Polans (eastern)

Polans (eastern)

The Polans ( _ua. Поляни, "Polyany", _ru. Поляне, "Polyane") were a tribe of Early East Slavs between the 6th and the 9th century, which inhabited both sides of the Dnieper river from Liubech to Rodnia and also down the lower streams of the rivers Ros', Sula, Stuhna, Teteriv, Irpin', Desna and Pripyat. The name derives from the Old East Slavic language word "поле" or "поляна" (polyana), which means “field”) because the Polans used to settle in the open fields. Polans played a key role in the formation of Ukrainian ethnicity. It was through this tribe that Ukrainians consolidated into a nation.

The land of the Polans was at the crossroads of territories, belonging to different Eastern Slavic tribes, such as Drevlyans, Radimichs, Drehovians and Severians and connected them all with water arteries. An important trade route called the Road from Varangians to Greeks passed through the land of the Polans and connected Northern Europe with the Black Sea and the Byzantine Empire. It had long been the territory of Scythians, Goths (Ostrogoths), especially at Danapirstadir (city at the Danapir, by later Slav arrivals called Kiev) and by Varangians.

In 9th and 10th century the Polans had a well-developed arable land farming, cattle-breeding, hunting, fishing, wild-hive beekeeping and various handicrafts such as blacksmith, casting, pottery, jewelers art etc. Thousands of pre- Polans kurgans, found by the archaeologists in the Polan region, indicate that that land had a high population density. They lived in small families in semi dug-outs (“earth-houses”) and wore homespun clothes and modest jewelry. Before converting to Christianity, the inhabitants used to burn their dead and erect kurgan-like embankments over them.

In the 9th century, the Polans were ruled by the Khazars and had to pay tribute to them. In the 860s, the Varangians arrived and organized a few successful military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire, the Pechenegs and the Polochans. In the 880s, the land of the Polans was conquered by Oleg of Novgorod and would become the centre and the driving force of the Rus statehood.

The biggest cities of the Polans were Kiev, Pereyaslav, Rodnia, Vyshhorod, Bіlhorod (now Bilohorodka village at Irpin river), Kaniv. In the 10th century, the term "Polans" was virtually out of use and exchanged for "Rus". The Polans as a tribe were last mentioned in a chronicle of 944.

Chronicles repeatedly note that socio-economic relations in the Polan communities were highly developed compared to the neighboring tribes. The chronicalized legends name the Polans as the s of the Kievan Rus' and founders of Kiev (see Kyi, Schek and Khoryv), making them the tribe that had contributed the most to the development of the Rus statehood.

One can wonder whether it is just a coincidence that, also around that time (by 960), the Western Polans first appear and leaders accepting ducal titles from the Ottonian emperors, contributed the most to the development of the state of Poland. Some speculate that the first Polish dynasty, the Piasts, were also of Varangian origin.

See also

* Polans (western)
* Drevlyans
* Severians

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