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The Chudes (Chuds, Chud) are people mentioned in Russian chronicles and folk-tales, associated with several peoples speaking Baltic Finnic languages, in particular with minority peoples speaking the Veps language in the Russian federation.
The name chud may have been first mentioned by Jordanes in 550. The word Chud comes either from Russian language ("chuzhoi" foreign or "chudnyi" odd, "chud" miracle) or from a Sami language word, meaning "thief".
The Russian Primary Chronicle describes Chudes as cofounders of Kievan Rus state along with Slavs and Vikings. In ancient Russian cronicles, Chudes mean several Finnic tribes and Estonian tribes in particular. In 1030 Prince Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev won major victory against Chuds, annexed some of their territories ans built a city of Yuriev (present day Tartu, Estonia) in their country. Most of raids against Chudes described in ancient Russian chronicles occur in present day Estonia. The border lake between Estonia and Russia is still called Chudskoye (Chud Lake) in Russian. However, many ancient references to Chudes talk peoples very far from Estonia, like Zavoloshka Chudes between Mordovians and Komis.
Following Russian conquests of Finland 1714–1809, and increasing contacts between Finns and Saint Petersburg, Finns perceived the word Chud for them as disparaging and hinting at the serfdom that the Russians were believed to find fit for the Finns. However, as a disparaging word, it was rather "chukhna" that was applied also to Finns as late as during the Winter War, 1939–1940, between the Soviet Union and Finland.
In present day spoken Russian chukhna is used for Vepses. The name Chudes (or Northern Chudes) has been used for Veps people also by some anthropologists.
Russian chronicles knew Vepses as "white-eyed" Chudes. Even though Chudes were victims of many Russian attacks, even finally almost annihilated by them, Russian folktales know Chudes in very positive sense. Chudes were described as beautiful and gallant. While Chudish settlements fell, Chudish women drowned themselves into rivers with their jewelry and children to avoid to be shamed or robbed. While Chudish peasants heard about Russian cruelty, they buried themselves alive, also again with all of their valuables with them. Russian folk songs tells that Chudes are still living a fine life underground with all of their valuables and beautiful things. Russians have since that dug up many supposed Chudes burial sites in attempt to find treasures.
Chudes are also associated with the region Biarmland.
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