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An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


The Rus were Scandinavians, mainly Swedes, who established themselves among the Slavs of modern Russia (to which they gave their name) and were by the end of the 10th century largely absorbed by them. Rus princes and their retinues sometimes fought on horseback by the late-10th century but only took to mounted combat on a large scale from the middle years of the 11th century.

This figure wears lamellar corselet, gold armbands, and a decorated Persian-style Slavic helmet with mail aventail. He carries a sword of Frankish origin rather than the sabre more common in Central Asia at this time (see 81 and 82). The decorated scabbard is of gold.

The Rus were largely blonde or red-haired. Most shaved the beard but grew moustaches. 73a shows the hairstyle of a 10th century chieftain, the scalp being shaved except for 2 braids signifying his rank. This was a custom adopted from the Turks, as was the recorded tattooing of green zoomorphic patterns from finger-tip to shoulder.

Next: 74. RUS WARRIOR in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath

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