Page 1301

1301 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY.-NORTHERN KINGDOMS.

in the battle of Stamford Bridge. During the

reign of his grandson Magnus III (1093-

1103), the Isle of Man, the Shetlands, the

Orkneys, and the Hebrides were overrun

by the Danes. Ireland was invaded, and

there Magnus was slain in battle. His son

Sigurd became the Scandinavian hero of the

Crusades, and his exploits against the Moors

in Spain, as well as in Palestine, were the subject of many an epic ballad of the North.

Of the primitive history of Sweden but few

authentic scraps have been preserved.

Tradition relates that, when Woden with

an army of Swedes entered the country,

he found it in possession of the Goths,

who had previously expelled the Lapps

and Finns. At the first Woden ruled

over only the central portion, but under

his successors the remainder was conquered before the eighth century. As

early as 829, Ansgar, a monk of Corbie,

visited Sweden, and made the first converts to Christianity. Paganism, however, held its ground for more than a

century, and it was not until the reign

of Olaf Skotkonung that a regular

bishopric was established at Skara.

When the Swedes took possession of

the land to which they gave their name,

the Goths were permitted to remain in

the country. No union, however, was

for many centuries effected between the

two races, and innumerable feuds and

frequent .civil wars fill up the annals of

the times. It was not until the accession of Waldemar, in the year 1250,

that a political union was accomplished

between the hostile peoples.

The authentic history of Russia begins at a period somewhat later than

that of the Scandinavian nations. There is

a sense, however, in which the statement

may be reversed, for the tribes inhabiting the

vast region now included under the name of

Russia were better known to the Greeks and

Romans than were those of the Baltic provinces. The names Scythian and Sarmatian

are sufficiently familiar as the tribal epithets

by which the peoples of the great northeastern steppes were designated.

During the great ethnic movements of

the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries Russia

was the principal field on which and over

which the powerful nations of Goths, Alans, Huns, Avars, and Bulgarians, marshaled

their hosts for the subjugation of the West.

At a later period the Slavonic tribes first

appeared on the scene-unless, indeed, these

were the descendants of the ancient Sarmatians. Their first impact was upon the

Finns, whom they drove from their native

seats. Many, however, remained, and were

blended with the dominant Slavs. From

this union and amalgamation sprang the

modern Russians.

Soon after the Slavic tribes gained the

ascendancy they founded the towns of Novgorod and Kiev, which became the capitals of the two divisions of the country. In the course of a century the former principality was invaded by the Rus out of

the North, and both Slavs and Finns were

reduced to a tributary relation. Several

times the Slavic tribes revolted; but finally, despairing of success, they invited

the great Rus prince, Ruric, to come to Novgorod and be their king. In the year 862 he

came with his brothers Sinaf and Truver, and

then and there founded the Russian Empire.