Tuesday, 13 February 2018 17:27


Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 13.02.2018 



In the fall of 1653, during a campaign against Ukraine, a 50,000-strong Polish army led by King John II Casimir was encircled near the village of Zhvanets in Podillia. The Polish army began to suffer from hunger and epidemics. However, the position of the Crimean Khan once again saved Poland from a complete rout and the Polish king from captivity. This forced the hetman to sharply change his international political orientation


Muscovy, which had repeatedly suffered defeats from Poland (in 1569–1581, 1604–1618 and 1632– 1634), was afraid to intervene in the conflict. Moscow wanted Ukraine and Poland to exhaust each other.


However, the defeat of Poland and the threat of Khmelnytsky making an alliance with Turkey or Sweden encouraged Moscow to conduct new negotiations with the Ukrainian hetman. These ended in January 1654 with the signing of the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Under this agreement, Ukraine entered into a military alliance with Moscow which pledged to fight against Poland. In their turn, the Cossacks promised military assistance to Moscow in regaining control over Smolensk and making campaigns against Lithuania (Poland)


The agreement had two restrictions: even though taxes were to be collected by Ukrainian officials in Ukraine, part of them had to go to Moscow. Moreover, Ukraine was not to negotiate with Turkey and Poland. Even though the original of the 1654 treaty was “lost” in Muscovite archives, the statements and letters of the then leaders clearly show that Ukraine fully preserved its sovereignty. 


The Ukrainian clergy and military commanders refused to pledge allegiance to the Muscovite tsar because they knew about the utter lawlessness and wild tyranny that reigned supreme in Muscovy. In the 15th through the 17th century, a father had the legal right to sell his children into slavery in Muscovy. Only after selling them three times and if they were bought out each time, did the father lose this right. In contrast, people in Ukraine were used to freedom. Even at the hardest of times under the Polish rule, only a minority of the population were serfs. Moreover, serfdom involved mandatory labor for the landlord; he did not have authority over the personal freedom of peasants. 


the treaties bohun

Ivan Bohun, painting based on an old portrait, 19th century.


The Cossack colonel, Ivan Bohun, warned: “Most atrocious slavery reigns supreme in Muscovy. People do not and cannot have any property because everything is the property of the tsar. Muscovite boyars call themselves ‘slaves of the tsar’. The entire Muscovite people are slaves. In Muscovy, people are sold on the market just like we sell cattle. To join these people is worse than to jump into a fire alive.” 


Moreover, the Bratslav, Kropyvna, Poltava and Uman Cossack regiments, a number of Ukrainian cities and the famous military commander, Ivan Sirko, refused to swear allegiance to the tsar.


Nevertheless, to fulfill its obligations, the Ukrainian army went into the northern Slavic lands of Lithuania and seized Smolensk. The hetman’s rule was established in one half of the modern territory of Belarus and Cossack regiments were formed in the likeness of Ukrainian ones. 


As they fought for the Muscovites, Ukrainians did not receive sufficient reinforcement. In Podillia, they desperately fought to keep the Poles away from Ukrainian castles and towns. E.g., a wife of the Cossack sotnyk (captain), Mariana Zavysna, even blew up her gunpowder magazine in the Busha castle in Podillia, killing the attackers and herself. 


Muscovy violated the Pereyaslav Treaty less than two and a half years after signing it. Poland promised to the Muscovite tsar that he would be elected king and the Muscovite government concluded the Truce of Vilna with Poland in October 1656.


It was at this time that, ignoring Moscow’s protests, hetman Khmelnytsky made an alliance with Sweden, which was at war with Muscovy, Semyhraddia (Transylvania) and Brandenburg. Khmelnytsky opted for Sweden as this remote country had no claim to Ukrainian lands. But Khmelnytsky died on 6 August 1657 while making preparations for a new campaign. 


The Liberation War of Bohdan Khmelnytsky restored Ukraine’s statehood — four centuries after the fall of the Kyivan Rus’ and 178 years after the demise of the Kyiv principality.


The Ukrainian people suffered huge losses and scored a series of glorious victories, but the outcomes were not commensurate with the scale of victories. Ukraine’s main problem was the disloyalty of its allies who tried to take advantage of its hardships.

In 1657, Ivan Vyhovsky, a Ukrainian noble from the Kyiv region who was close to Khmelnytsky and served as the general chancellor, was elected the next hetman (1657–1659). 


In an effort to subdue Ukraine, the Muscovite government started forming a “fifth column” by sending agents with money and promises and fueling a civil war. The threat of Muscovite aggression forced Vyhovsky to make an alliance with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Crimea and Sweden.


the treaties hadiach

Treaty of Hadiach (1658), original, with the signature of the Polish king


Under the Treaty of Hadiach of 1658, Ukraine as a sovereign state with the name “Great Principality of Rus’” joined the Commonwealth on an equal basis with Poland and Lithuania. The Ukrainian army was to have 30,000 Cossacks and 10,000 hired soldiers. The Polish troops were banned from the territory of the principality. The Kyiv Mohyla Academy was granted the same rights as Cracow University in Poland, which was well-known across Europe. A second academy or university had to be founded in another city in Ukraine. The Treaty of Hadiach was extremely beneficial for Ukraine and surpassed everything the Cossacks gained during the Liberation War. 


In the spring of 1659 the 150,000-strong Muscovite army entered Left-Bank Ukraine. In Konotop (Sumy region), 4,000 Cossacks of the Nizhyn and Chernyhiv regiments locked up the city. The two-month defense of Konotop under the command of the Nizhyn colonel, Hryhorii Hulianytsky, engaged the bulk of the Muscovite forces. On 28–29 June 1659 the decisive Battle of Konotop took place on the Sosnivka River. Before the battle, the Cossacks went into the enemy’s rear and dammed up the river, faking a retreat to lure the enemy and defeated the Muscovite army. Some 30,000 Muscovites were killed and many more thousands were captured. When the Muscovite tsar received the news about the defeat, he ordered an evacuation from Moscow.

However, hetman Ivan Vyhovsky was unable to take advantage of the victory. Part of the Cossack officers, who had been secretly bribed and incited by Moscow, opposed him. Moreover, a union with Poland was not popular among the Cossacks after the Ukrainian-Polish wars. Poland made concessions too late. In order to prevent any unrest, Vyhovsky renounced the hetmanship in October 1659.


the treaties vyhovsky

Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky


Ukraine soon had five contenders for the hetman's mace at once. The period known as "the Ruin" began. Its main causes were the aggressive enroachments of Muscovy, Poland, The Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate. 


Denunciations, plotting and careerist bickering were undermining the country. Offering positions and money, foreign governments bribed unworty officers and the dregs of society to sell the interests of the country.


In 1665, hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky was lured to Moscow and there deliberately signed the Moscow Articles under big pressure. These Articles prohibited the Ukrainian hetman from pursuing his own foreign policy. The number of Muscovite troops was increased and the Ukrainian government pledged to provide them with food — free of charge. The general chancellor, Zakhar Shyikevych, refused to sign the Articles and was immediately exiled to Siberia in shackles. 


A short time afterward, both Poland and Muscovy signed the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667, fully partioning Ukraine along the Dnipro river. The Cossacks perceived it as a treachorous betrayal from the part of Moscow. Muscovy managed Ukrainian lands as if they belonged to it, rather than entered into a union with an independent state.

1649 Treaty of Zboriv — Poland recognized Ukraine in its Kyiv, Chernyhiv and Bratslav voivodeships
1651 Treaty of Bila Tserkva — Poland recognized Ukraine only in Kyiv voivodeship
1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav — Ukraine & Muscovy united versus Poland
1656 Truce of Vilnius — Poland & Muscovy united versus Ukraine
1657 Treaty of Korsun — Ukraine and Sweden tried to unite versus Poland
1658 Treaty of Hadiach — Ukraine & Poland united versus Muscovy
1667 Truce of Andrusovo — Poland & Muscovy divided Ukraine along the Dnipro


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