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The Varangians (Russian: Variags, Варяги) were Scandinavians who travelled eastwards, mainly from Jutland and Sweden. Scandinavia is the cultural and historic region of the Scandinavian Peninsula. ... Jutland Peninsula Jutland (Danish: Jylland; German: Jütland) is a peninsula in northern Europe that forms the mainland part of Denmark and a northern part of Germany, dividing the North Sea from the Baltic Sea. ...


Promoting trade, piracy and mercenary militarism, they roamed the river systems and portages of what later became Russia, reaching the Caspian Sea and Constantinople. Their name came from Old Norse Væringjar, which may have come from the Old Norse plural noun várar = "pledge, troth". A fruit stand at a market. ... Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owners exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it. ... A mercenary is a soldier who fights, or engages in warfare primarily for private gain, usually with little regard for ideological, national or political considerations. ... Militarism expounds that the foundation of a societys security is its military capacity, and claims that the development and maintenance of the military to ensure that capacity is the most important goal for that society. ... Caspian Sea viewed from orbit The Caspian Sea is a landlocked endorheic sea between Asia and Europe (European Russia). ... Map of Constantinople. ... Old Norse or Danish tongue is the Germanic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the Nordic countries (for instance during the Viking Age). ... Look up Plural on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Plural is a grammatical number, typically referring to more than one of the referent in the real world. ... Pledge is a verb, meaning to promise solemnly, and a noun, meaning the promise or its maker or its object – especially: // General The word pledge is used as a synonym for oath, a formal and binding engagement, as in Pledge of Allegiance. ...


The East Slavs and the Byzantines, however, did not distinguish Scandinavians from other Germanic peoples when they used this term. In the Russian Primary Chronicle, this term also includes the people of Denmark and England (Англяне). The East Slavs are the ethnic group that evolved into the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples. ... The Byzantine Empire is the term conventionally used to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire during the Middle Ages, centered at its capital in Constantinople. ... Odin riding on Sleipnir (Ardre image stone, 8th century). ... 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 around 850 to 1110. ... Wikimedia Commons has media related to: England Travel guide to England from Wikitravel English language English law English (people) List of monarchs of England – Kings of England family tree List of English people Angeln (region in northern Germany, presumably the origin of the Angles for whom England is named) UK...

Contents


The Varangian Rus

Guests from overseas, Nicholas Roerich (1899).
Guests from overseas, Nicholas Roerich (1899).

The Varangians (Varyags, in Old East Slavic language) are first mentioned by the Russian Primary Chronicle as having exacted tribute from the Slavic and Finnic tribes (cf. the Danegeld) in 859. In 862, the Finnic and Slavic tribes rebelled against the Varangian Rus, but started making war on each other. The disorder led the tribes to invite the Varangian Rus to come and rule them and bring peace to the region. Led by Rurik and his brothers Truvor and Sineus, the invited Varangians (called Rus) settled around the town of Novgorod. Nicholas Roerich. ... Nicholas Roerich. ... Guests from Overseas, 1899 (Varangians in Russia) Nicholas Roerich, (October 9, 1874 - December 13, 1947) also known as Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh (Russian: Николай Константинович Рерих), was a Russian painter and spiritual teacher. ... Old East Slavic language is one name for a language spoken between the 10th and 14th centuries in Kievan Rus and its successor states, the ancestor of the modern East Slavic languages. ... 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 around 850 to 1110. ... The Slavic peoples are defined by their linguistic attainment of the Slavic languages. ... Finnic (Fennic, sometimes Baltic-Finnic) may refer to languages similar to Finnish spoken close to the Gulf of Finland, i. ... The Danegeld was an English tax raised to pay off Viking raiders (usually led by the Danish king) to save the land from being ravaged by the raiders. ... Events Battle of Abelda: Asturias beats the Muslims. ... Events Rurik gained control of Novgorod. ... The origins of the Rus (or Rus , Русь) are controversial. ... This article is about a real person named Rurik. ... Truvor and Sineus were, according to the Primary Chronicle, the brothers of Rurik. ... The origins of the Rus (or Rus , Русь) are controversial. ... Velikiy Novgorod (Но́вгород) is the foremost historic city of North-Western Russia, situated on the highway (and railway) connecting Moscow and St Petersburg. ...


Though many historians view these 9th century Varangians as legendary, the real settlement of Aldeigjuborg (now Staraya Ladoga) was associated with the name of Rurik, and established around Lake Ladoga in the 8th century. Western history has it that these Scandinavians founded Kievan Rus' and gave their name to the land, 'Russia'. Many Slavic scholars are opposed to this theory of Northern influence and have suggested alternative theories for this part of Russian history. For an overview, see Rus. This earthenware dish was made in 9th century Iraq. ... Staraya Ladoga (Russian: Старая Ладога) is a village near Lake Ladoga. ... Map of Scandinavia Lake Ladoga (Russian: Ладожское озеро, Finnish: Laatokka) is the largest lake in Europe, located in Karelia and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia (since WWII), near the border to Finland. ... (7th century — 8th century — 9th century — other centuries) Events The Iberian peninsula is taken by Arab and Berber Muslims, thus ending the Visigothic rule, and starting almost 8 centuries of Muslim presence there. ... Kievan Rus′ was the early, mostly East Slavic state dominated by the city of Kiev, located in modern Ukraine, from about 880 to the middle of the 12th century. ... The origins of the Rus (or Rus , Русь) are controversial. ...

Enlarge
An approximative map of the non-Varangian cultures in European Russia, in the 9th century

In contrast to the intense Scandinavian influence in Normandy and the British Isles, Varangian culture did not survive to a great extent in the East. Instead, the Varangian ruling classes of the two powerful city-states of Novgorod and Kiev were eventually Slavicized, but Old Norse was spoken in Novgorod until the 13th century, and a Varangian mercenary force continued in the service of the Byzantine Emperors. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (610x622, 144 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (610x622, 144 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... This earthenware dish was made in 9th century Iraq. ... Mont Saint Michel is a historic pilgrimage site and a symbol of Normandy Normandy is a geographical region in northern France. ... The British Isles consist of Great Britain, Ireland and a number of much smaller surrounding islands. ... The Novgorod Republic was an early republic that existed in the North-West territory of modern day Russia, in Novgorod lands between 1136 and 1478. ... A monument to St. ... Old Norse or Danish tongue is the Germanic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the Nordic countries (for instance during the Viking Age). ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... A mercenary is a soldier who fights, or engages in warfare primarily for private gain, usually with little regard for ideological, national or political considerations. ... This is a list of Byzantine Emperors. ...


The Varangian Guard

Varangians first appear in the Byzantine world in 839, when the emperor Theophilus negotiated with the Varangians, whom he called Rhos, to provide a few mercenaries for his army. Although the Varangians often had peaceful trading relations with the Byzantines, they sometimes led attacks against Constantinople. Such attacks came in 860, 907, 911, 941, 945, 971, and finally 1043. These raids were successful only in causing the Byzantines to re-arrange their trading arrangements; militarily, the Varangians were always defeated by the superior Byzantine forces, especially by the use of Greek fire. Events Louis the Pious attempts to divide his empire among his sons. ... Theophilus (813 - 842) was Byzantine emperor from 829 to 842. ... Events First attack on Constantinople by Swedish Vikings (the Rus, see Varangians). ... Events Oleg leads Kievan Rus in a campaign against Constantinople Yelü Abaoji establishes Liao (Khitan) dynasty Births Deaths Categories: 907 ... the towers fell hahaha i hate black people and jews ... Events Oda the Severe becomes Archbishop of Canterbury Births Charles dOutremer son of Louis IV of France Deaths Categories: 941 ... Events Saint Dunstan abbot at Glastonbury Edmund I of England conquers Strathclyde Howell the Good convenes a conference at Whitland, which reforms the laws of Wales Births Abbo of Fleury, French monk Deaths Igor of Kiev Categories: 945 ... Events Births Deaths Culen of Scotland Categories: 971 ... // Events Edward the Confessor crowned King of England at Winchester Cathedral. ... Depiction of Greek Fire in the Madrid Skylitzes manuscript Greek Fire (also called Byzantine Fire, wildfire and liquid fire) was a weapon used by the Byzantine Empire, said to have been invented by a Syrian Christian refugee named Kallinikos (Callinicus) of Heliopolis (Syria), probably about 673. ...


The Varangians served with Dalmatians as marines in naval expeditions against Crete in 902 and again in 949 under Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Further, they were employed in a land campaign in Syria in 955. This service elevated their rank from members of the Great Companions (Gr. Μεγαλη Εταιρειαι) of mercenaries to the Imperial Guard. Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos (the Purple-born) ( 905 – November 9, 959) was the son of Byzantine emperor Leo VI and nephew of Alexander III. He earned his nickname as the legitimate (or more accurately legitimized) son of Leo, as opposed to the others who claimed the throne during his lifetime. ... An imperial guard describes any group of military bodyguard or retainers responsible for the protection of an imperial person, be they an Emperor, Empress or Imperial Prince or Princess. ...


Under Basil II, these were separated into a new force known as the Varangian Guard (Gr. tagma ton varangion, Τάγμα των Βαραγγίων) in 988 upon the conversion of the Kievan prince Vladimir to Orthodox Christianity. In exchange for marriage with Basil's sister Anna, Vladimir gave the emperor 6,000 men recently arrived from the North to use as his personal bodyguard. These men gave Basil II the power to end Bardas Phocas's uprising against which he had been losing ground. After securing his throne the Varangians became the life-guards of the emperor. Over the years, new recruits from as far abroad as Sweden, Denmark, and Norway gave a predominently Scandinavian cast to the organization until the late 11th century. Painting of Basil II, from an 11th century manuscript. ... Events Vladimir I, Prince of Kiev marries Anna, sister of Byzantine emperor Basil II and converts to Christianity. ... Detail of the Millenium of Russia monument in Novgorod (1862) representing St Vladimir and his family. ... Eastern Orthodoxy (also called Greek Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy) is a Christian tradition which represents the majority of Eastern Christianity. ... Bardas Phocas was an eminent Byzantine general who took a conspicuous part in three revolts pro and contra the ruling Macedonian dynasty. ...

Runic graffiti inscribed in a column in Constantinople (now Istanbul) by members of the Varangian Guard.
Runic graffiti inscribed in a column in Constantinople (now Istanbul) by members of the Varangian Guard.

After the successful invasion of England by the Normans, however, a large number of Anglo-Saxons and Danes immigrated to the Byzantine Empire by way of the Mediterranean. One source has more than 5,000 of them arriving in 235 ships. Those who did not enter imperial service were settled on the Black Sea, but those who did became so vital to the Varangians that it was commonly called the Englinbarrangoi from that point. In this capacity they were able to war against the Normans under Robert Guiscard in Sicily, who unsuccessfully sought to invade the lower Balkans as well. Download high resolution version (517x716, 99 KB)Runic inscriptions on a Byzantine column, Istanbul. ... Download high resolution version (517x716, 99 KB)Runic inscriptions on a Byzantine column, Istanbul. ... Map of Constantinople. ... The Normans (adapted from the name Northmen or Norsemen) were a mixture of the indigenous Gauls of France and the Viking invaders under the leadership of Rollo (Gange Rolf). ... Robert Guiscard (i. ...


The duties and purpose of the Varangian Guard was similar to - if not identical - to the services provided by the Kievan druzhina, the Scandinavian vikinge-lag, and the Anglo-Saxon and Danish huscarls. The Varangians served as the personal lifeguard[1] of the emperor, swearing an oath of loyalty to him; they had ceremonial duties as retainers and acclaimers and performed some police duties, especially with regard to cases of treason and conspiracy. Australian Lifeguard The modern lifeguard profession originated in Australia in 1906 and in the most general sense of the word is defined as an emergency service worker, who is a qualified strong swimmer, trained and certified in water rescue, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); who is responsible for overseeing...


While the Varangians are represented in Walter Scott's novel "Count Robert of Paris" as being the fiercest and most loyal element of the Byzantine forces, this is probably exaggerated. However, the exaggeration was begun not by English romantics but by Byzantine writers themselves, who applied a "noble savage" identity to the Varangians. Many Byzantine writers referred to them as "axe-bearing barbarians," or pelekuphoroi barbaroi, rather than Varangians. While many writers praised their loyalty to the emperors (and ascribed their loyalty to their race), the Byzantine rule was marred by usurpations, which indicates that the Guard was either less loyal or less effective than the sources would lead us to believe.


Similar to their distant brethren, the Varangians' main weapon was a long axe, although they were often skilled swordsmen or archers as well. In some sources they are described as mounted. The guard was stationed primarily around Constantinople, and may have been barracked in the Bucoleon palace complex. The guard also accompanied armies into the field, and Byzantine chroniclers (as well as several notable Western European and Arab chroniclers) often note their battlefield prowess, especially in comparison to the local barbarian peoples. They were the only element of the army to successfully defend part of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Although the Guard was apparently disbanded after the city's capture in 1204, there are some indications that it was revived either by the Empire of Nicaea or the Palaeologid emperors themselves. Map of Constantinople. ... The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204), originally designed to conquer Jerusalem by taking Egypt first, instead, in 1204, sacked and conquered the Orthodox Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. ... // Events February - Byzantine emperor Alexius IV is overthrown in a revolution, and Alexius V is proclaimed emperor. ... The Empire of Nicaea was the largest of the states founded by refugees from the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople was conquered during the Fourth Crusade. ... The Palaeologus (Gr. ...


One of the most famous members of the Varangian Guard was the future king Harald III of Norway, known as Harald Hardraada ("Hardreign"), who arrived in Constantinople in 1035. He participated in eighteen battles and became the Akolythos ("Acolyte," the title of the commander of the guard) before returning home in 1043. The exiled English prince Edgar Ætheling may also have served with the Guard around 1098. Harald III Sigurdsson (1015 – September 25, 1066), later surnamed Harald HardrÃ¥da (Norse: Harald Harðráði, roughly translated as Harald stern council or hard ruler) was the king of Norway from 1046 until 1066. ... Events Harthacanute becomes king of Denmark. ... // Events Edward the Confessor crowned King of England at Winchester Cathedral. ... Edgar Ætheling or Eadgar II (c. ... Events First Crusade: end of the siege of Antioch. ...


See also

The name Viking is a loan from the native Scandinavian term for the Norse seafaring warriors who raided the coasts of Scandinavia, Europe and the British Isles from the late 8th century to the 11th century, the period of European history referred to as the Viking Age. ... This article is about a real person named Rurik. ... Riurik, a semi-legendary Scandinavian Varangian, was at the roots of Kievan Rus. ... Roslagen is the name of the coastal areas of Uplandia in Sweden, which also constitutes the northern part of the Stockholm Archipelago. ... Svealand or Sweden Proper[1] is a historical region of Sweden. ... Suiones, Swedes, Svíar or Svear, were an ancient Germanic tribe in Scandinavia. ... The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy. ... The Trade Route from the Varangians to the Greeks (Путь «из варяг в греки» in Russian) was a trade route, which connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus and the Byzantine Empire. ...

Primary Sources

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 around 850 to 1110. ... Strategikon (6th century) is a manual of war by Byzantine emperor Maurice I; it is moreover a practical manual, a rather modest elementary handbook, in the words of its introduction, for those devoting themselves to generalship. ... Kekaumenos is the family name of the otherwise anonymous Byzantine author of a Strategikon composed c. ... The Alexiad is a book written around the year 1148 by the Byzantine historian Anna Comnena, the daughter of Emperor Alexius I. She describe the political and military history Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father (1081-1118), making it one of the most important sources of information on... Anna Comnena (December 1, 1083 - 1153) was a daughter of the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus, and is the first known female historian. ... Heimskringla is the Old Norse name of a collection of sagas recorded in Iceland around 1225 by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242). ...

Sources

  • Sigfus Blondal. Varangians of Byzantium: An Aspect of Byzantine Military History. Trans. by Benedikt S. Benedikz, Cambridge: 1978. ISBN 0521217458
  • H.R. Ellis Davidson. The Viking Road to Byzantium. London: 1976. ISBN 0049400495

External links

  • Who Were the Varangians?
  • English Refugees in the Byzantine Armed Forces: The Varangian Guard and Anglo-Saxon Ethnic Consciousness by Nicholas C.J. Pappas for De Re Militari.org
  • In the 1990’s group of medieval re-enactors in Australia organized an association known as the New Varangian Guard, which works toward recreating elements of Varangian history. It publishes a quarterly journal entitled Varangian Voice, which includes historical information, as well as news regarding the activities of the association and practical information on reproducing armor, costume and weaponry.

Notes

  1. ^  It is neither unusual nor particularly Byzantine that a foreign unit would gain such access and prestige. Augustus himself had a personal guard of Germans, the Collegium Custodum Corporis or Germani Corporis Custodes, to protect himself from the native Praetorians. This guard was revived by Tiberius and continued until Nero.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Varangians (396 words)
A contemporary representation of the Varangian Guards - from the copy of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes held in the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid.
The name Varangian comes from an Old Norse word relating to sharers in an oath - it is thought it originally referred to Swedish traders on the Russian rivers, bound together by an oath to co-operate and share profits.
The Varangian Guards were among the best-paid of the Empire’s troops - so well paid that membership had to be purchased.
Varangian (518 words)
The Varangians are first mentioned by the Russian Primary Chronicle as having arrived from beyond the Baltic Sea around the mid-9th century, invited by the warring Slavic tribes to bring peace to the region.
Varangians first appear in the Byzantine world in 839, when the emperor Theophilus negotiated with them to provide a few mercenaries for his army.
The Varangian Guard was one of the fiercest and most loyal elements of the Byzantine army, as described in Anna Comnena's chronicle of the reign of her father Alexius I, the Alexiad.
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