Who Were the Russians in Ancient Times?

The Russians are a people with a rich and complex history that dates back to ancient times. For centuries, they have been known for their unique culture, traditions, and contributions to the world. Let’s take a closer look at who the Russians were in ancient times.

The Early History of Russia

The early history of Russia is shrouded in mystery and myth. According to legend, the first ruler of Russia was Rurik, who founded the Rurik Dynasty in the 9th century AD. However, there is little historical evidence to support this claim.

The Slavs

The Slavs were one of the earliest groups to inhabit what is now Russia. They were a tribal people who lived in small communities and relied on hunting and fishing for survival. Over time, they developed their own language and culture.

The Vikings

In the 9th century AD, Vikings from Scandinavia began raiding the shores of what is now Russia. These Vikings, known as Varangians or Rus’, eventually settled in the region and established trade routes along the rivers.

The Rise of Kievan Rus’

In the 10th century AD, Kievan Rus’ emerged as a powerful state in what is now Ukraine and western Russia. The rulers of Kievan Rus’ were known as Grand Princes, and their capital was Kiev.

Prince Vladimir

One of the most famous Grand Princes was Vladimir I, also known as Vladimir the Great. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Kievan Rus’ in 988 AD.

Trade and Culture

During its heyday, Kievan Rus’ was a major center of trade and culture. The city of Kiev was home to many churches, monasteries, and palaces decorated with intricate frescoes and mosaics.

The Mongol Invasion

In the 13th century AD, Kievan Rus’ was invaded by the Mongols. The Mongol Empire, led by Genghis Khan and his successors, conquered much of Asia and Eastern Europe.

The Golden Horde

The Mongols established the Golden Horde, a powerful empire that controlled much of what is now Russia for over two centuries. During this time, the Russians were forced to pay tribute to the Mongol rulers.

The Rise of Muscovy

In the late 14th century AD, a new power emerged in Russia: Moscow. The rulers of Moscow gradually expanded their territory and consolidated their power.

Ivan IV

One of the most famous rulers of Muscovy was Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible. He is remembered for his brutal repression of dissent and his conquests of neighboring territories.

The Romanov Dynasty

In 1613 AD, Michael Romanov was elected as the new Tsar of Russia. His dynasty, known as the Romanovs, would rule Russia for over 300 years.

Peter the Great

One of the most famous Romanov rulers was Peter I, also known as Peter the Great. He modernized Russia by introducing European customs and technology.


The history of Russia is long and complex. From its early days as a collection of tribal communities to its modern status as a global superpower, Russia has undergone many changes over the centuries. However, through it all, one thing has remained constant: the resilience and determination of its people.