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“In the year 6360 (852), the fifteenth of the indication, at the accession of the Emperor Michael, the land of Rus’ was first named. We have determined this date from the fact that in the reign of this Emperor Russes attacked Tsar’grad, as is written in the Greek Chronicle.” <ref> Cross, Samuel Hazzard, and Olgerd P. Serbowitz-Wetzor, eds, and trans. <i> The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text.</i> (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Mediaeval Academy of America, 2012), p. 58</ref>
As the Rus’ cities grew in stature, the unique elements of the people’s culture, especially in government, became standardized. The rulers of the Rus’ cities were princes, and later grand princes, not kings or emperors, and the structure of their society was very different than that of Western Europe. Instead of imposing a feudal society over their dominions as the kings of Western Europe did, the princes of the Rus’ ruled over a society that was very Slavic with some Norse influence. The princes and their families were at the top of the political and social hierarchy and just below them was the upper class, known as the <i>muzhi</i>. An important merchant class called the <i>liudi</i> comprised the “middle class,” while the <i>smerdy</i> were free peasants who worked the land. <ref> Riasonaovsky, p. 49</ref> The composition of the Rus’ system was very Slavic, but the princes had many of the same responsibilities as Norse jarls and kings. Rus’ princes were expected to be wise and brave and to lead their men in Viking raids yearly and to defend their cities and any cost.