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Stratum plus. 1999. № 5

L. S. Klejn (St.-Petersburg, Russia)

Normanism — antinormanism: the end of the argument




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Pages: 91-101


The argument of normanists versus  antinormanists reached its peak three times during the last three centuries in Russia: in the XVIII cent. (the struggle of Miller against Lomonosov in the Academy of Sciences), in the XIX cent. (the public debates of Pogodin with Kostomarov at the Petersburg University) and in 1965, when my seminar was challenged for a public discussion in which our official opponent was I.P.Shaskol’skij but our true enemies were the Party ideologists of the historical Department. We succeeded in defending then our existence. It was impossible then to defend Normanism openly and directly, and our way of defense was the definition: the concept of Normanism should be maximally narrowed — that everything we did could not be covered by this concept. We dismembered the concept Normanism as it was pictured in Soviet historiography in 7 steps according to acceptance of consecutive positions:

1) The coming of Normans to the Ancient East-Slavic area.
2) Foundation of Kiev’s dynasty by Normans.
3) Normanic origin of the name Rus’.
4) Influence of Normans on the East Slavic culture.
5) Normans as the creators of the First East-Slavic state.
6) Racial preference of Normans as the cause of their successes.
7) Political influences for the contemporary situation: Scandinavic geniuses are the proper bosses, Slaves must be subordinates.
Antinormanism led struggle for every of these steps: they issued from the notion that acceptance of only of these steps makes it easier to overcome the next. Gradually, however, they were forced to get off one after another. Even on the fifth step it was possible to state the leading participation of Normans without distorting Marxist Theory. We insisted then that merely resting on the 6th and 7th steps was unacceptable and should be considered as the expression of devil Normanism. This was a trick. Such learning in the world historiography did not exist, and it doesn’t. Normanism is a bugbear, scarecrow created by Ahtinormanism for substantiation of their necessity.


Information about author:

Leo Klejn (St.-Petersburg, Russia). Professor. European University at Saint-Petersburg.
Е-mail: [email protected] 

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