Kiev, Novgorod and Moscow

August 9 2015

Rurik or Riurik (lived 830-c 879) was the Viking, or Varangian, chieftain who gained control of Ladoga in 862, built Holmgard or Novgorod on the Volkhov and founded the Rurik dynasty.

In 882 his successor Oleg moved the capital south to Kiev on the Dnieper.

In the late 980s, Vladimir the Great was baptised at Chersonesos on the Black Sea and proceeded to baptise his family and people.

The East Roman Empire had nearly half a millennium to run, but when it was dissolved, the idea took hold in some Russian quarters of Moscow as the third Rome.

Kievan Rus dissolved into a collection of principalities and fell to the Mongols circa 1240; but Novgorod, which had in 1136 become not a principality but a republic, was, unlike Moscow, spared a Mongol invasion.

The Grand Principality (or Grand Duchy) of Moscow, plain Muscovy to the English, was established in 1283 and evolved out of the Grand Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal. It extinguished the Novgorod Republic in 1478, ceased to be a tributary of the Golden Horde in 1480 and lasted until the Tsardom was proclaimed in 1547.

The Rurik dynasty, which dominated Kievan Rus, also supplied the Grand Princes of Vladimir and of Moscow – and the first two Tsars, Ivan the Terrible (reigned 1547-84) and Feodor I (reigned 1584-98).

St Vladimir’s Cathedral (1874-76), Chersonesos, Ukraine, near Sevastopol, statue of St Andrew in the foreground

The Russians believed that the apostle Andrew travelled up the Dnieper River and reached the future location of Kiev, where he erected a cross on the site where the St Andrew’s Church of Kiev now stands and where he prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city.

Since 2014, Chersonesus has been controlled by Russia. Russia uses Chersonesus’s history to justify its annexation of the Crimea.

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