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Grand Princes of Kiev (Великий князь киевский) c.376-1471

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Grand Princes of Kiev (Великий князь киевский).

From the legendary Prince of Kiev, Bozh, to Simonas Olelkaitis Prince of Kiev in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Overview

Grand Prince of Kiev (sometimes Grand Duke of Kiev) was the title of the Kievan prince and the ruler of Kievan Rus.

Origin

The Annals of St. Bertin (Annales Bertiniani) for the year 839 became the first written record on the Rus’/Rhos. Louis the Pious, the Frankish emperor, came to the conclusion that the people called Rhos (qui se, id est gentem suum, Rhos vocari dicebant) belong to the gens of Swedes (eos gentis esse Sueonum).

Most of modern surveys of Rus’ history narrate that in these Frankish annals the ruler of the Rhos/Rus (people of Swedish origin) was called chaganus (Latin form of the Turk word khaqan, or khagan, qaghan, qagan), similar to the Khazar chaqan (khaqan), a title of a prime ruler in the nomadic societies in Eurasia.

Yet the original Latin text, published by Georg Weitz in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica in 1883, contains a very significant difference from modern translations: it says the ruler of the Rhos was named not chaganus, but chacanus. Based on such a spelling of the royal name, chacanus, some historians thought that it simply meant the Scandianvian name Håkan. Such an interpretation of the passage in the Annales Bertiniani suggests that by 839 this konung Hakan, accompanied by his military followers from Scandinavia, most likely from East Sweden, operated in North Rus’. The Khagan-versus-Håkan debate, started in the 18th century, is still alive, although at present there is almost total unity of opinion that the title of the ruler of Rus is of Khazar origin.

Rurik (Rørik in Old East Norse), a semi-legendary Scandinavian Varangian, was the founder of Rurik Dynasty, which ruled Kievan Rus', Rus' principalities and early Russian Tsardom for the next 700 years. Genealogical DNA test results of modern Rurikid princes indicate that Rurik was of Finno-Ugrian descent (haplogroup N1c1). Rurik's capital was Holmgard (Novgorod), a city settled by Slavic and Finno-Ugrian peoples (now north-western Russia). His successor Oleg relocated the capital to Kiev (now the capital of Ukraine) at around 880, laying the foundation of what has become known as Kievan Rus'.

While the early rulers of Rus' were Scandinavians, they gradually merged into the local Slavic population but in the 11th century, dynastic links still remained; Yaroslav the Wise, (called Jarisleif in Scandinavian chronicles), married a Swedish princess Ingigerd, gave asylum to king Olaf II of Norway, and invited Harald Hardrada, later king Harald III of Norway, and his warriors to fight for him. According to Adam of Bremen, Anund Gårdske, a man from Kievan Rus' was elected king of Sweden, ca 1070. As he was a Christian, however, he refused to sacrifice to the Aesir at the Temple at Uppsala and he was deposed by popular vote.

The unity of Kievan Rus' gradually declined, and by 1136 Kievan Rus' had shattered into a number of smaller states, the southern of which contested control of Kiev. Finally, Kievan Rus' was destroyed by the Mongols in the period of 1237–1240, but the Rurikid line persisted and continued to rule Rus' principalities.

The rulers of Kievan Rus' held the titles Kniaz and later Velikiy Kniaz, which are traditionally translated as Grand Prince or Grand Duke.

Legendary princes of Kiev

According to some Ukrainian historians (i.e. Kanyhin, Tkachuk), Ptolemy's mention of Metropolis, Sarmatian town on Dnieper River (the name Dnieper is derived from Sarmatian (Iranian) Dānu apara "the river far away"), shows the ancient existence of Kiev.

Pagan rulers of the Rurik Dynasty

The Rurikids were descendants of Rurik (Rørikr), a Varangian pagan chieftain, who was of Viking origin.

Christian rulers of the Rurik Dynasty

Christianity was officially adopted in 988 by Vladimir the Great.

Princes of Kiev of the disintegrating Kievan Rus'

The decline of Kievan Rus′ began in the end of the 11th century (Council of Liubech in 1097). During that time, the territory of modern Ukraine was divided into the various principalities of Rus' ruled by the Rurikids.

Princes of Kiev (the Golden Horde overlordship)

In the period between the 2nd half of the 13th c. and the 2nd half of the 14th c., princes of Kiev were forced to accept Mongol/Tatar overlordship.

Princes of Kiev (in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania )

After the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362, Kiev and surrounding areas were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania.

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