In total, three eastern Slavic tribes were successfully conquered:
- 883 – Campaign against the Drevlyane
- 884 – Campaign against the Severyane
- 885 – Negotiations with the Radimichi
In addition, the chronicles mention the “rat” or military campaigns, against the Ulich and Tivercian tribes, who refused to submit and offered resistance.
In 883, according to the chronicles:
“Oleg went to war against the Drevlyans and after conquering them, he imposed a tribute of black sable skins from each smoked” (mean “from the house”)V. N. Tatishchev, “Russian History”, book 2, chapter 2
After Oleg’s death, the Drevlyans refused to pay tribute, but Prince Igor, who succeeded him, defeated them and imposed an even greater tribute. However, when attempting to collect the tribute again, Igor was killed by the Drevlyans in 945. In response, Igor’s widow, Princess Olga, cruelly avenged her husband’s death several times and eventually burned down their main city of Iskorosten.
In 884, it was the turn of the Severians to submit to the new Kiev prince. Oleg gathered his troops and led a campaign into their lands, imposing a lesser tribute than they had previously paid to the Khazars. The Primary Chronicle includes Oleg’s address to the Severians:
«I am an enemy of the Khazars, so you don’t have to pay them a tribute».Ibid
Finally, in 885, Oleg sent envoys to the Radimichs with a question,
«To whom do you pay tribute?».
«To the Khazars».
Then the prince demanded,
«Don’t give it to the Khazars, but give it to me».Tale of Bygone Years
The Radimichs began paying the same tribute to the Kiev prince as they had previously paid to the Khazars.
By subjugating the three major Eastern Slavic tribes living near Kiev, Oleg established the core of the developing Ancient Russian state. Despite the fact that the Ulich and Tivertsy continued to resist, they are listed among the other tribes participating in the campaign against Constantinople in 907 led by Oleg the Wise. It is obvious that the prospect of participating in such a large-scale campaign against the wealthy city of Constantinople was enticing. In addition to the above-mentioned tribes, the campaign’s participants included the White Croats, Dulibs, and representatives of other tribes who had previously joined:
«…took with him a multitude of Varangians, and Slavs, and Chud, and Krivichs, and Merias, and Drevlyans, and Radimichs, and Polyanians, and Severians, and Viatichs, and Croats, and Dulibs, and Tivertsy, known as interpreters; all these the Greeks called “Great Scythia.”»Tale of Bygone Years