Rus'–Byzantine Treaty (945)

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The Rus'–Byzantine Treaty between the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII and Igor I of Kiev was concluded either in 944 or 945 as a result of a naval expedition undertaken by Kievan Rus against Constantinople in the early 940s. Its provisions were less advantageous for the Rus than those of the previous treaty, associated with the name of Igor's predecessor Oleg. It was one of the earliest written sources of Old Russian Law.

The text of the treaty, as preserved in the Primary Chronicle, contains a list of the Rus' plenipotentiaries (no fewer than fifty are named). The overwhelming majority have Norse names.[1] One part of the Rus' envoys swear to their pagan gods, while another part invoke the name of the Christian God, indicating that a portion of the Rus' elite was Christianized.

The total number of names is 76 among whom 12 belong to the ruling family, 11 to emissaries, 27 to other agents, and 26 to merchants. In the princely family, there are three Slavic names Svjatoslav, son of prince Igor' (Ingvar) and Volodislav and Predslava (of unknown relation). The other members of the family have Norse names, i.e. Olga (Helga), Akun (Hákon), Sfanda (Svanhildr), Uleb (Óleifr), Turd (Þórðr), Arfast (Arnfastr), and Sfir'ka (Sverkir). The emissaries also have Old Norse names except for three who have Finnish names. Olga has a representative by the Finnish name Iskusevi, whereas Volodislav is represented by the Norse Uleb (Óleifr). Among the 27 agents there are some who have Finnish names, but none with Slavic, while among the 26 merchants there are three with Finnish names and two with Slavic.[2]

The treaty of 944/945 repeated several clauses from the previous settlements. The Rus' promised not to attack Chersonesos, a Byzantine exclave in the Crimea (Article 8). The mouth of the Dnieper River (Beloberezhye) was to be administrated jointly, although the Rus' were forbidden to winter there and to oppress fishers from Chersonesos (Article 12).

Article 2 contains novel provisions on maritime law. In order to distinguish peaceful merchants from raiders, each ship of the Rus' was to bear a charter of the Kievan prince, explaining how many people and how many ships would sail to Constantinople. Otherwise, the Rus' ships might be apprehended by the imperial authorities.


  1. ^ Feldbrugge, Ferdinand J. M. (2008). Law in Medieval Russia. Martinus Nijhoff. ISBN 978-90-04-16985-2.
  2. ^ Melnikova, E.A. (2003) The Cultural Assimilation of the Varangians in Eastern Europe from the Point of View of Language and Literacy in Runica - Germ. - Mediavalia (heiz./n.) Rga-e 37, pp. 454-465.


  • (in Russian) Повесть временных лет, ч. 1—2, М.—Л., 1950.
  • (in Russian) Памятники русского права, в. 1, сост. А. А. Зимин, М., 1952 (библ.).