ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses armed conflicts between the Scandinavian Rus’ and the steppe people – the Khazars, Volga Bulghars, Pechenegs, Magyars, Oghuz, and Burtas – based on contemporary and later written sources amended with relevant archaeological evidence. After discussing the general composition of Rus’, steppe fighting units, and armies compared with those in Viking Age Scandinavia, the chapter will distinguish three kinds of conflict of differing intensity. First, clashes arising while Scandinavians and Rus’ were traversing the steppes will be touched on, followed by a discussion of small-scale raids aiming to take riches and captives, and finally, major campaigns directed with political aims. A relative numerical analysis of these conflicts indicates that the various types of belligerency were not equally frequent, and Rus’-steppe “wars” were rarely devastating. The explanation for this lies in the power relations in the region, which will be touched on at the end of the chapter.