Ruthenia (/rˈθniə/; Latin: Rut(h)enia) is an exonym, originally used in Medieval Latin as one of several designations for East Slavic regions, and most commonly as a designation for the lands of Rus' (Old East Slavic: Рѹ́сь / Rus' and Рѹ́сьскаѧ землѧ / Rus'kaya zemlya, Ancient Greek: Ῥωσία, Latin: Rus(s)ia, Ruscia, Ruzzia).[1][2] During the early modern period, the term also acquired several specific meanings.


The word Ruthenia originated as a Latin designation of the region and people originally known to themselves as the Rus'. During the Middle Ages the term was applied[by whom?] to lands inhabited by Eastern Slavs.[3][need quotation to verify][4] Russia itself was called Great Ruthenia or White Ruthenia until the end of the 17th century.[5] It is mentioned in the 1520 Latin treatise Mores, leges et ritus omnium gentium, per Ioannem Boëmum, Aubanum, Teutonicum ex multis clarissimis rerum scriptoribus collecti by Johann Boemus. In the chapter De Rusia sive Ruthenia, et recentibus Rusianorum moribus ("About Rus', or Ruthenia, and modern customs of the Rus'"), Boemus tells of a country extending from the Baltic Sea to the Caspian Sea and from the Don River to the northern ocean. It is a source of beeswax, its forests harbor many animals with valuable fur, and the capital city Moscow (Moscovia), named after the Moskva River (Moscum amnem), is 14 miles in circumference.[6][7] Danish diplomat Jacob Ulfeldt, who traveled to Russia in 1578 to meet with Tsar Ivan IV, titled his posthumously (1608) published memoir Hodoeporicon Ruthenicum[8] ("Voyage to Ruthenia").[9]

Early Middle Ages

In European manuscripts dating from the 11th century, Ruthenia was used to describe Rus', the wider area occupied by the ancient Rus' (commonly referred to as Kievan Rus'). This term was also used to refer to the Slavs of the island of Rügen[10] or other Baltic Slavs, whom even in the 12th century were portrayed by chroniclers as fierce pirate pagans even though Kievan Rus' had long since converted to Christianity:[11] Eupraxia, the daughter of Rutenorum regis Vsevolod, had married Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV in 1089.[12] After the devastating Mongolian occupation of the main part of Ruthenia, western Ruthenian principalities were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Polish Kingdom, then into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. A small part of Rus' (Transcarpathia, now mainly a part of Zakarpattia Oblast), was subordinated to the Kingdom of Hungary in the 11th century.[13]

Late Middle Ages

By the 15th century the Moscow principality (or Muscovy) had established its sovereignty over a large portion of ancient Ruthenian territory, including Novgorod and Pskov, and began to fight with Lithuania over the remaining Ruthenian lands.[14][15] In 1547, the Moscow principality adopted the title of The Great Principat of Moscow and Tsardom of the Whole Rus and claimed sovereignty over "all the Rus'" — acts not recognized by its neighbour Poland.[16] The Muscovy population was Eastern Orthodox and preferred to use the Greek transliteration Rossia[17] rather than the Latin "Ruthenia."

In the 14th century the southern territories of ancient Rus', including the principalities of Galicia–Volhynia and Kiev, became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which in 1384 united with Catholic Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Due to their usage of the Latin script rather than the Cyrillic script, they were usually denoted by the Latin Ruthenia. Other spellings were also used in Latin, English, and other languages during this period. Contemporaneously, the Ruthenian Voivodeship was established in the territory of Galicia-Volhynia and existed until the 18th century.

These southern territories have corresponding names in Polish:

The Russian Tsardom was officially called Velikoye Kn'yazhestvo Moskovskoye (Великое Княжество Московское), the Grand Duchy of Moscow, until 1547, although Ivan III (1440–1505) was already been named "Great Tsar of All Russia."[18]

Modern Age


The use of the term Rus/Russia in the lands of ancient Rus' survived longer as a name used by Ukrainians for Ukraine. When the Austrian monarchy made vassal state Galicia–Lodomeria a province in 1772, Habsburg officials realized that the local East Slavic people were distinct from both Poles and Russians and still called themselves Rus. This was true until the empire fell in 1918.

In the 1880s through the first decade of the 20th century, the popularity of the ethnonym Ukrainian spread, and the term Ukraine became a substitute for Malaya Rus' among the Ukrainian population of the empire. In the course of time, the term Rus′ became restricted to western parts of present-day Ukraine (Galicia/Halych, Carpathian Ruthenia), an area where Ukrainian nationalism, ardently supported by Austro-Hungarian authorities, competed with Galician Russophilia. By the early 20th century, the term Ukraine had mostly replaced Malorussia in those lands, and by the mid-1920s in the Ukrainian diaspora in North America as well.

Rusyn (the Ruthenian) has been an official self-identification of the Rus' population in Poland (and also in Czechoslovakia). Until 1939, for many Ruthenians and Poles, the word Ukrainiec (Ukrainian) meant a person involved in or friendly to a nationalist movement.[19]


The Russians, the most numerous cultural descendants of the ancient Rus', retain the name (russkie) for their ethnicity, while the name of their state, Rus', was gradually replaced by its Greek transliteration Rossia. The Russian population dominates the former territory of Muscovy, Vladimir Rus', the Grand Principality of Smolensk, the Novgorod Republic, and the Pskov Republic; they also constitute a significant minority in Ukraine and Belarus.

Modern Ruthenia

Ruthenian peasants in 1927
Map of the areas claimed and controlled by the Carpathian Ruthenia, the Lemko Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic in 1918
Autonomous Subcarpathian Ruthenia and independent Carpatho-Ukraine 1938-1939.

After 1918, the name Ruthenia became narrowed to the area south of the Carpathian Mountains in the Kingdom of Hungary, named Carpathian Ruthenia (including the cities of Mukachevo, Uzhhorod, and Prešov) and populated by Carpatho-Ruthenians, a group of East Slavic highlanders. While Galician Ruthenians considered themselves Ukrainians, the Carpatho-Ruthenians were the last East Slavic people who kept the ancient historic name (Ruthen is a Latin form of the Slavic rusyn). Today, the term Rusyn is used to describe the ethnicity and language of Ruthenians, who are not compelled to adopt the Ukrainian national identity.

Carpatho-Ruthenia formed part of the Hungarian Kingdom from the late 11th century, when it was known as Kárpátalja. In May 1919, it was incorporated with nominal autonomy into Czechoslovakia. Since then, Ruthenian people have been divided into three orientations: Russophiles, who saw Ruthenians as part of the Russian nation; Ukrainophiles, who like their Galician counterparts across the Carpathian Mountains considered Ruthenians part of the Ukrainian nation; and Ruthenophiles, who claimed that Carpatho-Ruthenians were a separate nation and who wanted to develop a native Rusyn language and culture.[20][verification needed]

On 15 March 1939, the Ukrainophile president of Carpatho-Ruthenia, Avhustyn Voloshyn, declared its independence as Carpatho-Ukraine. On the same day, regular troops of the fascist Hungarian Army invaded the region. The Hungarian invasion was anti-Ruthenophile.[citation needed] In 1944 the Soviet Army occupied Carpatho-Ruthenia, and in 1946 it was annexed to the Ukrainian SSR. Rusyns were not an officially recognized ethnic group in the USSR, as the Soviet government considered them to be Ukrainian.

Today, the Ukrainian government and some modern Ukrainian politicians claim that Rusyns are part of the Ukrainian nation. Some of the population in the Zakarpattya Oblast of Ukraine consider themselves Rusyns (Ruthenians), yet they are still a part of the Ukrainian national identity.

A Rusyn minority remained after World War II in eastern Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). According to critics, the Ruthenians rapidly became Slovakized.[21] In 1995 the Ruthenian written language became standardized.[22]

Ruthenium (element)

The Baltic German naturalist and chemist Karl Ernst Claus, member of the Russian Academy of Science, was born in 1796 in Dorpat (Tartu), then in the Governorate of Livonia of the Russian Empire, now in Estonia. In 1844, he isolated the element ruthenium from platinum ore found in the Ural Mountains and named it with the neuter form of the Latin name for Russia.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Nazarenko, Aleksandr Vasilevich (2001). "1. Имя "Русь" в древнейшей западноевропейской языковой традиции (XI-XII века)" [The name Rus' in the old tradition of Western European language (XI-XII centuries)]. Древняя Русь на международных путях: междисциплинарные очерки культурных, торговых, политических связей IX-XII веков [Old Rus' on international routes: Interdisciplinary Essays on cultural, trade, and political ties in the 9th-12th centuries] (DJVU) (in Russian). Languages of the Rus' culture. pp. 40, 42–45, 49–50. ISBN 978-5-7859-0085-1. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011.
  2. ^ Magocsi, Paul R. (2010). A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples. University of Toronto Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-4426-1021-7. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  3. ^ Armstrong, John (1982). Nations Before Nationalism. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 228. ISBN 9780783702872.
  4. ^ Compare: Armstrong, John Alexander (2017) [1982]. Nations Before Nationalism. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9781469620725. Retrieved 7 July 2019. From the linguistic standpoint, the results of this catastrophe [the Mongol invasion] somewhat resemble the collapse of the Roman empire for the latin-speaking peoples. Like the great 'Romania' of the Western Middle Ages, there was a great 'Ruthenia' in which common linguistic origin and some measure of mutual comprehensibility was assumed.
  5. ^ Флоря Б. Н. О некоторых особенностях развития этнического самосознания восточных славян в эпоху средневековья — раннего Нового времени // Россия — Украина: история взаимоотношений / Под ред. А. И. Миллера, В. Ф. Репринцева, Б. Н. Флори. — М.: Школа «Языки русской культуры», 1997. — С. 9—28
  6. ^ Мыльников, Александр (1999). Картина славянского мира: взгляд из Восточной Европы: Представления об этнической номинации и этничности XVI-начала XVIII века. СПб: Петербургское востоковедение. pp. 129–130. ISBN 5-85803-117-X.
  7. ^ Сынкова, Ірына (2007). "Ёган Баэмус і яго кніга „Норавы, законы і звычаі ўсіх народаў"". Беларускі Гістарычны Агляд. 14 (1–2).
  8. ^ Ulfeldt, Jacob (1608). Hodoeporicon Ruthenicum, in quo de Moscovitarum Regione, Moribus, Religione, gubernatione, & Aula Imperatoria quo potuit compendio & eleganter exequitur [...] (in Latin) (1 ed.). Frankfurt. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  9. ^ Kasinec, Edward; Davis, Robert H. (2006). "The Imagery of Early Anglo-Russian Relations". In Dmitrieva, Ol'ga; Abramova, Natalya (eds.). Britannia & Muscovy: English Silver at the Court of the Tsars. Yale University Press. p. 261. ISBN 9780300116786. Retrieved 7 July 2019. [...] [Jacob Ulfeldt's] Hodoeporicon Ruthenicum ['Ruthenian Journey'] (Frankfurt, 1608 [...]) [...].
  10. ^ Ebbo, Herbordus The Life of Otto, Apostle of Pomerania: 1060 - 1139
  11. ^ Paul, Andrew (2015). "The roxolani from Rügen: Nikolaus Marshalk's chronicle as an example of medieval tradition to associate the Rügen's Slavs with the Slavic Rus". THE HISTORICAL FORMAT. 1: 5–30.
  12. ^ Annales Augustani. p. 133.
  13. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 385. ISBN 0-8020-0830-5.
  14. ^ Grand Principality of Moscow Britannica
  15. ^ Ivan III Britannica
  16. ^ Dariusz Kupisz, Psków 1581–1582, Warszawa 2006, s. 55-201.
  17. ^ T. Kamusella (16 December 2008). The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-0-230-58347-4.
  18. ^ Trepanier, Lee (2010). Political Symbols in Russian History: Church, State, and the Quest for Order and Justice. Lexington Books. pp. 38–39, 60. ISBN 9780739117897.
  19. ^ Robert Potocki, Polityka państwa polskiego wobec zagadnienia ukraińskiego w latach 1930–1939, Lublin 2003, wyd. Instytut Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej, ISBN 83-917615-4-1, s. 45.
  20. ^ Gabor, Madame (Autumn 1938). "Ruthenia". The Ashridge Journal. 35: 27–39.
  21. ^ "The Rusyn Homeland Fund". carpatho-rusyn.org. 1998. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  22. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi: A new Slavic language is born, in: Revue des études slaves, Tome 67, fascicule 1, 1995, pp. 238-240.
  23. ^ Pitchkov, V. N. (1996). "The Discovery of Ruthenium". Platinum Metals Review. 40 (4): 181–188.

General sources

External links