Rurix, Truvor and Sineus
history of the Rus state bearing this name, with a dynasty enthroned at Kiev, begins with three brothers Rurix, Truvor and Sineus. It is more than likely that Rurik (their father) only followed in the wake of other Norse predecessors; but in the year 862 he invaded Russia, occupied Novgorod, and sailed down the rivers to Kiev. He retained Novgorod for himself, assigning to Sineus Bělo Ozëro, and to Truvor Izborsk. On their death these military outposts reverted to Rurik.
Throughout medieval Russian history there has always been an eagerness to gain possession of Kiev. Kiev was the natural mart for the trade of the Volkhov and the Western Dvina. The master of Kiev had the control of all Russian trade. All the other cities depended economically on the good will of Kiev, which soon grew into a rich town with many churches and eight different marketplaces. It was the wealth of Kiev that enabled the successors of Rurik to keep up the struggle against the hordes of Asia for three hundred years, despite disaffection within and disturbance without.
The Real Founder of Russia
Kíev was left in the possession of Askold and Dir, whilst Rurik consolidated his power in the North. Rurik died in the year 879, leaving one son Ígoŕ, a minor, for whom Olég acted as regent.
Oleg was the real founder of the Russian state. In 882 he enticed his kinsmen Askold and Dir out of Kiev (which they had released from the Khazar yoke) by means of a treacherous invitation to join him on a trading expedition to Constantinople. This was what it took an opportunity to rid himself of his rivals. He hastened to make Kiev his capital. During his long regency (879-912) Olég subdued the whole of Slav Russia, he took Smolensk and reduced the Drevlyáne, Sěveryáne and Rádimiči into subjection.
The Russian Chronicles
He also created for Russia its first international standing as an independent state, in 911 concluding the first commercial treaty with the Greeks, as the outcome of a raid on Constantinople in which the Russian, ships sailed into the harbour and ravaged the city.
This treaty, of which the text has come down in the Russian Chronicles, was of prime importance. It was drafted in Greek and Russian, which proved successful, in the course of which he had established a fortress at Pereyáslavets on the Danube (probably near Marcianople and below Silistria), Svyatosláv decided on pulling these chestnuts out of the fire for himself and Russia; and thus, when their ally was becoming obnoxious, Constantinople secretly had the Pečneg allies of the Russians to rise up and attack Kiev and seize the rapids of the lower Dnepr.
Skull used as Drinking Vessel
Thus cutting off the trade-route to the Black Sea. Svyatosláv, who had been defeated this time at Dristr (or Silistria) hurried back to face the new enemy, but on his way back was beaten and slain. His head was cut off and his skull used by the savage Pečenegs as a drinking-vessel.
But the death of this heroic figure passed almost unnoticed in Russia, which had during all the reign been left to itself, whilst the monarch was away on his remote schemes of conquest.
Svyatosláv left three sons, Yaropólk and Oleg, legitimate by a Scandinavian mother, and a third son, illegitimate, Vladimir, by a Slav serf Malúša. They were all three under age, and the first partition was made to provide them all with territory, Yaropólk the eldest being assigned the capital, Kiev, Oleg the region of the Drevlyáne (the land watered by the Pripet’ and neighbouring streams) and Vladimir the North with the capital city of Novgorod. Civil war soon ensued; and Vladimir, who, under the tutorship of his maternal uncle, Dobrýnya, had been partly educated in Scandinavia, and had thence brought with him a fresh batch of Pagan Norsemen, in 980 assassinated Yaropólk, who had already dispossessed and killed Olég in 977.
A new epoch began with the accession of Vladímir I. The period of expansion and consolidation was over; the Scandinavian ascendancy was at the end; Russia was to become Christian and Slavonic.