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Varangians (vərăn´jēənz), name given by Slavs and Byzantine Greeks to Scandinavians who began to raid the eastern shores of the Baltic and penetrate Eastern Europe by the 9th cent. Their leader, Rurik, established himself at Novgorod in 862, thus laying the traditional foundation for Kievan Rus. The Varangians, some of whom were known also as Rus or Rhos, made their way down the Dnieper and established the great trade route from Kiev to Byzantium. In the 9th and 10th cent. they repeatedly threatened Constantinople. During the 10th and 11th cent. they served as soldiers of East Slavic princes, but they gradually merged with the Slavs, adopting Slavic culture. Other Varangians served as mercenary troops to the emperors at Constantinople. Varangian migrations paralleled those of the Norsemen and Vikings in the West.

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Varangian any of the Scandinavian voyagers who travelled by land and up rivers into Russia in the 9th and 10th centuries ad, establishing the Rurik dynasty and gaining great influence in the Byzantine Empire. The name comes from medieval Latin Varangus, ultimately from Old Norse, and probably based on vár ‘pledge’.
Varangian guard the bodyguard of the later Byzantine emperors, comprising Varangians and later also Anglo-Saxons.