I Tartari (The Tartars) (1961)





Director:     Richard Thorpe

Starring:     Victor Mature (Oleg), Orson Welles (Burundai), Liana Orfei (Helga), Arnoldo Fo (Ciu Lang), Luciano Marin (Eric), Bella Cortez (Samia), Furio Meniconi (Sigrun), Pietro Ceccarelli, Renato Terra, Folco Lulli (Togrul).

Journeyman version of invasion of the Volga River by the Tartars under the leadership of Burundai.  


Viking Oleg (Victor Mature) kills the leader of the Tartars, who is then replaced by his brother Burundai (Orson Welles).  Burundai swears he will revenge his brother's death and so he takes Oleg's wife (Liana Orfei) as a hostage.  He then rapes the hostage and then turns her over to his troops for their enjoyment.   On their side, the Vikings take the beauty Samia (Bella Cortez) from the Tartars. War follows between the Vikings and the Tartars.    

I do not know if there was a confrontation between Viking Oleg and Tartar Burundai, but Oleg and Burundai were two leaders of their respective peoples.  The only problem is that Oleg was leader around 879 and Burundi around 1258.  At least, the movie lets the watcher know that both the Vikings and the Tartars played an important role in Russian history.    


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


The Danish and Norwegian Vikings largely went west to Ireland, Scotland, England, etc. The Swedish Vikings, by contrast, went east to Russia and south from there.  The Swedish ships were carried against the current on smaller rivers until they reached the tributary rivers of the Volga River. At the bend in the Volga River was a place called Bulgar, where the Swedes met with Turks and other people from the south.  From Bulgar a caravan traveled to China.

By and large, the Swedes did not have too much influence on Russia because there were too few of them and they came primarily to trade and not to settle.  But the name Russia probably originated from one of the names of the Swedish Vikings, "ruser".

A route besides the Volga River was the river Volchov.  The Vikings traveled through the city Starja Ladoga, to a  trading station named Aldeigjuborg, and from there to Novogorod. 

Located on the Dnipper River, Kiev was founded by the Slavs.  Later it came to be ruled by the Khazars. They in turn were conquered by the Varangian (Eastern or Swedish Vikings) Oleg.

c. 879  --  Viking leader Rurik died and another Viking chief took over, Oleg. Oleg also invaded Kiev and declared this city the mother of all Russian cities. Oleg was soon replaced by his former master's son, Igor.

998  --  St. Cyril converted the Kievian nobility. Kiev became the largest state in Europe (11th century).

12th century  --  Kiev was sacked by Russians, Polovtzians and Mongols (12th-13th centuries).

13th century  --  Kiev and Russia were conquered by the Mongols. 

Tartars  --  the Turkic people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The word came from the name for a Mongolian tribe living in today's northeast Mongolia. 

1245  --  Danylo defeated a coalition of the Chernihiv princes, disaffected boyars, and their Hungarian and Polish allies at Yaroslav  -- a victory that finally gave him control over Galicia.

1246  --  Danylo was compelled to recognize the khan's suzerainty; which he did in a visit to the khan's court at Sarai.

1253  --  Danylo Romanovych, prince of Volhynia and Galicia, crowned king of Rus' by Pope Innocent IV.

1254 --  Danylo repulsed a Mongol attack on Ponyzia and Volhynia.

1258  --  Burundai invaded Lithuania via Novgorod. 

1260  --  the Mongol leader Burundai led a new campaign, forcing Danylo to dismantle his fortifications and to abandon his plans for independence.



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