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OLEG (879-912)


Prince Oleg (879-912)According to the chronicles, Oleg succeeded Rurik in 879 and may have ruled to 912 or according to the Novgorod Lietopis, till 922. He is shown on this chart. He was a 'kinsman' of Rurik chosen perhaps because Rurik's son, Igor was a minor, but the chronicle does not state that Oleg was a 'regent' for Igor. According to the Chronicle, Oleg organized a military force of Varangians and locals (Chud, Novgorodians, Merians, Krivichians) and then moved down the Dnieper, took first Smolensk and then in 882 Kiev. In Kiev he murdered treacherously Askold and Dir, two former members of Rurik's retinue who arrived there and became first known Kievan Princes. Oleg's campaign reduced to submission several Slavic and non Slavic tribes and laid the foundation for a unified eastern Slavic state to be known as Kievan Rus. Oleg became its first "Grand Duke," a title which he chose himself. Lying on endless plains of the territories of Russia, the Slavs were not firmly under Oleg's mantle. Those living at the source of the Il'menie and bordered with the Ves' tribe who in turn bordered with the Meria tribe and they in turn with the Muroma and the Krivichi. In amongst them were a strong, militant brood, wholly independent of the Russians - the Drevliane. Prince Oleg subjugated them despite their fierce resistance. In 885 he conquered the region of the Dnieper Severiane and subjugated the Radimichei extracting a tribute, dan' po shliagu. There is academic controversy over Oleg's most impressive international exploit, the naval campaign(s) to Byzantium and subsequent treaty. According to chronicles Oleg mounted a massive expedition in 907, organizing troops from across northern Rus, Varangians, Novgorodians, Chud, Krivichians, Merians, Severianians, Derevlianians, and more. They sailed down the Dniper and across the Black Sea but could not penetrate the massive walls. They looted the countryside around the Bosphorus and then were bought off by a tribute payment. Then both sides got down to business and worked out a commercial trade treaty by which Rus merchants would receive not only access to the Byzantine market but also favorable treatment (tax exemption, supplies, quarters, subsidies et cetera). But at the same time they would be strictly regulated and could only enter the city in small, unarmed groups. Extensive archeological evidence in northern Russia and Scandinavia shows (by dates of coins and other means) that there already, for over 100 years) was large-scale trade between the Baltic and Near East or Central Asia). Oleg's operation was rather typical of the Varangian (Viking) combination of piratical looting and international trade mission. Evidently its purpose was to establish Kyiv as the central trading point between the Baltic and Byzantium. Either trade via the Volga was becoming more difficult due to Bolgars and Khazars, or the Varangians simply wanted to superceed it via the Dniper. According to chronicles a second treaty confirming and expanding the first was signed in 911. There is some academic opinion that the events of 907 really took place in 911 and that there was only one trade treaty.
879 AD? - Rurik dies and passes rule over Novgorod to Oleg.
880 - 82 AD - Oleg marches (sails) for Smolensk and Kyiv. Garrisons Smolensk and Lyubich. Then he murders Askold and Dir, who had established Varangian control of Kyiv.
883 AD - Oleg begins expansion of Rus control over various Slavic tribes, starting with Derevlians. In following year he conquers Severians and then Radimichians and Polyanians.
904-7 AD? (or 912?) -Oleg campaign and then Treaty with Byzantium.
913 AD - Oleg dies.


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