|Map showing the major Varangian trade routes: the Volga trade route (in red) and the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks (in purple). Other trade routes of the 8th–11th centuries shown in orange.|
hand in hand with their Christianization. Thus the end of the Viking Age for the Scandinavians also marks the start of their relatively brief Middle Ages.
According to the Primary Chronicle, compiled in Kiev about 1100-1200 Ad, one group of Varangians was Rus' people. Their name became that of the land of Rus' this happened because one of Rus' princes, Rurik (Old Norse: Hrörekr) had been recognized by several East Slavic and Finno-Ugric peoples as their ruler, founding the Rurikid Dynasty, which later would rule over Rus' and after its fall over Russia for many centuries. Rurik first came to Staraya Ladoga in
862 and then moved his capital to Novgorod in 864, while his relative Oleg (Old Norse: Helgi) conquered Kiev in 882 and established the state of Kievan Rus', later inherited by Rurik's son Igor (Old Norse: Ingvarr).
Sviatoslav was the first ruler of Rus' who is recorded in the Primary Chronicle with a name of Slavic origin (as opposed to his predecessors, whose names are ultimately derived from Old Norse). This name is however not recorded in other medieval Slavic countries. Even in Rus', it was attested only among the members of the house of Rurik, as were the names of Sviatoslav's immediate successors: Vladimir, Yaroslav, Mstislav). Some scholars speculate that the
name of Sviatoslav, composed of the Slavic roots for "holy" and "glory", was an artificial derivation combining those of his predecessors Oleg and Rurik
(they mean "holy" and "glorious" in Old Norse, respectively).
Engaging in trade, piracy and mercenary activities, Varangians roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, as Rus' lands were known in Norse sagas. They controlled the Volga trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Arabs), connecting Baltic to the Caspian Sea, and the Dnieper trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Greeks) leading to the Black Sea and Constantinople. Those were the critically important trade links at that time, connecting Europe with wealthy and developed Arab Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire;via those routes most of the
silver coinage came from the East to the West. Attracted by the riches of Constantinople, Rus' Varangians initiated a number of Rus'-Byzantine Wars, some of which resulted in advantageous trade treaties. At least from the early 10th century many Varangians served as mercenaries in the Byzantine Army,
comprising the so-called Varangian Guard (the personal bodyguards of Byzantine Emperors). Eventually most of them, both in Byzantium and in Eastern Europe, were converted from paganism into Orthodox Christianity, culminating in the 988 Christianization of Kievan Rus'. Coinciding with the general decline of the Viking Age, the influx of Norsemen to Rus' stopped, and Varangians were eventually assimilated by East Slavs by the late