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New Medieval Books: The Ruling Families of Rus

#New Medieval Books: The Ruling Families of Rus

The Ruling Families of Rus: Clan, Family and Kingdom

By Christian Raffensperger and Donald Ostrowski

Reaktion Books
ISBN: 978 1 78914 715 5

A look at the history of Rus, Lithuania, Moscovy and Tver from the 11th through to the 15th century through the members of the Volodimerovich clan. Each chapter focuses on a ruler and their family.


As a whole, one can see that The Ruling Families of Rus really is about families and individuals, rather than focusing upon any one dynastic progression from male heir to male heir. We have attempted to define the place of Rus in the medieval world, as well as highlight the important role that women played in these families and clans. We have tried not to be bound by any national structure of history writing – situating these Rusian families both within Rus and in the wider world, rather than binding them in any modern historical narrative that is read back in time. These efforts should make for a historical representation that is as true to the time as we can make it and should provide a thorough introduction to the Volodimerovich clan and its component parts, as well as the territories over which they ruled.

Who is this book for?

This book offers a detailed introduction to the history of Rus, which will interest readers wanting to learn about Russia, Ukraine and parts of Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. Considering the importance of the two authors in this field, the book will likely be required reading for many historians.

The authors

Christian Raffensperger is the Kenneth E. Wray Chair in the Humanities at Wittenberg University. Donald Ostrowski is a lecturer at the Harvard Extension School and an associate of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Both are leading historians of medieval Rus.

Raffensperger and Ostrowski note that they wrote this book during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and comment on how this has impacted their writing:

Vladimir Putin cares about history; he believes that Rus is Russia and that this gives him the right to invade the modern nation of Ukraine. Such a misguided use of history makes our task, the task of all historians, even more important in these troubled times. Rus, as this book aims to show, is solely Rus. It is not Russia, but neither is it Ukraine or Belarus. The ruling families of Rus are the ancestors of the modern nation-states of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and are not the sole property of any of these three.

You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website

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