Vikings in the Kyivan Rus
1200 years ago, the Vikings forged important alliances and ties with the Kyivan Rus. These historical events inspire the relationship between Ukraine and Norway today.
Princess Jelisaveta of Kyivan Rus married the last Norwegian Viking king, Harald Hardrade.
Available 22-27 November
The Viking Age in Scandinavia is characterised by the Vikings' travels all over the European continent. From the 800s, Northern and Western Europe joined powerful trading partners in the Byzantine Empire and in the Islamic Caliphate further east.
During the Viking Age, one of Europe's most important trade and communication routes between Scandinavia and Constantinople went through what are now the battlefields in Ukraine. Norse Vikings visited Kyiv on their way to Constantinople to serve as foreign mercentaries, and Norwegian nobles such as Olav Haraldsson and Harald Hardrade found political allies there. The Kyivan Rus became home to many Scandinavian settlers, who quickly allowed themselves to be incorporated into the Slavic culture.
The last Norwegian Viking king, Harald Hardrade, went to Kyiv at a young age to serve Prince Yaroslav of Kyiv. He eventually gained such a high status that he was allowed to marry the prince's daughter Jelisaveta, Ellisiv in Scandinavian, thus creating an important alliance.
The Kyivan Rus had close relations with the Scandinavian and other European states, as demonstrated through Jelisaveta's family tree. After her marriage, Jelisaveta travelled with Harald to Norway, where she is now known as Queen Ellisiv. Her mother was Princess of Sweden, and her sisters, Anne and Anastasia, became queens in France and Hungary, respectively.
An exhibition in cooperation with Ukraine
The Ukrainian Embassy in Oslo, together with Ukrainian designers and researchers from Ukraine, has completed an exhibition that tells in words and pictures about Scandinavia's connection to the Kyivan Rus. We will display this in the museum's lecture hall from 22 to 27 November.
The exhibition consists of 18 large posters and gives insights into how the historical ties between Scandinavia and present-day Ukraine where formed more than 1000 years ago. You can also watch a short animated film about our common history that the Historical Museum has produced for the exhibition, and see one of the few coins that foind its way from the Kyivan Rus to Norway.
In 2021, the Historical Museum was contacted by the Ukrainian Embassy in Oslo with a proposal for a joint exhibition. Due to the Russian invasion, the cooperation was postponed, but we are now proud to present the exhibition "The Vikings in the Kyivan Rus".