Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe and has played a pivotal role in the development of the medieval East Slavic civilization as well as the modern Ukrainian nation.

The origin of the city is obscured by legends, one of which tells of the founding family of the leader of a Slavic tribe; Kyi, the eldest, and his brothers Schek and Khoriv, also from his sister Lybid, who founded the city. Kiev means “belonging to Kyi”.

According to, the actual time of the founding of the city is more difficult to determine. Scattered Slavic settlements existed in the area since the 6th century, but it is unclear if any of them later became the city. The fortifications of the 8th century they were built on a Slavic settlement apparently abandoned some years before. It is not yet clear whether these fortifications were built by the Slavs or the Kazakhs. If it is about the Slavic peoples, then it is not very clear when Kiev came under the rule of the Kazakh empire or if the city was, in fact, founded by the Kazakhs. The Primary Chronicle (the main source of information on the early history of the area) mentions Slavs from Kiev saying that they lived without a local ruler and paid tribute to the Kazakhs, a phenomenon attributed to the 9th century.

At least during the 8th and 9th centuries Kiev functioned as an outpost of the Kazakh empire. A hill-fortress called Sambat (Old Turkish meaning “high place”) was built to defend the area. At some point in the late 9th or early 10th century, Kiev fell under the rule of the Varangians and became the nucleus of Rus’ politics. The date given for Oleg’s conquest of the city in the Chronicle is 882, but some historians, such as Omeljan Pritsak and Zuckerman Constantine, differ from this and maintain that Kazakh rule continued until the 920s. Other historians suggest that Magyar tribes ruled the city between 840 and 878, before emigrating with some Khazar tribes to Hungary.

During the 8th and 9th centuries, Kiev was an outpost of the Kazakh empire. Beginning in the late 9th or early 10th century, Kiev was ruled by the Varangian nobility and became the nucleus of Rus’ politics, whose “golden age” (11th century, early 12th century), has been known since the XIX century like the Rus of Kiev. In 968, nomadic Pechenegs attacked and later besieged the city.

In 1203, Kiev was captured and burned by Prince Rurik Rostislavich and his allies Kipchak. In the 1230s the city was besieged and devastated by different Russian princes on several occasions. In 1240 the Mongol invasion of Rus led by Batu Khan completely destroyed Kiev, an event that had a profound effect on the future of the city and the East Slavic civilization. At the time of the Mongol destruction, Kiev known as one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of over one hundred thousand.

In the early 1320s, a Lithuanian army led by Gediminas defeated a Slavic army led by Stanislav of Kiev in the battle on the Irpen River, and conquered the city. The Tatars, who also claimed Kiev, fought back in 1324 – 1325, so while Kiev was ruled by a Lithuanian prince, he had to pay tribute to the golden horde. Finally, as a result of the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362, Kiev and its surroundings were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Algirdas the Grand Duke of Lithuania.

In 1569, when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was established, the Lithuanian- controlled lands in the Kiev region, Podolia, Volhynia, and Podlachia, were transferred from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, and Kiev became in the capital of Kiev Voivodeship. In 1658 (Treaty of Hadiach), Kiev was to become the capital of the Duchy of Rus’ in the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth, but the treaty was not ratified. Maintained by Russian troops since 1654 (Treaty of Pereyaslav), it became a part of Tsarism in Russia from 1667 (Andrusovo Truce) and enjoyed a degree of autonomy. In the Russian Empire, Kiev was a major Christian center, attracting pilgrims, and the birthplace of many of the most important figures of the religious empire, but until the 19th century the commercial importance of the city remained marginal.

In 1834, Saint Vladimir University was established, converted into the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev in honor of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. Shevchenko was a field researcher and editor in the Department of Geography.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the life of the city was dominated by the Russian military and ecclesiastical authorities, the Russian Orthodox Church formed an important part of the infrastructure and business activity of Kiev. In the 1840s, the historian, Mykola Kostomarov, founded a political secret society, the Brotherhood of St. Cyril and Methodius, whose members floated the idea of a federation of free Slavic peoples with the Ukrainians as a distinct entity and separate group in instead of a subordinate part of the Russian nation, which was quickly repressed by the authorities.

After the gradual loss of autonomy from Ukraine, Kiev experienced a growth in Russification in the 19th century through Russian migration, administrative actions, and social modernization. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city center was dominated by the Russian-speaking part of the population, while the lower classes living on the outskirts maintained the popular culture of Ukraine to a significant extent. However, enthusiasts among the ethnic groups of Ukraine nobles, military and merchants made repeated attempts to preserve the native culture in Kiev (clandestine book printing, amateur theater, folk studies, etc.)

During the Russian Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, Kiev became an important center of trade and transportation for the Russian Empire, which specialized in exporting sugar and grain by rail and on the Dnieper River. Beginning in 1900, the city had also become an important industrial center, with a population of 250,000. Highlights of the time include the railway infrastructure, the founding of many educational and cultural institutions, as well as notable architectural monuments. The first electric tram line of the Russian Empire was created in Kiev (undoubtedly the first in the world).

Kiev prospered during the industrial revolution of the late 19th century in the Russian Empire, when it became the third largest city in the Empire and the main center of trade in the Southwest. In the turbulent period after the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kiev became the capital of several short-lived states of Ukraine and was caught in the middle of various conflicts: World War I, the Russian Civil War, and the Polish War. Soviet. Kiev changed hands sixteen times from the end of 1918 to August 1920.

From 1921, the city was part of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine, a founding republic of the Soviet Union. Kiev was greatly affected by all the major processes that took place in Soviet Ukraine during the interwar period: the 1920 Ukrainianization, as well as the migration of the rural Ukrainian population turning the Russian-speaking city into a Ukrainian-speaking one, supporting the development of Ukrainian cultural life in the city.

The Soviet industrialization that began in the late 1920s turned the city from a former center of commerce and religion into an important industrial, technological and scientific center. The Great Famine of 1932 – 1933 devastated parts of the migrant population not registered for ration cards, and Stalin’s Great Purge of 1937 – 1938 almost completely eliminated the intelligentsia of the city.

In 1934, Kiev became the capital of Soviet Ukraine. The city grew again during the years of Soviet industrialization as its population grew rapidly and many industrial giants were created, some of which exist to this day.

In World War II, the city suffered significant damage again, and was occupied by Nazi Germany from September 19, 1941 to November 6, 1943. Shortly after the city was occupied, a team of NKVD officers who had remained hidden, dynamited most of the buildings on the Khreshchatyk, the main street of the city, most of whose buildings were being used by the German military authorities and civil society, buildings burned for days and 25,000 people were left homeless, and in retaliation the Germans rounded up all the local Jews they could find and massacred them in Babi Yar.

Kiev recovered rapidly in the postwar years, becoming once again the third largest city in the Soviet Union. The catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant occurred just 100 km north of the city. However, the prevailing winds to the north blew most of the radioactive waste out of the city.

In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine was proclaimed in the city by the Ukrainian Parliament on August 24, 1991. Kiev is the capital of independent Ukraine.

History of Kiev, Ukraine

History of Kiev, Ukraine
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