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Prince Rurik was the founder in the 9th century of the early polity that became known as Kievan Rus', which led to the births of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. See a picture of the early stage of Kievan Rus', in 862–912:

According to the Primary Chronicle, compiled in Kiev in c. 1113, Rurik was one of the Rus', known as Varyags in Old East Slavic, also known as Varangians, a Finnic-Varangian tribe likened by the chronicler to Danes, Swedes, Angles, and Gotlanders, although clearly – without enough knowledge of Northern Fennoscandia – the chronicler was not able to explain their Finnic ethnicity in more detail. The Varangians were seafaring warriors and traders who in addition to Rus' included also members of other Finnic peoples/tribes. They spread their influence to large territories southeast from Fennoscandia.

The Rus'-Varangians inhabited the coastal areas of the Gulf of Bothnia, including the Roslagen seashore where Rurik allegedly was born, located in Uppland in what today is part of Sweden. That general area and its Finnic inhabitants were in (non-Finnic) medieval accounts referred to as Kvenland and Kvens. In the early 9th century, when Rurik was born, the territory ruled by Kvens bordered Roslagen, as is shown e.g. in the University of Texas map at

The vast majority of what today is Sweden was in the 9th century part of Kvenland. The names "Rus", "Ruotsi" and "Russia" share a common Finnic origin. In the 9th century already, and up to date, Finns inhabiting the eastern side of the Gulf of Bothnia, i.e. today's Finland, have referred to the area on the western side of the gulf – modern-day Sweden – as "Ruotsi", and an inhabitant of the area as "ruotsalainen", from which terms the names Rus' and Russia derives from.

Only quite recently before Rurik's birth, during the Merovingian era, had the Sveas (Old English: Sweonas; Latin: Suiones, Suehans and Sueones) gradually integrated with the Kvens of the region. The Merovingian era refers to the era of the Merovingian dynasty, the ruling family of the Franks in southwestern and south-central Europe from the middle of the 5th century until 751.

Based on DNA findings and other evidence, Rurik was a Finnic Kven. He likely descended from the early 1st millennium Finnic rulers of Finland, Kvenland and Got(h)land, and their Scandinavian royal offspring. See Rurik's alleged place of birth and the ethnic groups in 840 in what today is Sweden:

Still during the late Viking Age (Viking Age: 793–1066) and beyond, Kvenland extended to the northernmost arctic edges of Europe, based on medieval written sources and other evidence. One such source is a list of countries in 'Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan', a geographical chronicle and a guidebook for pilgrims about routes from Northern Europe to Rome and Jerusalem, written by an Icelandic Abbot Níkulás Bergsson in the monastery of Þverá (Munkaþverá) in c. 1157. Written about three and a half centuries after the birth of Prince Rurik, Abbot Bergsson provides the following description of the lands near Norway:

"Closest to Denmark is little Sweden (Svíþjóð), there is Öland (Eyland); then is Gotland; then Hälsingland (Helsingaland); then Värmland (Vermaland); then two Kvenlands (Kvenlönd), and they extend to north of Bjarmia (Bjarmaland)."

Based on that description and other historical evidence, the southern border of Kvenland had by then shifted northbound considerably from Rurik's lifetime, but Kvenland still then covered the Fennoscandian territory north of Hälsingland and Värmland.

The names "Varangian" and "Varyag" also share ancient Finno-Ugric origins and are related to such Finnish language terms as "vara", "vaara", "varanto", etc. Similarly, the Finnish terms "venäläinen" (meaning "Russian") and "vene" (meaning "boat") and the Estonian term "venelane" ("vene" in spoken language, meaning "Russian") share common Finnic roots. Related to the names "Varangian" and "Varyag" is also the Finnish language name "Varanginvuono" (Sami: Várjavuonna; Norwegian: Varangerfjord; English: Varanger Fjord, meaning literally "Varangian" Fjord/Bay). It is the name of a fjord on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, in the modern-day area of Northern Norway.

In his study 'Kvenland - Kainuunmaa' (1986, p. 113–118), Professor Emeritus Kyösti Julku discusses the maps of Abraham Ortelius from 1570, Gerhard Mercator from 1595 and Adrian Veen from 1613. In these maps, the name "Caienska Semla" is marked next to Varangerfjord. The Ortelius and Mercator maps are pictured in Julku's study. "Caienska Semla" can be seen written west from Vardø (Finnish: Vuoreija, Vuorea) and Varangerfjord.

According to Julku – and others –, the Finnish language meaning of the Latin term "Caienska Semla" is "Kainuun maa", which means "Land of Kainuu". Today, historians widely agree that the Finnic names Kainu, Kainuu and Kainuunmaa and the non-Finnic name Kvenland are synonyms to each other.


In 1611, at the start of Sweden's (Sweden-Finland) superpower era as the Swedish Empire (1611-1721), the Nyenschantz fortress (Swedish: Nyenskans) was built in the Finnish port and trading center of Nevanlinna, at the mouth of the Neva River, on the easternmost coast of the Gulf of Finland. The Finnish-language name Neva means "bog", which is a a type of wetland. "Nyen" is the properly Swedish-language name for the Neva River.

The small Finnish town of Nevanlinna ("Neva Castle") standing next to the fortress was at the time referred to as both Nyen and Nyenskans in Swedish. It gained official town rights in 1642, when it became the administrative center of the part of the Swedish Empire known as Ingria. Officially, the fortress was always known as Nyenskans, even though the above-mentioned concepts were in flux in common parlance. The term "skans" is Swedish for "bastion".

A the time – and up to date –, the region of and around Nevanlinna was referred to as Ingria (Finnish: Inkeri; Swedish: Ingermanland). The area was inhabited by the Finnic Ingrian people/tribe. In the town of Nevanlinna, there was also a Swedish-speaking minority population, and even smaller German-speaking population.

• Ingria in 1698

Over time, Russian rulers had become anxious for Russia to gain a seaport on the coast of the Baltic Sea, through which Russia could begin trading overseas with maritime nations. During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), while the army of Sweden-Finland was focused on warring against Germans and Poles, forces of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great captured the Finnish seaport of Nevanlinna on May 12, 1703. The same year, the Russian town of Saint Petersburg was founded on it's place.

This marked the first time for Russia or any of its predecessor states to have a seaport on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Before this, Staraya Ladoga (Finnish: Laatokanlinna) had been the only "Russian" port where seagoing vessels arriving from the Baltic Sea could have anchored. The only seaport Russia had had until then was in Arkhangelsk, which was located much further north, and not by the Baltic Sea but on the coast of the White Sea instead. Arkhangelsk provided Russians access to the Arctic Ocean, but the port was closed to shipping for months during wintertime.


Staraya Ladoga (Finnish: Laatokanlinna, Laatokankaupunki, Vanha Laatokka; Russian: Ста́рая Ла́дога; Old Norse: Aldeigjuborg, in Norse sagas) is a rural locality in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast (Historically: Ingria) in Russia. In the 8th and 9th centuries, it was a prosperous Karelian-Finnish trading center.

Staraya Ladoga is located on the Volkhov River (Finnish: Olhavanjoki), near Lake Ladoga (Finnish: Laatokka), 8 kilometers (5 mi) north of the town of Volkhov (Finnish: Olhava), the administrative center of the district, and 13 kilometers (8 mi) south of Lake Ladoga. Staraya Ladoga could be accessed by ships via the route of Neva River from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, and from there – starting from Novaya Ladoga – along the Volkhov River (Finnish: Olhavanjoki) upstream.

The town of Novaya Ladoga (Finnish: Laatokka; Russian: Но́вая Ла́дога) is located at the point where the Volkhov River (Finnish: Olhavanjoki) flows into Lake Ladoga, 140 kilometers (87 mi) east of St. Petersburg (Finnish: Nevanlinna). Further upstream of the Volkhov River from Staraya Ladoga – southbound – were river rapids which only could be passed through by river boats, to reach Lake Ilmen (Finnish: Ilmajärvi), near Novgorod, and beyond.

• Volkhov River

This was a known trading route used by Finnic peoples for millenniums, including the Varangians in the Viking Age, and also – over time – by the Greeks and others. Something of its importance is told – perhaps – by the fact that the oldest Arabian Middle Age coin in Europe was unearthed in Staraya Ladoga. An alternative historic trading route led down the Volga River to the Khazar capital of Atil, and from there to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, and all the way to Baghdad.

The place-name Olhava (Volkhov) and the river-name Olhavanjoki ("Olhava River"; Volkhov River) in the Lake Ladoga region share an etymological connection with the same place- and river-names in the heart of the realm referred to in medieval accounts as Kvenland. The village of Olhava and the Olhavanjoki river of Kvenland are located in the modern-day Finnish municipality of Ii, an ancient Kven trading port.

The Staraya Ladoga fortress – pictured at – was built in the 12th century, and was rebuilt four centuries later. After having been heavily damaged during World War II, the fortress stands today mostly reconstructed. The earliest – pre-12th-century – form of the fortress was made of wood, stones and earth.

Dendrochronology (tree-ring age-definition) suggests that the town of "Old Ladoga" (Staraya Ladoga) was founded in 753. Until 950, it was one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe. Merchant vessels sailed from the Baltic Sea through Lake Ladoga and Staraya Ladoga to Novgorod and then to Constantinople or the Caspian Sea.

In 862, Prince Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor from Kvenland arrived in Novaya Ladoga. Rurik became the founder of the early polity which – through the late 9th to mid-13th century loose federation of Kievan Rus' – gradually led to the births of what today are the countries of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.


The Finnic Kven-Varangian (Rus') Prince Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor arrived in Laatokanlinna – a.k.a. Staraya Ladoga – from Kvenland in 862.

Rurik had been invited there by members of the local Finnic tribes, to act as a mediator in the ongoing unrest between the Finnic tribes inhabiting the area and Slavic tribes trying to spread their influence to the area. Thereafter, Staraya Ladoga was governed by members of the Finnic Kven-Varangian – a.k.a. Rus' – Rurik Dynasty (Rurikids). For this reason, the town is often referred to as the first and oldest capital of Russia. The earliest known written mention of it is from 753.

Prince Rurik is believed to have lived also in Rurikovo Gorodische (Finnish: Ruurikinlinna, meaning "Rurik's Castle"; Old Norse: Holmgård, Holmgard; Russian: Рюриково городище), by the mouth of the river Volkhov (Finnish: Olhavanjoki) from Lake Ilmen (Finnish: Ilmajärvi). Rurikovo Gorodische was a predecessor center to what became Novgorod, 2 km north of Rurikovo Gorodische. Although Novgorod is first mentioned already in 859, no archaeological evidence of its existence in its current location exists from before the late 10th century. Novgorod is one of the most important historic cities in Russia.

The earthly remains of Rurik are believed to have been buried on a bank of the Volkhov River in Staraya Ladoga, like are those of some other Rurikid princes. Recent archaeological excavations have produced evidence of a 9th century village having existed very close to where the Staraya Ladoga fortress stands today.

• See a video from an excavation site in Staraya Ladoga (in Finnish):


From the late 8th to mid-9th century, the Kven-Varangians – a.k.a. Rus' – created Rus' Khaganate, an early polity southeast from the modern-day country of Finland. Varangians included also members of other Finnic peoples.

Rus' Khaganate came under the leadership of the Kven-Varangian (Rus') Prince Rurik (c. 830 – c. 879), a chieftain who established himself in Novgorod in c. 862, according to the Primary Chronicle. The name Rurik is believed to derive from the ancient Scandinavia term Rørik, which means "known leader".

In the process, Rurik gave birth to the Rurik dynasty, a.k.a. Rurikids, which was the ruling dynasty of the Rus' (the Varangians). It founded the Tsardom of Russia, and ruled it until 1598.


Kievan Rus' was a loose federation of Finnic and East Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Rurik dynasty. The modern peoples of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors.

An etymological connection between Kvenland and Kievan Rus' is apparent e.g. in old Kievan names. Ancient names for the residents of Kiev include Kwänen, Konae, Chonae, Kwäne, Quene, Choani, Cunni, Chuni and Hunni (who chased away the Goths). Ancient names for Kiev include Kiaenuborg, Kianugard, Kaenunland, Kuenaland and Hunugard.

Kievan Rus' began with the rule (882–912) of Prince Oleg, Rurik's relative and successor, who in 882 ventured south and conquered Kiev, founding the polity of the Kievan Rus'. Before this, Kiev had been paying tribute to the Khazars. Subsequently, Prince Oleg extended his control from Novgorod south along the Dnieper river valley, in order to protect trade from Khazar incursions from the east, and moved his capital to the more strategic Kiev.

Oleg, Rurik's son Igor and Igor's son Sviatoslav in this process subdued all local East Slavic tribes to Kievan rule, destroyed the Khazar khaganate and launched several military expeditions to Byzantium and Persia. Sviatoslav I (died 972) achieved the first major expansion of the territorial control of Kievan Rus', fighting a war of conquest against the Khazar Empire. Vladimir the Great (980–1015) introduced Christianity to the region, with his own baptism and – by decree – that of all the inhabitants of Kiev and beyond.

At its greatest extent in the mid-11th century, Kievan Rus' stretched from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south and from the headwaters of the Vistula in the west to the Taman Peninsula in the east, uniting the majority of East Slavic tribes. Kievan Rus' reached its greatest extent under Yaroslav I (1019–1054); his sons assembled and issued its first written legal code, the Rus' Justice, shortly after his death.

Kievan Rus' declined beginning in the late 11th century and during the 12th century, disintegrating into various rival regional powers. It was further weakened by economic factors such as the collapse of the Rus' commercial ties to Byzantium, due to the decline of Constantinople and the accompanying diminution of trade routes through its territory. Kievan Rus' finally fell to the Mongol invasion in the 1240s.


In 2007, a genetic study by the Polish-led "Family Tree DNA Rurikid Dynasty Project" was conducted on the 9th century Varangian Prince Rurik's modern-day male-line descendants:

• The first Rurikid prince tested "was found to belong to the genetic haplogroup N1c1 – the so-called “Finno-Ugrian”."

• Later, "it was discovered that the N1c1 Rurikid princes belong to the so-called “Varangian Branch” in this haplogroup."

• Source:

In Fennoscandia today, people representing the “Finno-Ugrian” “Varangian Branch” – i.e. the closest relatives of the Rurikid haplotype – can be found especially among the now partly Swedish-speaking Finnic people historically inhabiting the coastal areas around the Gulf of Bothnia, mainly in what today is Finland.

That region was referred to in medieval accounts as Kvenland. Its inhabitants, the Kvens, are believed to have given birth to the language which developed to what now is known as Swedish. Up to the late Middle Ages, the vast modern-day Northern Swedish province of Norrland was inhabited solely by the Finnic Kven and Finno-Ugric Sami peoples. Consequently, the settlers arriving to Norrland from the more southern parts of what today is Sweden and from elsewhere, and their offspring, typically do not belong to the Y-DNA haplogroup N1c1, like Rurik belonged.

Most other present-day population of Finland in the “Finno-Ugrian” category belong to the “Finno-Karelian Branch”. The N1c1 haplotype is not widely found in the Scandinavian countries, but is overwhelmingly found among Finnic ethnicity. It possesses the distinctive value DYS390=23, which too is rare in non-Finnic populations of Scandinavia. These DNA findings support other evidence indicating that Rurik was a Finnic individual, born – allegedly – in the Roslagen seashore, on the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, in what today is Sweden.

At the time of Rurik's birth in the 9th century, Roslagen represented southern border-region of Kvenland, where only quite recently the Sveas (Old English: Sweonas; Latin: Suiones, Suehans, Sueones) had began integrating with the indigenous local Kvens. The Rurikid DNA study also supports the view that Rurik descended from the Yngling Dynasty, a.k.a. Fairhair Dynasty, the Fennoscandian Finnic Kven royal lineage introduced in several medieval accounts, and that the Rurik Dynasty is a branch of the Yngling Dynasty.

Numerous noble Russian and Ruthenian families claim a male-line descent from Rurik, and via Anne of Kiev, wife of Henry I of France, Rurikid ancestry can also be argued for numerous Western European lineages.


'The Tale of Bygone Years', a.k.a. Primary Chronicle (Nestor's Chronicle, Nestor's manuscript), is a history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev in c. 1113, but possibly already in 1095.

The chronicle is unique as the only written testimony on the earliest history of East Slavic people. Its comprehensive account of the history of Rus' is unmatched in other sources, although important correctives are provided by the Novgorod First Chronicle. The chronicle was allegedly authored or compiled by Nestor (c. 1056 – c. 1114), a monk of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev (modern-day Ukraine) from 1073 onward.

Presumably, there were several earlier texts and/or versions of the chronicle, which were updated and combined by Nestor for his work. Nestor's many sources included earlier, now-lost Slavonic chronicles, the Byzantine annals of John Malalas and of George Hamartolus, native legends and Norse sagas, several Greek religious texts, Rus'-Byzantine treaties, and oral accounts of Yan Vyshatich and of other military leaders. The early part of Nestor's Chronicle features many anecdotal stories, among them those of the arrival of the three Varangian brothers, the founding of Kiev, and more.


The most influential proponent claiming that the founders of the early stage of Russia (subsequently of Ukraine and Belarus as well), including their leader Rurik, were of Finnish ethnicity has been the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, a.k.a. Catherine II.

During her 34 years, 3 months and 10 days long reign in Russia in the latter part of the 18th century, Catherine II was the most powerful woman in the world. Both she and her husband, Emperor Peter III of Russia, were Rurikid descendants. In her writings, Catherine II placed the origin of the Varangians in the region between Ingria and Finland, i.e. in Karelia. She even wrote a play about Rurik, in which the dying Gostomysl instructs his followers to elect his daughter's son, grandson of a Finnish prince, to be their ruler.

During the reign of Catherine II, three editions of a short review of Russian history were published by Timofei Malgin, who too was an advocate of the Finnish theory. Also a work of similar persuasions was published by Ivan P. Yelagin, the literary adviser to the Empress and the founder of Russian freemasonry. The proponents of the Finnish theory include – but are not limited to – the following:

• Catherine II • Vasily Tatishchev, Rurikid descendant, author of the first full-scale Russian history • Mikhail Shcherbatov, Rurikid prince, historian • Viktor Paranin, historian, 1990 • Johan Adolf Lindström, historian, has presented also a Goth-Varangian theory • A. H. Snellman, historian, a.k.a. Artturi Heikki Virkkunen • Yrjö Koskinen, historian • Jalmari Jaakkola, historian • Matti Klinge, historian • Pirkko-Liisa Lehtosalo-Hilander, archaeologist • Carl Fredrik Meinander, professor of Finnish and Scandinavian archaeology • Eero Vilho Kuussaari, historian (1935).

According to Vasily Tatishchev, the "father of Russian history", the Rus' were Finns. Among other things, he based his knowledge on the Ioachim Chronicle. The original chronicle was lost. Its contents are known through Tatishchev's "History of Russia".

The Ioachim (Ioakim, Joachim) Chronicle was discovered by Tatishchev in the 18th century. It is believed to be a 17th-century compilation of earlier sources describing events in the 10th and 11th centuries, pertaining to the Novgorod Republic and Kievan Rus'. Further support for Tatishchev`s Finnish theory has been provided e.g. by "Chronicon Finlandiae", written by an unknown author, published by Christian Nettelbladt in 1728. In the view of Viktor Paranin, the home region of the Rus' was the Finnish Karelian Isthmus.


• Catherine II – continue reading

• Rollo and William the Conqueror were Kvens

• Kvenland in 814 AD

• Kvenland history posts