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Rurik on the Monument to Thousand Years of Russia in Novgorod . The figures on the left and right are Vladimir the Saint and Dmitri Donskoy , his descendants.

The Ruriks (also Rjurikiden ; Russian Рюриковичи , Rjurikowitschi ; Ukrainian Рюриковичі , Rjurykowytschi ) are a prince sex Scandinavian origin on the Rjurik , the founder of Kievan goes back. They were the ruling dynasty in the Kievan Rus.

After the Mongol invasion from 1237 to 1240, they lost power to Lithuanian and Polish monarchs in the west of their former territory. In eastern Russia, on the other hand, they provided the Moscow grand dukes and tsars until 1598 (and as a side branch Shuiski from 1606 to 1610) . Numerous noble families who can be assigned to the Rurikids still exist today.


Rjurik (around 830–879) on a painting from 1672

The history of the Rurikids is closely related to Russian and Ukrainian history . According to the report of the first Russian chronicle “Tale of the Past Years” ( Повесть временных лет ) the Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes, tired of fighting each other , invited a Norman prince from “across the sea” named Rurik in 862 the hope that rule, common to all and alien to all, will bring about peace among the warring sides. The sources are silent about Rurik's activity in Old Novgorod , except that he founded a dynasty. According to legendary tradition, Rurik is said to have been the son of the Finnish king Rufal and Umila, the daughter of the Novgorod prince Gostomysl . This fact should legitimize his seizure of power in Novgorod. Rurik died in 879, leaving behind his underage son Igor ( Old Norse Ingvar; 875 / 77–945), who came under the care of his relative Oleg ; according to the later tradition, which is not based on any recorded sources, his brother-in-law, the brother of his Norwegian wife Efanda, took over the task. In 882, Oleg conquered the city of Kiev and thereby united almost all East Slavic tribes under his rule. After his death in 912 Igor ruled independently as prince of Kiev and Novgorod.

Only legends have survived about Igor and his rule. The first Russian chronicle reports that he was killed by them in 945 during one of his raids against the Drewlyans . His widow Olga took revenge on the Drewljanen and became regent for their underage son Svyatoslav I (945-971). The Slavic name of the third generation Rurikid shows that the ruling house was already largely Slavic.

From 959 Svyatoslav I ruled independently and led a brisk policy of conquest in eastern and southern directions until he was defeated by the Byzantines in 972 and killed by the Pechenegs . Shortly before his death around 970, he divided his territory among his three sons: the older, Jaropolk I (around 959-980), was to inherit Kiev after his death and receive sovereignty over his brothers, the middle, Oleg († 977) , the territories of the Drewlyans, the later Principality of Turov-Pinsk , and the younger, Vladimir I (after 962-1015) was given to Novgorod. Immediately after the death of the father, fighting broke out among the brothers, whose first victim was Oleg in 977. In 980 Vladimir finally defeated his older brother Yaropolk I and became the sole ruler.

The golden age and the problem of succession to the throne (980–1132)

The Kievan Rus around 1000

The government of Vladimir I (980-1015) brought the Kiev empire a heyday. To his main merit belonged above all the acceptance of the Christian faith and the baptism of the "whole Rus" in the year 988, for which he received the honorary epithet "the apostle equals". A settlement movement spread to the periphery of the old Kievan Rus. Already during his lifetime Vladimir gave parts of his empire as appanages: he gave Turow to his nephew Svyatopolk, the son of Jaropolk I, who had been deposed from him; Around 988 he left his son Isjaslav from his marriage with the Polotsk princess Rogneda to Polotsk , the principality of his maternal grandfather, who founded a new princely dynasty here that was virtually independent of the Kiev princes; his son Yaroslav became Prince of Novgorod. Other sons of Vladimir also received apanages with the centers in Rostov, Murom, Smolensk, Chernigov, Volyn and Pskov.

The members of the Ruriks' house considered the territory of the East Slavic tribes ruled by them as their family or tribal property. All members of this House had the right to “part” of “Russian land”. As long as the Grand Duke only had one son entitled to inherit, succession and the next generation to take power went smoothly. However, this condition only existed within the two generations that followed Rurik. Already under the sons of Svyatoslav I, who left three sons entitled to inheritance, the power struggle broke out, which ended with the elimination of the two older brothers. Vladimir I, who emerged victorious from this power struggle, had fourteen sons who already exercised power as governors in various parts of the empire during his lifetime. Three of them died while Vladimir was still alive, but after his death a bloody fight broke out among the remaining eleven. The victor Yaroslav I (982 / 83-1054) had five sons at the time of his death, who also fought each other. The struggle for Kiev and for “a share in the Russian land” among the Rurikids became the constant paradigm of Russian history and the problem of the dynasty, whose members grew in number from generation to generation.

The main problem was that sovereign power in the state and within the dynasty always belonged to the elder in the family. He sat on the throne of the Grand Duke of Kiev, all other Rurikids ruled certain areas of the empire as part-princes. When the grand duke, who replaced all the members of his house in his father's position, died, the dignity of the grand duke passed not to his eldest son, but to the eldest of the entire tribe of the Ryurikids. This new eldest of the family went to the "oldest throne", the one in Kiev. The change in person on this throne meant that all members of the dynasty moved from the less important to more important principalities, closer to the "older throne" they wanted to ascend at some point if they were the eldest of the entire dynasty. With every new accession to the throne in Kiev, the whole huge empire was set in motion, which rarely, actually never, ran smoothly.

Yaroslav the Wise and his sons
Personal seal of Yaroslav the Wise

In order to prevent the outbreak of fighting among his sons after his death, Yaroslav arranged the succession according to the seniority principle : the princely seats alternated with the rule according to the age of the family members. Yaroslav I determined that the grand duke's throne should always be reserved for the elder in the princely family. All other appanages became dependent on this regulation. After his death, his eldest son, Isjaslav I , was to inherit Kiev with Novgorod, Turow and Pinsk as well as the supremacy of his brothers "in place of his father" as Grand Duke. The second son, Svyatoslav II , received the principality of Chernigov with Murom and Ryazan. Vsevolod I , the third son, got Pereyaslavl with Rostov and Suzdal, the fourth, Vyacheslav, Smolensk, and the youngest, Igor, Volyn. Yaroslav's grandson Rostislaw, the son of his older son Vladimir († 1052), who died during his father's lifetime, was not taken into account by this regulation. In 1064 he was ousted from the Galitsch land , which he was trying to conquer. His sons fought for their "share of the Russian earth" until the middle of the 1080s, when they finally received their appanages in the Galitsch land.

If this regulation still worked to some extent in the generation of Yaroslav I's sons, it was already hotly contested in the generation of his grandchildren. During the 11th century, the number of Yaroslav I's descendants increased rapidly. Many of these died before they could ascend the Kiev throne. The sons, whose fathers died on the Kiev throne, disputed the right of their cousins ​​to the same, whose fathers had died, so to speak, "on hold" without ever having ascended the "oldest throne". This led to permanent disputes over the succession to the throne in Kiev as well as in all other Russian principalities.

The generation of Yaroslav's grandchildren tried to counteract this problem. The incessant internal disputes and wars became all the more dangerous as the Russian principalities faced more and more of a growing threat from the Cumans (Polovcians). In 1097 on a prince's day in Lyubetsch , which was convened on the initiative of Grand Duke Svyatopolk II and Vladimir Monomachs , then still Prince of Smolensk and Pereyaslavl, the Russian princes agreed on the principle that “everyone rules his father's inheritance “But that the right of the elder of the Ryurik family to the throne of the Grand Dukes of Kiev is preserved. However, the Princely Congress of Lyubetsch did not achieve the intended effect: the princely lines, which now insisted on the hereditary nature of their appanages, continued to divide, the battles over Kiev remained no less bitter. Only such extraordinarily wise and capable grand dukes such as Vladimir II Monomakh († 1125) and his son Mstislaw I († 1132) were able to maintain the authority of the grand duke in relation to the more and more independent partial princes. Under the great-grandchildren of Yaroslav, the empire became a conglomerate of principalities that were more or less independent of Kiev. The Grand Duke of Kiev continued to be regarded as the head of the Russian royal hierarchy, but his power over the other members of the dynasty and thus over significant parts of the empire was only nominal.

Decline of the Kievan Rus

Until 1139 the Kiev Grand Duchy was in the hands of the Monomachos line of the dynasty: Grand Duke Mstislav I was followed by his brothers Jaropolk II (1132–1139) and Vyacheslav (1139). The latter was deposed by the Chernigov Prince Vsevolod, who ruled as Grand Duke Vsevolod II until 1146. His brother Igor (1146–1147) was murdered by the Volhyn prince Isjaslav, who ascended the throne of the Grand Duke as Isjaslav II (1146–1154). In 1149, another son of Vladimir Monomach in the person of Yuri Dolgoruki entered the battle for Kiev . He succeeded (1149-1151) and (1155-1157) to usurp the Kiev throne. At this point in time, however, the city of Kiev was already in decline and had lost part of its importance to Novgorod in particular. Yuri Dolgoruki is considered to be the founder of Moscow . The quarrels within the Monomachos line contributed to the fact that his son Andrei Bogoljubski next to Isjaslav III. (1157–1159) ( Chernigov line ), Rostislaw (1159–1167) ( Smolensk line ) and Mstislaw II. (1167–1169) ( Pereyaslav line ) had to maintain.

Yuri Dolgoruki's son, Andrei Bogoljubski (1169–1174), retained the title of Grand Duke of Kiev, but otherwise concentrated his rule on the Suzdal country and its capital, Vladimir , which he had expanded to represent. Vladimir rose to be the seat of the grand duke and the center of the Kievan Rus , while the importance of Kiev decreased more and more. Andrei Bogoljubski installed his younger brother Gleb (1169–1171) on the throne. When the princes of Galicia wanted to restore Kiev to its old role, Andrei even had the city plundered by his brother Mstislav in 1169.

On the throne of Kiev followed Vladimir III., One of the younger sons of Grand Duke Mstislav I , but he died on May 30, 1171. Then, like Vladimir III. without the consent of the Vladimir-Suzdal prince, another brother of Andrei Bogolyubsky, Michael, took power in Kiev. Andrei forced his brother to cede his place to Prince Roman of Smolensk († 1180). However, Andrei drove this out already in 1173 and put his other brother Vsevolod ( Vsevolod III ) in Kiev . After Andrei Bogoljubski's assassination († June 29, 1174), Prince Roman of Smolensk succeeded in recapturing the throne of the Grand Dukes of Kiev. In 1176 he undertook a failed campaign against the Polovts and had to give up Kiev. He was succeeded by the Chernigov prince Swjatoslaw (Swjatoslaw III.), Who ruled as Grand Duke of Kiev until his death in 1194 (with a brief interruption in 1181). He devoted all his strength to the fight against the Polowzen and achieved considerable success. He managed to protect the southern Russian areas from the constant incursions of the nomads.

The Russian principalities in 1237

After the death of Svyatoslav III. the final collapse of the Kiev Empire began. The princely feuds during the following forty years were accompanied by devastating raids by the Cumans (Polovzians) and continued until the Mongol conquest of Kiev in 1240.

After the Battle of the Irpen in 1321, Kiev became the object of Lithuanian aggression under Gediminas and in 1362 under Algirdas (Olgerd) the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was incorporated.

After the southwestern part of Russia came under Lithuanian rule, the principalities of Chernigov (1370) and Smolensk (1404) were liquidated and Lithuania incorporated. The smaller princes, such as B. the Werchow princes (on the upper reaches of the Oka) from the Chernigov family or some partial princes from the Smolensk family such as Viazemsky, Kozlovsky, etc. could keep their sovereign rights.

Grand Duke of Vladimir

In northeastern Russia, the Rurikids retained the dignity of the Grand Duke. The Rostov - Suzdal line, which held the dignity of the Grand Duke of Vladimir , was leading here. Two years after the assassination of the first Grand Duke Andrei Bogolyubski , he was followed by his half-brother Vsevolod III. (1176-1212) on the throne. Vladimir-Suzdal flourished under his comparatively long reign. Vsevolod was not only able to secure rule in his own principality, but also succeeded the former hegemonic power of Kiev without being challenged. Neighboring princes recognized him as the overlord. Shortly before his death in 1211, Vsevolod called a meeting of nobles, clergy and townspeople, from whom he wanted to get the approval of a breach of the seniority principle. However, he did not succeed in getting his younger son Juri through as his successor. After Vsevolod's death, the older brother Constantine first seized power. Juri only followed (1218–1238) as Grand Duke Juri II. He founded Nizhny Novgorod in 1221 and fell in 1238 while trying to stop the Mongols who were pushing through all of Russia . Even Vladimir came under the rule of the Mongols. This ended the brief heyday of the Grand Duchy for the time being. The Russian northeast disintegrated again after Juri's death, with the exception of the brief restoration of central power under Alexander Nevsky .

The successor Juris II. As Grand Duke came according to the seniority principle, his younger brothers Jaroslaw II. (1238-1246) and Swjatoslaw III. (1246-1248). Yaroslav's sons protested at the Mongol ruler Batu Khan , where all Russian princes had to have their rule approved by the Mongols. Svyatoslav was deposed and his nephews Andrei II (1248–1252) and Alexander Nevsky (1252–1263) succeeded the throne as grand dukes. Alexander received the dignity of the Kiev Grand Duke - thereby becoming the nominal sovereign of Russia. On the other hand, the Khan made his younger brother Andrei Grand Duke of Vladimir and thus endowed him with much greater and more effective power resources than Alexander. Alexander Newski also became Grand Duke of Vladimir in 1252, after his brother's conspiracy against Mongol rule was uncovered and his flight abroad.

Under the rule of his brothers Jaroslaw III. (1263–1272) and Vasili (1272–1276) began a process of decline in the dignity of the grand duke and the city of Vladimir. Tver and Novgorod , later also Moscow, became the most important cities. During the reign of Yaroslav's son, Grand Duke Mikhail (1304-1318), the struggle for supremacy in the Rostov-Suzdal country began. The disputes sparked off because of the grand prince's dignity . After a sham success against his rival, Prince Juri I of Moscow , Mikhail was defeated and murdered. Juri became the first Muscovite prince to become Grand Duke (Juri III) in 1318, but the dignity was short-lived. In 1322 Juri was charged with embezzling tribute by Mikhail's son Dimitri. The Khan then withdrew his grand prince of Vladimir. Mikhail's sons Dimitri II (1322-1326) and Alexander II (1326-1327) were the last Grand Duke of Vladimir from the Rostov-Suzdal branch of the Rurikids. Like their father Mikhail, they lost their rule and their lives through the Uzbek Khan of the Golden Horde .

Her descendants kept the principality of Tver established for Alexander Nevsky , but were defeated in the fight against Mongolian rule. In 1327 there was an uprising in Tver and other cities in the principality, which was brutally suppressed by the Mongols. The khans promoted the feudal fragmentation of Tver. In the second half of the 14th century, the principalities of Kashin, Cholm, Mikulin and Dorogobusch split off from Tver and subsequently disintegrated into even smaller principalities. The rule of the Rurikids of Tver ended in 1485 with the conquest by Tsar Ivan III. and the dissolution of the principality.

Rise of the Moscow Rurikids

In 1156, the Kiev Grand Duke Yuri Dolgoruki had the newly founded city of Moscow , which lay on the edge of his territory, expanded as a fortress with a wooden fortification, the nucleus of today's Moscow Kremlin . After the death of Alexander Newski , Grand Duke of Vladimir , in 1263, his youngest son Daniel was given the then insignificant part of Moscow from his paternal inheritance. This was even smaller than today's urban area and had no other city besides Moscow. In 1302 Daniel inherited the Principality of Pereslavl-Zalessky from his childless deceased nephew Ivan Dmitrijewitsch, the son of his brother Dimitri I , which remained permanently connected with Moscow and contributed significantly to its rise. Daniel died in 1303 and found his final resting place in the Danilov Monastery he founded , which is today the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church and the seat of the Patriarchate of Moscow and all of Russia. The Moscow Rurikid line pursued the policy of collecting Russian soil and gradually incorporated the surrounding areas into their domain to form a centralized Russian state.

Daniel's eldest son, Prince Juri I of Moscow , sought an alliance with the Mongols in competition with the Grand Dukes of Vladimir and the Princes of Tver. As already mentioned, his success in gaining the dignity of the Grand Duke of Vladimir was short-term and cost him his life in 1325. His brother Ivan Kalita achieved by moving the metropolitan seat from Vladimir to Moscow in 1326, the final recognition of Moscow's supremacy over all of Russia. In 1327 he supported the Mongols in the bloody suppression of the uprising in the principality of Tver and was appointed Grand Duke of Vladimir after the deposition of Alexander II by the Khan in 1328. Ivan's sons Simeon (1341-1353) and Ivan II (1353-1359) were followed by Dimitri Donskoi , the son of the latter , in 1359 at the age of a minor .Prince Dimitri Konstantinowitsch von Suzdal used his chance and let himself be Grand Prince Dimitri III by the Khan of the Golden Horde. of Vladimir (1360-1362) insert. The Moscow government, led by Metropolitan Alexej, intervened with the Grand Khan and managed to transfer the dignity of the Grand Duke to Dimitri Donskoy in 1362. Since that time, the title of Grand Duke of the Moscow Rurikids has remained hereditary. Dimitri Donskoi married Evdokija (Eudoxia) in 1367, the daughter of his former adversary Dimitri III, who was raised to Grand Duke of Nizhny Novgorod in 1365 as compensation .

From the armed conflicts of Dimitri Donskois against the Lithuanians and at the end of his reign also against the Mongols ( Battle of the Snipe Field ) , the Grand Duchy of Moscow emerged as the hegemonic power of Russia. His son, Grand Duke Vasily I of Moscow (1389–1425), conquered Nizhny Novgorod in 1392 and expanded his domain to include additional areas. Vasily II of Moscow (1425–1462) was also a minor when his father died and, like his grandfather at the time, was confronted with claims to the throne of other Rurikids. The arguments with his closest relatives, his uncle Prince Yuri Dmitrijewitsch von Galitsch and Zvenigorod and his sons, culminated in 1433 with the conquest of Moscow and the capture of Vasily. In the following twenty years, which were marked by devastating battles within the family and with the Tatars and which cost Vasily his eyesight, he strengthened the power of the Grand Duchy of Moscow by eliminating many existing small principalities.

Expansion of the Grand Duchy of Moscow from 1390 to 1533

Ivan III von Moscow (1462–1505) used the title Tsar for the first time in Russian history in 1478 . During his long reign he quadrupled the size of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, among other things through the violent annexation of the Novgorod Republic , the Grand Duchy of Tver and Chernigov . In 1480 he succeeded in setting up his troops on the Ugra to free himself from the supremacy of the Golden Horde. With the victory over the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the Battle of the Wedrosch in 1503, a third of the state area of ​​the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was annexed to the territory of Moscow. Ivan III created an important stability factor of the Rurikidic rule. by the abolition of the seniority principle , which several of its predecessors had already tried, and the introduction of the primogeniture . His son, Grand Duke Vasily III. of Moscow (1505–1533), is considered to have completed the unification of the Russian lands. He conquered the Pskov republic in 1510 , Smolensk in 1514 and the Ryazan principality in 1521 , the last significant Russian principality. Ivan Ivanovich, the last ruler of Ryazan, died in captivity in Moscow in 1534. Vasili's son Ivan IV (1533–1584), who would go down in history as Ivan the Terrible , was under the reign when he was a minor , since his mother's death in 1538, under the Shuiski boyar family . This Rurikidische branch line comes directly from Grand Duke Dimitri III. from Vladimir and had ruled over Nizhny Novgorod and Suzdal until 1392 . After they had lost their territory to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, they took the name Shuiski (Шуйский) after 1403, which is derived from their family property Shuja .

Rurikids on the Russian tsarist throne

In 1547, Grand Duke Ivan IV of Moscow ( Ivan the Terrible ) was crowned "Tsar of All Russians" by taking over sole rule as heir to the Byzantine emperors . Under Ivan's rule, the Tatar khanates Kazan , Astrakhan and Siberia were conquered, making Russia a multi-ethnic state for the first time . Ivan also assumed the title of "Tsar of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia". The Moscow Rurikids ruled Russia until 1598, after which Vasily IV from the Shuiski house was briefly in power (1606–1610), a branch of the Rurikids.

Even today several princely families who descend from Rurik still live on.

Principal lines of the Rurik family

Genders that are traditionally assigned to the Rurik tribe

These are the families whose ancestry from the Ryurikids is disputed or not proven, but who received an Imperial Russian confirmation of such ancestry along with the coat of arms with the prince's hat and prince's coat. So it is the families that can be found in most Rjurikid genealogy reference books. The majority of these families are made up of the sexes to which descent from the Smolensk line is ascribed. Some scientists believe that the ancestry of the houses Oginski and Puzyna from the Rjurikids has also not been proven.

See also


  • Art. "Рюриковичи"; in: Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона , 86 volumes; СПб., 1890–1907
  • NA Baumgarten: Généalogie et mariages occidentaux des Rurikides russes du Хе au XIIIe siècle ; in: Orientalia Christiana, Volume 9, Part 1, No. 35; Rome, 1927.
  • NA Baumgarten: Généalogie des branches régnantes des Rurikides du XIIIe au XIVe siècle ; in: Orientalia Christiana, Volume 35, Part 1, No. 94; Rome, 1934.
  • Л. В. Войтович: Генеалогія династіі Рюриковичів ; Kiev, 1990.
  • Л. В. Войтович: Генеалогія династіі Рюриковичів і Гедеміновичів ; X., 1992.
  • Л. В. Войтович: Удільны князіства Рюриковичів і Гедеміновичів у XII — XVI ст. ; Lviv, 1996.
  • Л. В. Войтович: Княжеские династии Восточной Европы
  • Олег Михайлович Рапов: Княжеские владения на Руси в Х - первой половине XIII в. ; Moscow 1977.
  • Б. А. Рыбаков: Киевская Русь и русские княжества XII − XIII вв. ; Moscow 1982.
  • CM Соловьёв: История России , volumes 1 and 2; (Idem, Сочинения, I), Moscow 1988.
  • G. Stöckl: Russian history ; Stuttgart 1973.
  • Олег Викторович Творогов: Князья Рюриковичи. Краткие биографии ; Moscow 1992.
  • A. П. Толочко: Князь в Древней Руси ; Moscow 1992.
  • Михаил Дмитриевич Хмыров: Алфавитно-справочный перечень удельных. Ч. 1 (А - И) ; СПб., 1871.
  • В. В. Богуславский (Ed.): Славянская энциклопедия. Киевская Русь - Московия: в 2 т. ; Moscow: Olma-Press, 2001.

Web links

Commons : Rurikids  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. In the following, the information is based on: Б. А. Рыбаков (BA Rybakow): Киевская Русь и русские княжества XII − XIII вв. Moscow 1982, pp. 283-402.
  2. ПВЛ, Лѣто 862, ПСРЛ I, p. 19.
  3. a b Б. В. Пчелов (BW Ptschelow): Легендарная и начальная генеалогия Рюриковичей ; in: ЛИРО 2 (46), Moscow 1994, pp. 27-29.
  4. In the following, the information is based on: CM Соловьёв (SM Solobjow): История России , Volume 1; in: Idem, Сочинения I (1988), pp. 53–55. G. Stöckl: Russian history ; Stuttgart 1973, pp. 93-120. A. П. Толочко: Князь в Древней Руси ; Moscow 1992; P. 13 ff.