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What Are the Origins of Medieval Kyiv

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The Scandinavian Vikings were slowly but surely becoming Christianized in Western Europe and the Rus’ too were beginning to adopt Christianity. Although Sviatoslav I was a pagan just as his predecessors were, due to the influence of Byzantium more and more Rus’ were converting to Orthodox Christianity. Although Sviatoslav I retained his pagan beliefs and continued to do Viking raids, his rule marked the beginning of a transition for Kiev. Unlike his predecessors, Sviatoslav I’s name was purely Slavic and while he was not afraid to use force, and did so against numerous peoples in Eastern Europe, he was more of a “merchant prince” <ref> Riasonovsky, p. 44</ref> than a Viking warlord when it came to the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII noted in his history of Eastern Europe how Sviatoslav I controlled the Dnieper River and Rus’ commerce.
“The ‘monoxyla’ which come down from outer Russia to Constantinople are from Novgorod, where Sviatoslav, son of Igor, prince of Russia, had his seat, and others from the city of Smolensk and from Telituza and Chernigov and from Vyshegrad. All these come down the river Dnieper, and are collected together at the city of Kiev, also called Sambatas. . . And since these lakes debouch into the river Dnieper, they enter thence on to this same river, and come down to Kiev, and draw the ships along to be finished and sell them to the Russians. <ref> Porphyrogenitus, Constantine . <i> De Administrando Imperio.</i> Edited by Gyula Moravcsik. Translated by Romilly J. H. Jenkins. Revised Edition. (Washington: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, 2016), IX, 1-15 </ref>

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