Osman Karatay

Keywords: Early Rus', Varangians, Vikings, Khazars, Magyars, Sarkel, Black Sea


The Slavs, who were living peacefully under the Khazars and constantly expanding eastward, appear on the Don basin at the beginning of the 8th century. This place is situated on the fur trade route for between Northern Europe and Black Sea coast. Simultaneously, the Rus', a Nordic tribe from Sweden, entered among the Slav masses as warrior-traders, and came to the Khazar ethnic borders probably in the second half of the 8th century, but definitely at the beginning of the 9th century. Thus means they began to become acquainted with the Black Sea world. Apart from their commercial activities the Rus' sometimes tested their military might in the areas they reached. In one such occasion in 830's, they inflicted great harm on the Khazars, whom they had caught unprepared along the Don river. The latter in turn defeated them with the help of the Magyars, and subdued vast regions toward the Baltic during their counterattack. That the Khazars constructed the castle Sarkel on the Don, that Russian embassy in İstanbul could not return home due to 'fierce' peoples and had to go via the Frank domain, and that the Magyars rose in Black Sea affairs as an active force were all inter-related developments in the same period. Consequently, even though they had to strive for more than 8,5 centuries to reach the coasts, the Rus'/Russians became one of them determinative forces in the Black Sea basin.