From Academic Kids

Rurik or Riurik (Old East Norse Rrik, meaning "famous ruler") (ca 830 - ca 879) was a Varangian who gained control of Ladoga in 862 and built the Holmgard settlement (Rurikovo Gorodische) in Novgorod.

Missing image
The Varangians in Russia


Riurik is the Slavic rendering of the same Germanic name as the modern English Roderick. In old Germanic languages it had forms such as Hrodric (Old High German) and Hroricus (Old English). In Old Norse, Hrrekr (Norway, Iceland) and Hrrīkr or Rrik (Denmark, Sweden), from which Riurik is derived. The name also appears in Beowulf as Hrērīk[1] (


There is a debate over how Rurik came to control Ladoga and Novgorod. The only information about him is contained in the 12th-century Russian Primary Chronicle, which states that the Slavs and the Finns rebelled against the Varangians only to fall into turmoil and then invite Rurik to reestablish order.

Rurik remained in power until his death in 879. His successors (the Rurik Dynasty), however, moved the capital to Kiev and founded the state of Kievan Rus, which persisted until 1240, the time of Mongol invasion. A number of extant princely families are patrilineally descended from Rurik, although the last Rurikid to rule Russia, Vasily IV, died in 1612.

There is a large 9th-century funerary barrow near Ladoga, reminiscent of the regal kurgans of Yngling kings, which remain to be excavated. The local inhabitants refer to it as Rurik's Grave (|).

Disputed origin

Even though Rurik was probably legendary, there is a controversy about his ethnic origins in Eastern Europe.

According to the Primary Chronicle Rurik was one of the Rus, a Varangian tribe likened by the chronicler to Danes, Swedes, English and Gotlanders (Goths) and usually identified with the Varangians of Roslagen. See Rus' (people) for detailed discussion of the Rus' provenance.

In the 20th century, archaeologists partly corroborated the chronicle's version of events. It was discovered that the settlement of Ladoga, whose foundation has been ascribed to Rurik, was actually established in the mid-9th century. Earthenware, household utensils, and types of buildings from the period of Rurik's foundation correspond to Scandinavian patterns.

Missing image
Rurik and his brothers arrive to Ladoga.

Some Slavic historians speculate that the account of Rurik's invitation was borrowed from a hypothetical Norse saga, although all sagas talk of expeditions into Gardariki and never of invitations.

For instance, the Primary Chronicle states that Rurik arrived to Slavic lands with two brothers, Sineus and Truvor, and sent them to rule the towns of Beloozero and Izborsk, respectively. Instead of connecting Sineus to Signjotr and Truvor to Torvald, they suggest that the chronicler read a hypothetical saga and misinterpreted the Norse words 'sine hus' (with house) and 'tru voring' (with loyal guard) as the names of Rurik's brothers: Sineus and Truvor. If so, this may very well be a Varangian expression carried down and misinterpreted by the Chronicler, but some Slav historians assert this to be a misinterpretation from an unknown saga.

There is another theory that Rurik, on account of common intermarriages between Varangians and Slav women, was both Slav and Scandinavian. This theory is based on the information of the first modern historian of Russia, Vasily Tatishchev (a Rurikid himself), who claimed that Rurik was of Wendish extraction. Those who assume good faith on Tatishchev's part speculate that he based the theory on a lost chronicle.

Some historians claim that there are folklore roots of the for legend and consequently dismiss Rurik as a legendary figure.

Hrrek of Dorestad

The only Hrrek described in Western chronicles was Roerik of Dorestad, a konung from the royal house of Haithabu. Since the 19th century, there have been attempts to identify him with the Viking prince Rurik of Russian chronicles.

Roerik of Dorestad [2] ( was born about 810/820 to Ali Anulo, 9th King of Haithabu. Frankish chroniclers mention that he received lands in Friesland from the Emperor Louis I. This was not enough for him, and he started to plunder neighbouring lands: he took Dorestad in 850, captured Haithabu in 857 and looted Bremen in 859. The Emperor was enraged and stripped him of all his possessions in 860.

Roerik of Dorestad reappeared in Frankish chronicles in 870, when his Friesland demesne was returned to him by Charles the Bold; in 882 he is already mentioned as dead. The Russian chronicle places the death of Rurik of Novgorod at 879.

Preceded by:Prince of NovgorodSucceeded by:

da:Rurik de:Rurik en:Rurik et:Rjurik fr:Riourik it:Rurik ja:リューリク pl:Ruryk sv:Rurik uk:Рюрик


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