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Ruthenia (/rˈθniə/; Old East Slavic: Рѹ́сь (Rus') and Рѹ́сьскаѧ землѧ (Rus'kaya zemlya), Ancient Greek: Ῥωσία, Latin: Rus(s)ia, Ruscia, Ruzzia, Rut(h)enia, Roxolania,[1][2] Old Norse: Garðaríki) is a proper geographical exonym for Kievan Rus' and other, more local, historical states. It was applied to the area where Ruthenians lived.



The word Ruthenia originated as a Latin rendering of the region and people known originally as the Rus'. During the Middle Ages, the term was applied to lands inhabited by Ruthenians understood to be Eastern Orthodox Slavs[3] in regions of ancient Ruthenia distinctly not under the influence of Tsarist Russia, such as Carpathian Ruthenia, Red Ruthenia, Black Ruthenia, and White Ruthenia. As regards Russia itself ("Great Ruthenia", or "White Ruthenia" until the end of 17th century).[4] Thus, Johann Boemus in his latin treatise "Mores, leges et ritus omnium gentium, per Ioannem Boëmum, Aubanum, Teutonicum ex multis clarissimis rerum scriptoribus collecti" of 1520 in the chapter "De Rusia sive Ruthenia, et recentibus Rusianorum moribus" ("About Rus', or Ruthenia, and modern Rus' customs") tells of a country extending from the Baltic sea to the Caspian Sea, and from the Don River to the northern ocean. Beeswax is brought from it, in the forests there are many animals with valuable fur, and the capital city Moscow (Moscovia), which got its name from the Moscow river (Moscum amnem), reaches 14 miles in circumference.[5][6] Danish diplomat Jacob Ulfeldt, describing his embassy in Moscow, named his work Hodoeporicon Ruthenicum ("Ruthenian Journey", 1608).[7]

Early Middle AgesEdit

In European manuscripts dating from the 11th century, "Ruthenia" was used to describe Rus': the wider area occupied by the Ancient Rus' (commonly referred to as Kievan Rus'). This term was also used in relation to the Slavs of the island of Rügen[8] or other Baltic Slavs, which even in the 12th century were portrayed by the chroniclers as fierce pirate pagans. At the same time, Kievan Rus' adopted Christianity long time ago,[9] and Eupraxia, the daughter of "Rutenorum regis" Vsevolod in 1089 married Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV.[10] After the devastating Mongolian occupation of the main part of Ruthenia, western Ruthenian principalities were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Polish Kingdom, then into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. A small part of Rus' (Transcarpathia, now mainly a part of Zakarpattia Oblast) since the 11th century had been subordinated to the Kingdom of Hungary.[11]

Late Middle AgesEdit

By the 15th century the Moscow principality (or Muscovy) established its sovereignty over a large portion of ancient Rus' territory, including Novgorod and Pskov, and began to fight with Lithuania for the rest Rus lands.[12][13] From 1547 the Moscow principality adopted the title of The Great Principat of Moscow and Tsardom of the Whole Rus, and claimed sovereignty over "all the Rus'" - acts not recognized by its neighbour Poland.[14] The Muscovy population was Eastern Orthodox and preferred to use the Greek transcription of Rus', being "Rossia",[15] rather than the Latin "Ruthenia".

In the 14th century the southern territories of ancient Rus', including the principalities of Galicia–Volhynia, Kiev and others, became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which, in 1384, united with Catholic Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Due to their usage of the Latin script rather than the Cyrillic script, they were usually denoted by the Latin Ruthenia. Other spellings were also used in Latin, English and other languages during this period. On the territory of Galicia-Volhynia was established Ruthenian Voivodeship, which existed until the 18th century.

These southern territories have corresponding names in Polish:

The Russian Tsardom, until 1547 was officially called Velikoye Kn'yazhestvo Moskovskoye (Великое Княжество Московское), Grand Duchy of Moscow, although Ivan III (1440–1505) was already been named "great tsar of all Russia".[16]

Modern ageEdit


The use of the term Rus/Russia in the lands of ancient Rus' survived longer as a name used by Ukrainians for Ukraine. When the Austrian monarchy made vassal state Galicia-Lodomeria a province in 1772, Habsburg officials realized that the local East Slavic people were distinct from both Poles and Russians, and still called themselves Rus, until the empire fell apart in 1918.

In the 1880s and 1900s, the popularity of the ethnonym Ukrainian spread and the term Ukraine became a substitute for Malaya Rus' among the Ukrainian population of the Empire. In the course of time the term Rus′ became restricted to western parts of present Ukraine (Galicia/Halych, Carpathian Ruthenia), an area where Ukrainian nationalism, ardently supported by Austro-Hungarian authorities, competed with Galician Russophilia. By the early 20th century, the term Ukraine had predominantly replaced Malorussia in those lands and by the mid-1920s also in the Ukrainian diaspora in North America.

Rusyn (the Ruthenian) has been one of official self-identifications of the Rus' population in Poland (and also in Czechoslovakia). Until 1939, for many traditional Ruthenians and Poles, the word Ukrainiec (Ukrainian) meant a person involved in or friendly to a nationalist movement.[17]


The most numerous population of the ancient Rus' cultural descendants, the Russians, still keep the same name for their ethnicity (russkie), while the name of their state, Rus', was gradually replaced by its Greek transcription, Rossia. Russian population dominates the former territory of Muscovy, Vladimir Rus', the Grand Principality of Smolensk, Novgorod Republic, and Pskov Republic, and they are also a significant minority in Ukraine and Belarus.

Modern RutheniaEdit

Ruthenian peasants in 1927
Map of the areas claimed and controlled by the Carpathian Ruthenia, the Lemko Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic in 1918
Autonomous Subcarpathian Ruthenia and independent Carpatho-Ukraine 1938-1939.

After 1918, the name Ruthenia became narrowed to the area south of the Carpathian mountains in the Kingdom of Hungary, named Carpathian Ruthenia (including the cities of Mukachevo, Uzhhorod, and Prešov) and populated by Carpatho-Ruthenians, a group of East Slavic highlanders. While Galician Ruthenians considered themselves to be Ukrainians, the Carpatho-Ruthenians were the last East Slavic people that kept the ancient historic name (Ruthen is a Latin deformation of the Slavic rusyn). Nowadays, the term Rusyn is used to describe the ethnicity and language of Ruthenians who are not forced to the Ukrainian national identity.

Carpatho-Ruthenia formed part of the Hungarian Kingdom from the late 11th century, where it was known as Kárpátalja. In May 1919, it was incorporated with nominal autonomy into Czechoslovakia. After this date, Ruthenian people have been divided among three orientations. First, there were the Russophiles, who saw Ruthenians as part of the Russian nation; second, there were the Ukrainophiles who, like their Galician counterparts across the Carpathian mountains, considered Ruthenians part of the Ukrainian nation; and, lastly, there were Ruthenophiles, who said that Carpatho-Ruthenians were a separate nation, and who wanted to develop a native Rusyn language and culture.[18][verification needed]

On 15 March 1939 the Ukrainophile president of Carpatho-Ruthenia, Avhustyn Voloshyn, declared its independence as Carpatho-Ukraine. On the same day, regular troops of the fascist Hungarian Army invaded the region. The Hungarian invasion was anti-Ruthenophile.[citation needed] In 1944 the Soviet Army occupied Carpatho-Ruthenia, and in 1946, annexed it to the Ukrainian SSR. Rusyns were not an officially recognized ethnic group in the USSR, as the Soviet government considered the Rusyns to be Ukrainian. Today, some modern Ukrainian politicians, as well as the Ukrainian government, claim that Rusyns are part of the Ukrainian nation. Nowadays some of the population in the Zakarpattya oblast of Ukraine consider themselves Rusyns (Ruthenians) yet they are still a part of the whole Ukrainian national identity.

A Rusyn minority remained after World War II in eastern Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). According to critics, the Ruthenians rapidly became Slovakized.[19] In 1995 the Ruthenian written language became standardized.[20]

Cognate wordEdit

A member of the Russian Academy of Science Karl Ernst Claus (born in Dorpat (Tartu), Russia) isolated the element ruthenium in 1844 at Kazan State University from platinum ore found in the Ural mountains and named it after the Latin name for his homeland.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nazarenko, Aleksandr Vasilevich (2001). "1. Имя "Русь" в древнейшей западноевропейской языковой традиции (XI-XII века)" [The name Rus' in the old tradition of Western European language (XI-XII centuries)]. Древняя Русь на международных путях: междисциплинарные очерки культурных, торговых, политических связей IX-XII веков [Old Rus' on international routes: Interdisciplinary Essays on cultural, trade, and political ties in the 9th-12th centuries] (DJVU) (in Russian). Languages of the Rus' culture. pp. 40, 42–45, 49–50. ISBN 978-5-7859-0085-1. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011.
  2. ^ Magocsi, Paul R. (2010). A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples. University of Toronto Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-4426-1021-7. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  3. ^ Armstrong, John (1982). Nations Before Nationalism. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 228. ISBN 9780783702872.
  4. ^ Флоря Б. Н. О некоторых особенностях развития этнического самосознания восточных славян в эпоху средневековья — раннего Нового времени // Россия — Украина: история взаимоотношений / Под ред. А. И. Миллера, В. Ф. Репринцева, Б. Н. Флори. — М.: Школа «Языки русской культуры», 1997. — С. 9—28
  5. ^ Мыльников, Александр (1999). Картина славянского мира: взгляд из Восточной Европы: Представления об этнической номинации и этничности XVI-начала XVIII века. СПб: Петербургское востоковедение. pp. 129–130. ISBN 5-85803-117-X.
  6. ^ Сынкова, Ірына (2007). "Ёган Баэмус і яго кніга „Норавы, законы і звычаі ўсіх народаў"". Беларускі Гістарычны Агляд. 14 (1–2).
  7. ^ Olʹga Dmitrieva, Natalya Abramova Britannia & Muscovy: English Silver at the Court of the Tsars
  8. ^ Ebbo, Herbordus The Life of Otto, Apostle of Pomerania: 1060 - 1139
  9. ^ Paul, Andrew (2015). "The roxolani from Rügen: Nikolaus Marshalk's chronicle as an example of medieval tradition to associate the Rügen's Slavs with the Slavic Rus". THE HISTORICAL FORMAT. 1: 5–30.
  10. ^ Annales Augustani. p. 133.
  11. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 385. ISBN 0-8020-0830-5.
  12. ^ Grand Principality of Moscow Britannica
  13. ^ Ivan III Britannica
  14. ^ Dariusz Kupisz, Psków 1581–1582, Warszawa 2006, s. 55-201.
  15. ^ T. Kamusella (16 December 2008). The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-0-230-58347-4.
  16. ^ Trepanier, Lee (2010). Political Symbols in Russian History: Church, State, and the Quest for Order and Justice. Lexington Books. pp. 38–39, 60. ISBN 9780739117897.
  17. ^ Robert Potocki, Polityka państwa polskiego wobec zagadnienia ukraińskiego w latach 1930–1939, Lublin 2003, wyd. Instytut Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej, ISBN 83-917615-4-1, s. 45.
  18. ^ Gabor, Madame (Autumn 1938). "Ruthenia". The Ashridge Journal. 35: 27–39.
  19. ^ "The Rusyn Homeland Fund". 1998. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  20. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi: A new Slavic language is born, in: Revue des études slaves, Tome 67, fascicule 1, 1995, pp. 238-240.
  21. ^ Pitchkov, V. N. (1996). "The Discovery of Ruthenium". Platinum Metals Review. 40 (4): 181–188.

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