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The Decline of the Varangians

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Chapter Summary

To the accession of Vladimir I, the Northmen had played a noteworthy role in northern Rus' in the consolidation of Eastern Slavic tribes into a loosely organized state, but the solitary rule of the Riurikids was regionally limited and subject to clashes with rival Varangian clans. Their fortunes to the time of Vladimir's baptism were gauged by their military exploits and mercantile accomplishments. Only one application of the right of deposition in the Vladimirian-Jaroslavian epoch shows traces of this essential Nordic principle, but in a more common Christianized form. The Rus' annalists who drew upon the injunction of Isaiah repudiated Svjatopolk's claim to Kievan sovereignty. During the Vladimirian-Jaroslavian epoch the early Rus' annalists found need to preserve an essential Nordic image of Kievan rulership. Contemporaneous Nordic and Germanic accounts preserve their own respective characteristic significations of the nature and the image of Kievan princely rule.

Keywords: baptism; Christianity; Eastern Slavic tribes; Jaroslavian epoch; rival Varangian clans; Vladimir



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