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Ruthenia is the Latin word used onwards from the 13th century, describing lands of Kiev, Pereyaslavl, Chernihiv and Galych-Volhynia in ancient Rus manuscripts. Its geographic and culturo-ethnic name at that time was applied to the parts of Eastern Europe. Essentially, the word is a Latin rendering of the ancient place name Rus. Today, the historical territory of Rus, is formed with part(s) of the lands of Belarus, Ukraine, western Russia, small parts of northeastern Slovakia, and a narrow strips of eastern Poland.

The term "Ruthenia" may mean significantly different things, depending on to whom the term applies and the when, why, and to which period. It may refer to any of the following entities, appearing in rough chronological order:


Early Middle Ages

If the name Ruthenia has any connection to the name Rus, a theory generally held[by whom?] in the west connects it the Varangians whom the early Slavic and Finnic tribes called Rus', taking this name from the Old Norse root roðs- or roths- referring to the domain of "rowing" and still existing in the Finnish and Estonian names for Sweden, Ruotsi and Rootsi. Later the name came to denote not only the Scandinavian aristocracy in Eastern Europe but also the ethnically mixed population of their domains. But many other theories dispute this account.

The term Ruteni first appears in the form rex Rutenorum in the 12th-century Augsburg annals. It was most likely[original research?] a reflex of the ancient tradition, when the barbaric people were called by the names found in Classical Latin authors, i.e. Danes were called Daci and Germans were called Theutoni. Likewise, the Rus passed by the name of Ruteni, the form being influenced by one of the Gallic tribes mentioned by Julius Caesar.

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