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Historical Ties between Ukraine and Norway
26 August 2020 00:13

Historical contacts between Ukraine and Norway reach the end of the first millennium BC. Common history in the period of Kievan Rus has over several centuries influenced the strong friendly relations between our countries.

In historiography, there are two main theories of foundation of Kievan Rus - Norman and her alternative of the Soviet historical tradition. The latter recognizes the Slavic origin of Kiev princes, tracing the name «Rus» from the local toponimies. Whereas the Norman theory, most widespread in the West nowadays, reveals the Scandinavian roots of Kyiv's ancient rulers, and the legendary ruler of Novgorod (after 862 years) Rurik in particular. Accordingly, the origin of the name «Rus» is regarded as synonymous to Scandinavian tribes.

Discussions around the foundation of Kievan Rus (Scandinavian name - Gardarike) aside, it is known that the first Scandinavian rulers of Kievan Rus were Askold and Dir, who went from Novgorod to Kyiv and settled there. After that, many Scandinavians (Varangians) arrived in Kyiv and Constantinople as an individual merchants. Other Vikings stayed in Kiyv longer, serving the legendary trade route «from Varangians to the Greeks», from the Gulf of Finland, to Dnieper and further to the Black Sea.

In the period from 975 until 1066 Norway enjoyed special friendly relations with Kievan Rus. Many descendants of Norwegian kings and nobles lived for longer periods at the Kyiv court that gained military education, as well as participated in attacks on Konstantyponol (Scandinavian name - Miklagard).

Thus, the court of Volodymyr the Great in Kyiv hosted legendary Norwegian king Olav Trygvasson who spent many years in Kyiv during his exile. The future King of Norway Magnus the Good (1035 - 1047) also spent some years in Kyiv for military training education.

However, the most legendary in the history of relations between Kyiv and Oslo was marriage of Harald Hardraade and daughter of Yaroslav the Wise Elizabeth (Scandinavian name - Ellisiv). Harald spent a long time at the court of Prince Yaroslav, together with Magnus, who was Harald's nephew. Norwegian sagas say that after Yaroslav the Wise Harald refused to marry away Elizabeth, he left for Constantinople and returned with glory and treasures. They married in 1045, and next year Harald left for Norway with his wife Elizabeth.

After Magnus' death in 1047 King Harald Hardrade became the King of Norway and the same year founded a new capital of Norway - Oslo, turning the city into the new royal residence. Harald died in 1066 at the Battle of Britain. It is also known that Elisabeth was waiting for his triumphant return at the Orkney Islands.

After Harald died, the long period of the winning history of Norway was interrupted and so did the possibility of an independent foreign policy. Later, as a result of Kalmar Union (1397) Norway fell under the King of Denmark, and in 1814 to 1905 - the King of Sweden. Norway gained its independence in 1905.

Norway recognized the independence of Ukraine on 24 December 1991.

Diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Norway were established on February 5, 1992. Embassy of Norway in Ukraine opened in 1992. The full-fledged Embassy of Ukraine in the Kingdom of Norway started its operations in October 2004.

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