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
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.