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Encyclopedia > Oleg of Novgorod
Fyodor Bruni. Oleg Has His Shield Fixed to the Gates of Constantinople.
Fyodor Bruni. Oleg Has His Shield Fixed to the Gates of Constantinople.

Prince (or konung) Oleg (Slavic: Олег, Old Norse: Helgi, Khazarian, possibly Helgu) was a Varangian ruler who moved the capital of Rus from Novgorod the Great to Kiev and, in doing so, founded the powerful state of Kievan Rus. According to East Slavic chronicles, he was a supreme ruler from 879 to 912, which dates do not comply with the Schechter Letter mentioning the activities of certain khagan HLGW of Rus in the 940s. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The Germanic king originally had three main functions. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... Old Norse or Danish tongue is the Germanic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the Nordic countries (for instance during the Viking Age). ... Language spoken by the medieval Khazar tribe. ... The Varangians (Russian: Variags, Варяги) were Scandinavians who travelled eastwards, mainly from Jutland and Sweden. ... Kievan Rus′ was an early, mostly East Slavic[1] state dominated by the city of Kiev from about 880 to the middle of the 12th century. ... For other cities named Novgorod see Novgorod (disambiguation). ... Map of Ukraine with Kiev highlighted Coordinates: Country Ukraine Oblast Kiev City Municipality Raion Municipality Government  - Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi Elevation 179 m (587. ... Kievan Rus′ (Ки́евская Ру́сь, Kievskaya Rus in Russian; Київська Русь, Kyivs’ka Rus’ in Ukrainian) was the early, mostly East Slavic¹ state dominated by the... Events Wilfred the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, founded the benedictine monastery at Ripoll. ... Events Orso II Participazio becomes Doge of Venice Patriarch Nicholas I Mysticus becomes patriarch of Constantinople Births November 23 - Otto I the Great Holy Roman Emperor (+ 973) Abd-ar-rahman III - prince of the Umayyad dynasty Deaths Oleg of Kiev Categories: 912 ... Also called the Cambridge Document, the Schechter Letter was discovered in the genizah of a Cairo synagogue by Solomon Schechter. ... Khagan or Great Khan, alternatively spelled Chagan, Qaqan, Khakhan, Khaghan, Kagan, Khaqan etc. ...

Contents

Oleg of East Slavic chronicles

A relation (likely brother-in-law) of the first ruler, Rurik, the Varangian Helgi was entrusted by Rurik to take care of both his kingdom and his young son Ingvar, or Igor. Oleg gradually took control of the Dnieper cities, captured Kiev (previously held by other Varangians, Askold and Dir) and finally moved his capital from Novgorod there. The new capital was a convenient place to launch a raid against Tsargrad (Constantinople) in 911. According to the chronicle, the Byzantines attempted to poison Oleg, but the Rus' leader demonstrated his oracular powers by refusing to drink the cup of poisoned wine. Having fixed his shield to the gate of the imperial capital, Oleg won a favourable trade treaty, which eventually was of great benefit to both nations. Although Byzantine sources did not record these hostilities, the text of the treaty survives in the Primary Chronicle. Rurik or Riurik (Russian: , Old East Norse Rørik, meaning famous ruler) (ca 830 – ca 879) was a Varangian who gained control of Ladoga in 862 and built the Holmgard settlement (Ryurikovo Gorodishche) in Novgorod. ... The Varangians (Russian: Variags, Варяги) were Scandinavians who travelled eastwards, mainly from Jutland and Sweden. ... Burial of Igor the Old, by Heinrich Semiradski (1845-1902). ... Askold (Höskuldr) and Dir (Dyri) were according to the Primary Chronicle, two of Ruriks men. ... Velikiy Novgorod (Russian: ) is the foremost historic city of North-Western Russia, situated on the M10(E95) federal highway connecting Moscow and St. ... Combatants Byzantine Empire Kievan Rus Commanders Leo the Wise Oleg of Kiev The Rus-Byzantine War of 907 is associated in the Primary Chronicle with the name of Oleg of Novgorod. ... Tsargrad (Old Church Slavonic: Цѣсарьградъ, Church Slavonic: Царьгра̀дъ, Russian: , Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian: Цариград (Tsarigrad or Carigrad in the Latin alphabet), Romanian: Å¢arigrad, Ukrainian: , also rendered as Czargrad and Tzargrad; see Tsar) is a historic Slavic name for the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire and eventually its eastern half... Map of Constantinople. ... This article is about the year 911 A.D.; for the emergency telephone number, see 9-1-1. ... The Russian Primary Chronicle (Russian: Повесть временных лет, Povest vremennykh let, which is often translated in English as Tale of Bygone Years), is a history of the early East Slavic state, Kievan Rus, from...


The Primary Chronicle's brief account of Oleg's life contrasts with other early sources, specifically the Novgorod First Chronicle, which states that Oleg was not related to Rurik, and was rather a client-prince who served as Igor's army commander. The Novgorod First Chronicle does not give the date of the commencement of Oleg's reign, but dates his death to 922 rather than 912.[1] Scholars have contrasted this dating scheme with the "epic" reigns of roughly thirty-three years for both Oleg and Igor in the Primary Chronicle.[2] Besides, the Primary Chronicle and other Kievan sources place Oleg's grave in Kiev, while Novgorodian sources identify a funerary barrow in Ladoga as Oleg's final resting place.[3] The Novgorod First Chronicle (Russian: ) is the most ancient extant chronicle of the Novgorod Republic. ... A tumulus (plural tumuli or tumuluses, from the Latin word for mound or small hill) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. ... The fortress of Ladoga was built in stone in the 12th century and rebuilt 400 years later. ...

Viktor Vasnetsov. Oleg being mourned by his warriors (1899).

In the Primary Chronicle, Oleg is known as the Prophet (вещий), an epithet nodding to the sacred meaning of his Norse name ("priest"), but also ironically referring to the circumstances of his death. According to this legend, romanticised by Pushkin in his celebrated ballad, it was prophesied by the pagan priests that Oleg would take death from his stallion. Proud of his own foretelling abilities, he sent the horse away. Many years later he asked where his horse was, and was told it had died. He asked to see the remains and was taken to the place where the bones lay. When he touched the horse's skull with his boot a snake slithered from the skull and bit him. Oleg died, thus fulfilling the prophecy. In Scandinavian traditions, this legend lived on in the saga of Orvar-Odd. Image File history File links Viktor Vasnetsov. ... Image File history File links Viktor Vasnetsov. ... Self-portrait 1873 Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (Виктор Михайлович Васнецов) (May 15 (N.S.), 1848—1926) was a Russian artist who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. ... Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (Russian: Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин, IPA: ,  ) (June 6 [O.S. May 26] 1799 – February 10 [O.S. January 29] 1837) was a Russian Romantic author who is considered to be the greatest Russian poet[1][2][3][4] and the founder of modern Russian literature. ... Illustration by Arthur Rackham of the ballad The Twa Corbies A ballad is a story, usually a narrative or poem, in a song. ... Orvar-Odd (i. ...


Helgu of the Schechter Letter

According to the Primary Chronicle, Oleg died in 913 and his successor, Igor of Kiev, ruled from then until his assassination in 944. The Schechter Letter[4], a document written by a Jewish Khazar, a contemporary of Romanus I Lecapenus, describes the activities of a Rus warlord named HLGW (Hebrew: הלגו), usually transcribed as "Helgu".[5] For years many scholars disregarded or discounted the Schechter Letter account, which referred to Helgu (often interpreted as Oleg) as late as the 940s.[6] Burial of Igor the Old, by Heinrich Semiradski (1845-1902). ... Also called the Cambridge Document, the Schechter Letter was discovered in the genizah of a Cairo synagogue by Solomon Schechter. ... For other uses, see Jew (disambiguation). ... The Khazars were a Turkic semi-nomadic people from Central Asia who adopted Judaism. ... Romanus I Lecapenus (Romanos I Lakapenos, 870 - 948), who shared the throne of the Byzantine Empire with Constantine VII and exercised all the real power from 919 to 944, was admiral of the Byzantine fleet on the Danube River when, hearing of the defeat of the army at the Battle... “Hebrew” redirects here. ... Also called the Cambridge Document, the Schechter Letter was discovered in the genizah of a Cairo synagogue by Solomon Schechter. ...


Recently, however, scholars such as David Christian and Constantine Zuckerman have suggested that the Schechter Letter's account is in sync with various other Russian chronicles, and suggests a struggle within the early Rus polity between factions loyal to Oleg and to the Rurikid Igor, a struggle that Oleg ultimately lost.[7] Zuckerman posited that the early chronology of the Rus had to be re-determined in light of these sources. Among Zuckerman's beliefs and those of others who have analyzed these sources are that the Khazars did not lose Kiev until the early 900s (rather than 882, the traditional date[8]), that Igor was not Rurik's son but rather a more distant descendant, and that Oleg did not immediately follow Rurik, but rather that there is a lost generation between the legendary Varangian lord and his documented successors.[9] Dr. David Gilbert Christian (1946-) is an Anglo-American historian. ... Constantine Zuckerman (1957- ) is a French historian and professor. ... Rurik Dynasty ... Burial of Igor the Old, by Heinrich Semiradski (1845-1902). ... Map of Ukraine with Kiev highlighted Coordinates: Country Ukraine Oblast Kiev City Municipality Raion Municipality Government  - Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi Elevation 179 m (587. ... Rurik or Riurik (Russian: , Old East Norse Rørik, meaning famous ruler) (ca 830 – ca 879) was a Varangian who gained control of Ladoga in 862 and built the Holmgard settlement (Ryurikovo Gorodishche) in Novgorod. ... The Varangians (Russian: Variags, Варяги) were Scandinavians who travelled eastwards, mainly from Jutland and Sweden. ...


Of particular interest is the fact that the Schechter Letter account of Oleg's death (namely, that he fled to and raided FRS, tentatively identified with Persia[10], and was slain there) bears remarkable parallels to the account of Arab historians such as al-Miskawaihi, who described a similar Rus attack on the Muslim state of Arran in the year 944/5.[11] There is also a collection of Hadith called Sahih Muslim A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم, Persian: Mosalman or Mosalmon Urdu: مسلمان, Turkish: Müslüman, Albanian: Mysliman, Bosnian: Musliman) is an adherent of the religion of Islam. ... Ancient countries of Caucasus: Armenia, Iberia, Colchis and Albania Caucasian Albania (or Aghbania) was an ancient kingdom that covered what is now southern Dagestan and most of present-day Azerbaijan. ...


Attempts to reconcile the accounts

Prince Oleg Approached by Pagan Priests, a Kholuy illustration to Pushkin's ballad.
Prince Oleg Approached by Pagan Priests, a Kholuy illustration to Pushkin's ballad.

In contrast to Zuckerman's version, the Primary Chronicle and the later Kiev Chronicle place Oleg's grave in Kiev, where it could be seen at the time when these documents were compiled. Furthermore, scholars pointed out that, if Oleg succeeded Rurik in 879 (as the East Slavic chronicles assert), he could hardly have been active almost 70 years later, if his was not a case of longevity unheard of in medieval annals. To solve these difficulties, it has been proposed that "helgu", standing for "holy" in Norse language, was a hereditary title of the pagan monarchs-priests of Rus and that this title was held by Igor, among others.[12] Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Kholuy (Russian: ) is a village (selo) in Yuzhsky District of Ivanovo Oblast, Russia, situated southwest of Puchezh some 71 km away from the Shuya railway station. ... A North Germanic language is any of several Germanic languages spoken in Scandinavia, parts of Finland and on the islands west of Scandinavia. ...


It has also been suggested that Helgu-Oleg who waged war in the 940s, was distinct from both of Rurik's successors. He could have been one of the "fair and great princes" recorded in the Russo-Byzantine treaties of 911 and 944 or one of the "archons of Rus" mentioned in De administrando imperio. Regrettably, the Primary Chronicle does not specify the relations between minor Rurikid princes active during the period, although the names Rurik, Oleg, and Igor were recorded among the late-10th-century and 11th-century Rurikids. De Administrando Imperio is the commonly used title of a scholarly work from ca. ...


Georgy Vernadsky even identified Oleg of the Schechter Letter with Igor's otherwise anonymous eldest son, whose widow Predslava is mentioned in the Russo-Byzantine treaty of 944.[13] Alternatively, V. Ya. Petrukhin speculated that Helgu-Oleg of the 940s was one of the vernacular princes of Chernigov, whose ruling dynasty maintained especially close contacts with Khazaria, as the findings at the Black Grave, a large royal kurgan excavated near Chernigov, seem to testify.[14] Neither of these theories has been endorsed in the academic mainstream, however. George Vernadsky George Vernadsky (1887 — 1973, Russian: Гео́ргий Влади́мирович Верна́дский) was a Russian-American historian and an author of numerous books on Russian history. ... Chernihiv (Чернігів in Ukrainian) is an ancient city in northern Ukraine, the central city of Chernihivska oblast. Some common historical spellings of the name are Polish: Czernichów, and Russian: Чернигов, Chernigov. ... The Khazars were a Turkic semi-nomadic people from Central Asia who adopted Judaism. ... A 19th century drawing depicting the mound. ... Sarmatian Kurgan 4th c. ...


References

  1. ^ Nasonov ___; cf. Kloss 337-343.
  2. ^ Shahmatov xxxii-xxxiii.
  3. ^ The earliest and most believable version seems to have been preserved in the Novgorod First Chronicle, which says that Oleg departed "overseas" (i.e., to Scandinavia) and was buried there.
  4. ^ The text of the Schechter Letter is given at Golb 106-121. It is cited herein by folio and line (e.g. SL Fol. x:x)
  5. ^ SL Fol. 2r, 15-16; 17. The author of the letter describes Khazaria as "our land". SL Fol. 1r:19, 2v:15,20.
  6. ^ No less a personage than Mikhail Artamonov declared the manuscripts' authenticity beyond question. Artamonov 12. Nonetheless, other scholars expressed scepticism about its account, due in large part to its contradiction of the Primary Chronicle. E.g., Gregoire 242-248, 255-266; Dunlop 161. Novoseltsev, noting the discrepancy, admits the document's authenticity but declares that the author "displaces the real historical facts rather freely." Novoseltsev 216-218. Brutskus asserted that HLGW was in fact another name for Igor. Brutskus 30-31. Mosin proposed that HLGW was a different person from Oleg and was an independent prince in Tmutarakan; the existence of an independent Rus state in Tmutarakan in the first half of the tenth century is rejected by virtually all modern scholars. Mosin 309-325; cf. Zuckerman 258.
  7. ^ Zuckerman 257-268. Zuckerman cites, inter alia, to the Novgorod First Chronicle. Cf., e.g., Christian 341-345.
  8. ^ Pritsak 60-71; Shahmatov xxxii-xxxiii;
  9. ^ Pritsak 60-71. Pritsak placed the "lost generation" between Oleg and Igor. Zuckerman dismisses this as "outright speculation"; and places both as contemporaries in the early to mid tenth century.
  10. ^ Pavel Kokovtsov, when publishing a Russian translation of the letter in 1932, argued that FRS may refer to Thrace, where the Rus forces were defeated by the armies of Lecapenus (online).
  11. ^ Miskawaihi 67-74; cf. SL Fol. 2v:3 et seq.
  12. ^ Parkhomenko 24 et seq.
  13. ^ Vernadsky 41 et seq.
  14. ^ Petrukhin 226-228.

The Novgorod First Chronicle (Russian: ) is the most ancient extant chronicle of the Novgorod Republic. ... The site of the Khazar fortress of Sarkel, which was discovered and excavated by Artamonov in the 1930s. ... Tmutarakan is an ancient city that controlled the passage from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. ... Thraciae veteris typvs. ...

Sources

  • Artamonov, Mikhail. Istoriya Khazar. Leningrad, 1962.
  • Brutskus, Julius D. Pismo Hazarskogo Evreja Ol X Veka. Berlin 1924.
  • Christian, David. A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, Vol. 1. Blackwell, 1998.
  • Dunlop, D.M.. History of the Jewish Khazars. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1954.
  • Gregoire, H. 'Le "Glozel' khazare." Revue des Études Byzantines 12, 1937.
  • Golb, Norman and Omeljan Pritsak. Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1982. [Note:as each author was responsible for separate sections of the work, they are referenced separately above.]
  • Kloss, B.M. "Letopis' Novgorodskaja pervaja". Slovar' Kniznikov i Knizhnosti Drevnej Rusi, vol. 1. Leningrad 1987.
  • Kokovtsov P.S. Еврейско-хазарская переписка в X веке. Leningrad 1932.
  • al-Miskawaihi. The Eclipse of the 'Abbasid Caliphate. D.S. Margoliouth, trans. Oxford 1921.
  • Mosin, V. "Les Khazars et les Byzantins d'apres l'Anonyme de Cambridge." Revue des Études Byzantines 6 (1931): 309-325.
  • Nasonov, A.N., ed. Novgorodskaja Pervaja Lelopis Starshego i Mladshego Izvodov. Moscow, 1950.
  • Novoseltsev, Anatoli P. Hazarskoe Gosudarstvo i Ego Rol' v Istorii Vostochnoj Evropy i Kavkaza. Moscow 1990.
  • Parkomenko V.A. У истоков русской государственности. Leningrad, 1924.
  • Petrukhin V.Ya. "Князь Олег, Хелгу Кембриджского документа и русский княжеский род". Древнейшие государства Восточной Европы. 1998. Памяти А.П. Новосельцева. Moscow, Russian Academy of Sciences, 2000: 222-230.
  • Shahmatov, A.A. Ocherk Drevnejshego Perioda Istorii Russkogo Jazyka. Petrograd, 1915 (reprinted Paris 1967).
  • Zuckerman, Constantine. "On the Date of the Khazar’s Conversion to Judaism and the Chronology of the Kings of the Rus Oleg and Igor." Revue des Études Byzantines 53 (1995): 237-270.
  • Vernadsky, Georgy. Kievan Rus. Moscow, 1996.
Preceded by
Rurik
Prince of Novgorod
879912
Succeeded by
Igor
Preceded by
Askold and Dir
Prince of Kiev
882912

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