Viking Rus’ in Eastern Europe: Geopolitics, Trade Networks and State Building
Many school-aged children in America are taught about the Vikings in social studies, but only in a shallow manner. During the early medieval period, Vikings achieved a place of infamy in history. To many, the name Vikings evokes images of pirate-warriors with round shields and horned helmets, travelling in longships crowded with oarsmen. Often Vikings are simplified as ruthless Scandinavian explorers who became infamous for the “raping and pillaging” of Europe. But there is much more to the Vikings. The Viking Rus’ were not simply pirates. During the 8th - 11th centuries they developed a society that was based on more than looting and raiding. By analyzing the strategies employed by the Viking Rus’ during that time period, one can achieve a better understanding of their influence in the region. The process of applying a geopolitical study of Kievan Rus’ through themes of state-building, expansion, and conflict, demonstrates the impact they had during the height of their rule on an exceedingly volatile region. By applying certain strategies, the Kievan Rus’ established themselves in Eastern Europe, an especially sought-after region, at the confluence of major land masses and powerful empires – where East meets West. These tactics were their combined use of military prowess, mercantile aptitudes, and fluvial-navigation abilities which allowed the Viking Rus’ to flourish and create Kievan Rus’ – the first economic and political state within the region of Eastern Europe – which in turn became the precursor to Russia.
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Hitt, Lee A., "Viking Rus’ in Eastern Europe: Geopolitics, Trade Networks and State Building" (2020). Curio Research Symposium. 34.