Short URL for this page:
https://bit.ly/DORHOU12


[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home
previous:

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 11

This webpage reproduces a chapter of


History of the Ukraine
by Dmytro Doroshenko

printed by
The Institute Press, Ltd.
Edmonton, Alberta,
1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

next:

[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 13

 p182  Chapter XII

 * * * *

(The numbers link directly to the sections.)

(53) Cossacks at the Beginning of the Seventeenth Century. (54) Peter Konashevich Sahaidachny. (55) Cossack Defenders of the Orthodox Church. (56) Revival of the Orthodox Hierarchy.

 * * * *

53. Cossacks at the Beginning of the Seventeenth Century.

Precisely at the beginning of the Seventeenth century Poland was engaged in a series of wars; Moldavian, Swedish and Muscovian. Therefore the circumstances were such that the Polish government was obliged to put up with the Cossacks and meet them half‑way, since they possessed a very considerable military force of trained and well-equipped soldiers. In consequence, the laws passed against them were formally repealed by the Seim of 1601, and their position again legalized. The Cossacks took an active part in the Moldavian and Swedish wars. Their internal differences and strife were therefore much eased. After 1600, at the head of the once more united Cossacks, we meet a remarkable man, the Hetman Samuel Kishka. His personality is very popular because of the contemporary folksong (duma), which is well preserved and gives in detail an episode of the Cossack wars against Turkey. This duma relates how Hetman Samuel Kishka, having been taken prisoner by the Turks and condemned to a Turkish galley, succeeded in raising a revolt among the other prisoners. Having seized the vessel, and put to death all the Turks on board, they returned to Ukraine. Episodes such as that described in the folksong were frequent, and based on authentic information, but it is not borne out by historical evidence that Samuel Kishka himself was the hero of such an escape. The historical facts about him are few. All we know is that he proved himself to be a very success­ful diplomat, and that it is mostly to him that the Cossacks owe the abolition of the restrictions which had threatened them since the rebellion  p183 of Nalivayko and Loboda. When in 1600 the Moldavian Hospodar (Prince) Jeremy Mohyla, who was under Polish protection, was attacked by the Wallachian Hospodar, a vassal of the Sultan, it was necessary to send Mohyla help. The Polish government had no one to turn to but the Cossacks, in spite of their having been declared outlaws. Kishka then made their help conditional on the sentence of banishment being withdrawn, the rights and privileges given by Stephen Bathory being restored, pay being promised, and the banners seized in the battle on the Solonitsa being returned. The King promised to support the wishes of the Cossacks in the next Seim and 4000 Cossacks started out to settle the Moldavian difficulties. The Wallachian campaign was most success­ful. The Turkish vassal was defeated and the Polish government put Semen Mohyla, a brother of Jeremy on the Wallachian throne. This was the Jeremy whom they had previously put on the throne of Moldavia.

In the meantime the war with Sweden had started, and the Polish government was again in need of the Cossacks' help. After the death of his brother John in 1592, the Polish King Sigismund III of the house of Vasa inherited the Swedish crown, and for a time was king of both Poland and Sweden, being represented in Sweden by his uncle Charles, Duke of Södermanland, as regent. Sigismund being a fanatical Roman Catholic, was never popular in Protestant Sweden, and in 1598 his uncle proclaimed himself King, occupied Esthonia, and in 1600 threatened Livonia (Lettland) part of which belonged to Poland. When the war began, the Cossacks were appealed to, and the Hetman, Samuel Kishka again put forward their claims to withdraw the sentence of banishment and restore their rights and privileges. The Cossacks sent delegates to the Seim of 1601 in Warsaw and obtained, though not all they claimed, most of their most important wishes.

The Livonian campaign was very hard. Samuel Kishka was killed in the battle of Fellin and the Cossacks suffered other severe losses. The fact that Poland had no  p184 fleet, and Sweden a very good one, decided the war. The Swedes blockaded the coast, and held all the fortified sea‑side towns. The war was lost for Poland and soon came to an end.

The Cossacks returned home, repaired their losses and in 1601 turned all their energy to the south. With the intention of helping the Moldavian Hospodar, the Cossacks, having a good fleet of several galleys and a great number of small vessels called "Chaika" (sea‑gulls) attacked and destroyed in 1601 the Turkish fleet off Kilia at the mouth of the Danube. During the next ten years the Cossack Brotherhood increased greatly in number, and they gained more and more influence in the Ukraine, so much that the king and nobles began to be alarmed, and much regretted having withdrawn the restrictions. At this time, Polish intervention in Muscovian affairs began. This lasted for several years, and the Cossacks had a wide field for their activities. We refer to the Muscovian revolution and interregnum.

As is known, the Muscovian revolution was prepared by the political and social events which had shaken the Muscovian State during the reign of Czar Ivan IV, the Terrible. It began formally by the appearance of a pretender to the throne of the Tsar, a mysterious personality who declared himself to be Tsarevich Dmitri, son of Ivan the Czar. Historians have long thought him to have been a puppet of the Jesuits put forward by them with the object of gaining influence in Orthodox Muscovy. But modern historians consider him rather to have been originally a creature of the Muscovian boyars, and used by them against the unpopular Boris Godunov, a parvenu among the Muscovian aristocracy who had seized the Muscovian throne after the death of the last prince of the dynasty of Rurik, the Czar Feodor, whose brother-in‑law he was. This mysterious pretender appeared in Poland as a servant of the princes of Vishnevets and declared his intention of winning the throne of Moscow. With the tacit consent and assistance of the Polish government he assembled an army of followers mostly composed of  p185 Polish and Ukrainian nobles and about twelve thousand Zaporogian Cossacks. In 1605 the pretender Dmitri seized Moscow, but this was only a prelude to a long political and social revolution which spread over the whole Muscovian State, and was followed by Polish and Swedish intervention. Only at the cost of terrible effort and after a great patriotic rising, did the Great Russians succeed in 1613 in recovering the independence of the Muscovian State and expelling the foreigners. The Ukrainian Cossacks intervened actively on the side of Poland. In King Sigismund's army alone, which captured the White Russian town of Smolensk from Moscow in 1609, there were thirty thousand Zaporogian Cossacks, and almost as many were engaged in the campaign for detaching the Ukrainian province of Siversk from Moscow. At the same time, the Ukrainian Cossacks were not inactive on their southern front against their chief enemy the Tatars and Turks. In 1606 the Cossack fleet took the fortified town of Varna on the Black Sea from the Turks; in 1608 they took Perekop from the Tatars, and in 1609 they were again engaged at the mouth of the Danube, taking and burning the fortified Turkish towns of Ismail, Kilia and Bilhorod (Akerman). These were only temporary victories, for the Cossacks had not the power to hold these towns for long.

In consequence of the evacuation of Moscow by Polish armies and the conclusion in 1613 of a temporary armistice, the Cossacks were forced to turn all their activities against the Tatars and the Turks in the south. The Polish government had to tolerate these proceedings, even seeing in it an excellent way of employing the surplus energies of the Cossacks, in spite of the fact that these hostilities might provoke a terrible revenge by the Turks. The years 1614‑1620 were in truth a heroic period in the history of the Cossacks. Their gallant and daring maritime campaigns were only comparable to the naval exploits of their ancestors of the early Kievan period. The object of the campaigns was the same, namely Constantinople and northern shores of Asia Minor and the Crimea.  p186 Besides mere plundering they also had the further aim of avenging themselves on the Tatars and their suzerain the Sultan for their inroads on Ukrainian territory, with the ruin and devastation which for centuries had followed in their train; of releasing the Ukrainian prisoners of whom there were great numbers in captivity in Crimea and Constantinople; and of destroying the nest of vultures which for centuries had endangered the very existence of the Ukrainian population by carrying away into slavery the flower of its young men and women. There was also the religious motive of fighting the infidel, the enemy of Christianity. Thus not only in the eyes of Ukrainians but of the whole contemporary Christian world did the Cossack successes meet with recognition and applause. The population of the Mediterranean countries, especially Italy and the Balkans, could appreciate the triumph of the Cossack arms, having themselves been engaged in a similar constant struggle with the Mohammedan world.

We have descriptions important to the history of the Cossacks, of contemporary Turkish authors and chroniclers who were eye‑witnesses of the Cossack attacks on the Turkish towns on the southern shores of the Black Sea. The campaign of 1614, for instance, is thus described:

"The Cossacks came down and attacked the fortress of Sinope on the Anatolian shores, which on account of its beauti­ful surroundings, is called the city of lovers. Having captured the ancient castle, the Cossacks cut down its garrison, plundered and ruined Moslem houses, and finally destroyed and burnt the town, turning this beauti­ful and charming spot into a melancholy desert. They also destroyed the arsenal, and burnt galleys and other vessels. The damages are assessed at forty million gold pieces. Before armed men could be mustered in defence, the Cossacks loaded their spoil on to small vessels called "Sea‑gulls" and returned home. The Sultan, having heard the news, fell into such a state of wrath and sorrow that he ordered the Great Vizier to be hanged, and only the great lamentation of his wife, daughter and other  p187  women-folk prevailed to save his life. The Sultan, however, gave him a thorough beating with his own hands, and the news of this soon spread throughout the whole town. The Vizier stated in self-defence, that he had already sent a fleet and army to pursue the Cossacks."

We know from other sources that Pasha Ahmet sent orders to pursue the Cossacks and to bring from Akerman the Turkish fleet to join that of Ochakov. Some vessels had also been sent from Constantinople under Ali Pasha and stationed at the mouth of the Dnieper to await the return of the Cossacks. The latter got wind of this ambush in time, and divided their fleet into two parts, one being sent to land to the east of the Dnieper mouth and portage the boats higher up the river. They were attacked by the Tatars and suffered some losses. The other part of the Cossack fleet succeeded in evading the watchfulness of the Turkish fleet, entered the Dnieper and sailed up the river unobserved, only having to throw overboard much of their spoil in order to lighten the boats. The twenty men taken prisoners by the Tatars were brought to the Sultan and he delivered them to the population of Sinope to dispose of as they pleased.

Next year (1615) the Cossacks again made a descent on the shores of the Bosporus, so close to Constantinople that from his palace the Sultan could see the smoke of the fires. The Turkish fleet, sent after them, reached them at the mouth of the Danube. The Cossacks were very skilful in boarding the enemy vessels and thus defeated the Turks, even taking a Turkish admiral prisoner. They carried away some of the vessels and burnt them within sight of the Turkish garrison of Ochakov in order to spite the Turks. They always loved a joke and had a keen sense of humor. Entering the mouth of the Danube undisturbed, they returned to their camp, the Sich.

In the year 1616 the Cossacks undertook naval operations against the Turks on an even larger scale. They completely destroyed an important Turkish fleet, seized several galleys and hundreds of smaller vessels. At the head of the Cossack forces stood the Hetman Peter Konashevich  p188 Sahaidachny, in whom the Cossacks acquired not only a daring leader but an able statesman who understood how to direct the Cossack energies and forces not only in the acquisition of military fame and rich loot, but also in the interests of the whole Ukrainian nation.

54. Peter Konashevich Sahaidachny.

Undoubtedly Peter Konashevich Sahaidachny was the most remarkable leader the Cossacks had until Bohdan Khmelnitsky, and a notable Ukrainian. His personality and activities were highly appreciated even by his contemporaries, and came down to later generations surrounded with a halo of glory. From contemporary documents we know that he came from the landed gentry near Sambor in Galicia, that he was a student in the Academy of Ostrog founded by Prince Constantine, and that he joined the Cossacks. The exact dates of his birth and residence in the Academy are not known, but it is certain that before becoming a leader he must have been several years among the Cossacks. At any rate he must have begun his career in the Sich previous to becoming leader of the whole Cossack forces. He was not only a military leader, but a political leader also. Sahaidachny was at the head of the Cossacks at the moment when the Polish Government was again alarmed by their growth in numbers and power, and began to look for some means of restraining them. In fact, after the beginning of the Seventeenth century no session of the Seim passed without the Cossack question being under discussion, or a special commission being elected for the same purpose. The Seim of 1607 decided that the Town Cossacks were to obey the local administration authorities, and also they were forbidden to have relations with the Zaporogian Cossacks from the Sich. A commission was elected in 1609 to see that this was being carried out, and in 1611 it reported that the Town Cossacks continued to obey only their own authorities, which were the same as those of the Zaporogian Sich. A new commission was called in Zhitomir composed of the most power­ful magnates. The Cossack representatives  p189 were invited to hear the decisions of the Commission. The Town Cossacks were ordered to obey the voevods or starosts or other administrative authority and were deprived of the rights of special jurisdiction they had enjoyed until then. Their leader was to be nominated by the King and not elected as heretofore. The Zaporogian Cossacks were to remain beyond the rapids and not show themselves elsewhere. They were allowed to retain their judicial system and their elected leader. Moreover, the Town Cossacks were not to take any part in the campaigns of the Zaporogian Cossacks without having asked the king's permission, their duty being to protect the border of Ukraine against the invasions of the Tatars. They were to receive a salary from the State Treasury. Like many other decisions, those of the commission of 1614 were not carried out. The Cossacks making a pretext that their salary was never properly paid, continued to disregard the decisions of the commission.

In the spring of 1616, Sahaidachny, at the head of the Cossack fleet, defeated the Turkish fleet at the mouth of the Dnieper and seized several galleys and a number of smaller vessels. Then, pursuing his course around the Crimean peninsula, he attacked Kaffa (now Theodosia) where the Tatars held the world-famed slave-market, chiefly of Ukrainian prisoners. The Cossacks burned Kaffa, and set many of the prisoners free. In the autumn of the same year the Cossack fleet crossed the Black Sea and took Trebizond. They were in their turn attacked by the Turkish fleet led by Admiral Chikala Pasha, a Genoese by origin, but the Cossacks defeated him and having sunk part of his fleet, took and plundered several places on the Bosporus. Another Turkish fleet under Ibrahim Pasha was sent after them to Ochakov in order to intercept their fleet at the entrance to the Dnieper, but instead of going up the Dnieper, the Cossacks turned into the Sea of Azov, and leaving the large vessels behind, took the smaller ones up the rivers, and portaging them, arrived at the Sich. In the meantime Ibrahim  p190 Pasha went up the Dnieper as far as the Cossack camp, the Sich. The small Cossack garrison which had been left behind escaped, and the Turks satisfied therefore with ruining the empty nest. The Cossack main force returned with rich spoil after Ibrahim Pasha left.

These Cossack naval campaigns, especially in the years between 1614 and 1617 were carried out on a grand scale, and almost led to declaration of war on Poland by the Sultan. Only with great effort, did the Polish government succeed in maintaining peaceful relations as it had promised the Sultan to reduce the Cossacks to obedience and not allow them to make raids on the Turkish possessions.

In order to impress the Cossacks and force them to accept the conditions and restrictions, the Polish government sent out to the Ukraine the old General Zolkievski, the former victor of Nalivayko, at the head of an army, and mobilized all the nobles of the Province of Kiev. Sahaidachny, prudent and careful as he was, besides always having been loyal to the King, thought it better not to enter into conflict. He very well understood that all these restrictions coming from the government were only temporary, and that as soon as the Cossacks were required for urgent military purposes, the restrictions would be withdrawn. He thus succeeded in persuading the Cossacks to give way, and obtained their formal acceptance which led to a partial demobilization of their forces. According to a historic document which has been preserved of the written ultimatum of the Polish government to the Cossacks, they were ordered to exclude from among their numbers: "all artisans, traders, inn‑keepers, butchers, tailors, that had slipped into the ranks of the Cossacks, having no business to be there at all".

The Cossacks also promised not to attack neighboring States and to occupy themselves solely in defending the Ukrainian border. But they maintained their right to elect their leader, which was to receive confirmation only by the Polish king. The question of the numbers of the Cossacks remained unsettled, but the Cossacks promised to exclude all who were not professional warriors from  p191  among those who had joined them during the last two years. The final settlement was postponed until the Seim of 1618. In accepting the conditions of the Polish government for reduction, Hetman Sahaidachny foresaw that these were but temporary measures, and that the government would again need Cossack help.

Indeed, he was right, for the need for the Cossacks arose in the same year (1618) when Crown-prince Wladislaus, having set out with insufficient forces to attempt once more the conquest of the Muscovian throne now in the possession of the young Michael Romanov, found himself in a difficult position in the neighborhood of Moscow. Only immediate help could save him. None of the Polish troops could be mobilized at such short notice, and regular troops were insufficient. Thus appeal was made to the Cossacks, and Sahaidachny set out at the head of his twenty-thousand, traversed Moscovia, having defeated all the Muscovian forces on his way and taken several fortified towns. The Cossacks were in time to relieve Prince Wladislaus and the united forces besieged Moscow. Advantageous peace conditions having been offered by Moscow, the Peace Treaty of Deulino was concluded in 1618, according to which Poland took the provinces of Smolensk, with its White-Russian population, and Sieversk, with its Ukrainians.

After this success­ful campaign, however, the Polish government insisted on the reduction in the number of the Cossacks, and Hetman Sahaidachny found it advisable to accept and sign once again the terms of 1619, according to which the number of registered town Cossacks was reduced to 3,000, and their leader was to be nominated by the king. Of course, it was much easier to sign these terms than to carry them out, as they concerned only the Town Cossacks, whereas the Zaporogian Cossacks remained as before, inaccessible to the Polish authorities. Accordingly, a restricted number of three thousand Town Cossacks duly registered remained in the towns and villages along the Dnieper, with a nominated leader at their head, whereas the mass of the Cossack excluded from  p192 the legal lists took up their abode in the Zaporogian Sich beyond the Rapids, forming a reserve force on which it was always possible for the Cossacks to draw when necessary.

Certainly the bulk of the Cossacks were far from being satisfied with their leader for having signed the conditions, and as was usual with the Cossacks, they divided themselves into two parties, the elder or more settled, better-to‑do Cossacks especially those included in the polls supporting Sahaidachny. In opposition to him were notably all the young men and socially lower elements, the poor and desperate who owned nothing and had nothing to lose. Sahaidachny, however, succeeded in maintaining his influence and authority and remained the leader, owing to his firm will, power­ful personality and the iron discipline he had introduced among the Cossacks to the support of the Orthodox Church, which was at that moment of great national importance.

55. Cossack Defenders of the Orthodox Church.

At the time when the former leading class of the Ukrainian population, the nobles, gradually vanished from the historic scene owing to their mass desertion to the Roman Catholic camp, and the burgesses or town population were powerless to carry on alone the burden of supporting and fighting for the Orthodox Church and Ukrainian national culture, the Cossacks took upon themselves the task of being the main support of both the Orthodox Church and Ukrainian nationality.

Of course, the Cossacks did not all at once comprehend and become conscious of their task. Their first rebellions, as for instance those of Kossinsky and Nalivayko, had no religious motives. After the Union of the Churches in Brest, when the struggle became acute, however, it found supporters amongst the Cossacks, many of whom were members of noble Ukrainian families and  p193 burgesses who already had been active in the religious struggle.

As early as the end of the first decade of the Seventeenth century the Cossacks began to take part in this struggle, at first using legal methods. Like the nobles, the Cossacks petitioned the king, making protests against the Uniates' pretensions to the possessions of the Orthodox Church. When the emissaries of the Uniate Metropolitan came to Kiev and attempted to seize the rich monasteries, the Cossacks took up arms to prevent them, and one of the more active of the emissaries lost his life. The Orthodox clergy then began to realize that protected by the Cossacks they could develop religious and cultural activities more freely in Kiev than in Lvov, or generally in Galicia or Volynia. Thus at the beginning of the second decade of the Seventeenth century the centre of Ukrainian national and religious life was once more removed to Kiev. A few learned theologians were the first to transfer their abode from Lvov and Ostrog to Kiev. Here they immediately founded the religious Brotherhood to which Halshka Lozkina Hulevich, the wife of a Volynian noble, gave a generous donation for the foundation of a school. This school of the Kievan Brotherhood was soon transformed into a College and later into an Academy, its first Rector being Job Boretsky. Hetman Sahaidachny himself "together with the whole Brotherhood of Zaporogian Cossacks" became members of the Kievan Brotherhood, thus officially undertaking the protection of the religious and national Ukrainian centre in Kiev. The Archimandrite of the Pecherski monastery founded in 1617 the famous printing office which in a short time developed extraordinary activity. Prayer books, liturgical books, school books, dictionaries, controversial writings, theological and other scientific and literary works were printed in great quantities, so that Kiev soon became the centre for printing and publishing for the whole of Ukraine.

 p194  56. Revival of the Orthodox Hierarchy.

Lastly, as the crowning effort of the Ukrainian Orthodox believers of that time, came the revival of the Orthodox hierarchy in the Ukraine which was achieved under the protection of the Cossack Hetman. After almost all the Ukrainian Bishops had adopted the Union of the Churches, and those who remained faithful had died, the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine was threatened with complete disorganization, there being no ecclesiastical authority to ordain the Priests. Sahaidachny took advantage of the presence in Ukraine of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophan, who was on his way from Moscow. At that moment Sahaidachny was not acting as Hetman. It has been related above how he lost his popularity with the majority of the Cossacks on account of having accepted the conditions for the reduction of the Cossacks proposed by the Polish government. The discontented chose the moment when Sahaidachny was absent on a campaign with part of the Cossacks in 1628 against the Tatar town of Perekop in the Crimea, to depose him and elect another Hetman, Borodavka. However, Sahaidachny remained in authority as Colonel, and together with the religious Brotherhood in Kiev undertook the renewal of the Hierarchy in Ukraine. As soon as the Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in Kiev, a meeting was held by the representatives of all parts of the Ukraine and White Russia, at which candidates for the Metropolitan See as well as for the Bishoprics were designated. Sahaidachny took part in the meeting, which had the character of a National Convention.

After the death of the Metropolitan, Michael Rogoza, the Polish King nominated to the Metropolitan See the Uniate Hypatius Poti, and after his death, Velyamin Rutski. All the Ukrainian Bishoprics with the exception of that of Lvov where there was an Orthodox Bishop, were in the hands of the Uniates. The burgesses and Cossacks of Kiev prevented the Uniate clergy from seizing the Metropolitan See, but the situation of the Orthodox  p195 Church in the Ukraine became critical. The Cossacks and the nobles, members of the meeting at Kiev, promised protection to the newly-ordained Bishops. The Patriarch consented to consecrate as Metropolitan the Rector of the Kievan Brotherhood College, Job Boretsky, and two Bishops for Przemysl (Peremyshl) and Polotsk. The ceremony took place in the greatest secrecy at night with tightly closed doors and windows, in the presence of a few persons only. Sahaidachny and his regiment of Cossacks accompanied the Patriarch when he left Kiev. On his way south he ordained three more Bishops, for Lutsk, Kholm and Pinsk, and was conducted safely to the Moldavian frontier by the Cossacks.

After the Patriarch left Kiev the Metropolitan being protected in Kiev was able to take up his functions. The newly ordained Bishops on the other hand, were not able to go to their Sees. They could not expect the King to confirm their consecration, but on the contrary were declared by the Polish government to be usurpers and repressive measures were taken against them. The Metropolitan, Job Boretsky, together with the newly consecrated Bishops then published their well-known protest on 28th April, 1621, the full text of which was discovered and republished as late as 1910. In this declaration the Ukrainian clergy protested against the Polish government having accused the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophan, of being a Turkish spy. They told the story of the consecration which was conducted according to all canonical rules, and protested against the persecution of the Orthodox by the Uniate clergy in White Russia and the western provinces of Ukraine, Galicia, Volynia, and others. They also warned that persecution and violence would be followed by revolts, for which the Uniates would be responsible. Most interesting to the historian in this protest is the part allocated to the Cossacks.

"We all know about Cossacks," says the declaration, "that these chivalrous men are our blood, our kith and kin and true Orthodox Christians. Indeed, they are the descendants of the glorious Rus, of the seed of Japheth who fought  p196 Byzantium at sea and on land. They are of the same tribe that went under Prince Oleg, Monarch of the Rus, to Byzantium by sea in their small boats; and on the dry land, providing these same boats with wheels, they attacked Constantinople. Under Saint Vladimir, Prince of the Rus, they fought Greece, Macedonia, and Illyria. Their ancestors were baptized under Vladimir, having been converted to the Christian faith by the Church of Constantinople, and even to this day they live in this faith, are born in it, and baptized in it. They do not live like heathens, but like Christians. They have their presbyters, they learn to read and write, to know God and His Law . . . Setting out to sea they pray, declaring that they go to fight the infidel for the Christian faith . . . . Their second purpose is to set the prisoner free . . . . It is truly said that no one in the whole world does so much for the benefit of the persecuted and oppressed Christians as the Greeks with their heavy levies, the King of Spain with his strong fleet, and the Zaporogian Cossacks with their daring and their victories. What other peoples achieve by words and discourses the Cossacks achieve by their actions."

These lines which we have quoted show how at the beginning of the Seventeenth century in the Ukraine educated men were conscious of the continuity of historical development, and tradition since the days of the Kievan Princedom. They also show that the Union of the Ukrainian educated classes with the Cossacks was an accomplished fact. The Ukrainian clergy could use such independent language only if they could rely on their national armed power, the Cossacks. Following the publication of this protest, the Metropolitan convoked a Council in Kiev composed of clergy and laity to decide what was to be done. Those of the Ukrainian nobles of Kiev Province who still remained faithful to the Orthodox Church gathered and held a meeting in Zhitomir where the Metropolitan conferred with them. Finally he went to the Zaporogian Cossacks in their camp and addressed them in the presence of Sahaidachny, inviting them to  p197 stand up in defence of their faith. "All the Cossacks," we are told by an eye‑witness, "took an oath to defend their faith even to the death".

About the same time, negotiations were being carried on between the Polish government and the Cossacks concerning a fresh engagement of the Cossacks. The Polish Government, being menaced by the Turks at that time, stood greatly in need of the Cossack's help. A Turkish army under Iskander-Pasha set out in the summer of 1620 against Poland, and on the way occupied Moldavia. The old Polish general, Zolkievski, with only a small detachment, set out to intercept them. He crossed the Dniester, but on the fields of Zezora, near Jassy, was surrounded by overwhelming forces of the enemy; his army was annihilated and he himself was slain. His second general, Konecpolski, was taken prisoner. On the same battlefield Michael Khmelnitsky, Starost of Chihirin, lost his life, and his son, Bohdan, was taken prisoner. This Bohdan was later the most famous Hetman of the Ukraine. The Turks did not take advantage of their victory, nor did they cross the Dniester. The victory of Iskander-Pasha was only intended to be a preliminary to a great campaign against Poland, and Sultan Osman II was himself to lead the army.

At the moment when the Metropolitan, Job Boretsky, was holding council with the Ukrainian nobles and the Cossacks, the Sultan was mustering his forces in Adrianople in order to conquer "Lekhistan" (Poland). To meet this menacing danger, the Seim of Warsaw decided to engage no fewer than 20,000 Cossacks with an annual payment of 100,000 ducats, and the king gave his consent. He even asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophan, when he was on Ukrainian territory, to use his influence with the Cossacks in favor of the war with the Turks. The member representing Volynia in the Warsaw Seim, Lawrence Drevinsky, made a speech in which he said that in the coming war, Poland would be protected by the hands of the Orthodox whose just demands in religious matters the Polish Government would not satisfy. He drew a  p198 vivid picture of all the injustices, abuses and persecutions endured by the Orthodox Ukrainians and White-Russians, and warned the Polish Government against the grave consequences of refusing justice to the Orthodox. Drevinsky was supported by other members from Kiev, Volynia and Brest. Their speeches, however, were met with laughter and merriment, and the King said he would sooner abdicate than see an Orthodox Metropolitan installed in Kiev. The burning question was disposed of by a few formal insignificant decisions which could not satisfy the Orthodox.

In the meantime, the Cossacks, encouraged by former appeals and promises of the Government, started energetic preparations for the war, though recent events had somewhat cooled their enthusiasm. However, the visit of the newly consecrated Metropolitan had its effect. The Cossacks continued to negotiate with the King's emissary about their taking part in the war and promised to take the oath together with their present Hetman, Borodavka, for the period of the war. They also sent a special deputation to the King, including Sahaidachny, the Prince-Bishop Kurtsevich and two others, in order to demand his confirmation of the newly consecrated Metropolitan and the two Bishops. In the meantime, the Cossack fleet sailed into the Black Sea and appeared before Constantinople, attacking the suburbs. The Turkish fleet which protected the capital was not able to prevent them from plundering, and a special fleet under Kapudan Pasha​a was sent in pursuit. A few small boats, having been captured, the prisoners were brought to the Bulgarian coast where the Sultan was at the time with his army, and were tortured to death in revenge.

The Cossack deputation arrived in Warsaw in July, 1621, and was favorably impressed by the reception the King gave them, and his promise to "tranquillize" the religious question. Sahaidachny, satisfied with the results of his mission, left Warsaw directly for the front because the main force of the Cossacks had already set out to help the Polish army which at the end of August  p199 stood before Khotin, the Turkish army with the Sultan at its head being already in Moldavia.

The Polish army numbered about 35,000, and was led by the old general Khodkevich, accompanied by Prince Wladislaus. They faced the Turkish army, which was composed of 150,000 regular troops, not counting the Tatar hordes and various auxiliary detachments. This army threatened the complete annihilation of the Polish army, and the Cossacks were awaited with great impatience. The Cossacks, numbering about 30,000 and led by Sahaidachny, who had again been elected Hetman, arrived in time on the eve of the Turkish advance.

The Turks began by attacking the Cossacks, who were still tired after their march, and had not had time to fortify their encampment. However, they repulsed the Turkish attacks. During the two following days the whole Turkish army twice renewed their attack on the Cossacks but were repeatedly repulsed by the Cossacks, who stood like a rock. On the third day the Cossacks having repulsed a third attack, made an advance and, supported by the Polish army ejected the Turks from their advantageous position, destroyed their artillery and forced their way into the Turkish camp. Had they continued the attack instead of beginning to plunder the camp, they would have utterly defeated the enemy, but as it was, the Turks rallied and expelled the Cossacks from the encampment. One Turkish Pasha and several important personages were taken prisoner by the Cossacks led by Sahaidachny.

For two days both armies were forced to rest. On the third the Turks renewed their attack and again directed it chiefly against the Cossacks. The Tatars succeeded in cutting the lines of communication with the base in the town of Kamenets, which led to shortness of ammunition and provisions. However, both sides were exhausted and suffered heavy losses. After several renewed attempts on the part of the Turks to break up the Cossack and Polish encampment, the Sultan offered to negotiate peace.  p200 Peace was concluded on the 8th October, 1621, on the battlefield near the Turkish fortress Khotin.

One of the important points of the peace treaty was that the Cossacks were prohibited from plundering the Turkish coast on the Black Sea. Directly after the conclusion of peace, the Cossacks set out to return home, having sent a delegation to the king insisting on a favorable settlement of the religious question and demanding the confirmation of all their special liberties, rights and privileges, the promised yearly pay of 100,000 ducats, a special reward for the campaign of Khotin, and satisfaction of the demands of the Orthodox Church.

Prince Wladislaus heaped distinctions on Sahaidachny, their chief deliverer, in recognition of his services to the Polish State. The Cossack Hetman was very ill in consequence of a wound received at the beginning of the Khotin campaign, and returned to Kiev where he died on April 10th, 1622.

The campaign of Khotin was frequently mentioned in contemporary literature. Besides Polish authors, who celebrated it in a series of poems, a Dalmatian poet, Hundulich, in far Dubrovnik, dedicated to it his well-known poem "Osman". But the whole credit for the victory by which the Christian world was once again preserved from a Moslem invasion was in these literary works, attributed to Prince Wladislaus, and the modest personality of the Cossack Hetman remained in the background, though even the official Polish account of the campaign recognized that no other than he with his Zaporogian Cossacks was the real hero of the war.

Worse than all, he did not even receive the satisfaction he most expected, the recognition of the claims of the Orthodox Church, as well as the special demands of the Cossacks. The Polish government deferred the decision until the Seim of 1623.

Sahaidachny did not live to see it. In Easter week of 1622 the whole population of Kiev accorded a very solemn funeral to the Cossack hero. He was buried in the Church of the Kievan Brotherhood (Bratski). We still possess  p201 the funeral oration recited at his tomb by the scholars of the Bratski College of the Kievan Brotherhood and later published, in which were praised the services rendered by the deceased to his country and to the Orthodox Church. During his life-time he was a patron of literature and art, and left by will several thousand ducats to the Brotherhoods of Kiev and Lvov, especially for schools.

Contemporaries who knew Sahaidachny personally, as well as later historians, are unanimous in greatly appreciating his outstanding ability as a military leader and statesman. An interesting description of him is given by Jacob Sobieski, a contemporary author of Memoirs on the Khotin campaign. "Petro Konashevich," he writes, "because of his sharp intellect, his surprisingly ripe judgment, his adroitness in speech as well as in action, was so remarkable a man that with full justice we may point him out to posterity as one of the most remarkable men in Poland . . . . He was a man of great spirit who liked to face danger, who risked his life, being the first to attack in battle and the last to retreat, always active and lively . . . ."

Ukrainian historians rate him very highly, especially for the services rendered by him to his native country. V. Antonovich thinks that "owing to his political flair and tact, Sahaidachny was a most remarkable man for his age, and extremely useful to the national development of the Ukrainian people. He returned to the Ukrainian population the use of their traditional electoral principle in ecclesiastical as well as in secular affairs, a principle very deeply embodied in the instincts of Ukrainians. In doing so, Sahaidachny provided Ukrainians with a method and with strength for their future struggles for national existence". M. Hrushevsky holds Sahaidachny to be a remarkable politician who consciously pursued the aim of obtaining for his people an adequate place in the Polish State. His achievement in reviving the Orthodox hierarchy covered him with undying glory in the eyes of Ukrainians.


Thayer's Note:

a Not a personal name. Kapudan Pasha is the title of the Admiral-in‑chief of the Ottoman Empire; the man was Güzelce Ali Pasha. The translator should have written "the Kapudan Pasha".


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 17 May 22