|Swedish Vikings in Estonia and Russia|
For centuries the Swedish Vikings dominated the east coast of the Baltic Sea while plundering and looting, until they were opposed by the Oeselians, inhabitants of the Estonian island Ösel, also known as Saaremaa.
But the Vikings were restless people, and in their constant searches for expansion and new trade posts they continued to the marshlands of the river Neva, where St. Petersburg now lies. From there they sailed upstream the river Volkhov to Lake Ladoga, and made their first landing in Aldeygyuburg, today known as Staray Ladoga, an outpost in the then Russian heartland. The Slavic and Finnish-Ugrian tribes already living in the area called the Swedish Vikings "rus", after the Finnish term "ruotsi" [Sweden]. The Russian town Veliky Novgorod was founded by the Swedish Vikings.
However, legend has it that in spite of the Swedish Vikings' allegedly peaceful intentions, the first settlers were driven out of the area in a riot. Their then chieftain Rurik and his men only escaped south by the rivers Volga and Dnepr in search for trade posts in the Abbasidian caliphate and even further beyond the huge Russian rivers; it is a historical fact that they reached as far as Samarkand ([in present-day Uzbekistan].
Modern Russian historians claim that the Swedish Vikings had no homeland to defend, only "some king", so they arrived as traders, not conquerors, and very soon they assimilated completely with the local peoples. Modern Russians still become nostalgic by the thought of the Viking period, and search continuously for historical facts about a great pre-historic past, seeing themselves through the Viking settlers as part of a larger European unity.
Sources and links:
Microsoft Encarta 2002.
National Geographic Denmark Special Issue No. 1, 2001 (in Danish).
|Copyrighted © 14th January 2007. All Rights Reserved
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