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Friday, 16 February 2018 13:48

A HISTORY OF UKRAINE. EPISODE 40. DIVIDING AND UNITING OF RIGHT- AND LEFT-BANK UKRAINE

Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 16.02.2018 

 

EPISODE 39 HERE  


Outrage at the partition of Ukraine triggered an anti-Muscovite rebellion in Left-Bank Ukraine (i.e. to the East off the Dnipro river) in 1667. It started in Pereyaslav, the same site of the Pereyaslav Treaty of 1654. 

 

The local Cossacks and city residents destroyed a local Muscovite garrison and killed the voivode. Sensing the general outrage, hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky (1663-1668) decided to go against Muscovy himself rather than wait to be removed from power. 

 

In January 1668 a council of Cossack officers in Hadiach supported the abolition of Muscovite power in the Hetman State and Ukraine’s acceptance of a Turkish protectorate. 

 

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Hetman Petro Doroshenko

 

In the summer of 1668, Cossack regiments under the command of Petro Doroshenko (1665-1676), the hetman of Right-Bank Ukraine (i.e. to the West off the Dnipro river), crossed the Dnipro and entered Left-Bank Ukraine to support the insurgents. His forces defeated the Muscovite corps of Prince Shcherbatov, capturing the prince, and later freed the majority of towns and cities in Left-Bank Ukraine from the Muscovite garrisons. 

 

Ukraine’s unity was restored. Alarmed at the strengthening of the hetman’s power in Ukraine, the neighboring states set out to undermine it. E.g. the Crimean Tatars were supporting the Zaporozhian chancellor, Petro Sukhoviienko, for hetman. In 1669 Petro Doroshenko appointed Demian Shumeiko (aka Mnohohrishny) as acting hetman in Left-Bank Ukraine but was forced to return to Right-Bank Ukraine.

Later in 1669 hetman Demian Mnohohrishny signed the new Hlukhiv Articles with Moscovy which cancelled the Moscow Articles of 1665. Under influence of the anti-Muscovite rebellion, Moscow limited the number of its voivodes in Ukraine to five only (in Kyiv, Pereyaslav, Chernyhiv, Nizhyn and Oster) and prohibited them from interfering with Ukrainian affairs.

 

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The Cossack capital Chyhyryn, 1670s.

 

In an effort to stop the simultaneous aggression of the Crimeans, Poles and Muscovites, hetman Petro Doroshenko concluded a union treaty with Turkey in the fall of 1669. 

 

The foundation for this treaty was an agreement signed by hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Turkish sultan in 1651. According to the treaty, the territory of the Ukrainian state included all Ukrainian lands from Peremyshl to Putyvl; the right to the free election of the hetman was confirmed; the Ukrainian population did not have to pay taxes or tribute to the Turkish treasury; Turks and Tatars did not have the right to build mosques and take people into captivity in Ukrainian lands; Turkey and the Crimean Khanate were not to make truces with Poland and Muscovy without the hetman’s consent. The treaty was beneficial for Ukraine, but Turkish military commanders soon began to neglect it. 

 

Seeing a failure to enforce the agreement and on-going Turkish violence against the Ukrainian population, Petro Doroshenko decided to renounce the hetman’s office in 1675 in favor of his adversary, the next hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine, Ivan Samoilovych, in order to unite Ukraine at least this way. But Ivan Samoilovych appeared to be a big adherent of Moscow and did all he could to subdue Ukraine and the Ukrainian church to Muscovy and the Moscovite church during his ruling till 1687. 

 

Meanwhile, during all the time of the Ruin (i.e. the second half of the 17th century), the Zaporozhian Sich remained a de facto independent state with its own administration, army and navy. Thousands of refugees from evastated Ukrainian lands flocked there. 

 

The permanent military force of the Cossacks reached 12,000–20,000 first-rate warriors and tens of thousands of fighters were provided in exceptional cases by the farmers who lived in the lands of the Zaporozhian Host. The Sich Cossacks fought virtually all along the perimeter — against Turkey, the Crimea, Muscovy and Poland. 

 

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Otaman Ivan Sirko, modern painting by Natalia Palusenko

 

According to a legend, a Cossack kish otaman, Ivan Sirko (1610–1680), was born in Podillia and had teeth at birth, which scared the people present at the event. His father decided to calm the audience by saying that Ivan would “gnaw the enemies with his teeth”. After the Pereyaslav Treaty of 1654, Ivan Sirko refused to swear allegiance to the Muscovite tsar. He was extremely fortunate in battles. At least 55 victories which he won are in the historical records. Polish sources contain records of three defeats suffered by his units. 

 

During the anti-Muscovite rebellion of 1667–1668 Sirko’s unit seized a larger part of Sloboda Ukraine (North-Eastern part of Ukraine around modern Kharkiv and Bilhorod cities), routing the Muscovite troops at Okhtyrka and Poltava. At one point, the Muscovite tsar invited Sirko to Kursk for a “meeting” and provided security guarantees, but the Muscovites treacherously put him in shackles on the way to Kursk and exiled him to Siberia. However, facing the Turkish threat, the Polish king persuaded the tsar to release Sirko from exile. Sirko famously said: “He who sits next to me is a brother and he who sits higher be damned.” Sirko said that he fought “with great love and a sharp saber”. 

 

The Polish government wanted to rapidly restore the country wrecked by the Ruin and build defenses against the Tatars and Muscovites. With this in mind, Poland recognized the self-government of the Cossack regiments in Right-Bank Ukraine and supported the election of hetmans. The Cossacks imposed simple, small taxes on ordinary people. There were no serfdom or Polish authorities in these lands

 

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Colonel Semen Palii

 

A colonel Semen Hurko (aka Semen Palii, 1640-1710) was the most authoritative leader of Right-Bank Cossacks of those times. A native of Borzny (Chernyhiv region), Semen Palii first chose Fastiv in the Kyiv region as his residence in the early 1680s. In 1683, his unit distinguished itself in the defeat of the Turks at Vienna, a fateful battle for Europe.

 

However, the restored Cossack lands soon found themselves in the cross-hairs of their former owners and their descendants from among the Polish nobility. Poland saw the Right-Bank Cossacks as the restoration of the Khmelnytsky movement. And Poland decided to abolish Cossack rule. 

 

In 1702 a Cossack uprising swept across the Kyiv, Podillia, Bratslav and Volhynia regions. Insurgent units appeared even in Galicia. Palii’s brothers-in-arms defeated the Polish army and seized the main fortresses in Polisia. After a prolonged siege and using deception, Semen Palii captured Bila Tserkva, the main stronghold in Right-Bank Ukraine, and moved his residence there. 

 

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Theodosiia, the wife of Semen Palii, with a grandson, painting, 18th century. Theodosiia used to replace Palii as the commander of the fortress and regiment when he was away on military expeditions.

 

In 1704 the Muscovite government signed an agreement with the Polish king, Augustus II, in Narva (now Estonia) pledging to help Poland fight against the the Sweden and the Ukrainian Cossacks. A then Muscovite tsar, Peter I (1682-1725), ordered Semen Palii to leave Bila Tserkva but the colonel refused. 

 

The Cossacks recognized the supremacy of Left-Bank hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1708) over Right-Bank Ukraine. After Mazepa’s forces entered Right-Bank Ukraine in 1704, Moscow, fearing the authoritative colonel, ordered his arrest, accused him of negotiating with Sweden and exiled Semen Palii to Siberia. 

 

After the anti-Musсovite uprising led by hetman Ivan Mazepa, regiments in Right-Bank Ukraine supported hetman Pylyp Orlyk (fled to Moldova in 1709, a hetman in exile in 1710-1742). In punishment for this, the Muscovites drove the population of Right-Bank Ukraine to the left bank of the Dnipro en masse, burning and ravaging numerous towns and villages. However, these people began to return home after receiving protection from the Cossacks. 

 

Thus, the rapid restoration of Right-Bank Ukraine under Cossack rule showed how rapidly Ukraine could have developed if it had managed to preserve its independence.


On the main picture: 'The Zaporozhian Cossacks Write a Letter to the Turkish Sultan', painting by Ilya Repin, 19th century.

 

TO EPISODE 41

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