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
^ ‘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.
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.