Ruthenia - Early Middle Ages

Early Middle Ages

If the name Ruthenia has any connection to the name Rus, a theory generally held in the West connects it the Varangians whom the early Slavic and Finnic tribes called Rus', taking this name from the Old Norse root roðs- or roths- referring to the domain of "rowing" and still existing in the Finnish and Estonian names for Sweden, Ruotsi and Rootsi. Later the name came to denote not only the Scandinavian aristocracy in Eastern Europe but also the ethnically mixed population of their domains. But many other theories dispute this account.

The term Ruteni first appears in the form rex Rutenorum ("king of the Ruteni") in the 12th-century Augsburg annals. The name most likely came from a reflex of the ancient tradition whereby learned writers called the various barbaric peoples by names found in Classical Latin authors. So (for example) chroniclers called the Danes Daci and the Germans Theutoni. Likewise, the Rus passed by the name of Ruteni, the form being influenced by one of the Gallic tribes mentioned by Julius Caesar.

A 12th-century writer, Gervase of Tilbury, wrote in his Latin geography that "Poland is bordered in one side with Russia, which is also called Ruthenia, as you may see from the following phrase of Lucan…" The original Latin text: Polonia in uno sui capite contingit Russiam, quae et Ruthenia, de qua Lucanus: Solvuntur flavi longa statione Rutheni.

By the end of the 12th century the word Ruthenia had come into use (among the alternative spellings Ruscia and Russia) in Latin papal documents to denote the lands formerly dominated by Kiev. By the 13th century the term became the dominant name for Rus' in Latin documents, particularly those written in Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland.

In 1253 in Dorohychyn on the Buh a papal archbishop crowned Danylo of Halych (reigned 1253–1264) as the first King of Rus' (Galicia–Volhynia).

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