Russia, a vast country in the north of Eurasia, has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. The region that is now known as Russia was inhabited by various tribes and ethnic groups over the centuries.
However, the name Russia did not exist until much later in history. So, what was Russia called in the ancient times? Let’s delve into the past and find out.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of what is now Russia were the East Slavs, who lived along the Dnieper River in present-day Ukraine. They were followed by other tribes such as the Finno-Ugric peoples and the Varangians (Vikings) who came from Scandinavia. These early inhabitants did not refer to themselves as Russians but rather identified themselves by their specific tribal names.
The Kievan Rus
In the 9th century, a group of Varangians led by Rurik established a settlement at Novgorod (in present-day Russia), which marked the beginning of what is known as the Kievan Rus. The Kievan Rus was a loose federation of East Slavic tribes that emerged as a dominant power in Eastern Europe during the 10th and 11th centuries. The name Rus comes from a group of Vikings known as “Rus” or “Ros”, who ruled over this federation.
The Origin of Name
The origin of the name “Russia” can be traced back to this period when Kiev was considered to be one of the most important cities in Europe. The word “Rus” gradually evolved into “Rossiya,” which means “land of Rus.” Over time, this name came to be applied to all lands inhabited by Slavs east of Poland and became synonymous with what we now know as Russia.
The Mongol Invasion
In the 13th century, the Kievan Rus was invaded by the Mongols, who established the Golden Horde and ruled over Russia for almost 250 years. During this period, Russia was divided into various principalities, and the name “Russia” was not in use.
The Rise of Moscow
It was only in the late 15th century that Moscow emerged as a dominant power in Russia under Ivan III. He refused to pay tribute to the Mongols and declared Moscow’s independence.
Ivan III also adopted the title of “tsar” (meaning Caesar) and claimed to be the rightful successor to the Byzantine Empire. It was during this period that Moscow began to expand its territory and become a major power in Eastern Europe.
The Adoption of Name
In 1547, Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the Terrible) was crowned as the first tsar of Russia. He adopted “Russia” as his official title and began using it in official documents. From this point on, “Russia” became the official name of the country.
In conclusion, Russia has had a long and rich history dating back to ancient times. The name “Russia” did not exist until much later in history when it evolved from “Rus,” which referred to a group of Vikings ruling over a federation of East Slavic tribes known as Kievan Rus. Over time, “Russia” came to be applied to all lands inhabited by Slavs east of Poland and became synonymous with what we now know as Russia.