niitika Nasino

history of Nassland

first principalities; lords and peasants
8th - 9th cc E.C.

hist2     During the period of colonisation and later on, people in Nassland fought many battles for maintaining what they gained, mostly with Germanic vikings and armed traders in the south and west. Ruubobroon (Ahvenanmaa) were settled by Germanic traders since 6th cc E.C. and since then they have explored the coasts of Bothnic and Nassian Gulf. Between the first fortresses in Mokkina (Finland) was Riikibuut (later Åbo/Turku), because continuous Germanic tries to colonise the shores to build permanent trade stations. In the second half of 8th cc E.C., Germanic traders appeared in Nassian fortresses Stara Ladoga (Aldeigjuborg) and Berzen (Björkö), and were allowed to have a missions there. The first written notice on any state-like formation in Nassland, particulary on principality Mokkina, came from the end of 9th cc from Norwegian trader Ottar in well-known Geography of king Ælfred.

    The threads from Germanic vikings started the social development, which began with the fortification of the coasts and thus lead to the first formations of bigger social units than a village. It also allowed mixing of old Slavonic and Finno-ugric habits with the new ideas coming from Europe, to transform the society into modern, feudal social relations. During end of 8th and in the 9th cc, four principalities (vöövesärstvö) were established and ruled by local princes (vöövesär). Namely it were Vöövesärstvö Sëdigordskı (green), Priozërskı (yellow), Bërgıgordskı (orange) and Riikigordskı (blue). Function of Otass was substituted by vöövesär, Rada became group of his closest lords with title vooari (warlords). The new situation also rose the differencies between society members, some of them became richer with greater influence, some of them fell down to dependency. The new class of rich lords (voldari) appeared, some of them already being vooari.

     The first artefacts with inscriptions came from these time. They are written using runic alphabet called runika or volsëvika. Primarily, they were stone inscriptions, later texts were on birch barks, called berzeniki.

     On some barks, a relativelly unified system of names is documented. It is called spolstvo, alignment to spol (estate). There were four basic ŝŝexi: booan (warrior), ŝertän (priest), targan (mechant) and xolp (farmer, craftsman). The traditional names were preserved till 1809, consisting of ŝŝelstvö, spolstvo, eme and otëssıstvo (e.g. Sëdigordiss Ŝertän Sviitmir Sviitmiroviss). It reflexed otherwhere around extinct, old, Indo-european caste system.

      In the flow of these centuries, the Nassians built up a unique culture, based on their early separation from other Slavs, interaction with Finno-ugric and Germanic tribes, their late and incomplete acceptance of Christianity (early influence of Orthodox Church and Arianic heresis from Germanic tribes) and rich country.

      Starting from 9th cc E.C., Germanic tribes intesivelly plundered shores of Baltic sea, and also other shores, in their viking raids. As it can be seen in the archaelogical excavations and from later texts, Nassians quite often combined use of shore alarm watch points with fortresses and false villages with traps to prevent these vikings. Fortresses were built to sustain short siege and to protect villagers and their harverst and animals. To activelly defend themselves, Nashs employed some not much fair tools-of-war. Among the most famous, it were special arrow tips, called vikini. Vikini were made mostly of bones, where the long corpus of tip was obliquely and relatively deeply incised. When the arrow hit the flesh, any attempt to take the arrow away resulted in braking of these incisions and small pieces of bones (later of metal) remained in the wound. These remnants by them-selves or being poisoned, caused sure death, although the wound it-self was not lethal. Original Finno-ugric population also knew lot of good sources of efficient poisons. Simply, Nassians answered Germanic vikings with tricks and strategems. The shores of Nassland were not much plundered, because Germanic vikings thought about Nassians as about cowards, but dangerous cowards. Nassians never seek for open field battles, they rather used ol'good Slavonic way of hide-aways and sneak-attacks. In the beginning, opposite to Germanic warriors, they used mostly only spears and bows without any armour. Later on, they employed also iron swords and wooden or leather shields, but not in such an extent as Germans. Next they learnt also massive use of light and heavy infantery and also horse-riding and reindeer-riding (dragged reindeers from Siberia). Tradition of cavalery was alive in Nassland till modern times.

      During the 1st millenium E.C., the population of Nassland used iron tools in agriculture and hunt extensively. Nassians were engaged in slash-and-burn agriculture - they picked a site, suitable for cultivation, in the forest, chopped down the trees there and piled them up on the cleared territory. Next summer the piles were burnt, and the ashes were spread on the site. Then the field was used for cultivation of barley, wheat or turnip for several years, and after 7-10 years the field was abandoned to get covered with trees and bushes for 15-20 years; then the cycle repeated. They used iron or wooden plough with share, pulled mostly by two people or two cows using simple yoke, but the proper collar was used much later. They knew several ways of soil dressing. They used turfs, compost and dung. The dung was mostly obtained by so-called rogovano, i.e. having cattle in fences directly on unused fields, since early population did not know barns. They grew rye, oats, barley, on south-west also wheat, further, millet, tare and flax. From vegetables they knew onion, carrot, radish, cabbage and mangle. Slavs quite often harvested, using sickle, two harvests per season, one of unripe crop and later ripe crop. Unripe crop was used for making mashes and parch (praŝëmo). People also hunted in the woods and fished in numerous lakes and rivers.

     Trade played an even larger role in the economics of Nassland. Nassians mostly sold furs that they acquired through hunting or through trade with inlands Saami hunters. After furs, wax was the most important exported article. Among other goods, we may find arms, lumber, honey, pitch, charcoal, potash and amber. Many trade routes went across their land along its numerous rivers. Nassians were good sailors, not only on lakes and river, but also on a see. Their ships were not so nice as viking drakkars, but more stable and designed for load carry rather than human transport and raids, similar to knarrs. Later, in the 7th and 8th cc, the so-called from the Nassians to the Arabs trade route connected the Baltic and Caspian Seas. Some time later, in the 9th cc, a new route was laid from the Nassians to the Greeks. It linked the Northern Europe and the countries situated on the shores of the Black Sea, the Scandinavia and Baltic countries and Byzantium. Nassland was that time a connection node between Germanic north-west and nations south and far south. The first contacts with Christianity came through these ways.

    One of the Nassland's booar from Principality Sedigord, Budiniss Booan Volimir Volimiriss, on his raids toward south sized town Novıgord/Novgorod in the year 862 E.C., becoming a Novgorodian prince (knjaz) and dissevering Novgorod from Sëdigoradisk. He changed his name to Voljamir and he found the Voljamirich dynasty, which ruled Novgorod and other parts of Russia till almost 16th cc. He married Germanic wife Helga, his first son and successor was Igor (Ingvar). He concured to Principalities of Nassland in trade, sitting with his town on the Eastern Trade Route, but on the other hand he defend these lands against viking invasions. Because of the colour of the hair in his family (both, he and his wife had such), he was called Voljamir Rus, what means the one with red hairs. This name became first family name, later on all his people were called using this name.

last update 190807, Jan Havliš
acknowledgments: Kristian Jensen, Jussi Santeri Junttila, Jan van Steenbergen