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Chapter 13

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.
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Chapter 15

 p225  Chapter XIV

 * * * *

(The numbers link directly to the sections.)

(64) Poland on the Eve of Khmelnitsky's Uprising. (65) Causes of the Uprising. (66) Personality of Bohdan Khmelnitsky. (67) Preparation for the Uprising. (68) First Successes. (69) Campaign of 1649 and Treaty of Zboriv.

 * * * *

64. Poland on the Eve of Khmelnitsky's Uprising.

Historians are correct in pointing out the extremely favorable international position of Poland on the eve of the fatal year in its history, 1648, when the Cossack rising under Khmelnitsky broke out. All the neighboring states were weakened and passing through a crisis in some form or other. Germany was prostrate after the Thirty Years' War. Hungary lay stricken under Turkish domination. Sweden also was exhausted by its participation in the Thirty Years' War. Muscovy had not yet recovered from the Interregnum and had lively recollections of the lessons received at Smolensk in 1632. Finally, Turkey was weakened by recurrent dynastic revolutions and that country also remembered its experiences during the campaign of Khotin in 1621. It was believed that the Cossacks were now subdued and were likely to remain so for a long time to come.

Prolonged peace abroad was conducive to rapid economic development within the country. The chief sources of this prosperity were the Ukrainian provinces. In a comparatively short time wide expanses of very fertile land beyond the Dnieper, now almost safe from the Tatars owing to the protection of the Cossacks, were brought under cultivation. These comprised the present province of Chernigov, then newly annexed from Muscovy, which was also rich in forests in its northern part. Hundreds of towns and thousands of villages and homesteads grew up in a short time, exactly in the same way as we have seen occurring previously on the right bank of the Dnieper,  p226 with an agricultural population chiefly engaged in working the vast lands of the magnates and bringing in enormous wealth to their owners. Great quantities of wheat and other cereals; herds of cattle and horses; products of the forest, such as tar, potash, wood, furs, wax, and honey; all these were exported from Danzig and filled the land­owner's pockets with foreign gold and the luxury products of European industry. With all this exploitation of natural wealth and concentration of capital, trade and industry prospered, particularly in towns such as Warsaw, Cracow, Lvov, Kamenets, Vilno and others. As a sign of the growing wealth of the land, we may take the great contemporary building activity in Poland, magnificent churches, cloisters, castles and palaces springing up throughout its provinces. In distant Poltava, amidst the steppe, magnificent Gothic and Renaissance churches and monasteries were built, not to mention the palaces and castles built by great magnates such as Vishnevetsky, Kalinovsky, Potocki and others, on their estates in the Ukraine.

Religious controversies which so lately had disturbed the whole Polish State, and more especially the Ukrainian and White Russian provinces, were laid aside and almost forgotten after the compromise of 1632. On the surface of this attractive picture of peace and prosperity, the golden age of the "szlachta", the freedom of the nobles was expressed in a rich blossoming of political life. Yet, this seemingly so prosperous State, nevertheless harbored hidden germs of disease which were steadily consuming the organism. Attentive foreigners, observing life in Poland, noticed that this great and superficially strong country exhibited, nevertheless, many dangerous symptoms. They saw, for instance, that the boasted freedom of the szlachta, or nobility, which gave Poland the reputation of being one of the freest States in the world, rested on the entire deprivation of rights, and practical enslavement, of all the other classes of the population; that along with the unlimited freedom of the nobles, the burgesses were deprived of all participation in political life,  p227 hampered in their economic development and shut within the walls of the towns. Parliamentarianism was flourishing in Poland, but beside it the executive was powerless to function. The right of the strongest practically prevailed, that is, the strongest among the nobles and great magnates. The royal power was rigidly limited and all decisions were made by the ruling power­ful class of nobles. This class, moreover, was degenerating. The Polish nobles had lost their former chivalrous and fighting spirit; they were corrupted by wealth and had lost their former energy which could now be aroused only to fight for privileges against real or imaginary attacks by the royal power. The Jesuits dominated the field of education and spiritual life as a whole in their numerous schools bringing up the younger generations in the spirit of religious exclusiveness and intolerance. Despite the religious peace declared in 1632, new pressure was brought to bear on the Protestants and Orthodox, and fresh religious struggles were foreseen.

At this time the Polish throne was occupied by King Wladislaus IV, a son of Sigismund of the House of Vasa. He had a very attractive personality, was sincerely attached to his Polish inheritance and was a true Polish patriot, though he could not forget his lost Swedish crown. He was very humane and tolerant though extremely fond of military adventure and war in general. His youth had been spent in a series of military adventures in the Swedish and Muscovian wars. Wladislaus, warlike himself, liked the Cossacks, whom he appreciated for their daring and courage, known to him through his military experience.

This warlike king cherished plans for a campaign against the Turks in coalition with other Christian powers. In these plans he was especially supported by the Government of the Venetian Republic to whom opposition to the Turks was a necessity of existence. The Polish Chancellor, George Ossolinski, was on the King's side in this matter. Knowing that the Polish nobles had no desire for war and that the Seim would never vote financial  p228 credits for an army, King Wladislaus decided to adopt a secret policy, and to provoke the Turks to start a war as if in defence, and face the Seim with a fait accompli. Among the King's confidants a plan was formed in 1646 to use the Cossacks for this purpose. They were to start a naval campaign and provoke the Turks to declare war. A Cossack delegation was invited to Warsaw in the spring of 1646. Among them was a Cossack officer, Bohdan Khmelnitsky, who was soon destined to play a very important part in the history of Eastern Europe. The Cossack delegation held secret meetings with King Wladislaus' confidential men, and Wladislaus himself received them secretly at night and gave them money, a flag and a charter authorizing an increase of the number of registered Cossacks to 12,000 and ordered them to prepare for a naval campaign. The Cossacks were to maintain the strictest secrecy regarding the transactions and plans.

At the same time, King Wladislaus began to raise an army of mercenaries at his own expense, and in the summer of 1646 this army, about 16,000 strong, was stationed near Lvov. But the whole enterprise was brought to naught through the opposition of the Seim. Some of the nobles, having discovered that Chancellor Ossolinski was in the King's confidence, pressed him and he betrayed the secret. The Seim assembled in the autumn of 1646 and demanded the immediate demobilization of the mercenary army. All the plans of Wladislaus were crushed. In the year 1647 he lost his only son, an infant, and this was the final tragedy. Completely broken and dispirited, he submitted to all the demands of the Seim. Thus the war with Turks did not materialize.

This episode of Wladislaus' Turkish plans had also other consequences, in its effect on the Cossacks. Even before this, when opposing the Polish government of the szlachta, the Ukrainian Cossacks had insisted upon their loyalty to the person of the monarch to whom they had taken the oath of allegiance. Now their loyalty to King Wladislaus not only deepened but took on another character. The Cossacks began to consider him their ally  p229 against the nobles. The Cossack officers guarded in great secrecy the charter and flag received from Wladislaus as if it were a pledge of the King's sympathy with them which seemed to give legal sanction to their aspirations. The conspiracy of King Wladislaus with the Cossacks instead of provoking a Turkish war hastened another Cossack uprising against the hated regime introduced into Ukraine by the Polish szlachta.

65. Causes of the Uprising.

The renewed discontent of the Cossacks, increasing in the midst of seeming peace and prosperity, had, besides all the other former deep social and economic causes, its roots in the recent settlement of 1638. The new Cossack officers nominated by the Polish government from the nobles instead of being elected, as was usual, from among the Cossacks themselves, were extremely unpopular. The garrison of the rebuilt fortress in Kodak, composed chiefly of German mercenaries, was hated for its exactions. In the Sich there was stationed a garrison of loyal Registered Cossacks. Not a single Cossack vessel could manoeuvre through into the sea. Those of the Cossacks who were not entered on the rolls had to become serfs if they did not manage to escape over the frontiers. The great land­owners, mostly Poles and Roman Catholics, supported by the Polish administration, seized the lands, meadows, forests and other property belonging to the enslaved Cossacks, or exacted tithes and all kinds of tributes from them. These proceedings spread great dissatisfaction among the Cossacks.

The peasants in this part of Ukraine, though much better off than in other provinces, were especially sensitive even to the smallest encroachments on their personal freedom and private property. The Polish land­owners had brought with them from Poland Jews, who acted as intermediaries and agents on the estates and were much despised and hated. These Jews rented flour mills, breweries, markets, inns, ferries, roads and brings, etc., exacting heavy duties, and exhibiting great ingenuity in  p230 inventing ever‑new methods of squeezing fresh tolls and taxes out of the population. The Polish army stationed in the Ukraine after the recent uprisings of the Cossacks was also a source of endless grievance to the population. An undisciplined soldier is everywhere a scourge even to the population of his own native country, but much more exasperating and inciting to revolt is it when such a soldiery occupies a country where the people are unsympathetic and seething with discontent.

It was long considered by the old Ukrainian historians that religious persecution of the Orthodox Church was one of the chief causes of the Cossack risings. "The Cossacks", it was said, "rose to defend their Faith". This was not quite the case. At that time the Orthodox clergy in Ukraine appreciated very much the concessions, however small, which had been obtained at the accession of King Wladislaus and realized and secured by Peter Mohyla. For that reason they, and particularly those who reckoned high in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, adopted an entirely loyal attitude towards the Polish government, and regarded with disapproval the restless spirit of the Cossacks. The lower Ukrainian clergy, however, being in close contact with the population and having experienced all the iniquities of the arbitrary rule of the Polish szlachta, were certainly in keen sympathy with the Cossack movement. The watchword, "For the Faith" was very popular and was cleverly used from the beginning of the uprising. A demand for further concessions to the Orthodox Church was included in the political programme of the Cossacks.

Dissatisfaction smouldering among the Cossacks, aggravated by the disappointments in the war schemes of the King, could easily be fanned into open rebellion, and every movement of the Cossacks was immediately echoed by the peasants, ever ready to support the Cossacks, whether their leaders wished it or not. That is what now took place.

 p231  66. Personality of Bohdan Khmelnitsky.

It only needed a daring and active leader to organize the rising, and such a leader was found in the person of Bohdan Khmelnitsky. He was the Cossack officer of Chihirin who was included in the Cossack delegation sent to King Wladislaus for the purpose of making secret preparations for the war against the Turks. Among the Cossacks he was well-known, having for some time acted as secretary to the Registered Cossack Headquarters, but generally in Poland he was almost unknown until he appeared as leader of the Cossack rising. Not much is known of his life up to that time. Zenobius Bohdan Khmelnitsky came from the lesser Ukrainian landed gentry, and is believed to have been born in 1595. His father, Michael Khmelnitsky, was deputy-starost of Chihirin and owned a property named Subotiv near that town. The future Cossack Hetman received his education in Jesuit Colleges in Lvov and Yaroslav in Galicia. Together with his father he took part in the disastrous campaign of Zolkievski against the Turks in 1620. Michael Khmelnitsky was killed in the battle of Zezora and Bohdan was taken prisoner. After having escaped from Turkey Bohdan Khmelnitsky served with the Registered Cossacks and in 1637 was their Headquarters Secretary, as already stated. Although he had taken part in the Cossack uprisings of 1637‑38, his loyalty was probably not questioned, because soon after 1638 he was nominated to the military rank of Centurion (sotnyk) in Chihirin and remained at this post for ten years.

He was a wealthy, prosperous Cossack who very success­fully administered his property of Subotiv. He was married to Hanna Somko, sister of the subsequent Hetman, (Joachim) Somko, and had several sons and daughters. At the time of the uprising he was a widower, and a certain unmarried noblewoman called Helena lived in his house. It appears that it was difficult to induce this elderly and settled colonel to embark on a career of adventure. But the state of lawlessness and anarchy maintained  p232 by the Polish szlachta provided an event which forced him into the ranks of the disaffected, caused him to risk his life and become leader of a rising. This was the consequence of a quarrel between Khmelnitsky and the new deputy-starost of Chihirin, a Polish nobleman of the name of Chaplinski. During Khmelnitsky's absence, Chaplinski attacked his house in Subotiv, burned down the mill, carried away his harvest and beehives, flogged his young son to death and carried away Khmelnitsky's mistress, Helena. Violence of this sort was in itself not unusual at that time, when not only secular but clerical persons at the head of armed bands made inroads on their neighbors. But when Khmelnitsky sought justice against his aggressor he failed to obtain it even from the King in Warsaw. Chaplinski, meanwhile, took entire possession of Khmelnitsky's property in Subotiv, on the ground that he had not at the proper time obtained the documents necessary to prove his title to owner­ship. Khmelnitsky's energetic attempts to defend his rights made him suspect in the eyes of the local authorities, until finally he had no choice other than to follow the alleged advice given him by King Wladislaus. According to legend, the King from whom Khmelnitsky had sought justice in Warsaw had told him: "You are a Cossack, you carry a sword at your side and can defend yourself". It cannot be proved whether King Wladislaus actually gave such advice or not, but Khmelnitsky acted as if he had. It is believed that already in Warsaw he had made plans for an uprising of the Cossacks. In any case he was already a suspect in the eyes of the local authorities, was arrested and imprisoned in the Castle of Cherkassy. The Cossack Colonel of Cherkassy, Krichevsky, to whose custody Khmelnitsky was entrusted, and who was godfather to his child, let him escape.

67. Preparation for the Uprising.

Khmelnitsky fled to the Zaporogian Sich accompanied by a group of his adherents. Arrived there at the beginning of 1648, he gathered about him those who were discontented  p233 and called upon them to rise against the misrule of Polish szlachta. Reports allege that he alluded to King Wladislaus' wish to see the Polish szlachta subdued with the help of the Cossacks. At the end of January, 1648, he was master of the Sich, the garrison of Cossacks stationed in the Sich having taken sides with him. Khmelnitsky sent emissaries to the Crimean Tatars asking them for help, which was promised. At a new election the Zaporogian Cossacks proclaimed him their Hetman. The news of Khmelnitsky's flight to the Zaporogian Cossacks alarmed the Polish authorities in Ukraine. The Polish army was stationed between Korsun and Cherkassy and commanded by Field-Marshals Potocki and Kalinovski. Informed of the preparations for a rising, their plan was to attack the Sich in the spring and quell the rising at the outset without giving it time to spread in Ukraine. Though the King was aware of Khmelnitsky's flight, he advised avoiding bloodshed, wishing to settle the difference in a peaceful manner. Potocki adhered to his plan of using armed force and opened the military offensive as soon as spring set in. He despatched one part of the Registered Cossacks and a detachment of German mercenaries down the Dnieper in boats, intending them to meet at Kodak a detachment proceeding by land and led by Potocki's son, Stefan. It was composed of the rest of the Registered Cossacks, numbering about 2,500 men, and 1,500 Polish soldiers. This was the vanguard, and they were to be followed by the main forces stationed in Korsun.

68. First Successes.

Stefan Potocki with his detachment took about a week to reach the rapids. They were approaching the Dnieper when, on the 29th of April, Khmelnitsky attacked him in the narrow valley of Zhovti Vodi (Yellow Waters). Potocki fortified his camp, and defended himself for a fortnight expecting the arrival of the main army, or at least the Registered Cossacks who were sailing down the river. But these, having annihilated the German lancers and killed those of their officers who were Poles, joined  p234 Khmelnitsky. Hearing this, the Registered Cossacks who were in Stefan Potocki's camp, left him and went over to Khmelnitsky. Potocki attempted to retreat with his small detachment of Polish soldiers, but Khmelnitsky fell on him and utterly routed him. Young Potocki was wounded, taken prisoner and died of his wounds.

The main Polish army advanced as far as Chihirin, but hearing of the disaster at Zhovti Vodi began to retreat beyond Cherkassy towards Bila Tserkva. It was overtaken by Khmelnitsky near Korsun. Korsun was completely destroyed. Both Field-Marshals Potocki and Kalinovski were taken prisoner and surrendered to the Tatars. Just about the time of the battle of Korsun King Wladislaus died.

It is impossible to describe the panic that seized Poland when news of the disaster of Korsun and Zhovti Vodi was circulated. The death of the King coming at that precise moment, the loss of the army and of the two field-marshals were disasters enough, but more was in store for the Polish szlachta, in the effect which Khmelnitsky's initial success had on the Ukrainian population. The whole of the Province of Kiev rose as one man. The peasants burned down Polish houses, killed the land­owners, their dependents and the Jews. The uprising spread also to the left bank of the Dnieper in Poltava.

According to the Polish constitution, after the king's death until the election of his successor, power was vested in the hands of the Polish primate, the Archbishop of Gneisenau. On this occasion it remained practically in the hands of the Chancellor, Ossolinski, though according to the constitution he ought to have resigned. He continued to direct affairs of State, taking extraordinary measures for its defence. The Royal Guards were despatched into the field as a last resource, and important credits were voted by the nobles for a new army. Simultaneously diplomatic efforts were made on all sides. Extraordinary Ambassadors were sent out, to Turkey, asking them to keep back the Tatars, to Muscovy asking them to create a diversion against them, and an Ukrainian  p235 noble, Adam Kissil, a popular defender of the Orthodox Church, was sent to Khmelnitsky with instructions to enter into negotiations with him and try to restrain him from further hostilities.

Khmelnitsky in the meantime arrived at Bila Tserkva and remained there without making any further military advance. He had already achieved considerably more than could have been expected. It is thought that a national rising of such dimensions and taking such a terrible form as the entire extermination of the Polish nobles and the Jews had not entered into his plans. On the other hand, the alliance with the Tatars brought its own difficulties and disadvantages. They invaded the whole of the province of Kiev, taking prisoner not only the Polish land­owners but Ukrainians also. This created a very complicated situation for Khmelnitsky. We do not know from direct sources what were Khmelnitsky's plans on the eve of the rising, but it is known that rumors were spread in Poland at the time that the Cossacks intended having an independent State extending as far as Bila Tserkva, and that Khmelnitsky was going to take the title of "Prince of Rus" with Kiev as his capital. This information is valuable to historians as showing that the traditions of the Kievan Princedoms were never entirely lost.

In reality, however, it would seem that Khmelnitsky himself advanced far more modest claims at that time, at least in his official pronouncements. At the time of his first successes he was far from being an enemy of the Polish State; he did not wish its ruin and had no intention of isolating Ukraine. From Bila Tserkva he sent a mission to King Wladislaus ignoring or pretending to ignore his death, and giving his emissaries the following instructions: they were to demand that the rolls of the Registered Cossacks should be raised to 12,000, to claim the pay of the Cossacks for the past five years, demand justice for the Orthodox Church and the return of the churches and monasteries that had been seized from them. These instructions were accompanied by a personal  p236 letter from Khmelnitsky to King Wladislaus in which he complained of the selfish and arbitrary manner of conducting Polish administration and the behavior of the land­owners. He described the Cossack uprising as an act of self-defence to which they had been forced by the prevailing misrule. He assured the King of his faithfulness and loyalty to his person, and alluded to their own common interest in combating the tyranny of the nobles.

In the meantime, Adam Kissil had entered into negotiations with the Cossack Hetman, and his intervention was so far success­ful that Khmelnitsky and the Cossack officers decided to accept the proffered truce, expecting results from their mission to Warsaw. The Tatars returned home to the Crimea taking with them about 20,000 prisoners, most of whom were Ukrainians. At the end of June, 1648, Khmelnitsky retired with his army towards Chihirin.

The Polish szlachta were overjoyed at the news of Khmelnitsky's peaceful attitude, and were able to proceed quietly with the election of a new king. The Seim received the Cossack delegation, promised them an amnesty if they broke off their alliance with the Tatars, returned the prisoners and pacified the peasants. They further promised that a special mission should be sent to them later in order to settle their demands. Thus the Cossack delegation were dismissed. On the other hand, the Seim voted for continuing the military preparations and sending a Commission under Adam Kissil to the Cossacks; for giving them a free hand to promise the enrolment of from ten to twelve thousand Cossacks, and satisfying as far as possible their special demands.

Unfortunately, the Polish and Cossack diplomatic game was hindered by the uncontrollable elemental character of the rising in Ukraine. While the negotiations were going on, the uprising took even more menacing forms, and spread over vaster areas. The peasants burned down the land­owners' manors, plundered their possessions, killing them and their followers, agents, servants and  p237  dependents. The Jews were particularly ill‑treated. As has already been related, the Jews provoked the special hatred of the population on account of their petty, mean annoyances as collectors of all sorts of tolls and taxes, and as dishonest vendors of necessities at exorbitant prices. The Roman Catholic and Uniate clergy also fell victims to the popular wrath. The rebels gathered in bands, each with its own leader.

The uprising began by spreading in the province of Kiev. In the first months not a single Polish soldier, nor land­owner, nor Roman Catholic priest, nor Jew, was left alive between Chihirin in the south to Chornopil​a on the extreme northern limit of the forest district in the north. From Kiev the uprising spread southwards to Podolia. By June, 1648, the towns of Nemiriv, Tulchin, Bratslav, Krasne, Vinnitsa, were already in the hands of the rebels. Thousands of Jews perished as they sought shelter, fleeing from small villages and towns under the protection of the Polish administration. The Jew, Nathan Hannover, eye‑witness and author of contemporary memoirs, has left heart-rending descriptions of what the Jews underwent in this tragic summer of 1648.

Almost simultaneously, an uprising broke out on the left bank of the Dnieper in the provinces of Poltava and Chernigov. By the end of June every place in these provinces was in the hands of rebels. Prince Jeremy Vishnevetsky was shut up with his army of many thousand Polish soldiers in his fortress Lubny, which remained as an island in the raging sea. He was forced to escape and fight his way through to Poland by a round-about route northwards through the provinces of Chernigov, and Sieversk and White Russia. By the end of the summer the entire provinces of Chernigov and Sieversk were swept clear of anything that could recall the Polish szlachta rule. The population themselves undertook the reorganization into regiments according to the Cossack system, and the newly formed regiments were placed at Khmelnitsky's disposal to swell his army.

Jeremy Vishnevetsky's army came down to Volynia,  p238 where the uprising was just beginning to spread. To the cruel actions of the rebels he retaliated with worse cruelties by an organized and disciplined body, until several of the leaders of the rebels, among them the famous Kryvonis, a Scot by origin, united and formed a force sufficiently strong to drive him back into Poland. Vishnevetsky's intervention on his own responsibility and in disregard of the negotiations being held by the Polish government with Khmelnitsky and the Cossacks, forced Khmelnitsky to break off negotiations.

In July Khmelnitsky proceeded to mobilize anew, and recalled the Tatars. In his letter to the Polish government breaking off negotiations he gave as the motive the self-willed actions of Vishnevetsky which had provoked the indignation and exasperation of the Cossacks and of the whole Ukrainian people. Thus a new campaign began.

Strictly speaking, neither the Poles nor the Ukrainians had interrupted their military preparations during the parleys. It is believed that Khmelnitsky had lost no time during the two months that the truce lasted. He had before him the very important task of transforming his motley army composed of various revolutionary elements into a regular well-organized and disciplined body furnished with arms, munitions and food supplies. In this he proved himself to be a real organizing genius. He well knew that the Ukrainians could not expect satisfaction even of their most modest and legitimate demands from the Polish szlachta unless he had at his disposal a military force which if necessary he could throw into the balance to strengthen these demands. The campaign of the following autumn showed that Khmelnitsky had accomplished his task of military organization in a masterly manner.

The Polish government did not lose time either, but the Polish army was not yet ready when Khmelnitsky began to march through Volynia. It was not until September when all the Polish forces had united that the Polish leaders moved to meet the Ukrainian army. The  p239 number of the Polish forces is only vaguely known to have been between forty and one hundred thousand, with one hundred guns. This army was followed by an immense transport. One contemporary Polish author remarked that the Polish nobles "set out to war as if they were going to a wedding, taking endless suits of their best clothes, magnificent tents, heaps of rich plate and masses of rich food supplies". Khmelnitsky had 70,000 of a regular army and several thousand lightly armed volunteers. The two armies met near the village of Pyliava on the frontier of the present province of Volynia and Podolia. After a few days of light skirmishing, Khmelnitsky attacked the Poles with his main force. At the same time, Kryvonis encircled the Polish camp and attacked from the rear. The Poles suffered great losses, especially of cavalry. During the night the rumor spread that the Tatars were coming to help the Cossacks. The Polish camp was seized with panic, and all fled. In the morning the Polish camp was found entirely abandoned, and fell into the hands of the Cossacks. In a few hours the brilliant, seemingly power­ful army had ceased to exist and been transformed into disorderly bands of fugitives. The Cossacks seized 80 guns, and many thousands of transport wagons full of goods of every description. This spoil was estimated to be worth about 10 millions of zloty, at that time a colossal sum. The Tatars indeed appeared, three days later, and took part in the pursuit of the fugitives. The Royal Guards tried to defend the disorderly remnants of the army and stop the pursuit, but they were almost annihilated. The way into the heart of Poland was now open and undefended.

Khmelnitsky decided to transfer his campaign from Volynia into Galicia. At the first news of the Polish disaster at Pyliava, the population of Galicia was ready to join the Cossacks, not only the peasants who thought that the time of their bondage was at an end, but also the Ukrainian nobles and town population, who had been embittered by religious persecutions. In some places revolts of peasants took place similar to those in Ukraine.  p240 The Polish administrators, land­owners and their agents fell victims to armed rebels and were killed in masses. Khmelnitsky, however, did not take sufficient advantage of the sympathies of the Galician population, his campaign in Galicia having merely the character of a demonstration. Probably he was not himself yet clear as to his political plans.

Lvov was the first object of his operations, being a very important place, both politically and economically. Lying at the convergence of the principal trade routes, Lvov played an important part in the economic life of the contemporary Polish State and was very wealthy. The population of Lvov was now very mixed, comprised of Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Armenians, Germans and others. At the end of the Sixteenth century Lvov, with its wealthy and patriotic Ukrainian schools and printing presses, played a very important part in Ukrainian cultural life, and was indeed its centre. But with most of the Ukrainian nobles having gone over to the Roman Catholic Church and also, imperceptibly, to Polish culture, and with the spread and strengthening of the Uniate movement, the importance and influence of the Ukrainian Orthodox burgesses in Lvov had weakened considerably. Economically also, they were much reduced, though still holding an important place in Lvovan trade. The Polish government well understood the importance of Lvov and the danger of losing it. Already by the summer of 1648 Lvov had been partly fortified. After the defeat at Pyliava, the Polish generals, and among them Jeremy Vishnevetsky fled to Lvov and began to gather forces for its defence. On hearing of the approach of the Ukrainian army they abandoned Lvov to its own resources in order to organize the defence of the capital. The Cossacks very soon appeared, followed by the Tatars, and laid siege to the town for about six weeks. Khmelnitsky was not at all eager to take Lvov and deliver it over to his savage allies to be plundered and ruined, its population being more than half Ukrainian. He declared himself satisfied with a contribution of 200,000 zloty in gold, and the value  p241 of half a million zloty in cloth and other goods. He dismissed part of the Tatars, and in October, 1648, started his march northwards in the direction of Warsaw. He halted, however, in Zamostia, accepted an indemnity and entered into negotiation. He had evidently decided to put an end to the war, and centred his attention on the election of the new King, supporting the candidature of one of the brothers of the late King Wladislaus, John Casimir. Poland lay defenceless before him, but he evidently had no intention of pursuing hostilities or severing the political bonds uniting Ukraine and Poland. He seems only to have wished to strengthen the position of the Cossacks by taking the fullest advantage of their military success. It is difficult to say why Khmelnitsky supported the candidature of Prince John Casimir, who was not intelligent, rather than that of his brother Prince Charles. Also he refused to support George Rakoczy, Prince of Transylvania, who approached him in the matter. Stationed with his army in Zamostia, he insisted on supporting John Casimir who was duly elected King. Khmelnitsky then laid before the new King the conditions on which he was prepared to make peace, namely territorial autonomy for the Cossacks, free access to the Black Sea, dependence of their Hetman on the King alone, amnesty for all who had taken part in the rising, and abolition of the Church Union. The King promised to do his best to satisfy the demands of the Cossacks, and promised to send a special mission to settle their affairs on the spot. In return the King asked Khmelnitsky to cease hostilities and return with his army to the Ukraine. Khmelnitsky agreed and began to retreat.

Past historians have been interested in the question as to why at the zenith of his success, Khmelnitsky ceased his advance, and limited himself to such modest demands, leaving all decisions in the hands of the King. No answer to this question has been found other than that Khmelnitsky had not at that time any intention of severing the political bond between the Ukraine and Poland. To this, however, should be added the difficulties of a winter  p242 campaign, especially on Polish territory where the population was certainly hostile to the Cossacks. The true solution probably lies in a combination of these two motives.

This policy was soon radically changed when Khmelnitsky made his solemn entrance into Kiev on Christmas Eve, and was welcomed by the entire population as a "new Moses", the liberator of Ukrainian "from Polish Egyptian bondage", as he was termed in the welcoming speeches of the Orthodox Kievan clergy. He was met at the entrance to the Cathedral of Saint Sophia by the Metropolitan Silvester Kossiv surrounded by all his clergy. Students of the Academy welcomed him in songs and panegyrics. The brilliance of the welcome was enhanced by the presence in Kiev of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who took part in the solemn reception of the Cossack Hetman. Khmelnitsky also found foreign ambassadors waiting for him in Kiev, of Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania, and also emissaries from the Sultan of Turkey. The Ukraine had now become an international factor, and her neighbors were attempting to draw her into their various political combinations. A letter from Oliver Cromwell of this date has been preserved in which the Protector writes to the Hetman congratulating him upon his victories over the "Papists", and calling him "Protector of Christianity against the Papists".

Khmelnitsky's intercourse during this stay in Kiev with members of the Orthodox clergy as well as the most enlightened Ukrainian representatives of the time had a very important influence on his statesman­ship and radically changed his political plans. The best educated of the Ukrainian patriots led him to take a wider view of his historic task, representing to him that he was no longer merely a leader of rebel Cossacks, making the most of his military successes in the narrow interests of the Cossacks as a class, but head of the whole Ukrainian nation with wider duties and more lofty political ideals. They made it clear to him that he must now care for the whole Ukrainian population, and secure to them religious  p243 freedom and national independence. Paisia, Patriarch of Constantinople, who brought diplomatic letters from the Prince of Moldavia, advised Khmelnitsky to take advantage of his military success and power in the interests of all the Orthodox nations in Eastern Europe, and outlined to him a scheme for an alliance of the Orthodox powers, such as Muscovy, Ukraine, Moldavia, and Wallachia, which could then intervene against the Sultan and protect other Christian peoples under Turkish domination.

All that Khmelnitsky gleaned from the confidential conversations with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Ukrainian clergy and patriots of culture and learning, was confirmed by the menacing attitude of the Ukrainian population towards the now abolished regime introduced by the Polish szlachta. Khmelnitsky had promised the King that the peasants who had taken part in the uprising would return to their landlords, and on this understanding had secured an amnesty for them. But the peasants themselves were of a different opinion. They had no intention whatever of returning to their former bondage, considering that by joining the Cossack uprising they had secured freedom for themselves and would again become independent as before. They lacked confidence in the amnesty promised by the Polish nobles, being assured that the landlords were merely awaiting their opportunity to avenge themselves for their losses. Khmelnitsky very soon came to understand that the peace he desired could only be a short truce, as neither Poles nor Ukrainians would remain satisfied with the status quo, and to compromise was almost impossible. The Polish government was not even satisfied with the conditions Khmelnitsky had made in Zamostia, nor were the Ukrainians to be persuaded voluntarily to return to the position they held before the uprising of 1648. Thus war was inevitable, and from Khmelnitsky's efforts during this period we see that he sought diplomatic alliances for the Ukraine in the event of war breaking out anew.

First he tried to disrupt the "eternal peace of Polianov" of 1634, by which Muscovy was bound to Poland.  p244 He sent the Patriarch Paisia to the Tsar of Muscovy accompanied by his own ambassador. In his instructions he encouraged the Muscovian Tsar to occupy the Province of Chernigov-Sieversk which had been surrendered to Poland by the Treaty of Polianov. Further he asked the Tsar to allow the Don Cossacks to help the Ukrainians against Poland. With Rakoczy, Prince of Transylvania, Khmelnitsky made an alliance to co‑operate in military action against Poland to the effect that if the Ukrainians attacked Poland from the East, Rakoczy would occupy Galicia and Cracow. At the same time, Khmelnitsky entered into negotiations with Prince Radziwill, the great Lithuanian magnate, leader of the Lithuanian Protestants and hereditary field marshal of the Lithuanian army. We can thus see no trace of the peaceful disposition Khmelnitsky showed in Zamostia.

It was in these changed circumstances that the Polish Royal Commission arrived in the Ukraine in February, 1649. Most of its members had been chosen from nobles of Ukrainian origin, and at its head was Adam Kissil, who while remaining Orthodox, had the definite reputation of being one of the Ukrainian nobles who wished to remain loyal to the Polish crown.

At their first meeting, Kissil could observe the radical change in the attitude and plans of the Cossack Hetman. Khmelnitsky refused to open negotiations on the old basis, and made clear his intention of proclaiming the independence of the Ukraine and entirely freeing Ukrainians from Polish domination. All Kissil's efforts to come to an understanding on the basis of Khmelnitsky's declaration in Zamostia were without avail. His only achievement was a line of demarcation between the Polish and Ukrainian armies and a truce until the beginning of summer.

69. Campaign of 1649 and Treaty of Zboriv.

Both sides were preparing for a new campaign. In May, King John Casimir gave the order for a general mobilization of the Polish szlachta and the regular troops. Mobilization on the Ukrainian side took place amidst  p245 unprecedented enthusiasm. From all sides came men of different classes, peasants, burgesses, students, and their enthusiasm spread among the remnant of the Ukrainian Orthodox nobles who also came to join the Cossack army. Khmelnitsky again secured the help of the Tatars, who this time were led by the Crimean Khan, Islam Giray himself. The Polish forces were grouped in three armies, one under Jeremy Vishnevetsky massed on the Galician Volynian frontier; the second, under the King himself and composed chiefly of the mobilized szlachta, was on its way to join the first army; the third comprising Lithuanians, was to enter the Ukraine from the north.

At the beginning of July, 1649, Khmelnitsky quickly marched towards the Galician frontier and besieged the first Polish army in its fortified camp at Zbaraz.​b Having left part of his forces there, he started with his main force and the Tatars to intercept the King's army in order not to allow the two Polish armies to meet. A special Ukrainian army with Colonel Krichevsky in command was sent to protect the Ukrainian frontier from the north. Krichevsky met the Lithuanian army in battle near Loyev on the Dnieper on the frontier of Ukraine and White Russia. This battle was lost by the Ukrainians, Krichevsky being slain. The Lithuanian army, however, suffered heavy losses and was forced to retreat and remain passive until the end of the campaign. Thus at the cost of his life Krichevsky and his Cossacks protected the Ukraine from the north.

In the middle of August Khmelnitsky approached the second Polish army near Zboriv and surrounded it. By a sudden movement he surprised part of it crossing the river Stripa, cut it off from the main force and dispersed it. The battle which began the following day turned to the great disadvantage of the Poles, the King and the remainder of his army were in danger of being completely surrounded. But at the most critical moment for the Poles, Chancellor Ossolinsky, who was with the King, succeeded in entering into communication with the Khan, Islam Giray, and having persuaded him with rich gifts  p246 he promised to make peace. It was not to the Khan's interest to have one of the hostile sides completely overpowered, and this explains the readiness with which he allowed himself to be persuaded to betray his allies. Afraid that the Tatars would turn against him, Khmelnitsky was compelled to interrupt the battle, and enter into negotiations also. It was on the battlefield that the Treaty known in history as the Treaty of Zboriv was concluded. Under pressure from the Khan, Khmelnitsky was forced to modify considerably his conditions of peace.

The Treaty of Zboriv of 18th August, 1649, did not correspond with the actual success of the Cossack arms, nor did it satisfy the expectations of the Ukrainian population which had enlisted with such enthusiasm. The following were the chief points of the Treaty of Zboriv. The number of Registered Cossacks was to be raised to 40,000, who were to hold the territory comprising the provinces, Kiev, Chernigov and Bratslav, under the command of their Hetman, and no Polish army was to be stationed there. The Polish administrators of these territories were to be nominated only from among the Orthodox Ukrainian nobles. Jews and Jesuits were to be excluded. The Metropolitan of Kiev was to have a seat in the Polish Senate in Warsaw. A general amnesty as well as a special amnesty for those Ukrainian nobles who had joined the Cossack army was to be proclaimed. All these conditions were to be ratified by the next Seim.

Analyzing these peace terms we must conclude that within the Polish States there was created an autonomous Ukrainian territory within the bounds of the present provinces of Kiev, Chernigov, Poltava, part of Volynia and Podolia. This territory was governed by the Cossack Hetman at the head of the Cossack army. Within the frontiers of this territory, the Orthodox Church enjoyed the same rights as the official Roman Catholic Church. As for the rest, the old social structure was to remain, and the whole mass of the population with the exception of the 40,000 Registered Cossacks was to return to a condition of serfdom and work for the landlords. Royal administration  p247 was restored as before, and the land­owners returned to their estates. This state of affairs threatened such an outburst of popular indignation that the Hetman was obliged to keep secret the conditions of peace, and to ask the Polish side in their own interests to delay the restoration of the old regime as long as possible. Nevertheless the disappointment and discontent with Khmelnitsky was becoming great, and the Tatars added to it, when on returning home they could not refrain from plundering and attacking prisoners among the Ukrainian population.

It is quite clear that this situation could not satisfy the leaders of Ukrainian policy with Hetman Khmelnitsky at their head, and it is not surprising that he considered the Treaty of Zboriv to be provisional only, and was actually building up a new State organization on the territory of the Cossack Ukraine without troubling himself about the formal conditions of the Treaty of Zboriv. He acted as if he were the monarch of a Sovereign State and entered into wide international diplomatic relations in order to strengthen his position.

From his capital, Chihirin, he conducted diplomatic relations with Muscovy, Turkey, Transylvania, and at the same time completed the organization of the Cossack territory. The country was divided into separate districts. The regiments were divided into hundreds (sotni) in which the sotnik (centurion) performed analogous functions in his district as the colonel in his. There were at first sixteen regiments, nine of the right bank of the Dnieper and seven on the left.

Later their number was increased. All staff officers, secretary, head of military transport, as well as the officers of the regiments and of the hundreds had military rank, and at the same time carried out administrative and judicial functions. The country became a military State and its name of Zaporogian Army ("Viysko Zaporozke") was for a long time the official name of the Ukrainian Cossack State.


Thayer's Notes:

a Now famous in another connection as Chernobyl (modern Ukrainian: Chornobyl).

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b In Ternopil oblast, properly Zbarazh (Polish: Zbaraż). There is a much smaller place by the same name in Vinnytsia oblast.


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