History Lesson with Crusader Kings: Rurik ‘Troublemaker’

Rurik is one of the recommended characters that are easy to play in 867 of Crusader Kings. He starts with a sizeable territory around Novgorod, allowing him to expand in any direction. But having a different culture and religion to his neighbors, players will have to deal with choices involved in being a foreign power.

The Sculpted Depiction

As a historical expansionist and peacekeeper, he is given stats and traits that simulate the life he led. To represent his Varangian roots, he comes with the brave trait. Scholars contend Varangians to be a group of Norse Vikings who conducted trade in northern Russia. This has led historians to think Rurik hailed from coastal Sweden or perhaps Jutland.

Source: Wikipedia

Rurik has a shroud of mystery surrounding his figure. Some scholars attempt to identify the mythic figure with Rurik of Dorestad. Several evidence point to this not being the case however. And the game depicts Rurik as having no ties with that area, even adding a different Rurik (Hrørek) ruling over the Holland area.

According to the Primary Chronicle, the native tribes invited Rurik to bring order among them. Prior to this, the native tribes expelled the Norse presence at some point; achieving independence and cutting off tribute. Once the foreigners left, infighting broke out and there was disunity. This brings us back to Rurik’s invitation, likely as a peacekeeping mercenary. There are many speculations over how he eventually came to power in the region, but it is no real argument that he unified said region to a degree.

It is slightly unclear as to why gregarious is a trait he possesses. One could assume his initial purpose as a supposed peacekeeper can be attributed to this? Or perhaps it is due to how well he managed a realm as a foreign sovereign? The only sure thing about this trait is that it depicts friendliness and camaraderie.

A Founding Myth

Rurik first established a base in Ladoga. But he eventually moved south and built the settlement of Holmgarðr around the area of today’s Novgorod. His brothers, Sineus and Truvor, also established territories of their own, building settlements to the east and west of Rurik’s. The two brothers died shortly after, and Rurik quickly consolidated their realms under his.

Source: Britannica

There also exists an Estonian folktale, speaking of three brothers who overcame great challenges and became rulers of foreign countries. The title of Troublemaker comes from this folklore as Rurik’s estonianized name holds said meaning.

At the start of the game, Rurik had already gone through those events. Some claim that Rurik and his founding of Holmgarðr is the turning point of Russian history. Rurik eventually dies in 879, his kinsmen would expand further south, capture Kiev, and found the Kievan Rus’. But by this point we’ve entered into a part of history Rurik was no longer a part of. But is Rurik’s descendants destined to become the Kievan Rus’? In Crusader Kings, you have the option to turn west and instead unite Scandinavia. Perhaps you might expand even further south from Kiev and conquer the famed Constantinople? You can forge his dynastic claim to fame in the world of Crusader Kings!

Sources: Wikipedia, Britannica, Lumen Learning

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