Severia or Siveria (Old East Slavic: Сѣверія, Ukrainian: Сіверія or Сіверщина, translit. Siveria or Sivershchyna, Russian: Северщина, romanized: Severshchina) is a historical region in present-day central-west Russia, northern Ukraine, eastern Belarus. The largest part lies in today's Russia, while the central part of the region is the city Novhorod-Siverskyi in Ukraine.


Сіверщина (in Ukrainian)
Северщина (in Russian)
Сѣверія (in Old East Slavic)

Coat of arms
Coordinates: 38°00′N 1°50′W
CountryRussia, Belarus, Ukraine
Official languagesEast Slavic


The region received its name after the Severians, an East Slavic tribe which inhabited the territory in the late 1st millennium A.D. Their main settlements included the seven cities of todays Russia Kursk, Rylsk, Starodub, Trubchevsk, Sevsk, Bryansk, Belgorod and five cities which lie in todays Ukraine, Liubech, Novhorod-Siverskyi, Chernihiv, Putyvl, Hlukhiv,

According to the Primary Chronicle, the Severians paid tribute to the Khazars, along with the neighboring Polans. Prince Oleg of Novgorod (reigned 879–912) conquered them and incorporated their lands into the new principality of Kievan Rus'. By the time of Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054) the Severian peoples had lost most of their distinctness, and the areas of Severia along the upper course of the Desna River came under the control of Chernihiv.

In 1096, Oleg I of Chernigov (also referred to as Oleh) created a large Severian Principality, which stretched as far as the upper reaches of the Oka River. Until the end of the century, the principality served as a buffer state against Cuman attacks. Its most celebrated ruler was Prince Igor (1150–1202), whose exploits are recounted in the 12th century epic The Tale of Igor's Campaign.

After the Mongol invasion of Rus', the principality fell into ruin, however it remained intact throughout repeated Tatar invasions. Unfortunately, not much is known about this period as Severia was rarely mentioned in written accounts of the 13th century. By mid the 14th century, it was already part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as appanage duchy,[1] whose Gediminid princes (Ruthenian-speaking and Orthodox by religion) established their seats in the cities of Novhorod-Siverskyi, Starodub, and Trubchevsk. During the 1501-1503 Lithuanian-Muscovite wars, an ally of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Khan of Great Horde Sheikh Ahmed destroyed the duchy's capital Novhorod-Siverskyi which by that time was controlled by Muscovites.[1] After the Lithuanian defeat at the Battle of Vedrosha, the Severian Principality passed to Moscow. After the war the duchy was controlled by Muscovite subject Prince Vasiliy Shemiachich.[1] After he was imprisoned in Moscow in 1523, the duchy was government by Muscovite voivodes (capetanus).[1]

In the 18th century, the hetmans of Ukraine established residences in the towns of Baturyn, Hlukhiv, and Pochep. Hlukhiv, in particular, developed into a veritable capital of 18th-century Ukraine.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the Severian lands, full of architecture of East Slavs, and populated by a mixture of Ukrainians and Russians, were divided between the Ukrainian and Russian Soviet republics, finally breaking up the land of the former Severians.


Since the 16th and 17th centuries, the specific Severian icon-painting style had been forming. It was much influenced by conservative Byzantine specimens which dominated in the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Severian icons are characterized by internal restraint, severeness and asceticism. These features survived during the Baroque epoch: volume and emotions were almost absent. The collection of Severian icons is preserved in the Museum of Ukrainian home icons of the Radomysl Castle.

Severia and Siberia


  1. Vortman, D., Vermenych, Ya. Novhorod-Siverskyi (НОВГОРОД-СІВЕРСЬКИЙ). Encyclopedia of History of Ukraine
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