Medieval Studies Rus in Medieval Europe
Christian Raffensperger
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 June 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 June 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0321


The history of the medieval kingdom of Rus is one that holds a contested place in historiography. Even referring to it as a “kingdom” is an argument by itself, as many consider to be a principality or series of principalities. Typically, Rus is dealt with as the earliest part of Russian history, though claims have also been made for it as the earliest part of Ukrainian history. This bibliography will take the approach that it is a medieval polity of its own and focus upon not just Rus, but primarily its relations with the rest of medieval Europe. As such, the bibliography will restrict itself to topics related to that theme particularly for the 11th and 12th centuries, though more generally for what is typically referred to as the High Middle Ages. There is much more to say about medieval Rus than is included here, and the reader is encouraged to use this just as a starting point to learn more about the history of the kingdom of Rus and its neighbors.

Reference Works

Rus appears in several reference works that relate to it specifically or to medieval eastern Europe in general. Langer 2002 is the only example on this list which deals with Rus, in the frame of “Russia” on its own. The author of Barford 2001 chooses a different frame for his work, not Rus, but Slavs, and focuses upon early Slavic development, though this ends up with a lot of attention paid to Rus as well as to its eastern European neighbors. Melnikova and Petrukhin 2014 provides an encyclopedic coverage of things relating to Rus as part of a wider medieval world. Lübke 2004 and Curta 2005 situate Rus within eastern Europe and provide broad coverage of it and its neighbors. Both books are vast in their breadth. Curta has continued his work and produced not just a bibliography of all things eastern Europe (Curta 2019b) but an edited collection (Curta 2005) with articles on Rus and other locations in eastern Europe, often interrelated, and a handbook (Curta 2021). These works are rare in that there is not much call for references works just on Rus as it rarely exists as its own topic of study at that methodological level. However, Rus does quite often appear in reference works related to eastern Europe. One of the most common authors of such works is Florin Curta, witness his bibliography (Curta 2019a) which covers a vast area of both territory and scholarship, inclusive of languages from throughout the world.

  • Barford, P. M. The Early Slavs: Culture and Society in Early Medieval Eastern Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001.

    Focused upon the Slavs, Barford examines their early history through the Christianization of eastern Europe, inclusive of Rus.

  • Curta, Florin, ed. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Early Middle Ages. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

    Edited collection with articles on Rus, as well as other parts of medieval eastern Europe.

  • Curta, Florin. Bibliography of the History and Archaeology of Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2019a.

    A completely comprehensive bibliography of all things related to medieval eastern Europe, inclusive of Rus.

  • Curta, Florin. Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages (500–1300). 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2019b.

    DOI: 10.1163/9789004395190

    Two volume set dealing with the history of eastern Europe, inclusive of Rus.

  • Curta, Florin, ed. A Handbook of East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1300. New York: Routledge, 2021.

    Part of the “handbook” genre that is increasingly popular, this book presents Rus as part of eastern European medieval history.

  • Древняя Русь в средневековом мире. Энциклопедия. Edited by Red. Е. А. Мельникова and В.Я. Петрухин. Moscow: Ладомир, 2014.

    An encyclopedia of medieval Rus by two of the top Russian medievalists.

  • Langer, Lawrence. Historical Dictionary of Medieval Russia. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    One of Rowman and Littlefield’s historical dictionaries with entries relating to Rus, labeled as Russia by the author.

  • Lübke, Christian. Das östliche Europa. Munich: Siedler, 2004.

    Excellent overview of the history of eastern Europe, with substantial sections on Rus.

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