On his deathbed, Rurik appoints his relative, Oleg, to rule. Or does he? He successfully expands Rus rule south onto the Dnieper, makes Kyiv his capital, and obtains a favourable trade agreement with Byzantium after attacking Constantinople. He rules for 33 years. Or maybe he doesn’t. Perhaps the chronicler is just pulling all of these numbers out of the air.
Oleg is succeeded by Igor, who is actually Rurikovich, or son of Rurik. If we can believe the chronicler, Igor also ruled for 33 years. That sounds a bit unlikely, and it’s not the only thing making the whole timeline look a bit fishy.
There’s a whole gap of 20 years in the middle where the chronicler just can’t find anything to say about him. Just to muddle things up even more, some of Rus’ neighbours think they’re still dealing with someone called Oleg.
In this episode, we take a look at what the Tale of Bygone Years tells us about Oleg the Seer and Igor Rurikovich, and compare it to Byzantine records and contemporary Khazar and Islamic writings to try to get to grips with what actually happened, when it happened, and who it happened to.
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