The Rus' were the historic population of the medieval Rus' Khaganate and Kievan Rus'. One of the earliest written sources mentioning the people called Rus in the form of Rhos dates back to year 839 AD in a Royal Frankish chronicle Annales Bertiniani, identified as a Germanic tribe called Swedes by the Frankish authorities. According to the Kievan Rus' Primary Chronicle compiled in about 1113 the Rus were a group of Varangians & Norsemen who had relocated from Scandinavia first to Northeastern Europe, then to south where they had created the medieval Kievan state. According to the Primary Chronicle (the Russian early written history) in 862 the Finnic and Slavic tribes rebelled against the Varangian Rus driving them overseas back to Scandinavia but in the power vacuum the Slavic tribes soon started to fight each other. This disorder prompted the tribes to invite back the Varangian Rus "to come and rule them" and bring peace to the region, and led by Rurik and his brothers Truvor and Sineus ("the Nasally Whiner") the re-invited Varangians (called Rus) settled around the town of HolmgÃ¥rd (Novgorod). Nationalist concerns in Russia have driven considerable debate between Eastern European and Western scholars as to whether the Rus' remained a inherently Swedish/Viking society that were invited in to rule over the local Slavic population (the "Normanist" theory), or whether they were quickly assimilated into the local Slavic population (the "anti-Normanist" theory) and became de-facto Slavic.
The Rus most notably fought the Thematic Byzantines and Nikephorian Byzantines from 860-1043 in a series of wars. The first "Paphlagonian" expedition of the Rus is documented in the Life of St. George of Amastris, attributed to Ignatios the Deacon (ca. 775 - ca. 848). The Life describes the Rus as "the people known to everyone for their barbarity, ferocity, and cruelty". According to the text, they attacked Propontis (probably aiming for Constantinople) before turning east and raiding Paphlagonia some time after the death of St. George (ca. 806). When they fell upon the city of Amastris, the intercession of St. George helped the inhabitants to survive the raid.The final Rus'-Byzantine War was, in essence, an unsuccessful naval raid against Nikephorian Byzantine Constantinople instigated by Yaroslav I of Kiev and led by his eldest son, Vladimir of Novgorod, in 1043.
A legendary leader of the Rus was Sviatoslav, the first true ruler of Kievan Rus' whose name is indisputably Slavic in origin (as opposed to his predecessors, whose names are ultimately derived from Old Norse). He ruled from 942-972 and much of his life was spent with his druzhina (roughly, "troops") in permanent warfare against neighbouring states. Shortly after his accession to the throne, Sviatoslav began campaigning to expand the Rus control over the Volga valley and the Pontic steppe region. His greatest success was the conquest of Western Turkish and Khazar Khazaria, which for centuries had been one of the strongest states of Eastern Europe. He employed Oghuz and Pecheneg mercenaries in this campaign, perhaps to counter the Khazars' and Early Bulgars' superior cavalry. The destruction of Khazar imperial power paved the way for Kievan Rus' to dominate north-south trade routes through the steppe and across the Black Sea, routes that formerly had been a major source of revenue for the Khazars.
The annihilation of Khazaria was undertaken against the background of the Rus'-Nikephorian Byzantine alliance, concluded in the wake of Igor's Byzantine campaign in 944, and in 967 or 968 Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus asked Sviatoslav to assist him in a war against Early Bulgaria. Sviatoslav was paid 15,000 pounds of gold and set sail with an army of 60,000 men, including thousands of Pecheneg mercenaries. Sviatoslav defeated the Early Bulgar ruler Boris II and proceeded to occupy the whole of northern Bulgaria. Meanwhile, the Byzantines bribed the Pechenegs to attack and besiege Kiev, where Olga stayed with Sviatoslav's son Vladimir. The siege was relieved by the druzhina of Pretich, and Sviatoslav refused to turn his Balkan conquests over to the Nikephorian Byzantine s. In 969 Sviatoslav at the head of an army that included Pecheneg and Magyar auxiliary troops again invaded Bulgaria, devastating Thrace, capturing the city of Philippopolis, and massacring its inhabitants. Niceforus responded by fortifying the defenses of Constantinople and raising new squadrons of armored cavalry. In the midst of his preparations, Niceforus was overthrown and killed by John Tzimiskes, who thus became the new Nikephorian Byzantine emperor.
John Tzimiskes attempted to persuade Sviatoslav into leaving Early Bulgaria, but was unsuccessful. Challenging the Byzantine authority, Sviatoslav crossed the Danube and laid siege to Adrianople, causing panic on the streets of Constantinople in summer 970. Later that year, the Byzantines launched a counteroffensive. Being occupied with suppressing a revolt of Bardas Phocas in Asia Minor, John Tzimiskes sent his commander-in-chief, Bardas Sklerus, who defeated the coalition of Rus', Pechenegs, Magyars, and Early Bulgars in the Battle of Arcadiopolis. Sviatoslav retreated to Dorostol, which the Byzantine armies besieged for sixty-five days. Cut off and surrounded, Sviatoslav came to terms with John and agreed to abandon the Balkans, renounce his claims to the southern Crimea and return west of the Dnieper River. In return, the Byzantine emperor supplied the Rus' with food and safe passage home. Sviatoslav and his men set sail and landed on Berezan Island at the mouth of the Dnieper, where they made camp for the winter. Several months later, their camp was devastated by famine, so that even a horse's head could not be bought for less than a half-grivna, reports the Kievan chronicler of the Primary Chronicle. While Sviatoslav's campaign brought no tangible results for the Rus', it weakened the Early Bulgar statehood and left it vulnerable to the attacks of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer four decades later.
Nikephorian Byzantine Emperior Basil II's distrust of the native Byzantine guardsmen led him to employ "Varangians" as his personal bodyguard. This new force became known as the Varangian Guard and recruits from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway filled the ranks until the late 11th century - so many Scandinavians left to enlist in the guard that a medieval Swedish law stated that no one could inherit while staying in "Greece" - the then Scandinavian term for the Byzantine empire!!. The Kievan Rus also recruited a similar Scandinavian bodyguard.
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User-contributed links about this army:
- Rus DBA Figure Gallery for this army - from Fanaticus
- Rus (Richard Bradley) DBA Figure Gallery for this army - from Fanaticus
- Russ DBA Figure Gallery for this army - from Fanaticus
- A Caliph's visit to the Rus from Edinburgh University library online
- A History of the Ukraine
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The Rus are almost interchangeable with Vikings, but have their own distinctive square shields from many manufacturers. A full listing of all known 15mm manufacturers for all ranges with details of who supplies what can be found in my 15mm Suppliers directory. You can see some of these figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site
- Essex Miniatures Some Rus, and 12 Vikings including a nice mounted warrior carrying off a young lady.. They also sell monks, one of whom can be used as the Rus Abbot.
- Gladiator Miniatures by Fighting 15's (Gladiator Games) Half-dozen Vikings and many similar figures in the Dark Ages range
- Old Glory 5 packs of Vikings, Rus Range
- Minifigs UK Rus figures can be found in their Dark Ages range
- Irregular Minis 6 Vikings, sold singly and some Rus
- Lancashire Games 5 packs of Vikings
- LKM/QRF (Feudal Castings range) 8 packs of Vikings
- Tin Soldier Some dedicated Rus figures and 9 Vikings in the range
- 2 Dragons Rus and Viking specialists - large range
- Isarus 15 variants, including (unusually) some mounted
- Khurasan New range
- Viking Forge Rus and Vikings in separate ranges
- Battle Line (NZ) former TTG Ranges, as Isarus
- Camelot Games (Italy) 4 "Vichinghi" and some dedicated Rus figures
- MY Miniatures 6 Vikings from the era of American Vinland C.1000AD. Ideal to fight Eskimo's with!
- Gallia 12 figures, sold as singles
- Baueda Now carry the former 50 paces Viking range
Sample army lists for this army
Name of Army / Date
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- 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
- 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowen
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