Lv 7
Lenny asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 8 years ago

How come that Vikings from 9th century were more industrious than Europeans from 15th - 21th centuries?

Or it just that widely accepted story from the history book is nothing more than the fairy tale?

Case in point is Vikings coming to Novgorod (Rurik) and in the second generation successfully uniting Eastern Slavs from Baltic to Black Sea under the rule of Great Prince of Kiev (Oleg and Igor).

Additional points to keep in mind:

1. Eastern Slavs were ferocious warriors capable to hold their own against nomads from steps, against German tribes on the West, Finnish tribes on the North-East and each other as well. After alleged unification those Slavs were enlisted in the Kiev army and were storming Constantinople.

2. The enlistment into the Kiev Army tells us that allegedly just conquered Eastern Slavic tribes were trusted subjects of the Rurik dynasty in Kiev.

3. The very fact of Kiev army going to Constantinople tells us that allegedly just conquered Eastern Slavic tribes were not to rebellious.

4. The third point is that this whole story has a single primary source of couple pages in one book of the Russian chronicles. It was repeated and retold thousands of times over last 300 years, but those are secondary sources and if first story is fake, all of them are fake.

Nothing like that ever happened in history when history is well documented.

Almost the same Vikings after taking already used to submission peasant population of Normandy (Count Rolo) needed many generations to become rooted into Normandy well enough to go fight England and not worrying that their home-base would revolt against them.

Native Americans outside of Mexico and Peru were also good warriors used to complete freedom and can be used as a very good approximation to the Eastern Slavs as Slaves described in Chronicles.

Colonizing European powers were much stronger in men, weaponry, resources, transportation and communication technology than whole Scandinavia could possibly produce during the times of the alleged Rurik arrival.

And yet, Europeans needed many generations to quell the war and many more generations to build up a sufficient level of the mutual trust to start drafting Indians into Army as equal.

As to unifying separate freedom loving tribes under the same ruling authority - Europeans stopped even trying and now we have many separate self-governed Indian nations.

I guess that we should either assume that Ruriks were the greatest political and military geniuses of all nations and of all times, or allow the possibility that the whole story of how Kiev Rus was started is a bunch of ... fabricated.

What do you think?

PS. Do not bother just to re-tell the story ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kievan_Rus%27#Foundat... ). It is well know (and I personally read dozens of books on the subject starting with the school course of Russian history). Just explain the unbelievable super-hyper-ultra-turbo success of their enterprise in the woods of European Russia.


To Jeffrey Li: Hellenistic states are different - new Greek dynasties bent over backwards to become Egyptians Pharaohs in Egypt, Persian in Syria and Indians in India. They did not change the system of government locals were already accustomed to over the previous couple millenniums. Mongol rulers of China had become Chinese on everything by genes. No drastic changes for the local population.

But Rus allegedly changed everything for the independent tribes used to live free and they got away with it.

Update 2:

To sgatlantisrose: No, unlike mongol nomad Genghis, the alleged first Rus master of the Eastern Slavs (Oleg) was not victorious in his overseas ventures. He had mixed fortune and still no revolt among his allegedly new subjects. It is unbelievable. Even Mexican Indians in first couple generations had revolted against Spanish rule at every sign of weakness for Spaniards. And those Indians used to be ruled. Free Indian tribes of North America were fighting Europeans non-stop for 300 years.

This free Eastern Slavic tribes we should expect 3 - 4 centuries of constant turf warfare against Vikings before Viking dynasty could feel this base secured. Chronicles (Повесть Временных Лет) gives Kiev Rus less than 20 years for complete and secure domination over the land.

And no, they did not assimilate, because assimilation to the Eastern Slavic tribe would mean that Rus would become just another Slavic tribe. Instead, in a short time they allegedly completely transformed system of government (ta

4 Answers

  • the c
    Lv 6
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    I am reading a book that covers this period at the moment.

    The scandinavians moved in over the course of several generations as each successive move allowed them more knowledge of the land (and more importantly rivers) further into what is now Russia and the Ukraine. Their dominance was not the result on one move or push but several separate and often independently led operations often each operation was funded by the people on it. Rather than the Spanish conquest of the Mexico and Peru compare it to the British and French competition for fur trading in Canada or the Portuguese dominance in the Indian Ocean in the 16th Century.

    You also need to understand the nature of Eastern Slavic society at this time. While it was unified in language there weren't large long lived tribes, leaders or dynasties in a modern sense. The slavic people who moved into Russia were and continued to operate in relatively small units of several hundred warriors to a few thousand at the most. They had no need for larger units like Germanic warriors attacking the West as their opposition was less organized. Also as Slavic society was poorer (pollen sampling shows that agriculture in this part of Europe was less extensive) elites who are dependent on wealth could not be formed in the same way as western Europe. In this way the Viking domination of Russia was not a conquest as they were not removing an elite as one didn't exist, but creating an entirely new kind of elite, this makes it dis-similar from the two examples you give.

    As to the ferocity of the slavs as warriors they were undoubtedly good soldiers, however the attacks could only have been raids from the Step peoples and Slavs did build refuges to protect from this. But as there was no elite the step people could not have conquered the area unless they were willing to settle down and start farming as the Slavs did. Something most nomads would not have done as they would not have the skills or knowledge to farm and it would not improve their status and position in society. Generally as a result of a conquest the victors will see their position improved, a small hold farmer/soldier becomes a large farmer with many servants, or a minor war band leader would rule large amounts of land and villages. This was not possible to achieve when attacking the slavs as they didn't produce enough wealth to support the extra people involved.

    So how did the Viking do it?

    Initially the Vikings moved to the area of Old Novgorod to take advantage of the growing needs for slaves and furs from this region to be taken to the rest of the Baltic and on to North Western Europe. This continued a trend that had been developed in Northern Norway and Sweden. When the Vikings came in they would fill a niche that hadn't existed before, essentially they went from area to area exacting 'tribute' in furs or slaves. Whether this was paid for or extorted is not certain but probably involved a combination. However there were no other groups filling this niche so they were not in direct competition with the slavic elites (slavic culture having less differentiation between elite and normal status anyway). The wealth generated by the Vikings in turn brought more Vikings over seeking wealth and opportunity, over the course of several generations they learned the waterways of Russia and started to form contacts with the Arab and Byzantine empires, increasing again the opportunities for trade and wealth that could be obtained. All this money meant that a true elite was forming in Russia for the first time. The Slavs had not had an elite in this sense as the wealth of their agriculture was not able to support it. With the Viking trading empires came massive wealth, this could then be used to buy soldiers. These personal retinues could then be used to dominate an area more effectively and exact tolls on trading. Slavic society in the east was not able to support and produce retinues of full time soldiers as they just didn't have the wealth, so the Vikings became the dominant military force in the area. The extra wealth enabled the Vikings to afford better weapons and armour so increasing the advantage they held, slav's who tried to fight them would have been at a disadvantage.

    While the Russian Primary Chronicle is flawed to state that if some of it is wrong it all must be would be foolish. It has recorded the oral tradition, this has errors in it however it will also contain truths. It can be used with other evidence to obtain a more complete picture of what was occurring.

  • 8 years ago

    I don't see any reason to doubt the basic facts you've laid out, so you could rule out the fairy tale theory.

    I don't know that industrious is the right word for their ability to solidify their position. A lot of factors are involved in governing a people. First, dissatisfaction over their local rulers may have made conquest and assimilation easier. How did the new rulers treat their new vassals? Fierce warriors appreciate a) winning leaders and b) leaders who reward loyalty generously. And given the legendary riches of Constantinople, mustering an army to march south would have been that much easier. Also, how much were the successful invaders willing to assimilate into the culture they conquered? People accept minority rule much better when the rulers learn the language, and respect the customs, and adopt the religions of the people they rule. I suspect this plays a critical role for the Rus.

    The Europeans were certainly as "industrious" as the Rus. But they certainly didn't adopt many of the strategies that would have made assimilating the Indians successful. Unfortunately, the Europeans had the technology and determination to take over the New World, assisted by the plagues that reduced the populations they were trying to control.

    So, how about a middle course? The Ruriks were great military and political rulers, who had the fortune to be at the right place and time to utilize those skills to create a new nations.

  • 8 years ago

    You're obviously more erudite on this subject than 99% of us at Yahoo Answers, I'm thinking. If the history doesn't add up, then it may be fabricated. But I can think of some other empires that have significantly expanded and assimilated in a generation, such as the Hellenistic States and the Mongol Khanates. For Ex., the most populous empire at the time, the Song Dynasty, was assimilated into the Yuan Empire in a few years/decades.

    But quoth Napoleon, "What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history ? A fable agreed upon."

  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

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