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The Ruling Families of Rus

Clan, Family and Kingdom

A new history of the Kyivan Rus, a medieval dynastic state in eastern Europe.
Kyivan Rus’ was a state in northeastern Europe from the late ninth to the mid-sixteenth century that encompassed a variety of peoples, including Lithuanians, Polish, and Ottomans. The Ruling Families of Rus explores the region’s history through local families, revealing how the concept of family rule developed over the centuries into what we understand as dynasties today. Examining a broad range of archival sources, the authors examine the development of Rus, Lithuania, Muscovy, and Tver and their relationships with the Mongols, Byzantines, and others. The Ruling Families of Rus will appeal to scholars interested in the medieval history of eastern Europe.

320 pages | 28 color plates, 34 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4


History: British and Irish History

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"‘In the current context of the Russian-waged war in Ukraine, calls to decolonize the study of Eastern Europe and Eurasia abound. The search is on to shed the teleological framework that casts Russia’s early modern and modern imperial ambitions into the medieval past and onto the lands that comprise today’s Belarus and Ukraine. In The Ruling Families of Rus, Christian Raffensperger and Donald Ostrowski provocatively venture to displace some of the myths of Russia’s aggrandizement that have been projected onto a medieval past that belongs to many others. The authors destabilize claims of a continuous Riurikid dynasty often used to link the Kyivan past with late medieval Muscovy, and instead focus on families, which opens historical space for women and the numerous kniazi who lived their lives unaware of the national historiographical claims that would come to define modern visions of the East European medieval period. Tracing the stories of families and individuals from the ninth to the late sixteenth century, this book evidences the entanglement of peoples across Europe and Eurasia and shows readers how diversity of intention is a mark of both the present and the past. Raffensperger and Ostrowski take a brave step in replacing the popularized Russian myth of the Middle Ages with a history that emphasizes multiplicity and complexity of identities, relationships and choices."

Olenka Z. Pevny, University of Cambridge

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