chapter  1
26 Pages

History of Belarus to 1985

The early history of Belarus is steeped in controversy. Belarusian scholars rightly note that the country has a history dating back to ancient times, but there is today no consensus on the origins of the Belarusian state. The three tribes from which the Belarusians are believed to have derived were the Krivichi, Dregovichi, and Radimichi, who lived first on the Dvina River and later in the vicinity of the Pripyat and Sozh rivers. The medieval period of Belarusian history dates from the rule of Prince Rahvalod over the Polatsk principality in 980. In the late 10th century, Polatsk was annexed by Vladimir, the ruler of Kievan Rus’, who killed the Polatsk prince and married his daughter, Rahneda. At least three principalities existed on what is today ethnically Belarusian territory: that of Smolensk; Polatsk-Vitsebsk; andTurau Pinsk. Belarusian territory was left relatively unscathed by the Mongol invasions which destroyed Kievan Rus’ and the city of Kiev (Kyiv) itself in 1240.