finno ugrian

This is the seventh installment in a series of book recommendations, all of which will introduce you to kickass women from mythologies around the world, all of them written by women. All books listed had to pass the following criteria: 

  • Be written by a woman
  • Be fictional
  • Have a woman as (one of) the protagonist(s)
  • Feature Russian or Slavic mythology

This recommendation list comes on the heels of the Asian mythology rec list, because I really wanted to include Russia (which falls under both Asian and Slavic mythology), but I wanted to keep the country as a whole in one post. @kostromas (x) and @lamus-dworski (x) (x) were kind enough to take some time answering my questions.

While I mainly looked for books ft. Russian and Slavic mythologies (I used this Wiki file as a measure to determine the Slavic region), I also include a few books with other origins, such as Norway and various Eastern European countries, because I think - out of all the recommendation posts I have done and plan to do - this is the one they would fit best in. 

Please note as well that there is a lot of overlap among most of these cultures, with different versions of a character appearing in many, so some of the below classifications may be rather arbitrary (I usually go with what’s 1) listed in the summary, then see if 2) the writer specifies a culture, or if 3) readers had helpful input).

UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that this post could do with some clarification and additions. To start with, I’d like to address the small number of books listed under Slavic. I don’t mean to say that only the countries listed are Slavic countries. The list is as limited as it is because I found it difficult to locate books that met all the above listed criteria, and an unconscious fifth - that they be written in English. If you take out any one of those criteria, a larger pool of books would open itself up, and I encourage you to consider that as an option.

While I understand that limiting these lists to books written in or translated into English is not ideal, I also don’t think I am the right person to judge which books written in Slavic languages should be included, as I am not Slavic and don’t speak or read Slavic languages. Readers should be aware though, that reading a book featuring Slavic mythologies or cultures, which are not written by someone who identifies as Slavic, may promote a stereotypical or otherwise harmful depiction of those cultures. 

Moreover, those authors who do hail from the relevant region are more likely to be published if they don’t push the envelope too much to be acceptable for a generic Western audience. Therefore, additional reading of books on and / or featuring Slavic mythologies or cultures can aid in understanding the context of these tales. I have listed a couple of books in the honourable mentions with that in mind, and I have decided to add an asterisk (*) to all works written by an author who is confirmed as hailing from the region their work is set in. Typically, I’ve listed one or two books per author, but do check for their other writing.

Finally, I should add that I might have made a mistake in including Russia in this list. This was done because I wanted to keep the country in one post, rather than splitting it between the Asian list and this one. The Asian one was sufficiently long I didn’t want to add it there, but I might have been better off creating a completely separate list for it rather than including it here.

With the above reasons in mind, I have decided to move the Slavic section up, I have added a number of entries throughout, and expanded the resources list at the bottom.

Slavic

Russia

Other regions (not Slavic or Russian)

Undefined / speculative

Historical fiction

Comics & graphic novels

Some collected tales

Poetry

Honourable mentions

Other lists you can consult

If you have any suggestions for other Slavic and / or Russian women who deserve more attention (and a corresponding book), or which mythology should definitely be in this series, drop me a line!

Other kickass women in mythology: women in Greek mythology | women in Egyptian mythology & historywomen in Mesoamerican mythologies | women in Celtic mythologies | women in Native American mythologies | women in Asian mythologies | women in pirate lore & history

In honor of Women in Translation Month, here’s a handful (okay, an armful) of fiction by women in translation that I’ve read over the past few years and recommend (Part 1):

- Umami.  Laia Jufresa [Spanish, Mexico]
- Pétronille.  Amélie Nothomb [French, Belgium]
- Fever Dream.  Samanta Schweblin [Spanish, Argentina]
- Seeing Red.  Lina Meruane [Spanish, Chile]
- Kuessipan.  Naomi Fontaine  [French, Indigenous Canada]
- Absent.  Betool Khedairi [Arabic, Iraq]
- Ru.  Kim Thúy [French, Canada/Vietnam]
- The Body Where I Was Born. Guadalupe Nettel [Spanish, Mexico]
- War, So Much War.  Mercè Rodoreda [Catalan, Catalonia/Spain]
- Summer’s End.  Adalet Ağaoğlu (6/20) [Turkish, Turkey]
- Landscape with Dog.  Ersi Sotiropoulos (9/16) [Greek, Greece]
- The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris.  Leïla Marouane (11/3) [French, Algeria]
- The Diving Pool. Yoko Ogawa (11/28) [Japanese, Japan]
- This Too Shall Pass. Milena Busquets (6/11) [Spanish, Spain]
- The Finno-Ugrian Vampire.  Noémi Szécsi [Hungarian, Hungary]
- Karate Chop.  Dorthe Nors ([Danish, Denmark]
- The Vegetarian.  Han Kang [Korean, South Korea]
- The Story of My Teeth.  Valeria Luiselli [Spanish, Mexico]
- Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio. Amara Lakhous [Italian, Italy]
- Why I Killed My Best Friend.  Amanda Michalopoulou [Greek, Greece]
- There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya [Russian, Russia]
- The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine.  Alina Bronsky [German, Russia/Germany]
- Please Look After Mom.  Kyung-Sook Shin [Korean, South Korea]
- My Brilliant Friend.  Elena Ferrante [Italian, Italy]
- Kassandra and the Wolf.  Margarita Karapanou [Greek, Greece]
- All Russians Love Birch Trees.  Olga Grjasnowa [German, Azerbaijan]
- Dear Shameless Death. Latife Tekin [Turkish, Turkey]

KIEVAN RUS: TRAVEL BY LAND AND SEA

This is an excerpt from: KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

The realm of Kievan Rus was riddled with rivers that worked as superhighways for fast and easy travel: routes connecting the Rus to the Balts, Finns, Ugrians and Scandinavians to the north; ones leading east into the domains of the infamous steppe nomads and the rich Islamic world; south to the Black Sea which gave access to the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantines. While land travel was possible it was made all the more difficult for large armies as the ground would become muddied in the spring and autumn due to rainfall and winter snows melting. However, in the winter it was actually easier to traverse on foot than it was during the warmer seasons as the rivers would freeze and the Rus would also employ the use of sleds, snowshoes, skis and ‘frost nails’ (spikes on the bottom of shoes or horseshoes for traction; think of cleats).

^ Frost Nails. 

The Rus that sailed these rivers had to avoid obstructions and shallow rapids so they (portaged) carried or pulled their ships onto land, dragged them over logs until they passed around these obstacles then pushed their ships back into the river at another location. This was also done to move boats from one river to another since the whole of their realm was a patchwork or web of waterways. This process of portaging could prove to be a dangerous one as the Rus would become susceptible to being ambushed or assaulted by various nomadic steppe peoples.

To combat this Rusians constructed ports, garrisons and forts along the rivers to give temporary refuge, shelter, aid and protection. Another safe refuge for the Rusians were the many islands that dotted the rivers they traversed. Since the Rus typically dominated rivers they used these islands as pit stops to keep the bandit horsemen of the steppes at bay. The Rus also hired and allied themselves with some steppe nomads to ward off other hostile invaders. The Druzhina (imperial guards) and these nomad allies rode on land alongside the vessels sailing these rivers and guarded them while they portaged.

Nor can the Russians come at this imperial city of the Romans, either for war or for trade, unless they are at peace with the Pechenegs, because when the Russians come with their ships to the barrages of the river and cannot pass through unless they lift their ships off the river and carry them past by portaging them on their shoulders, then the men of this nation of the Pechenegs set upon them, and, as they cannot do two things at once, they are easily routed and cut to pieces…” – De Administrando Imperio (“On the Administration of the Empire”) by Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus c.950.

Though the many rapids that peppered the great rivers of the Rus were a hassle, they were also just as much of a curse as they were a blessing. Enemies attempting to lead a naval invasion of Kievan Rus were constricted by the fact that they could only use smaller vessels capable of sailing shallow rivers and in effect, send less men up at a time. Enemy vessels were also equally at risk of being attacked while portaging as the Rus were. Another advantage of the previously mentioned portages was that these points, and the fortified structures often stationed near them, became advantageous for traders and merchants and boat repairmen. 

Osprey - ‘Men-at-Arms’ series, issue 491 - Armies of the Volga Bulgars
& Khanate of Kazan, 9th–16th Centuries.
 “Reconstruction of an ushkuy as used by the ushkuyniki river-pirates, and probably by many other peoples on the Volga and Kama river system. Clinker-built from pine planks, these craft had a length of 12–14m (39–46ft), a beam of perhaps one-fifth that length, a shallow draught of approximately 0.5m (20in) below the water, and about 1m (39in) of freeboard. This design gave the uskhuy considerable speed for a medieval vessel. (A.S. Sheps)

The Rus used a type of dugout boats called a monoxyla, (Greek “single-tree”) which were able to sail shallow waters. According to the ‘De Administrando Imperio’, written by Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus around c.950, the Slavic Krivichians and the Lenzanenes would go into the mountains during the winters where they would cut down trees for the crafting of monoxyla and by spring time they traverse down the now thawed Dnieper River and sell the monoxyla to the Rus. The Rus themselves added oars, rowlocks and tackle and when the Rus neared more easily traversable lakes and seas they made use of their masts, sails and rudders. Another ship used in the north was the easily portaged Finnish ushkui (uisk, “snake”) which was made famous by the Novgorodian pirates referred to as the Ushkuiniks who are seen as both heroes and villains depending on one’s perspective.

^ Osprey - ‘Men-at-Arms’ series, issue 491 - Armies of the Volga Bulgars
& Khanate of Kazan, 9th–16th Centuries. Plate E: THE USHKUYNIKI MENACE, 14th–15th CENTURIES - E2: Archer, 14th–15th centuries
: “This Volga Bulgar foot-soldier wears gear practically identical to his Russian ushkuyniki foes. The spired steel helmet has an aventail divided at both sides, covering his neck back and front but not the shoulders. The mail hauberk is short-hemmed but has sleeves to below the elbow. Note that the long-sleeved, quilted coat-armour is much shorter at the back than at the front, where it is divided from hem to belly. The slung shield and the archery equipment also resemble Russian styles, though the signalling whistle attached below his arrowhead may have been confined to the Mongols and their Volga Bulgar vassals.

If there are any errors please privately inbox me so I can update it. As always, if you’d like to read or learn about any specific historical subjects just let me know what they are and I will take note of them.

See Also:

  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES:  In this post I will be covering the early portion of the medieval realm known as Kievan Rus (pronounced ‘Roos’); a multiethnic and cultural realm incorporating the Norse, Slavs, Turks, Balts and Finno-Ugrians. A realm centered around the many rivers that were riddled throughout its domains and led them to the riches of the Byzantine Empire, Silverland (Islamic Middle East) and the Baltic Sea. The culture, battle tactics and armaments of the ancient Slavs are addressed as well as the Druzhina (personal bodyguards and standing army). Also mentioned are some of the conflicts the Rus had with one another, the Greeks (Byzantine Empire), Bulgarians and Turkish steppe nomads. 
  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE: In this post I will cover some of the civil wars, wars of succession and familicide that plagued Kievan Rus; their peak under leaders like Vladimir the Great (who unified the Rus and made Orthodox Christianity their official religion) and Yaroslav the Wise (while Europe was in a dark age, he made Kievan Rus a beacon of knowledge, literacy, trade and faith); Kievan Rus’ shattering into various feuding states, their clash against the Mongols and their rarely spoken of religion. The Chernye Klobuki (Turkish mercenaries) and the Varangian Guard (Norse, Slavic, Germanic, etc.) are also noted; the latter were warriors employed by the Byzantine Empire to act as the Emperor’s trusted personal guard and on occasion they acted as pirate hunters, policemen, jailers, prison guards, torturers and interrogators.

OLEG THE PROPHET

This is an excerpt from my post: KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

According to the ‘Russian Primary Chronicle’, parts of medieval Russia were beginning to be colonized, inhabited and sometimes ruled by foreign Norse mercenaries known as the Rus. One such ruler was a man named Oleg the Seer or Oleg the Prophet. After the previous ruler’s death Oleg became regent of Novgorod until the true prince grew up.

On [Rurik’s] deathbed, Rurik bequeathed his realm to Oleg, who belonged to his kin, and entrusted to Oleg’s hands his son Igor’, for he was very young.” –Russian Primary Chronicle.

^ Early Rus.

 Oleg’s Rus–Byzantine War (907 CE)

After deposing two Norsemen who set themselves up as rulers of the city of Kiev without Novgorod’s consent, Oleg established it as the new capital of ‘Kievan Rus’. Oleg then sailed his force of Varangians, Slavs and Finns against the rich empire across the Black Sea, the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines closed up the Bosphorus strait so his naval forces had to disembark and march on the heavily fortified city of Tsargrad (Constantinople). The Rus fought along the outskirts where they destroyed churches, palaces and killed many:

Of the prisoners they captured, some they beheaded, some they tortured, some they shot, and still others they cast into the sea.” – Russian Primary Chronicle.

Oleg had his men collect or make wheels and attach them to his ships as to allow them, by the wind-blown sails, to advance towards the city on land. The Greeks then sent out wine and food laced with poison to Oleg the Seer’s forces as a gift but as his name implied, he foresaw their treachery and avoided being poisoned. The Greeks then, in fear of losing the whole of Greece over something that could be easily avoided, agreed to Oleg’s terms. 

The Greeks would pay his forces and also pay tribute to the cities of Kievan Rus. The Greeks were to support Oleg’s emissaries or merchants for six months with food (grain, fish, and fruit), wine and bath, letting them trade tax-free and reside in the St. Mamas quarter of the city. Upon their voyage back home the Rus would be given “food, anchors, cordage and sails”. The Rus must only come over if they intend on trading, “shall commit no violent acts in the towns or upon our territory” and must enter unarmed no more than fifty at a time and escorted by the emperor’s men. Either to mark their victory over Tsargrad (Constantinople) or to seal the peace agreement, the Rus hung their shields on the gates of Tsargrad; a common Norse custom.

^ ‘Oleg Has His Shield Fixed to the Gates of Constantinople’ by Fyodor Bruni.

Thus the Emperors Leo and Alexander made peace with Oleg, and after agreeing upon the tribute and mutually binding themselves by oath, they kissed the cross, and invited Oleg and his men to swear an oath likewise. According to the religion of the Russes, the latter swore by their weapons and by their god Perun (god of thunder and lightning), as well as by Volos, the god of cattle, and thus confirmed the treaty.” – Russian Primary Chronicle.

According to the Russian Primary Chronicle Oleg asked sorcerers [volkhi] and fortune-tellers how would he die and the prophecy was that his horse would be the death of him so he had his horse removed from sight and ordered that the horse was to be kept alive and well fed. After the Rus–Byzantine Treaty (907) Oleg asked about the horse and discovered that it had died, he chuckled at the fact that the prophecy had proven false. Insulting the soothsayers and seers, he went to see the corpse of the horse. Upon seeing it he laughed, saying, “Was it this skull that was supposed to cause my death?”; placing a leg on the horse’s skull a serpent suddenly slithered out of the skull and bit his leg, killing him.

If there are any errors please privately inbox me so I can update it. As always, if you’d like to read or learn about any specific historical subjects just let me know what they are and I will take note of them.

See Also:

  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES:  In this post I will be covering the early portion of the medieval realm known as Kievan Rus (pronounced ‘Roos’); a multiethnic and cultural realm incorporating the Norse, Slavs, Turks, Balts and Finno-Ugrians. A realm centered around the many rivers that were riddled throughout its domains and led them to the riches of the Byzantine Empire, Silverland (Islamic Middle East) and the Baltic Sea. The culture, battle tactics and armaments of the ancient Slavs are addressed as well as the Druzhina (personal bodyguards and standing army). Also mentioned are some of the conflicts the Rus had with one another, the Greeks (Byzantine Empire), Bulgarians and Turkish steppe nomads. 
  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE: In this post I will cover some of the civil wars, wars of succession and familicide that plagued Kievan Rus; their peak under leaders like Vladimir the Great (who unified the Rus and made Orthodox Christianity their official religion) and Yaroslav the Wise (while Europe was in a dark age, he made Kievan Rus a beacon of knowledge, literacy, trade and faith); Kievan Rus’ shattering into various feuding states, their clash against the Mongols and their rarely spoken of religion. The Chernye Klobuki (Turkish mercenaries) and the Varangian Guard (Norse, Slavic, Germanic, etc.) are also noted; the latter were warriors employed by the Byzantine Empire to act as the Emperor’s trusted personal guard and on occasion they acted as pirate hunters, policemen, jailers, prison guards, torturers and interrogators.

THE CONVERSION OF KIEVAN RUS

This is an excerpt from my post: KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE.

After defeating and subjugating the Volga Bulgars (Turkish Muslims) in 985 CE, the Bulgars sent envoys to Vladimir (986 CE) which told him: “Though you are a wise and prudent prince, you have no religion. Adopt our faith, and revere Mahomet” (Primary Chronicle). Out of curiosity he inquired about their religion. Although the Muslim envoys expressed that the prophet “Mahomet will give each man 70 fair women” (P.C.), the need for circumcision and abstinence from pork and wine was too much of a penalty in his eyes: “Drinking is the joy of the Russes. We cannot exist without that pleasure” (P.C.).

The next envoys to speak with him were Catholic Germans (Holy Roman Empire) sent by the Pope, the Pope’s message was that “Your country is like our country, but your faith is not as ours. For our faith is the light. We worship God, who has made heaven and earth, the stars, the moon, and every creature, while your gods are only wood” (P.C.). Inquiring about them Vladimir was told that they practiced “Fasting according to one’s strength. But whatever one eats or drinks is all to the glory of God, as our teacher Paul has said” (P.C.). Vladimir dismissed them stating that “Then Vladimir answered, “Depart hence; our fathers accepted no such principle” (P.C.).

The third to arrive were envoys from the Jewish Khazar Khaganate (Turkish steppe nomads) who replied that they required circumcision, observing the Sabbath, and abstinence from pork and hare. When Vladimir asked them about where their holy city of Jerusalem was they responded that “God was angry at our forefathers and scattered us among the gentiles (“non-Jews”, “heathens”, “pagans”) on account of our sins. Our land was then given to Christians” (P.C.) Vladimir responded that “How can you hope to teach others while you yourselves are cast out and scattered abroad by the hand of God? If God loved you and your faith, you would not be thus dispersed in foreign lands. Do you expect us to accept that fate also?” (P.C.).

^ Ivan Eggink’s painting represents Vladimir listening to the Orthodox priests, while the papal envoy stands aside in discontent.

The fourth and final sent was a Byzantine Greek scholar on behalf of Orthodox Christianity then arrived and spoke harshly about each religion. The Greek scholar then went on artfully preaching and lecturing to Vladimir about the bible, their faith, life after death and judgement day. The Greek scholar told the prince that “If you desire to take your place upon the right with the just, then accept baptism” (P.C.). The Greek scholar won him over but Vladimir wanted to continue learning about these faith before deciding so he gave the scholar many gifts then dismissed him.

The next year (987 CE) Vladimir sent ten “good and wise men” to investigate these religions further within their own domains since no man speaks negatively of their own faith when trying to convert another into it. They were not impressed until they went off towards Tsargrad (Constantinople) which left them in awe. Before Vladimir, his retainers and the elders, the envoys spoke:

Then we went to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty” – Primary Chronicle.

Vladimir’s boyars added that:

If the Greek faith were evil, it would not have been adopted by your grandmother Olga, who was wiser than all other men.” – Primary Chronicle.

Some see this simply as a tale intended to explain their religious origins while elevating Orthodox Christianity and insulting the other religions. In retrospect the decision to convert to any religion had a very strategically impact. As trade with the Muslim world had declined, the nearest Jewish realm (Khazars) had greatly weakened and the Catholic world seemed a distant thought which paled in comparison to the aid that the Orthodox Byzantines could provide them. 

The Orthodox Byzantines were the main trade partner that the Rus relied upon; they were rich, boasted powerful armies and by aligning oneself with the Byzantines the Rus would be on better terms with the Turkish steppe nomads. Another advantage granted was that Vladimir would have greater power and authority than he had previously as he would then be seen as a semi-holy figure given the right to rule by the heavens, no longer would he be referred to as Kniaz (“prince”) but Veliki Kniaz (“great prince”) instead. Truly, the Byzantines were the greatest choice available to the Rus at the time so the choice to convert to Orthodox Christianity was simple.

However, the Byzantine Empire was in dire straits as they were plagued by enemies and conflicts both foreign and domestic. Vladimir captured the rebel Byzantine city of Korsun (ancient Greek colony of Chersonesus) in the lower Crimean Peninsula and told the Byzantines that he would return it in exchange for the Byzantine Emperor Basil II’s sister’s hand in marriage (Anna Porphyrogenita). There are accounts that state Vladimir also aided the Byzantine Emperor against his enemies by, in the winter of 989 CE, sending a fleet of six-thousand Rusians to help Byzantine Emperor Basil II against rebels, usurpers and pretenders.

^ ‘The Baptism of Vladimir’ by Viktor Vasnetsov.

Upon his return to Kiev, Vladimir began his attempt to destroy and stamp out paganism in Kievan Rus. He ordered all pagan shrines, alters and idols destroyed with the latter being dragged towards and discarded into nearby rivers. He then went on to the city of Korsun with priests and his Byzantine princess, there a multitude of peoples greeted them and went into the waters where they were baptized. Pagan centers of worship were dismantled and replaced with Christian ones. Vladimir also “took the children of the best families, and sent them for instruction in book-learning” (P.C.).

In 989 CE, Vladimir ordered the building of a grand basilica (Desyatinnaya; Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Tithe) dedicated to the Virgin Mary within the capital city of Kiev, this church constructed by Greek artisans (completed in 996 CE) and was served by Khersonian priests. Vladimir’s grandmother Olga’s remains were reburied within this church as well as his own and that of his Byzantine princess Anna after their death. Vladimir even had the poor and beggars visit his palace to receive food, drink and valuable skins. The weak and sick that were unable to visit didn’t miss out as Vladimir had wagons taken throughout the city which were loaded with bread, meat, fish, fruits, mead and kvass.

These desecrations of pagan sites and pressure to convert did not sit well with the Rusians which is apparent by the numerous riots that arose. One of the greatest arose from Novgorod, the second most important Rusian city, but these riots were quickly quelled, pagan places of worship were destroyed and the city was forced to convert to Orthodox Christianity. 

In the year 6497 [989] Vladimir was baptized, and all Russian land [as well]. And [they] appointed a metropolitan [to serve] in Kiev, and an archbishop – in Novgorod”. 

And the archbishop Joachim the Korsunian came over to Novgorod, and destroyed the altars, chopped down the idol of Perun, and ordered it to be dragged into Volhov, tying [it] with ropes, dragging [it] on dirt, beating [it] with sticks, and [Joachim the Korsunian] ordered everyone not to accept it [the idol] anywhere [i.e. not to pull it ashore]”. – Novgorod First Chronicle.

^ ‘The Baptism of Kievans’ by Klavdiy Lebedev.

If there are any errors please privately inbox me so I can update it. As always, if you’d like to read or learn about any specific historical subjects just let me know what they are and I will take note of them.

See Also:

  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES: In this post I will be covering the early portion of the medieval realm known as Kievan Rus (pronounced ‘Roos’); a multiethnic and cultural realm incorporating the Norse, Slavs, Turks, Balts and Finno-Ugrians. A realm centered around the many rivers that were riddled throughout its domains and led them to the riches of the Byzantine Empire, Silverland (Islamic Middle East) and the Baltic Sea. The culture, battle tactics and armaments of the ancient Slavs are addressed as well as the Druzhina (personal bodyguards and standing army). Also mentioned are some of the conflicts the Rus had with one another, the Greeks (Byzantine Empire), Bulgarians and Turkish steppe nomads. 
  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE: In this post I will cover some of the civil wars, wars of succession and familicide that plagued Kievan Rus; their peak under leaders like Vladimir the Great (who unified the Rus and made Orthodox Christianity their official religion) and Yaroslav the Wise (while Europe was in a dark age, he made Kievan Rus a beacon of knowledge, literacy, trade and faith); Kievan Rus’ shattering into various feuding states, their clash against the Mongols and their rarely spoken of religion. The Chernye Klobuki (Turkish mercenaries) and the Varangian Guard (Norse, Slavic, Germanic, etc.) are also noted; the latter were warriors employed by the Byzantine Empire to act as the Emperor’s trusted personal guard and on occasion they acted as pirate hunters, policemen, jailers, prison guards, torturers and interrogators.