Lake Ilmen and the river Volkhov, on which stands Novgorod, Rurik's capital, formed part of the great waterway from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and we know that by this route travelled from Scandinavia to Constantinople the tall fair-haired Northmen who composed the famous Varangian bodyguard of the Byzantine emperors.
(On the largest of these lions is cut a runic inscription recording an attack on the Piraeus in the 11th century by Norse warriors of the Varangian guard, under Harold Hardrada, afterwards - s047 - king of Norway.) The arsenal suffered frequently and severely from fires, the worst being those of 1509 and 1569; yet such was the wealth of Venice that in the following year she put upon the seas the fleet that crushed the Turks at Lepanto in 1571.
One on the history of Oleg, the more or less legendary Varangian, who was guardian to the son of Rurik, was described by her as an "imitation of Shakespeare."
In the host of Maniaces were men of all races - Normans, who had already begun to show themselves in south Italy, and the Varangian guard, the best soldiers of the empire, among whom Harold Hardrada himself is said to have held a place.
From the 9th century the towns of Volhynia-Vladimir, Ovruch, Lutsk and Dubno were ruled by descendants of the Scandinavian or Varangian chief Rurik, and the land of Volhynia remained independent until the 14th century, when it fell under Lithuania.