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Middle Ages

Kievan Rus

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

The Kievan Rus was a powerful empire during the Middle Ages centered around the city of Kiev. It served as the foundation and beginning of both Russia and the Ukraine. Today Kiev is the capital city of the Ukraine.


The people of Rus were originally Vikings from the land of Sweden who migrated to Eastern Europe in the 800s. They established a small kingdom under the rule of King Rurik. The Rurik Dynasty would rule the Rus for the next 900 years.

Map of the Kievan Rus at their peak
Map of the Kievan Rus
by Panonian at Wikimedia Commons

Establishment of the Kievan State

In 880, King Oleg moved the capital of the Rus from Novgorod to Kiev. This was the start of the Kievan Rus. King Oleg led the Rus in many conquests including raids against Byzantium and Constantinople. Eventually, Oleg established peace with the Byzantine Empire and the Kievan Rus began to prosper.

Golden Age

The Golden Age of the Kievan Rus began with the rule of Vladimir the Great in 980 and continued through the rule of Yaroslav the Wise. During this time the kingdom experienced prosperity, economic growth, and peace.

Vladimir the Great

Vladimir the Great ruled the Kievan Rus from 980 to 1015. He continued the expansion of the Kievan Rus, uniting many of the Slavic states under one rule. He also converted the Rus to Christianity. This conversion strengthened his ties to Constantinople and the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Yaroslav the Wise

After Vladimir the Great died, his son Yaroslav the Wise became king. The Kievan Rus reached their peak during his reign. Yaroslav married many of his daughters and sons to surrounding nations in order to maintain peace and establish trade relations. He also established a written code of laws, built a library in Kiev, and promoted education among his people.

Great leader of the Kievan Rus - Yaroslav the Wise
Yaroslav the Wise by Unknown


The Kievan Rus began to decline after Yaroslav the Wise died. In the 13th century, the Mongols invaded the land and brought an end to the united Kievan Rus.

Interesting Facts about the Kievan Rus Activities

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Feudal System
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

Alfred the Great
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens

Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

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