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Khazaria and Rus': An examination of their historical relations

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Chapter Summary

An impartial evaluation of the relations between Khazaria and Rus' within the limits imposed by official Soviet historiography was rather uncommon: the role of Khazaria was mainly pictured as an obstacle in highly progressive processes of development of the Russian state. In present-day studies the role of Khazaria is often presented as almost determining these processes: going as far as the supposition that the calling-in of the Varangian princes to Novgorod by the Slavs, the Chud' and Merja was provoked by threat of Khazar hegemony in Eastern Europe. The sources give evidence for another process: as early as the 9th century, the early Rus' were forcing their way into international markets through the river routes controlled by Khazaria. The character of Jewish-Khazar embassy needs a thorough historical analysis, especially in view of the fact that in Old Russian literature it is almost the only mention of Judaism of the Khazars.

Keywords: historical relations; Jewish-Khazar embassy; Judaism; Khazaria; Old Russian literature; Russian state; Slavs; Varangian princes



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