Articles in this rubric reflect the opinion of the author. - Ed .
by Andrei BOGDANOV, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), RAS Institute of Russian History
Historians are still uncertain as to who was the founder of the early Russian state. Some say it was an alien prince, Ryurik, ostensibly invited to Novgorod in the ninth century to arbitrate and ward off Viking raids, and have for three recent centuries been arguing about his origin. Others tend to see the chief character in Oleg (Ryurik's voivode, or warlord and the tutor of his son Igor) who, by hook or by crook, united the tribes of Drevlyane, Severyane and Radimichi along the "way from Varangians to Greeks" and, as the lore has it, in the year 907 raided even Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
The point is that the scientific concept of the origins of our state dates back to the 1700s - 1800s, while the key sources of early Russian history, the chronicles, were not yet objectively scrutinized. It was not until the late 1800s that Acad. A. Shakhmatov of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences started their reconstruction on the basis of complete reconciliation of the surviving texts; he was succeeded in the 1900s by Academicians D. Likhachev, L. Cherepnin and M. Tikhomirov. Their efforts have conclusively confirmed what was known to medieval chroniclers: the key role in the cultivation of Rus belongs to Olga of Pskov, the widow of Prince Igor.
And this is what the compiler of the Original Russian Historical Tale wrote back in the late 900s. As for the information about "the pristine" athelings (princes), it first appeared in the chronicles of the late 1000s - early 1100s and is most likely of legendary nature. However, the observations of the above reputable scholars have not evolved into a cogent scientific concept, and the quest for truth is still going on. Let us try and piece together the findings of chronicle scholars over the past 100 years into a coherent story of who and how built the Russi ... Читать далее