz’s second book on the subject, Russian Nation, which itself had included a retort to Valentin Riasanovksy’s article. In that article in Speculum, Paszkiewicz was lumped in with the same German and Scandinavian scholars (from the late 1700s and 1800s) whom Nicholas and Valentin had railed against in 1947. Alexander set out to undermine Paszkiewicz’s conclusions solely on the basis of Paszkiewicz’s use and translation of a certain version of the Chronicle.[24] Since it deals only with this small issue, Riasanovsky’s argument seems insufficient as a refutation of his opponent’s well-developed research.

The exchanges between the Normanists and Anti-Normanists in the mid-twentieth century were at least as vitriolic as the exchanges between their predecessors in earlier centuries. Paszkiewicz and his supporters were perhaps less polemical than their opponents, but they did not shy away from accusing the Anti-Normanists of a “National and Soviet ideological bias in interpretation of the sources.”[25] On the other side, the Anti-Normanists charged Paszkiewicz with multiple scholarly transgressions, including the sin of allowing his Polish nationalism to color his work. One reviewer, Anotole Mazour, even took the debate a step further, stating:

Academic freedom is a precious possession…If, however, some of the highly hypothetic theories assume the form of political dogmas that might seriously affect world policies, it is necessary to call for alertness. Highly hypothetical theories can quite easily turn into false instruments of national policy with sorrowful consequences for all concerned.[26]

George Vernadsky, in a 1955 review of Paszkiewicz’s Origin of Russia, applied a similar parsing of translation such as that used by Alexander Riasanovsky. Essentially, Vernadsky applauded the depth and detail of Paszkiewicz’s work, while discounting his conclusions based solely on the basis of certain translations. These translations were not central to Paszkiewicz’s main arguments, and therefore are not sufficient to refute his basic conclusions.[27]

Vernadsky briefly developed his own thoughts on the original problem in 1959 with The Origins of Russia (not to be confused with Paszkiewicz’s similarly titled book). In a work of over 300 pages, he spent a scant 15 on the Norman problem, quickly reconciling the issue in the following way: “[T]he best way to reconcile the contradictions in the evidence…is to admit the presence of both the Norse and the Slavic elements in the people of Rus at that time, in other words to consider them a symbiosis of Slavs and Norsemen.”[28] This seems to be sidestepping the issue. What was—and is—important to almost all parties in this controversy is the level of primacy the Scandinavians had in Kiev. On this issue Vernadsky was silent.

At the same time that this debate raged in Western scholarship, at least one Soviet scholar was working to temper the nationalistic tendencies of Soviet historiography. Leo Klein, together with his Leningrad seminar students, recognized seven steps in his conception of Norman influence on the East Slavs:

  1. The definite arrival of the Normans to the ancient East-Slavic area.
  2. The foundation of Kiev’s dynasty by the Normans.
  3. The Norman origin of the word “Rus.”
  4. The continued influence of the Normans on the East-Slavic state.
  5. The creation of the first East-Slavic state by the Normans.
  6. The pro-Scandinavian racial preferences of the Normans were the cause of their successes.
  7. In the ancient East-Slavic state, Scandinavians were the rulers, Slavs were their subordinates.[29]

Klein’s conception was remarkably like that developed by Paszkiewicz, putting this Russian scholar firmly into what the Riasanovskys called the “Normanist camp.” Again, the controversy had proven not to be a debate of historians in the West versus historians in Russia. Rather, it continued as a debate between nationalistic historians and their more objective contemporaries.

Nationalism and the New Historiography

Judging by publication volume, Nicholas Riasanovsky’s textbook, A History of Russia, is the most popular English-language textbook on Russian history. It is now in its seventh edition, published in 2005. In that edition, Dr. Riasanovsky asserts that, although “the majority of scholars today consider the first Russian dynasty and its immediate retinue as Scandinavian…there is no reason to assert a fundamental Scandinavian influence on Kievan culture.”[30] However, much of the recent scholarship conducted on this issue does find what can be called at least a “Scandinavian influence.”

In 1984, for example, Vladimir Volkoff wrote Vladimir the Russian Viking about the early ruler of Kiev who brought Christianity to the Russians. Volkoff also describes the “bickering” among historians on the Scandinavian influences in Kiev, and even alludes to the Riasanovsky-Paszkiewicz feud, but ultimately takes the Chronicle at face value and proceeds with an understanding that is decidedly Paszkiewiczian in nature.

In 1996, Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard wrote The Emergence of Rus: 750-1200. In it, they wove archaeology and historical manuscripts together to explore the origins of the Rus. They also worked largely outside of the Norman debates; instead of arguing for Slavic or Norse primacy in the creation of a Russian state, Franklin and Shepard demonstrated both the diversity of populations and cultures in the lands of the Rus and the irrelevance of the concept of a “state” during the period in question. Franklin and Shepard instead traced the steady development of the “Rus” people from their first small settlements to a more unified network of towns, and thence to the first centuries of the Kievan Rus—a modern state which had evolved from one of those settlements. According to Franklin and Shepard, a “state,” using the modern definition, did not exist on the Dnieper until long after the events described in the Chronicle.[31]

In 2001 Geoffrey Hosking painted a picture in his Russia and the Russians: A History that was not unlike that of Paszkiewicz and Klein:

It is not unknown for relatively primitive peoples to accept a ruler from a higher culture, to end feuding among themselves, to bring trade, and also to organize external defense. It is a function the descendents of the Rus frequently exercised for other peoples in later centuries. This is certainly the service the incoming Vikings performed….Together the ‘Viking-Slavs’ formed a kind of tribal super-alliance, with its center in Kiev.[32]

Also in 2001, Franklin wrote an article entitled “Pre-Mongol Rus’: New Sources, New Perspectives?” in which he discounted much of the new scholarship:

Radical changes in history do not necessarily produce instant radical changes in the writing of history; or at least, not in the writing of history which deserves to be taken seriously. The historiography of pre-Mongol Rus’ has certainly developed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but not necessarily in ways which are attributable to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Indeed, one could almost formulate a law: the extent to which a change is attributable to the collapse of the Soviet Union tends to be in inverse proportion to its scholarly value.[33]

In his synthesis of the current historiographical situation, Franklin wrote:

If we ignore the lunatic fringe, change is limited. On the one hand, long-established scholars continue to slug out the same old battles with only slight modifications to the terminology. On the other hand, attempts to introduce fresh perspectives are generally tentative in practice (if not in introductory declarations) and have not as yet produced fully coherent results.[34]

During recent decades, the debate has continued without resolution, influenced by different chauvinisms and newly emergent nationalisms. At the same time that Russian nationalist historians are continuing a conception of the ancient Russian past much like that promoted by the Riasanovskys, the new Ukrainian government has taken an official position that draws heavily on the earliest Norman theory.[35] For Russian nationalists, it is perhaps natural that they would try to prove a purely Slavic birth for their nation, and the Anti-Norman theory fits this need. For Ukrainian nationalists, many of whom now wish to minimize their connection with Russia, the reverse seems to be true—and the Norman theory is convenient for them.

Scandinavian scholars such as Hakon Stang have developed theories that help to place their homeland at the pinnacle of history.[36] In response to Anti-Norman theorists, he writes: “hypothesis is piled upon hypothesis to create edifices which are simply not susceptible to critical analysis, and the volume should be recommended only with the attachment of a clear health warning.”[37] From his position at Uppsala University, Wladyslaw Duczko published a synthesis of newer archeological evidence in 2004, which he claims supports the Norman theory.

Franklin and Duczko assert that new information is now emerging out of the former Soviet countries. According to Franklin, “early Rus’ may not have Central Committee archives to declassify, but every year brings an equivalent frisson of anticipation ahead of the season’s archaeological discoveries.”[38] These post-Soviet discoveries include: numerous gramoty, or written declarations, on birch bark from ancient Novgorod; clusters of documents from the eleventh and twelfth centuries relating to the collection of dues from outlying territories of the early city-states; and waxed wooden tablets from the beginning of the eleventh century that are now recognized as the earliest known Cyrillic “book” of the Rus.[39] No less noteworthy are the post-Soviet publications of other epigraphic sources. V. L. Ianin has written several volumes on ancient official seals, including very early examples of previously unknown types.[40] M.P. Sotnikova has republished a corpus of early native coins. T.V. Rozhdestvenskaia has published a book on ancient graffiti.[41] All of this is likely pertinent to the current debate, although most has not had time to be fully considered in the debate’s context.

Franklin also tells of new source material found in the continuing series of non-Slavic sources initiated by V.T. Pashuto in 1977. In recent years, the series has expanded to include newly discovered Latin sources from Germany, new translations of the work of ancient Byzantine historians, newly released eighth-to-thirteenth century maps, four recent volumes on Icelandic sagas, and freshly published compilations on other Byzantine and Arab sources.[42]

Though Franklin details possible sources, he makes no conclusions of his own other than:

In a field where historians’ main complaint tends to be the lack of written sources and where many remain reluctant to pay due attention to non-narrative evidence, the value of the continuing expansion and diversification of the available source base over the past decade (including non-written archaeological sources) can hardly be overestimated. The traditionally high-profile native sources–above all, the chronicles—gradually shed at least part of the burden of proof.[43]

Wladyslaw Duczko detailed the recent archeological findings in the Volkhov area that relate directly to other finds in Scandinavia. He highlighted the importance of the women’s personal ornamentation that archeologists have found in both Eastern Europe and Scandinavia and its interconnection. For Duczko, putting the post-Soviet archeological evidence in its wider context is a key to understanding the Norman problem and the culture of the people who lived and died in Ladoga, Gnezdovo, Shestovitsa, Novgorod, Kiev, and elsewhere.[44]

Despite all this debate, there seems to be both a lack of general interest in this topic in the United States and a lack of viable English-language sources to stimulate such interest. Although Duczko’s book is well-documented and relatively objective, it is poorly written in English and was clearly influenced by Duczko’s surroundings and his funding.[45] Although Simon Franklin seems to be doing his best to create a more objective picture, he works and publishes in Great Britain and his books are consequently price-prohibitive for the average American student.[46]

All these new sources, however, may not be enough to resolve the Russian origin problem. Personal agendas, including nationalistic tendencies–both Imperial and Soviet, both Ukrainian and Russian–have skewed the study of the origin question for far too long. Although it is clear that the Russian origin problem has not yet been resolved, it can be researched further, particularly with the numerous new primary sources. Perhaps American scholars, with little to lose by the outcome, could bring some much-needed detachment to the study of the early Rus. The author of this paper is confident that if American “Russianists” would simply pursue the new evidence, they would find an audience sufficiently interested in the subject.


[1] Nicholas Riasanovsky and Mark D. Steinberg, A History of Russia (New York, 2005): 21.

[2] Quoted in Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, “Introduction,” 4.

[3] Ibid

[4] Samuel Hazzard Cross and Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans. and eds., The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text (Cambridge, Mass, 1953): 61.

[5] Lomonosov Moscow State University website, “MSU History,” found online at

[6] Nicolai Karamzin, Karamzin’s Memoir on Ancient and Modern Russia, trans. Richard Pipes (Cambridge Mass., 1959): 103.

[7] Karamzin, 51.

[8] Vladimir Volkoff, Vladimir the Russian Viking, (Woodstock, N.Y., 1985): foreword, xx-xxi.

[9] N. Riasanovsky, “Norman Theory,” 96-110. According to his first footnote, Nicholas’ article was apparently a slightly modified distillation of a chapter in his father’s most recent book, which had just been published in New York, but in the Russian language. Nicholas had helped his father write that chapter.

[10] Ibid., 97.

[11] Ibid., 98.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 99.

[16] Ibid., 109-110.

[17] I have nothing but the highest regard for Dr. Riasanovsky. In fact, in my work as a graduate student, I have always began my studies—of any topic in Russian history—with his extraordinary History. This paper does not seek to degrade the work and theories of great scholars. Rather, it is an attempt to generate new interest in an old, but still unsettled, controversy.

[18] Boris D. Grekov, quoted in Henryk Paszkiewicz, The Making of the Russian Nation(London, 1963): 172.

[19] Grekov, quoted in Paszkiewicz, Russian Nation, 172

[20] Henryk Paszkiewicz, Russian Nation, 172.

[21] Quoted in Wladyslaw Duczko, Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe (Leiden, Netherlands, 2004): 4.

[22] Paszkiewicz, Russian Nation, 158.

[23] Valentin Riasanovsky, “Review of The Origin of Russia by Henryk Paszkiewicz,” The Russian Review no. 2 (Apr., 1956): 134.

[24] Alexander’s argument is based on the small issue of Paszkiewicz’s translation of Thietmar’s Chronicon, a later version of the Chronicle. Alexander V. Riasanovsky, “’Runaway Slaves’ and ‘Swift Danes’ in Eleventh-Century Kiev,” Speculum, no. 2 (Apr., 1964): 288-297.

[25] Frank T. Nowak, “Review of The Origin of Russia by Henryk Paszkiewicz,” The Scientific Monthly, no. 1. (Jul., 1955): 45.

[26] Anatole G. Mazour, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 300, Internal Security and Civil Rights 9Jul., 1955): 170.

[27] George Vernadsky, “The Origin of Russia,” Speculum, no. 2 (Apr., 1955): 293-301.

[28] George Vernadsky, The Origins of Russia (Oxford, 1959): 199.

[29] Leo Klein, from papers published in the 1960s, referenced in Duczko, 4.

[30] N. Riasanovsky, History of Russia, 25.

[31] Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of Rus 750-1200 (London, 1996).

[32] Geoffrey Hosking, Russia and the Russians: A History (Cambridge, Mass., 2001): 33-34.

[33] Simon Franklin, “Pre-Mongol Rus’: New Sources, New Perspectives?” The Russian Review60 (Oct., 2001): 465. Emphasis in the original.

[34] Franklin, “Pre-Mongol Rus,” 470.

[35] Official website of the government of Ukraine, “Kyivan Rus,” found online at

[36] Håkon Stang, The Naming of Russia (Oslo, 1996), available on-line at

[37] Franklin, “Pre-Mongol Rus,” 468.

[38] Franklin, “Pre-Mongol Rus,” 466-477.

[39] See V.L. Ianin and A.A. Zalizniak, Novgorodskie gramoty na bereste (Iz raskopok 1984-1989) (Moscow, 1993); and idem, Novgorodskie gramoty na bereste (Iz raskopok 1990-1996)(Moscow, 2000). See also A.A. Zalizniak, Drevnenovgorodskii dialect (Moscow, 1995), which is a major reassessment of birchbark writing using linguistic analysis. All of the footnotes which contain Russian-language sources were taken from Franklin’s “Pre-Mongol Rus.”

[40] V.L. Ianin and P.G. Gaidukov, Aktovye pechati Drevnei Rusi X-XV vv., vol. 3, Pechati, zaregistrirovannye v 1970-1996 (Moscow, 1998).

[41] M.P. Sotnikova, Drevneishierusskie monety X-XI vekov: Katalog i issledovanie (Moscow, 1995); T.V. Rozhdestvenskaia, Drevnerusskie Nadpis I na stenakh khramov: Novye istochniki XI-XV (St. Petersburg, 1992). Sources found in Franklin, “Pre-Mongol Rus’,” 466-467.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Franklin, “Pre-Mongol Rus’,” 467.

[44] Duczko, 8-9.

[45] Duczko’s funding was provided by the Berit Wallenberg Foundation in Stockholm. “The purpose of the Foundation is to: ‘promote scientific research, teaching and/or education beneficial to the Kingdom of Sweden.’” Found online at, emphasis added.

[46] Dr. Franklin is the Director of the Department of Slavic Studies, Clare College, University of Cambridge.

Selected Bibliography

Cross, Samuel Hazzard and Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor, trans. and eds. The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text. Cambridge, Mass: Mediaeval Academy of America Press, 1953.

Duczko, Wladyslaw. Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2004.

Franklin, Simon and Jonathan Shepard. The Emergence of Rus 750-1200. London: Addison Wesley, 1996.

Franklin, Simon. “Pre-Mongol Rus’: New Sources, New Perspectives?” The Russian Review 60 (Oct., 2001): 465-473.

Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia and the Russians: A History. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2001.

Karamzin, Nicolai trans. Richard Pipes. Karamzin’s Memoir on Ancient and Modern Russia,     Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959.

Lomonosov Moscow State University, official website. “MSU History.” Found online at   

Paszkiewicz, Henryk. The Making of the Russian Nation. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1963.

Paszkiewicz, Henryk. The Origin of Russia. New York: Columbia University Press, 1954.

Riasanovsky, Alexander V. “’Runaway Slaves’ and ‘Swift Danes’ in Eleventh-Century Kiev.” Speculum 39, no. 2 (Apr., 1964): 288-297.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. “The Norman Theory of the Origin of the Russian State.” Russian Review, no.1 (Autumn, 1947): 96-110.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. and Mark D. Steinberg. A History of Russia, Seventh Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Ukrainian Government, official website. “Kyivan Rus.” Found online at

Vernadsky, George. “The Origin of Russia,” Speculum 30, no. 2 (Apr., 1955): 293-301.

Vernadsky, George. The Origins of Russia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.

Volkoff, Vladimir. Vladimir the Russian Viking. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press, 1985.

About the Author

Michael Westrate

Michael Westrate is a second year M.A. student at St. Cloud State University majoring in Russian history. He is currently applying to Ph.D. programs in history and plans to become a university history professor.

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Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

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