Notebook

European Ukraine?

Does Ukraine naturally belong as part of Europe — or not? The Russian aggressor tries to persuade the world that the answer is no. This rhetoric is met with counter-rhetoric, as it must be. Scholars at Harvard’s Ukrainian Research Institute, meanwhile, propose a response based on careful historical research, amassing evidence with which it is impossible to quarrel. They state their purpose modestly as being the creation of ‘a picture of the medieval European world that fits the evidence from the primary sources’. They carry it out by mapping the dynastic connections made between the ruling family of Kyivan Rus’ and the rest of medieval European royalty in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The map needs no commentary. You can access it here. This project makes a particular impression on me as a Norwegian, gratefully remembering that our national patron, St Olav, arrived in 1030 at the battle of Stiklestad, traditionally marking the Christianisation of our country, straight from Kyiv, where he had enjoyed the protection and hospitality of his friend, Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise and his Swedish queen Ingegjerd.