Place:Kiev, Kiev, Kiev, Russia

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NameKiev
TypeCity
Located inKiev, Kiev, Russia
source: Family History Library Catalog


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

Scholars debate as to period of the foundation of the city: some date the founding to the late 9th century, other historians have preferred a date of 482 AD. In 1982, the city celebrated its 1,500th anniversary.[1] The first known humans in the territory of Kiev lived there in the late paleolithic period (Stone Age). The population around Kiev during the Bronze Age formed part of so-called Tripillian culture, as witnessed by objects found in the area. During the early Iron Age there lived around Kiev settled tribes practising land cultivation and husbandry and trading with the Scythians and with ancient states of the northern Black Sea coast.[2] Findings of Roman coins of the 2nd to the 4th centuries evidence trade relations with the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.[2] The carriers of Zarubintsy culture are considered the direct ancestors of the ancient Slavs who later established Kiev.[2] Notable archaeologists of the area around Kiev include Vikentiy Khvoyka. Legendary accounts tell of the origin of the city; one legend features a founding-family, members of a Slavic tribe (Polans): the leader Kyi, the eldest, his brothers Shchek and Khoryv, and also their sister Lybid, who allegedly founded the city (See the Primary Chronicle).[2] According to the Chronicle the name Kyiv/Kiev means "belonging to Kyi". According to archaeological data, the foundation of Kiev dates to the second half of the 5th century and the first half of the 6th century.[2] Some claim to find reference to the city in Ptolemy's 2nd-century work as Metropolity. Another legend states that Saint Andrew passed through the area (1st century CE), and where he erected a cross, a church was built. Since the Middle Ages an image of Saint Michael represented the city as well as the duchy.


There is little historical evidence pertaining to the period when the city was founded. Scattered Slavic settlements existed in the area from the 6th century, but it is unclear whether any of them later developed into the city. The Primary Chronicle (a main source of information about the early history of the area) mentions Slavic Kievans telling Askold and Dir that they lived without a local ruler and paid a tribute to the Khazars in an entry attributed to the 9th century. At least during the 8th and 9th centuries Kiev functioned as an outpost of the Khazar empire. A hill-fortress, called Sambat (Old Turkic for "High Place") was built to defend the area. At some point during the late 9th or early 10th century Kiev fell under the rule of Varangians (see Askold and Dir, and Oleg of Novgorod) and became the nucleus of the Rus' polity. The Primary Chronicle dates Oleg's conquest of the town in 882, but some historians, such as Omeljan Pritsak and Constantine Zuckerman, dispute this and maintain that Khazar rule continued as late as the 920s (documentary evidence exists to support this assertion – see the Kievian Letter and Schechter Letter). Other historians suggest that Magyar tribes ruled the city between 840 and 878, before migrating with some Khazar tribes to Hungary. According to these scholars the building of the fortress of Kiev was finished in 840 under the leadership of Keő (Keve), Csák and Geréb, the three brothers, possibly members of the Tarján tribe. (The three names appear in the Kiev Chronicle as Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv – none of these names are Slavic, and Russian historians have always struggled to account for their meanings and origins. Their names were put into the Kiev Chronicle in the 12th century and they were identified as old-Russian mythological heroes).


During the 8th and 9th centuries Kiev functioned as an outpost of the Khazar empire. However, the site stood on the historical trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, and in the late 9th century or early 10th century a Varangian nobility started to rule Kiev, which became the nucleus of the Rus' polity, whose 'Golden Age' (11th to early 12th centuries) has from the 19th century become referred to as Kievan Rus'. In 968 the nomadic Pechenegs attacked and then besieged the city. In 1000 AD the city had a population of 45,000. During 1169 Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal sacked Kiev, taking many pieces of religious artwork - including the Theotokos of Vladimir icon - from nearby Vyshhorod. In 1203 Prince Rurik Rostislavich and his Kipchak allies captured and burned Kiev. In the 1230s the city was besieged and ravaged by different Rus' princes several times. 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 on the East Slavic civilization. At the time of the Mongol destruction, Kiev had a reputation as one of the largest cities in the world, with a population exceeding 100,000 in the beginning of the 12th century.



In the early 1320s a Lithuanian army led by Grand Duke Gediminas defeated a Slavic army led by Stanislav of Kiev at the Battle on the Irpen' River and conquered the city. The Tatars, who also claimed Kiev, retaliated in 1324–1325, so while Kiev was ruled by a Lithuanian prince, it had to pay tribute to the Golden Horde. Finally, as a result of the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362, Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, incorporated Kiev and surrounding areas into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1482 Crimean Tatars sacked and burned much of Kiev. With the 1569 (Union of Lublin), when the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was established, the Lithuanian-controlled lands of 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 the capital of Kiev Voivodeship. The 1658 Treaty of Hadiach envisaged Kiev becoming the capital of the Grand Duchy of Rus' within the Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth, but this provision of the treaty never went into operation. Occupied by the Russian troops since the 1654 (Treaty of Pereyaslav), Kiev became a part of the Tsardom of Russia from 1667 on (Truce of Andrusovo) and enjoyed a degree of autonomy. None of the Polish-Russian treaties concerning Kiev have ever been ratified. In the Russian Empire Kiev was a primary Christian centre, attracting pilgrims, and the cradle of many of the empire's most important religious figures, but until the 19th century the city's commercial importance remained marginal.

In 1834 the Russian government established Saint Vladimir University, now called the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev after the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861). (Shevchenko worked as a field researcher and editor for the geography department.) The medical faculty of the Saint Vladimir University, separated into an independent institution in 1919–1921 during the Soviet period, became the Bogomolets National Medical University in 1995.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the Russian military and ecclesiastical authorities dominated city life; the Russian Orthodox Church had involvement in a significant part of Kiev's infrastructure and commercial activity. In the late 1840s the historian, Mykola Kostomarov ', founded a secret political society, the Brotherhood of Saint Cyril and Methodius, whose members put forward the idea of a federation of free Slavic peoples with Ukrainians as a distinct and separate group rather than a subordinate part of the Russian nation; the Russian authorities quickly suppressed the society.

Following the gradual loss of Ukraine's autonomy, Kiev experienced growing Russification in the 19th century by means of Russian migration, administrative actions and social modernization. At the beginning of the 20th century the Russian-speaking part of the population dominated the city centre, while the lower classes living on the outskirts retained Ukrainian folk culture to a significant extent. However, enthusiasts among ethnic Ukrainian nobles, military and merchants made recurrent attempts to preserve native culture in Kiev (by clandestine book-printing, amateur theatre, folk studies etc.)


During the Russian industrial revolution in the late 19th century, Kiev became an important trade and transportation centre of the Russian Empire, specialising in sugar and grain export by railway and on the Dnieper river. By 1900 the city had also become a significant industrial centre, having a population of 250,000. Landmarks of that period include the railway infrastructure, the foundation of numerous educational and cultural facilities as well as notable architectural monuments (mostly merchant-oriented). In 1892 the first electric tram line of the Russian Empire started running in Kiev (arguably, the first in the world).

Kiev prospered during the late 19th century Industrial Revolution in the Russian Empire, when it became the third most important city of the Empire and the major centre of commerce of its southwest. In the turbulent period following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Kiev became the capital of several successive Ukrainian states and was caught in the middle of several conflicts: World War I, during which German soldiers occupied it from 2 March 1918 to November 1918, the Russian Civil War of 1917 to 1922, and the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. During the last three months of 1919, Kiev was intermittently controlled by the White Army. Kiev changed hands sixteen times from the end of 1918 to August 1920.


From 1921 to 1991 the city formed part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became a founding republic of the Soviet Union in 1922. The major events that took place in Soviet Ukraine during the interwar period all affected Kiev: the 1920s Ukrainization as well as the migration of the rural Ukrainophone population made the Russophone city Ukrainian-speaking and bolstered the development of Ukrainian cultural life in the city; the Soviet Industrialization that started in the late 1920s turned the city, a former centre of commerce and religion, into a major industrial, technological and scientific centre; the 1932–1933 Great Famine devastated the part of the migrant population not registered for ration cards; and Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–1938 almost eliminated the city's intelligentsia

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


In World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, and Nazi Germany occupied it from 19 September 1941 to 6 November 1943. Axis forces killed or captured more than 600,000 Soviet soldiers in the great encirclement Battle of Kiev in 1941. Most of those captured never returned alive. Shortly after the Wehrmacht occupied the city, a team of NKVD officers who had remained hidden dynamited most of the buildings on the Khreshchatyk, the main street of the city, where German military and civil authorities had occupied most of the buildings; the buildings burned for days and 25,000 people were left homeless.

Allegedly in response to the actions of the NKVD, the Germans rounded up all the local Jews they could find, nearly 34,000, and massacred them at Babi Yar in Kiev over the course of 29 to 30 September 1941. In the months that followed, thousands more were taken to Babi Yar where they were shot. It is estimated that the Germans murdered more than 100,000 people of various ethnic groups, mostly civilians, at Babi Yar during World War II.


Kiev recovered economically in the post-war years, becoming once again the third-most important city of the Soviet Union. The catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 occurred only north of the city. However, the prevailing northward winds blew most of the radioactive debris away from Kiev.

In the course of the collapse of the Soviet Union the Ukrainian parliament proclaimed the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine in the city on 24 August 1991. In 2004–2005, the city played host to the largest post-Soviet public demonstrations up to that time, in support of the Orange Revolution. From November 2013 until February 2014, central Kiev became the primary location of Euromaidan.

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