Askold and Dir

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Askold (Haskuldr in Old East Norse and Höskuldr in Old West Norse) and Dir (Dyri in both dialects of Old Norse) are semi-legendary rulers of Kiev who, according to the Primary Chronicle, were two of Rurik's voivodes in 870s. That chronicle implies that they were neither his relatives nor of noble blood.


The Primary Chronicle relates that Askold and Dir were sanctioned by Rurik to go to Constantinople (Norse MiklagÄrd, Slavic Tsargrad). When travelling on the Dnieper, they saw a settlement on a mountain and asked to whom it belonged. They were told that it was Kiev and had been built by three brothers named Kyi, Schek and Khoriv, who were the ancestors of the inhabitants, who were now paying tribute to the Khazars. Askold and Dir settled in the town and gathered a large number of fellow Varangians and began to rule the town and the land of the eastern Polans.

According to the Saga of Ragnar and his Sons, Askold was the son of Hvitserk, and the grandson of Ragnar Lodbrok, a semi-legendary king of Sweden (ca. 770-785). Hvitserk was a contemporary of Rurik, and was said to have waged a war of conquest in Eastern Europe.

The only foreign source to mention one of the co-rulers is the Arab historian Al-Masudi. According to him, "king al-Dir was the first among the kings of the Saqaliba (is arabic for Slavs)." Although some scholars have tried to prove that "al-Dir" refers to a Slavic ruler and Dir's contemporary, this speculation is questionable and...
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