Russian pirates who threatened the Vikings

Russian pirates who threatened the Vikings

The Vikings expanded to many parts of Northern Europe, beginning with the Scandinavian countries. Although Russia was not well known for its naval power in early history, a group of pirates who emerged from it once threatened the Vikings, the most potent sailors of the time.

These pirates, who were operating along the Russian rivers, attacked the capital of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and once the capital of the Mongols’ Golden Horde.

Polar bears

“ushkuins” was a name known to polar bears in northern Russia around the 12th century, and it was customary for them to mount their heads in their boats. The name Ushkuinik derives from it.

At this time the people of Russia were not as strong as the Vikings. Therefore, Russian pirates could only succeed in surprising the Vikings with rapid attacks.

Vessels and weapons

The Ushkuinik vessels were able to travel from both wind and tide. Its width was about three feet [3 m] and its length was about 12 meters. It consisted of 12 hubs, each with six rows of soil. There was one mast installed. The vessel could carry up to 40 people.

There were warlords in Novgorod who were very reluctant to do farming or any other industry. It is said that they were mainly Ushkuiniks. They set sail from Novgorod to the Baltic Sea and proceeded to Sweden and Lake Laga. The Novgorod rulers did not try to rule them. The Ushkuniks contributed to the attack and weakened the surrounding areas.

Being militants, they focused on weapons, armor, and training. They wore protective armor and used shields and helmets. They excelled in swordsmanship and archery. I was also able to use a well-known weapon in the area.


The Ushkuniniks used their rivers in northern Russia and frequently sank into the Baltic Sea. They also launched successful operations from time to time.

The first of their attacks was the first known attack on Ural areas. Mentioned that it occurred in 1032 AD. However, the attack on Sigtuna, Sweden, in 1187 was one of the strongest. There they managed to plunder a considerable amount of the city’s wealth. A finely carved gate was also seized and is now installed at the entrance to St. Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod.

In the early 1300s, the Ushkuinikas seemed to have grown stronger. With the Mongol invasion, the absence of a powerful state in Russia may have made private-level predatory groups even more powerful.

In 1318, the Uskhuiniks attacked the then capital of Finland’s capital, Abo (modern-day Turku) and looted its treasury. In 1320 and 1323, they hit Norway so badly that the Norwegians claimed to be asking for help from the Pope.

Defeating the Mongols

After the Mongol invasions, virtually all the rulers of the Kievan Ras region became subordinate rulers. The city of Sarai Batu was the capital of the Tatar state, which we now call the Golden Horde. It was the wealthiest city in the area at that time, near Volgograd.

In 1374, 90 Ushkuinik vessels crashed into the city. It is the largest Ushkuyinq mission recorded in history. The city was in the hands of the robbers, who plundered the treasure and returned. In this case, the Russian rulers realized that the Mongols could be defeated.

Six years later, in 1380, Dimitri Donskoy defeated the Golden Flock in the Battle of Kulikovo.

Moscow and Ushkuiniks

Meanwhile, in 1374, the Ushkuiniks made Khlynov their headquarters. The city was also known as Vyatka. From here, the Ushkuiniks threatened not only Tatar but also Russian cities that acted against them.

Concurrent with this, the weakening of the Tatar States and the rise of Moscow. Moscow rulers wanted to rule over the Uskhuiniks of Vyatka.

In 1458, the city of Vasili Vattika II was taken over. But the Ushkuiniks did not accept defeat. In 1466 they again raided Moscow. They also allied with Kazan.

In the meantime, Ivan III, the great prince of Moscow, came to power. He once again sought help from the Ushkuiniks in his fight against the Golden Flock. In 1471 the robbers conquered the city of Sarai, capturing wealth, women, and children. Nine years later, Ivan defeated the Golden Flock’s forces.

The state of Kazan was still solid. Before it could be defeated, the Ivan Ushkuinikis had to take over themselves or make disagreements with Kazan. In 1489 he sent a large army to Vratka and surrendered to the city. The elites were sent to different areas. After that, there are no records about the Ushkuiniks or their famous fleet.

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