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Chapter 19

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!

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Chapter 21

 p373  Chapter XX

 * * * *

(The numbers link directly to the sections.)

(120) Role of the Ukraine in the Great Northern War. (121) Occupation of the Ukraine of the Right Bank by Mazepa. (122) Imprisonment of Paliy. (123) Alliance with Sweden. (124) Campaign of Charles XII in Ukraine. (125) Baturin and Poltava and Muscovite Terror. (126) Mazepa's Death in Exile. (127) Hetman Philip Orlik and His Constitution. (128) Orlik's Campaign in the Ukraine of the Right Bank. (129) Tsar Peter's Campaign of Pruth. (130) Orlik's Activities in Exile.

 * * * *

120. Role of the Ukraine in the Great Northern War.

Ukraine was compelled to take an active part in the Great Northern War and suffered heavy losses, though Tsar Peter's aim in opening hostilities was very remote and of no importance for Ukraine. The chief object of the war was to give Muscovy access to the Baltic shore which belonged to Sweden. In the background was the rivalry of two monarchs, Charles XII of Sweden and Peter I of Russia, for the supremacy in the North. Tsar Peter made an alliance with August, Elector of Saxony, who recently had been elected to the Polish throne. August wished to recover for Poland Livonia, surrendered to Sweden by King John Casimir in 1660. He was to enter the war as Elector of Saxony but promised Peter to draw Poland into the war also. The king of Denmark, who claimed the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein, now under the Swedish protectorate, also joined the coalition against Sweden. The allies had no common plan of action and, as it turned out, were ill prepared for the war. They counted on Sweden being even less prepared because the new Swedish King Charles XII was a very young man. They chiefly relied on taking Sweden by surprise. The Danish king and August of Saxony opened hostilities simultaneously. The Danes occupied Schleswig-Holstein and August besieged Riga. But king Charles XII had a greater surprise in store when he landed unexpectedly near Copenhagen, which was quite unprepared for defence  p374 and thus compelled the Danish king to make a hasty peace and withdraw from the coalition. The Danish campaign was terminated in a few weeks. Tsar Peter was only waiting for news of the conclusion of peace with the Sultan in order to attack Sweden. He at once declared war on Charles XII; the day of his declaration, the 19th of August, 1700 being two days after Denmark's withdrawal from the coalition. Tsar Peter besieged the Swedish fortress Narva, near the Southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. He was accompanied by about 40,000 men but his army consisted mostly of imperfectly trained recruits commanded by foreigners, Peter having no confidence in his own officers. The siege of Narva was progressing very slowly when, unexpectedly, King Charles XII landed with only 8,000 men and, by a daring stroke, defeated the whole Muscovite army on the 20th of October, 1700. The defeat was overwhelming: all the Generals and officers, afraid of their own men, preferred to be taken prisoner. There were thousands of prisoners and the whole Muscovite transport, treasury and artillery fell into the hands of the Swedes. Charles XII decided that his second rival was sufficiently disabled and now turned his forces against the third member of the coalition, August of Saxony.

But Charles XII was mistaken about Tsar Peter; the humiliating defeat of Narva not only did not discourage Peter but roused in him fresh energy and an unshaken determination to continue the war. He at once began preparations for a renewal of the struggle. Though, according to renewed treaties with the Ukrainian Hetman, the Muscovite Tsars had no right to send Ukrainian Cossacks against an enemy which did not directly threaten Ukrainian territory or their interests, Tsar Peter at once drew Ukrainian forces also into this war. Advancing to Narva he ordered 12,000 Cossacks to join him there under the command of Colonel Obidovsky. The Ukrainians had hardly had time to reach Pskov, on their way to Narva, when the Muscovite army was lost. The Cossacks suffered very much from cold and insufficient supplies:  p375  thousands of them perished in this campaign or returned home invalids. After the defeat at Narva, Tsar Peter ordered another Ukrainian corps of 7,000 Cossacks to mobilize. In the meantime Charles XII defeated August in Livonia and transferred the theatre of war to Lithuania. Tsar Peter confirmed his alliance with August promising him further help: thus Poland also was drawn into war. The Polish government claimed from Peter as compensation, the rest of Ukraine of the Right Bank of the Dnieper, which still was in Muscovite hands. This news alarmed Hetman Mazepa and he protested against any compensate to Poland at the cost of Ukrainian territory.

However, he soon received an order to join the Polish allies of the Tsar in White Russia. Further, a corps of the Ukrainian army was to be sent, under Colonel Apostol, to Livonia to help the Muscovite forces engaged there. They defeated the Swedish General Schlippenbach in Livonia and the Ukrainians captured considerable spoils which, however, the Muscovite commanders took from them. On the whole, the Cossacks had much to complain of in their treatment by the Muscovite authorities, the bad organization of the food and munition supplies, the arrears in their pay and the general mismanagement in the Muscovite organization. The Ukrainians, compelled to take part in a hard war in which they had no interest, in circumstances to which they were not at all accustomed — in a northern and uncongenial climate — were not only poorly rewarded, but had to put up with Muscovite discourtesy and outrages. Ukrainian commerce with the Baltic was interrupted in consequence of this war. Ukrainian merchants were suffering heavy losses, and the economic situation was rendered very unstable. All this contributed to make the war extremely unpopular in Ukraine: from all sides came expressions of dissatisfaction and complaints.

 p376  121. Occupation of the Ukraine of the Right Bank by Mazepa.

Tsar Peter, however, continually demanded further sacrifices from the Ukraine. When Charles XII utterly defeated August and, in 1702, took Warsaw and Cracow, many Poles now sided with him. Charles put forward his candidate to the Polish crown, the voevod of Poznan, Stanislaus Leszczynski. Poland was split into two parties: one for August of Saxony and Muscovy, the other for Stanislaus Leszczynski and Sweden. The fighting frontline which the Ukrainian forces had to enter, now stretched along the whole Ukrainian-Polish frontier and across White Russia. In order to support the partisans of August in Poland, Mazepa was compelled to send a corps of Cossacks led by Colonel Miklashevsky. With the main Ukrainian forces he, himself, crossed the Dnieper and occupied the Right Bank hoping to remain there and definitely reunite the two sundered parts of Ukraine.

The situation of the Right Bank was at that time very complicated. According to the Treaty of Bakhchisaray of 1691, with the Sultan, and that of 1688 with Poland, the greatest part of the Ukraine of the Right Bank, as we already know, remained with Poland. Kiev with its immediate environs passed to Muscovy, and Kamianets with part of Podolia, was in Turkish possession. The Polish government, however, was bound by the Treaty to leave uninhabited a considerable stretch of land along the Dnieper, beginning a little below Kiev and extending as far as Chihirin. This stretch of land was to remain desert and form a sort of neutral belt between the Cossack State on the Left Bank and the part of the Ukraine under Poland. As a matter of fact, the whole of the Ukraine of the Right Bank returned to Poland in a state of almost complete desert: towns and villages lay in ruins; the population had been exterminated or had fled and was hiding in inaccessible places. At first the Polish government endeavored to repopulate Podolia but made slow progress. Only after King John  p377 Sobieski, having seen that something must be done to protect this frontier from the Tatars, and having decided to renew the Cossack organization, did the repopulation begin to advance rapidly. In 1684 he made it known by a manifesto that former Cossack towns such as Chihirin, Korsun, Lisianka, Uman and others, were to be rebuilt according to Cossack system. The Seim in Warsaw formally renewed the Cossack organizations with Hetman Mohylenko at their head in 1685. The repopulation then went steadily ahead. Mohylenko's appeal brought back refugees and new settlers from everywhere, though chiefly from the Ukraine of the Left Bank, from Volynia, Galicia and Moldavia. All were attracted by promise of freedom and free possession of land, the fertile rich black soil again lying unoccupied, ready for anyone who wished to work on it. As if out of the earth, Cossack Hundreds and Regiments appeared. Every man among the new colonists wished to be entered on the Cossack rolls and was ready to handle the sword as well as the plough. After Mohylenko's death King John Sobieski nominated Samus Colonel of Fastiv, a well educated man, considerably advanced in years. From the first he made far‑reaching plans for reuniting the two parts of the Ukraine. Indeed, every Ukrainian leader had at that time the same dreams. First of all he began an active repopulation of his district of Fastiv, about 60 kilometers from Kiev, almost on the frontier of the Ukraine of the Hetmans. He ruled his regiment of Fastiv with an almost independent authority. In the beginning, however, he avoided conflicts with the Polish government. He took a very active part in the struggle against the Turks and the Tatars and in his campaign penetrated as far as the shores of the Black Sea. Through his success­ful campaign he acquired for himself great military renown. Even more success­ful was another colonel, Paliy, whose family had lived in the Chernigov area. Paliy was, however, bound to have trouble with the Polish authorities. In proportion as the repopulation of the deserted places advanced, children and grand-children of former  p378 land­owners began to put forward their claims. Out of chests and cupboards came charters and documents proving that the lands on which colonization was rapidly advancing had, some forty or fifty years ago, belonged to their ancestors. Paliy would not recognize the rights of former owners and would not allow them to take possession of the lands. He even disregarded the rights of noble land­owners who returned to the neighboring districts by quartering his Cossacks on them. These proceedings of Paliy roused discontent and complaints against him.

122. Imprisonment of Paliy.

Paliy was now well embarked upon his plan of uniting the two parts of Ukraine. As early as 1688 he made, through Hetman Mazepa, a proposal that the Muscovite government should take his district and regiment of Fastiv under its protection. But the Muscovite government, having just concluded "eternal" peace with Poland, had no wish to disturb their relations with Poland and declined Paliy's proposal. Rumors about Paliy's clandestine relations with Muscovy reached the Polish authorities who promptly arrested and imprisoned him. He escaped however, rejoined his Cossacks, expelled the Polish garrison from Fastiv and continued to maintain himself there as an independent ruler. He continued his relations with Mazepa and often rose in arms against the Polish authorities and repulsed their attacks on him.

But the Polish government having concluded peace with the Sultan in 1699, the Turks surrendered Podolia with Kamianets and definitely renounced their claims to the Ukraine. The Polish government had thus no further need of the Cossacks. The Seim in Warsaw voted in the same year to dissolve the Cossack organizations in Poland and the government ordered the Cossack Hetman and all the Colonels to disband their units and to surrender towns and fortresses to the Polish authorities.

The Cossacks would not hear of this. In 1700 the Polish government sent out a corps of 4,000 against Paliy  p379 who, however, defeated and dispersed them. This was an open breach with the Polish government. The latter, however, was occupied with the Swedish war. In order to subdue the Cossacks, a mobilization of the Szlachta was ordered in the three provinces of Volynia, Kiev and Podolia. Hetman Samus on his side, sent an Universal to the whole population, inviting them to join the Cossacks in the war against Poland, and telling them falsely that he had already sworn that they should all obey Hetman Mazepa. Bila Tserkva, being the chief fortified place of the Polish government in the Ukraine, Samus and Paliy laid siege to it, after having at Berdichev defeated the Polish army sent to the relief of Bila Tserkva. After a seven weeks' siege the Cossacks took the fortress of Bila Tserkva, seizing 28 guns and large supplies of munitions. Hetman Samus now laid siege to another important fortified town, the fortress of Nemirov, in Podolia, and took it also. The whole country then rose in arms as one man, as at the time of Bohdan Khmelnitsky.

Mazepa closely followed these events. He warmly advised Tsar Peter to take the Right Bank of the Dnieper under his protection at least as far as Bila Tserkva, including the area ruled by Paliy. But Peter would not hear of it, wishing to maintain his good relations with Poland. He not only left Paliy to his own devices but advised him to stop the uprising and submit.

The popular movement, left to its own efforts, was quelled by the Polish government and partly subdued. The Cossacks offered a stubborn resistance. The Polish army, after a long siege and heavy losses, took Nemirov and laid siege to Ladizhin, another important fortress held by the Cossack Colonel Abasin. After a heroic defence Ladizhin was taken; on each side about 10,000 men perished. The strength of the insurgents was broken and the Polish government started a cruel persecution; thousands of rebels met their death and others were mutilated by way of punishment by cutting off the left ear. Paliy alone held out in his fortress of Bila Tserkva. Mazepa would gladly have given him a helping hand but  p380 he wished to avoid conflict with Peter. The defeated Cossacks who succeeded in escaping from the Poles, fled to the Left Bank of the Dnieper. Hetman Samus took refuge with Mazepa and surrendered to him his Hetman's insignia.

In these circumstances Mazepa suddenly received an order from the Tsar to cross the Dnieper and advance into Poland to bring help to King August's party against that of Stanislaus Leszczynski. Mazepa occupied the province of Kiev and Volynia. He sent in advance 17,000 Cossacks under Colonels Apostol of Starodub and Myrovich of Pereyaslav to join August's Saxon troops and operate against the Swedish forces in Poznan.

Charles XII, however, defeated August and forced him to leave Poland. The Swedish troops, having taken Lvov, retained Volynia and Kiev. When Charles XII was pursuing August into Saxony, a Ukrainian army of 40,000 entered Galicia in 1705 and occupied Lvov. Charles XII's further victories again changed the situation, the majority of the Polish nobles now accepted Stanislaus Leszczynski, the Swedish candidate. Tsar Peter tried to stop the advance of the Swedes into Lithuania and again made use of Ukrainian troops, having Mazepa with 14,000 Cossacks to help him in Minsk, where the Ukrainians had very heavy losses. Charles XII, having inflicted several serious defeats on the Muscovites, and the Ukrainians in Lithuania and White Russia, made a forced march into Saxony and occupied it as far as Leipzig. August was compelled to sue for peace: he renounced the Polish crown in favor of Stanislaus Leszczynski and broke the alliance with Muscovy. Charles XII was now able to turn all his forces against his last enemy, the Muscovite Tsar.

In autumn, 1707, Charles XII left Saxony in an eastern direction. He was, however, obliged now to reconquer Poland, held by Muscovite and Ukrainian troops. No one knew what direction he would take, whether he would advance through Poland into the Ukraine, or  p381  traverse Lithuania and go directly to Moscow. Tsar Peter wished Mazepa to concentrate his troops, mobilize in full his resources and hastily fortify Kiev.

123. Alliance with Sweden.

For seven long years the Ukraine had borne the burden of the Swedish war and made immense sacrifices for it. Thousands of Cossacks had lost their lives in far distant countries in Finland, Livonia, Lithuania, Poland and Saxony, for a cause which was not their own and very remote from their national interests, and Tsar Peter was constantly demanding continual fresh effort and sacrifice. The country was exhausted both mostly militarily and materially. Foreign trade was at a standstill, corn and various other food supplies were continually and endlessly being exported for the needs of the armies. Masses of the agricultural population were taken from their work and forced to build fortification. The population groaned under the burden and serious discontent was growing among the Cossacks as well as the peasants. The questions "How long?" and "For what end?" were constantly raised among the leading circles of the Cossack officers. Not only were the minds of the Ukrainian leaders occupied with the burden of the alien war, but the uncertain political outlook compelled them to think of the future fate of their country. It was clear to them that Tsar Peter considered the Ukraine only an instrument for carrying out his personal ambitions which he was recklessly pursuing and which had nothing to do with the interest of the Ukraine. Mazepa expressing the wish of every Ukrainian patriot, desired to retain the Right Bank of the Dnieper. Tsar Peter was ready to give it away to Poland solely in order to retain that country as his ally against Charles XII. There were rumors that he had offered the Ukraine to the Duke of Marlborough, who would thus become his vassal and help him to take a few miles of Baltic coast from Sweden. The Ukrainian government had reason to think that if Charles advanced directly into the Ukraine, Tsar Peter would leave the  p382 Ukraine to her own devices and only defend Moscow. All this uncertainty greatly alarmed the Ukrainian government and compelled it to consider seriously the situation thus created. Hetman Mazepa and the leading Cossack officers, members of the Ukrainian government, in their endeavors to protect their country from reckless and unscrupulous exploitation by the Tsar, were led to seek political alliances other than the Muscovite protectorate. They found the political moment very opportune for a renewal of Bohdan Khmelnitsky's tradition of an alliance with Sweden.

We know how Bohdan Khmelnitsky had tried to rely on a Swedish alliance in his struggle against Poland. He had at that time concluded a close alliance with the Swedish king, Charles X, grandfather of Charles XII, who also was an enemy of Poland. Sweden, on the whole, was a very advantageous ally for the Ukraine, having no common frontiers and there being no litigious questions between them. Indeed, under the circumstances, Sweden seemed by far the best ally the Ukraine could find. After Bohdan Khmelnitsky, Vyhovsky tried to renew relations with Sweden and after him Hetman Doroshenko followed the precedent of seeking a Swedish alliance. Home affairs in Sweden were at that time not favorable to the renewal of war with Poland. Now, at the opening of the Eighteenth century, Sweden appeared once more on the political horizon of Ukraine at a very critical moment when the Ukrainian Hetman and the Cossack officers were faced with the question of the Ukraine's future fate. The circumstances were such that the Ukraine's future would be jeopardized by the victory of either side. In case of Charles XII's victory, the Ukraine would be the spoil of Sweden's ally, Stanislaus Leszczynski. In case of Tsar Peter's victory, Ukrainian independence would be greatly menaced by his further encroachments on Ukrainian life, exhausting her resources to further his political ambitions. Several years of this war had given sufficient proof of his attitude. Tsar Peter had no intention of defending the Ukraine for its  p383 own sake against Sweden or Poland, he merely used her military and economic resources for his own ends and was ready, if pressed, to abandon the Ukraine to her fate in order to serve his major interest, which obviously lay on the shores of the Baltic and not on the Dnieper and the Black Sea.

In these circumstances the Ukrainian Hetman and the Cossack Officers decided, early in the Swedish war, to take an independent course of action, though they had not as yet a definite plan. But as the Ukraine was compelled to make continually greater and greater sacrifices for this war so unpopular in the Ukraine, the dissatisfaction of the population proportionately grew. Mazepa received from all quarters complaints and protests regarding the insults and offences to which the Cossacks were exposed in the Muscovite army, of misrule and mismanagement. The civil population of the Ukraine was suffering even more under the burden of the war: constant mobilizations for the far‑away fronts, compulsory transport service and hard work for building fortifications at home, endless re­quisitions of food supplies, ruin of the foreign trade. All these sacrifices, unnecessary from the Ukrainian point of view, ruined the country every year more and more and shook the very foundation of the well-being of the population. It is only natural that in all these losses and privations the population blamed their own government, the Hetman and the Cossack officers. When, late in 1706, Colonels Apostol and Horlenko are known to have addressed the aged Hetman Mazepa in the words: "We all pray for Bohdan Khmelnitsky's soul for having delivered Ukraine from Polish domination, whereas our children will curse your soul and bones if you leave the Cossacks in such bondage", they certainly echoed the feelings and thoughts of all the Ukraine. Subsequent Russian historians are prone to represent the policy of the Ukrainian Hetman, as inspired by personal ambitions. Historical facts, however, all point to the conclusion that Mazepa's breach with Muscovy and alliance with Charles XII of  p384 Sweden, was not primarily his personal doing but an action for which the whole Ukrainian government and all the leaders of Ukrainian policy among the Cossack officers were responsible, and that it was dictated by the evident political interest of their country.

The history of the beginning of Mazepa's relations with Charles XII is to this day shrouded in mystery. All we know about them comes from testimonies and memoirs of contemporaries written post factum, and with evident bias. Some of them were written with a definite political purpose. As far as it is possible to judge from different contemporary indications and later documents, Mazepa's relations with Tsar Peter's enemies began in 1705, when he was in Poland at the head of the Ukrainian army. The initiative came from Polish partisans of Charles XII who supported the candidature of Stanislaus Leszczynski to the Polish crown. There are indications that Stanislaus Leszczynski sent his emissary to Hetman Mazepa in the autumn of 1705. It is to be conjectured that in starting secret relations with Stanislaus Leszczynski, Mazepa had as yet no definite plans, until the Cossack Officers, not even knowing perhaps that he was in contact with the Tsar's enemies, pressed him to break with Muscovy. All his nearest colleagues, members of the Ukrainian government, insisted upon his taking advantage of the strained position of Muscovy to further Ukrainian interests by means of an alliance with Sweden and maintain the tradition left by Bohdan Khmelnitsky. It was only after their insistence, prayers, and persuasions that Mazepa decided to take decisive steps. He then took the whole affair into his hands and shouldered the whole responsibility.

We are here approaching a moment of singular importance in Ukrainian history which by Russian historians, has usually been associated exclusively but quite wrongly, with the name of Hetman Mazepa. We have abundance of historical evidence to the contrary and know for certain that Mazepa was not acting single-handed. Moreover, Russian historians view this episode  p385  in the light of Muscovite State interest, terming it Mazepa's "treason". We are here concerned with the facts which prove that Mazepa and the Ukrainian government had at heart the interests of their country and were driven to action by Tsar Peter's reckless policy which was directed against the interests of the Ukraine. Very few moments in Ukrainian history were so extremely significant for the future of the Ukraine though, of course, Mazepa and his collaborators could not have foreseen the tragic and fatal consequences. We can safely say that the whole course of Ukrainian history, especially Ukrainian-Russian relations was for more than two centuries affected by the step taken by Mazepa and the Ukrainian government at this moment. Suffice it to remember that even in our time, at the beginning of the Twentieth century the Ukrainian national movement was dubbed "Mazepism" by its enemies and Ukrainian patriots were called "Mazepists". On the name of Hetman Mazepa was heaped as much hate and malevolence by one side as there was of romantic idealization by the other. Both influenced historical research to such an extent that almost until the end of the Nineteenth century there did not exist a single fairly unprejudiced historical work which impartially reviewed the life and political activity of the famous Hetman. To this must be added that until the end of the Nineteenth century it was quite unsafe to write impartially in Russia about Mazepa without rendering oneself suspected of disloyalty or even being accused of high treason. It is only in quite recent times, and especially after the perusal of new documents found in foreign archives, which throw much new light on the question that this portentous moment of Ukrainian history connected with the name and personality of Mazepa appears in quite a different light from that in which Russian historians represented it. First of all, it was made clear that breaking with Muscovy and going over to Sweden was far from being an individual act on the part of the Hetman inspired by personal ambitious motives, as Russian historians constantly repeat.  p386 Rather it was dictated by the deliberate policy of the whole group of high Cossack Officers led by Hetman Mazepa, as Head of the Ukrainian State, who acted in the real interest of their country, whose position was endangered by the reckless policy of Tsar Peter, indifferent to the wellbeing of Ukraine. It was in the eyes of the Ukrainian government, also, the logical and inevitable solution of a situation created by the war and Peter's policy. Moreover, this solution of a Swedish alliance was in conformity with Ukrainian historical tradition supported by several precedents. Thus Mazepa's alliance with Sweden in 1708 was nothing novel in Ukrainian history.

What were Mazepa's motives in thus warmly espousing this policy? Even if we did not know them from his own words, it would hardly be possible to conclude, as Russian historians do, that he was led by personal ambitious motives. Mazepa was above seventy years old at that time; he was a widower and had no children. For twenty years he had been Ukrainian Hetman under the protectorate of the Muscovite Tsars and enjoyed their esteem and confidence. He held besides the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. In order to take such an important step leading into the unknown, a man at his time of life and in his circumstances at the height of his power and honor, must have been led by motives other than the desire for power and distinctions.

Mazepa himself has disclosed to us the motives of his action in several declarations which, directly or indirectly, have come down to us. For example, the General Secretary of Cossack Headquarters at that time, Philip Orlik who, acting as the Chancellor of the Ukrainian government was, of course, familiar with its negotiations, tells us in several written testimonies that in the autumn of 1707, Hetman Mazepa made a solemn declaration which Orlik noted down. The Hetman said: "I call the Almighty God to witness and swear that it is not for high honors or riches or any other object, but for the sake of  p387 all of you who are under my rule, for the sake of your wives and your children, for the good of our Mother Ukraine and in the interests of the whole Ukrainian people and to secure their rights and liberties, that with the help of God I wish to act in order that you with your wives and our country should not perish from Muscovites or Sweden. Should I act from any other personal motives, may God and the Holy Trinity and the Passion of our Saviour punish me, soul and body". It is hard to believe that a septuagenarian who, during his life had always been an exceptionally fervent Christian, should forswear himself in such an abandoned fashion at its close.

From the very beginning of Mazepa's rule his countrymen sent denunciations and engaged in intrigues. Such intrigues were a sad heritage left to Ukrainian society by the period of the "Ruin" and general demoralization. In Moscow they were accustomed to these denunciations, knowing that they had no serious grounds. Tsar Peter usually directed such invectives with the names of their authors back into the Hetman's own hands. But in 1708 a very serious denunciation against Mazepa was sent to the Tsar by two people, both holding high positions in Ukrainian ruling spheres. One of the denunciators was Basil Kochubey, General Judge, the other, Colonel Iskra of the Poltava Regiment. Kochubey had once been Mazepa's close friend, but in 1704 they quarreled, owing to a love affair of the aged Hetman with Kochubey's daughter Motria. Kochubey, and especially his wife, would not hear of the marriage because Mazepa was god‑father to the girl. This love affair, which later furnished much material for poets and playwrights, ended in a quarrel between Kochubey and the Hetman. Kochubey, it is true, himself made peace, and being a member of the government, that is of the Cossack Headquarters, was initiated into the political plans concerning the Swedish alliance. His revengeful wife persuaded Kochubey to denounce Mazepa to the Tsar and thus bring about his downfall. They drew into their secret plan Iskra,  p388 Colonel of Poltava. But in Moscow they were so much accustomed to receiving denunciations sent through personal spite that in this case also they saw in it nothing more than the settlement of a family feud. Kochubey and Iskra had to appear in Moscow for examination. Tsar Peter ordered his Ministers to conduct the inquiry and to "question" them, that is, torture them in order to obtain confessions. Both Kochubey and Iskra were old men and could not endure the "question": they confessed to having written their denunciation of Mazepa out of spite, and the execution was to be held in Ukraine. Both men were brought to Kiev and, in the summer of 1708, beheaded in the Cossack camp near Kiev. At the time the two miserable informers met their fate, the Ukrainian-Swedish alliance was an accomplished fact and Charles XII was advancing into Muscovy.

124. Campaign of Charles XII in Ukraine.

Charles XII's campaign in the Ukraine is one of the most striking instances in history of a disastrous end to a great undertaking which, according to all the circumstances, promised to be a great success. For this reason alone the catastrophe which terminated this campaign impressed all imaginations. There exist an enormous number of books and historical works devoted to the history of this tragic campaign. Until recent times, a more or less unanimous opinion prevailed about the unhappy hero of the campaign, Charles XII: he was considered to be an extremely daring and gallant warrior but devoid of strategic talent. His conduct during this campaign was considered to be a striking instance of adventurous strategy resulting in the loss of the best army in Europe and inflicting on Sweden incurable wounds.

In the last ten years, however, this opinion has been altered. A number of historians, mostly Swedish, have re‑examined Charles XII's campaign in the Ukraine in the light of new documents. Examination of the campaign from a purely professional military point of view,  p389 has resulted in a partial rehabilitation of the Swedish king. It was shown that the catastrophe in the Ukraine was not caused by defective strategy, which was good, but by a fatal conjunction of circumstances against which the greatest military genius was powerless.

The peace of Altranstädt (1706) put Charles XII on the pinnacle of fame and power. His stubborn enemy, August of Saxony, was crushed and renounced the Polish crown which was given to Stanislaus Leszczynski. The international prestige of Charles XII stood very high. Prussia and Denmark did not dare to move; Austria, France, England and Holland were on his side; and French diplomacy gave him active support. The Sultan was ready to join him as soon as he was victorious over Muscovy. Sweden was well protected. Charles XII had at his disposal a first class army of 110,000 men, an enormous contingent for that time and was able to direct all these troops against Muscovy. The main force under the King himself, was to deal the Tsar the decisive blow.

Late in the summer of 1707 Charles left Saxony and success­fully fought his way through Poland which, during his campaign in Saxony had been occupied by Muscovite and Ukrainian troops. He had two possible routes for the advance on Moscow: a southern one, across Volynia to the Ukraine of the Hetmans and thence, fortified by Mazepa's Cossacks, northward to Moscow; or the direct way to Moscow across Lithuania. Charles chose this latter because it enabled him to keep in contact with the Swedish provinces along the Eastern shores of the Baltic for his supplies. In six months the Swedish army covered over five hundred miles and early in March 1708 reached Smorgon, a small place to the South-East of Vilna. The Muscovite army was encamped along the river Vilia. Charles, very skilfully, turned their right flank and the Muscovites were compelled to retreat before him. The Swedish army fought for a line along the river Nieman and occupied it. The retreating Muscovite army destroyed everything as they went, leaving devastation behind  p390 them. Departing from Smorgon, Charles XII took the direction of Minsk. From here he summoned his general, Lewenhaupt, who was stationed with 12,000 men in Courland, to come to his help with all possible artillery, munitions and food supplies. Charles XII himself had 38,000 men with him. It was expected that he would now advance direct to Smolensk and then to Moscow. After having defeated the Muscovites near Golovchin, Charles arrived at the river Dnieper and occupied Mohilev. Here he lay waiting for Lewenhaupt for about a month, but had to leave without him. He was prevented from continuing his way directly to Moscow because the Muscovite army had devastated the country along the road to Moscow, and as he wished to save his troops, he refrained from attacking the Muscovite army, who were strongly entrenched. About a hundred kilometers beyond Smolensk Charles turned rapidly to the south towards the Ukraine. As Swedish modern historians now prove, Charles had not at that time any intention of penetrating far into the Ukraine but intended merely to turn the right flank of the Muscovite army and, passing across Northern Ukraine the province of Sieversk, reach the road Briansk-Kaluga leading directly to Moscow. By forced marches he intended to outstrip the Tsar's army and occupy the province of Sieversk in order to assure for himself its rich supplies and then continue to Moscow.

But all his plans were ruined in consequence of the failure of two of his generals to achieve their tasks: firstly Lewenhaupt, advancing too slowly, allowed himself to be surrounded by Muscovite forces superior in numbers and was defeated near Lisne in White Russia. All his artillery and his entire transport fell into the hands of the enemy; Lewenhaupt himself, with only half of his army, about 6,000, fought his way through the hostile force and joined the main Swedish army of Charles. Tsar Peter was right in later calling the victory of Lisne "Mother of the Poltava victory". The moral significance of this victory was even greater than its purely military  p391 advantage, because it was the first time that Muscovite troops had defeated an important Swedish force in a pitched battle.

On the other side, Charles' general Lagencrona, whom he sent in advance to the chief strategic points in the Sieversk province, lost his way, did not attain his objective point at the right time and altogether failed to accomplish his task. The Muscovite army which was, meanwhile, advancing parallel to the Swedish on its East flank, occupied all the important points guarding the route from the Sieversk province to Moscow. The Muscovites again succeeded in destroying all the supplies in the country before the arrival of the Swedes. The winter was close at hand and Charles XII had no other choice than to advance further into the Ukraine for winter quarters, and that as speedily as possible so as to prevent the Muscovite army forestalling him once more.

[image ALT: A map of what is now Ukraine and a bit of the surrounding areas, as it was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, showing much of the river system but no relief features. The area is divided among Austria, Poland, Moldavia, Turkey, Crimea, and Russia; Poland includes Lithuania and much of the right bank of the Dnieper in today's Ukraine, and Russia includes the left bank: the Hetmanate, Zaporizhia, and Slobidska Ukraine, as well as the territory of the Don Cossacks to the northeast of the Azov Sea. Indicated on the map are about a dozen principal stations of Cossack regiments and five stations of the Zaporogian Cossacks, and a few of the principal towns in the west, plus Baturin and Ochakiv. A line of Ukrainian frontier defences is shown south of Poltava, stretching from the Dnieper almost to the Donets river; and Charles XII's line of march thru Ukraine from the north more or less due south towards the Black Sea, then due west to the Dniester.]

Ukrainian Territories
in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

[A larger version, in which the placenames are more easily readable, opens here (1 MB).]

There are definite grounds for supposing that Mazepa did not contemplate Charles coming directly into the Ukraine and making Ukrainian territory the scene of military operations. It was to the interest of the Ukraine to have the two formidable rivals fight out their decisive duel elsewhere. From every point of view the Ukraine was not prepared to take an active part in the decisive struggle. Strong though the general dissatisfaction of the bulk of the Ukrainian population was with Tsar Peter's form of Muscovite protection, yet the Ukrainian government had not had sufficient time to prepare a general uprising against him, which would have required more time than they had and considerable organization. The Ukrainian-Swedish alliance was for long kept secret; most of the Ukrainian military forces were stationed in different places outside the Ukraine and several towns within were held by Muscovite garrisons; the Hetman himself had to co‑operate with Muscovite generals. When Mazepa heard about Charles advancing directly into the Ukraine he was, according to the testimony of contemporaries,  p392  seized with despair. He is reported to have said that Charles's presence in the Ukraine would inevitably bring the Muscovite army on the Ukrainian territory and then all would be lost. Mazepa found himself between two fires: the Muscovite army was approaching and the Tsar demanded Mazepa's presence at his headquarters; on the other hand the Swedes were also marching into the Ukraine. Every day's delay would make the Muscovites suspicious, and in order to save time Mazepa declared himself dangerously ill and confined to his bed. It was only when the Muscovite vanguard was about two or three days march from Baturin, his residence, that Mazepa made his decision. He left part of his force, about 10,000 men under Colonel Chechel and the Artillery officer, Koenigseck, a German by birth, in Baturin with orders to keep the Muscovite army off; and with the rest of his force he started northwards to join Charles. It was only now that the common Cossacks were told that he was leading them not against the Swedes but against Muscovites.

125. Baturin and Poltava and Muscovite Terror.

Baturin was a strongly fortified place with good artillery and a great arsenal of munition. The defenders of Baturin were ready to obey their orders faithfully and when Menshikov approached with the Muscovite vanguard, a few days after the Hetman left Baturin, he was met with gun fire. Tsar Peter soon heard of Mazepa's defection to Charles and great were his surprise and alarm. But though he had received a severe blow, he soon pulled himself together and adapted himself to the situation; he possessed to a high degree the quality of never losing his head in the most critical moments. He published a manifesto to the whole Ukrainian people declaring Mazepa a traitor and accusing him of intending to "compel the Ukrainians to become Roman Catholic and to return the Ukraine to Polish domination". He invited the Ukrainian people to remain with him, promising  p393 them "rights and liberties such as no other nation in the world had ever possessed". Further, he ordered all the Cossack officers to appear in Hlukhov for the election of a new Hetman. On the other hand he ordered Menshikov to take Baturin by storm and to use every imaginable severity in order to terrorize the Ukrainian population and to keep them from the alliance with Sweden.

Menshikov did as he was told. Though the onset on Baturin was repulsed, in the night an informer showed the Muscovites a secret underground passage and the Muscovites penetrated into Baturin. The Cossacks and the whole civilian population offered heroic resistance but were overpowered. Menshikov's revenge was fearful: the whole population of Baturin including women and children were slaughtered to a man, while the town was destroyed and burned. Of the brilliant Hetman capital nothing remained but smoking ruins and heaps of corpses. Those of the Cossacks who were taken prisoner, were tortured to death, their bodies being bound to planks and set floating down the river Seim to let the people know of the fate that had befallen Baturin. Menshikov had hardly time to finish his inhuman work when Charles and Mazepa approached and he was compelled to retreat in haste.

Baturin's unexpectedly sudden end was a great blow to Mazepa's enterprise. Not only because his capital was ruined and the rich supplies of munitions so necessary to Charles, were lost, but the moral blow was even greater. Hardly had Mazepa time to join his new ally when Peter's revenge fell heavily on all the members of the Ukrainian government, on whom he could lay hands. By these cruel reprisals on the population the Muscovite Tsar wished to crush all spirit of opposition.

At his headquarters in Lebedin, Tsar Peter installed a special court of Justice for Cossack Officers known or suspected to be in favor of a Swedish alliance. A contemporary chronicler wrote:

"Many Cossack Officers  p394 and common Cossacks, suspected of being Mazepa's followers or solely on account of not having appeared at the new Hetman's election in Hlukhov, were hunted down, brought into the Muscovite camp and tortured; broken on the wheel, quartered, or impaled. Plain hanging and simple beheading were mild punishment in comparison. People were forced under torture to confess to anything and were then punished for it."​a

The author of this memoir names 900 Cossack Officers who were tortured to death in Lebedin. But along with the cruel persecution of partisans of the Swedish alliance, a shower of favors and rewards was lavished on those who promptly acknowledged their loyalty to the Tsar. All those Cossack Officers who had accepted the first invitation and duly appeared in Hlukhov for the new elections were presented by the Tsar's generous hand with charters to lands and estates: in a few days hundreds of great new land­owners were thus created. The estates of Mazepa's followers were confiscated and given to those who, appearing in the Tsar's camp, acknowledged their loyalty. Informers and denunciators were richly rewarded. This led to a perfect orgy of denunciation: all the basest elements in the Ukraine tried to take advantage of the occasion to enrich themselves in order to make a start or advance in service. The seeds of a terrible demoralization that were sown among the Ukrainian population at this time bore fruit for many a decade to come. It was not only Ukrainians who had hastened to acknowledge their loyalty and were thus rewarded with confiscated lands, but Muscovite generals and Tsar's favorites like Menshikov, Dolgoruki and others received great estates in the Ukraine contrary to every right expressed in the Ukrainian-Muscovite Treaties.

These demonstrations of the Tsar's policy towards the Ukraine were the first consequences of the Swedish alliance. In the meantime military events were taking their course. Charles made haste to advance further south in order to make contact with the Crimean Tatars and  p395 the Sultan. His agents had long since been negotiating with Turkey, trying to draw them into war against Muscovy. French diplomats energetically supported Charles' endeavors. In the meantime, winter was approaching and for a time interrupted military operations. The winter of 1708‑1709 was extraordinarily severe, and the Swedes though natives of a northern country, suffered great losses in consequence of the cold. Some thousands perished from it, thus diminishing the already weakened and decimated Swedish army. Early in 1709, during the bitterest cold, Charles made an advance in the Slobidska Ukraine against the Muscovite cavalry and defeated them so completely that for a long time they were powerless; but the advent of a thaw which covered everything with water interrupted these operations. In the meantime the Muscovites began to disturb the Swedish troops in their winter quarters and Charles returned to them. The Ukraine terrorized by the Muscovites, maintained a passive attitude, though in places where the Swedish army was stationed the population was very friendly to them and the Swedes, under the orders of their king, behaved very discreetly. The only effective help which Charles XII had received from his Ukrainian allies up to this time, was the few thousand Cossacks which Mazepa brought with him. Early in the spring 1709, however, the Zaporogians came over to Charles. During the whole of Mazepa's rule they were partly in open, partly in secret opposition to the Hetman but at the decisive moment they followed him. The Zaporogian leader, Constantine Hordienko was a great Ukrainian patriot and an enemy of Muscovy. In the autumn of 1708 the Zaporogian Cossacks had declared their solidarity with Mazepa and the Ukrainian government in the question of the Swedish alliance. Tsar Peter sent in haste great sums of money to the Sich, hoping to win over the Zaporogians to himself, but it was of no avail and, in March 1709, Hordienko brought 8,000 Zaporogian Cossacks to the Swedish headquarters. This was very welcome to Charles as the Swedes were in great need of cavalry in which they had  p396 suffered great losses during the winter campaign. The Zaporogian Cossacks made a special treaty with Charles XII, according to which Charles in making future peace terms with the Tsar, promised to insist upon the independence of the Ukraine and the Zaporogian Sich. At the same time the Zaporogians began to take part in military operations and defeated the Muscovite general Schaumburg at Nekhvoroscha and captured several hundred prisoners.

But the alliance with the Zaporogians was Charles' last success in the Ukraine. His position as time advanced, became more and more difficult. Negotiations with the Turks advanced very slowly and only the Crimean Tatars were ready to join him against Muscovy. Tsar Peter at once grasped the danger menacing him from the Tatars. In the spring he sent considerable detachments south which succeeded in circumventing the main Zaporogian force at the rear; the Muscovites did not go as far as the Crimea but surprised the fortified Zaporogian place Perevolochna on the Dnieper above the rapids at the mouth of the left tributary of the Dnieper, the river Vorskla. Here they destroyed the Zaporogian river fleet. This had later fatal consequences as it prevented the Swedes from crossing the Dnieper. The loss of the fleet in Perevolochna was only equal to the loss of Baturin and was also accompanied by barbaric cruelties on the part of the victorious Muscovites; they tortured and killed all the population that fell into their hands.

Early in May the Swedish army advanced southwards, reached the river Vorskla and besieged the fortified town of Poltava. The siege was pursued without any particular display of energy. Modern Swedish investigators think that the capture of Poltava fortress was not the chief object, it was only a means of provoking the Muscovite army which Charles XII wished at any price to engage in a pitched battle. He very well understood that in the conditions of war in the vast East European plains, the  p397 importance lay neither in skilful manoeuvring nor in taking this or that fortified place or a stretch of territory, the chief aim was to give a decisive blow to the enemy and destroy his main force. In this instance this was of even greater importance because in the event of Charles' success, he would at once gain new allies, namely the Turks and Tatars who were only waiting for him to be success­ful to join him. Further, the rest of the Ukraine now occupied and held in check by the Muscovite army would join the Swedes.

This consideration, according to the assumptions of Swedish historians, led Charles to make a plan to use the siege of Poltava to incite the Muscovite army and induce them to offer decisive battle. This battle indeed took place on June 27, 1709, and its consequences proved to be of the greatest importance not for the East alone but for the whole of Europe. According to modern historians the forces engaged in the fight were not equal: the Swedes had only 18,000 able men with 30 guns against the Muscovite's 40,000 with 70 guns, excluding the Ukrainian troops which took part on both sides and various irregular Muscovite detachments. The high military qualities of the Swedish army made up for their numerical inferiority, but in the person of Peter I, Charles XII had a worthy rival, who had profited by his previous experience of failures and defeats. The Muscovite army was not the same as that which Charles beat so easily ten years ago at Narva. It was a misfortune for the Swedes that Charles was not able to command in person on the day of the decisive battle. A few days before he had been severely wounded in the leg by a stray bullet, having approached too near the Muscovite positions. He was compelled to surrender the general command to his general, Renshild, who made fatal blunders in consequence of which the Swedish army lost the battle in spite of their valor. Though they had lost only about 5,000 men and were able to retreat in order to the Dnieper, the campaign was irretrievably lost. Tsar Peter, drunk with his success, did  p398 not think of pursuing them. The Swedish army, with Mazepa and his Cossacks, approached the Dnieper but were unable to cross it because the means of mass-transport, the Zaporogian river-fleet, had been destroyed by Muscovites in Perevolochna. The Swedish generals persuaded Charles to cross the river with only a small retinue and seek refuge in Turkey. Mazepa and his followers also succeeded in fleeing. The exhausted Swedish army capitulated.

126. Mazepa's Death in Exile.

Mazepa did not long survive the defeat at Poltava. Tsar Peter vainly offered great sums to the Turkish authorities to have Mazepa surrendered to him. The Turks remained true to the commandment of the Koran, not to give up fugitives who sought refuge with them and as they did not allow themselves to be tempted into giving up the old Hetman to the awful vengeance of the cruel Tsar, Mazepa died on the 22nd of August, 1709, in Bender, and was buried in the Orthodox monastery in Galatz. His cause, however, did not die with his death for he had many successors.

At first, all General Cossack Officers and most of the colonels were with Mazepa. When, however, Swedish success became doubtful, some of the Cossack Officers left him and went over to the Tsar. Peter received them all graciously and left them at their posts. He acted in this way until the battle of Poltava, but thereafter those who came to seek his pardon he arrested and tried for "high treason". The best men, however, followed Mazepa into exile. After his death they decided to continue the same policy and seek support from the Turks and the Tatars for which Charles XII was also looking. The Zaporogian Cossacks were their chief support, their numbers being constantly augmented by refugees from the Ukraine. At the head of the Ukrainian refugees was Philip Orlik, General Secretary, Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Mazepa's government.

 p399  127. Hetman Philip Orlik and His Constitution.

Orlik was descended from a noble Czech family who, after the battle of White Mountain, had emigrated to Poland. He was born near Vilna but in his youth went to the Ukraine and for ever linked his fate with that of his new country. He studied at the Kievan Academy and entered the Chancellery of the Hetman. As a talented and well educated man, he was soon advanced to responsible posts. About 1700 he was elected General Secretary of the Cossack Headquarters. He was also a literary man and published several panegyrics on Mazepa in Latin. During twenty years' exile abroad he wrote an extensive and extremely interesting Diary.

On the 5th of April 1710, at Bender the refugees, the Cossacks and the representatives of Zaporogians elected Orlik as their Hetman. The Swedish king and the Sultan gave him their recognition. Charles XII concluded a special Treaty with Orlik in which he promised not to lay down his arms until the Ukraine should be delivered from Muscovite domination. Very interesting is the treaty Orlik concluded with the Zaporogian Sich. This treaty was to be the Constitution of the independent Ukrainian State for which Orlik and his adherents were striving. The text of the Treaty is interesting since it illustrates the political views of the Ukrainian Statesmen of the time as influenced by Mazepa.

The Treaty opened with a solemn declaration: "The Ukraine on both sides of the Dnieper must remain free from foreign domination for all time to come". Then followed an exposition of the basis of the Constitution. The Hetman's power was to be limited by the General Cossack Council (Generalna Rada) of General Cossack Officers (Generalna starshina), colonels of Cossack Regiments, and elected representatives from every Regiment. The Hetman was "to take counsel with them on the various affairs of State". Besides the General Cossack  p400 Council there was to be an Assembly meeting three times a year, consisting of elected representatives of the Regiments and Hundreds and of the Zaporogian Sich. The State finance was to be kept strictly apart from the sums put at the Hetman's disposal. A revision of estates held by Cossack officers was to be made; all impositions on peasants were to be abolished. This constitution is embued with a truly liberal and democratic spirit which makes it one of the most interesting documents of contemporary political thought in Europe.

128. Orlik's Campaign in the Ukraine of the Right Bank.

It proved easier to write the constitution than to carry it into effect. In addition to the Zaporogian Cossacks and the refugees, on whom could Orlik rely? In the first place he relied on foreign intervention. Soon after his election he made a treaty with the Crimean Khan, who promised him help in delivering the Ukrainians from the Muscovites: Slobidska Ukraine, the present Kharkov and Voronezh provinces, populated by Ukrainian settlers in the Seventeenth century, were to be included in the Ukrainian independent State. Orlik naturally counted on the Ukrainian population joining him. From the numerous refugees who continued to pour into the Zaporogian Sich from the Ukraine, he learned about the feelings of the population in the Ukraine, tired and embittered as they were by the Muscovite terror. The refugees were burning with desire to take revenge on Muscovy for their own sufferings as well as for the ruin of the country. Orlik organized a service of information, sending into the Ukraine his emissaries disguised as bandurists, wandering minstrels with banduras,1 pedlars, beggars, etc., who carried about his proclamations to the Ukrainian population inviting them to rise against the Muscovite domination. This propaganda met everywhere with success.

 p401  In the spring of 1711 Orlik had an army of 16,000 Ukrainians strengthened by a Polish detachment of volunteers from among the partisans of Stanislaus Leszczynski.2 With a considerable force of Crimean Tatars, led by the Khan's own son, Orlik set out to reconquer first the Ukraine of the Right Bank held by the Polish government of King August of Saxony who had been reinstalled by Tsar Peter on the Polish throne. Orlik had in his army about forty Swedish instructors. Hetman Orlik's enterprise met with great success on the Right Bank. The population met him with sympathy and one place after another went over to him without fighting. All the Cossack Regiments of the Right Bank joined him and recognized him as their Hetman. The new Hetman of the Ukraine of the Left Bank, elected by order of Tsar Peter, Ivan Skoropadsky, sent an army against Orlik led by the General Ossavul Butovich. Orlik defeated Butovich's detachment near Lysyanka and took Butovich prisoner. Late in March Orlik approached Bila Tserkva, being thus not far from Kiev. His successes, however, were here at an end, since Bila Tserkva was a strongly fortified place held by Poles, partisans of King August, and protected by his ally Tsar Peter. Orlik's artillery was not strong enough to take the fortress of Bila Tserkva by storming and the siege promised to be a long one. At the same time his allies, the Tatars, began their usual plundering of the population. Though Orlik obtained from the Khan the release of all prisoners taken by the Tatars he lost the warm sympathies with which the Ukrainian population had received him. Hetman Orlik's enterprise was morally ruined. His despair is to be seen in letters he wrote at that time to Charles XII of Sweden, bitterly complaining of the Tatars, the most fatal allies  p402 the Ukraine ever had. But this was not to be the end of Ukraine's sufferings.

Orlik was still besieging Bila Tserkva when Tsar Peter set out against him. He declared war on the Turkish Sultan, who supported Orlik, and invaded the Ukraine of the Right Bank. Orlik and his Tatars allies retreated in haste, leaving the unfortunate population to the revenge of the Muscovites. Tsar Peter indeed started his operations by reprisals against the Ukrainian population who had received Orlik with sympathy. All who were known or suspected of having helped him were mercilessly punished. Towns and villages whose population had surrendered to Orlik were destroyed and the population forced to cross the Dnieper and either settle among the population of the Left Bank or be driven further eastwards and settle on free areas of Slobidska Ukraine. The population had hardly had time to recover from the Tatars of Orlik early in spring, when these new tribulations drove it almost to despair.

129. Tsar Peter's Campaign of Pruth.

Tsar Peter, having imprudently advanced that summer too far on Turkish territory in present Bessarabia, was surrounded in July 1711 on all sides by superior Turkish forces on the river Pruth. He was threatened with immediate capitulation but succeeded in buying over with a great sum of gold the Turkish Grand Vizier, who was at the head of the Turkish forces. The Grand Vizier let him out of the trap contenting himself with concluding with the Tsar an advantageous peace. According to the Treaty of Pruth, Peter renounced his pretensions to the Ukraine of the Right Bank and promised "not to interfere in Cossack affairs". The text of the Treaty is very vague and each side could construe it in its own way.

Charles XII was beside himself when he heard about Peter's escape and the Treaty of Pruth. The Sultan, to  p403  pacify his Swedish ally, sacrificed his Grand Vizier who thus paid with his head for the Treaty of Pruth. Nevertheless, the High Porte ratified the Treaty as it was very advantageous to Turkish interests; besides, too many of the Sultan's councillors had been bought with Tsar Peter's gold which he had very lavishly bestowed.

Tsar Peter not having succeeded in laying his hands on Orlik and his followers, took to terrorizing their families and relatives in Ukraine. They were arrested, brought to Moscow, tortured, exiled to Siberia and compelled to write to their refugee relatives imploring them to stop their activities in the interest of Ukrainian independence.

130. Orlik's Activities in Exile.

Orlik was now left to his own devices. He lived for about thirty years abroad in Sweden or in Turkey with a handful of faithful followers, Ukrainian patriots. They endeavored to bring about a war between Turkey and Tsar Peter in order to obtain the Ukraine's independence. They watched attentively Europe's political movement and currents, trying to take advantage of every occasion of international conflict and complication in order to put forward the Ukrainian question. Orlik constantly wrote notes and memoranda with which he deluged all European courts. He was indefatigable, but all the efforts of Ukrainian patriots were without avail. Muscovy, after the victory of Poltava, became a power­ful Russian empire — Tsar Peter having dropped his title of Tsar of Muscovy, assumed that of Emperor of all Russians — and was the leading power in the North and East of Europe. According to the Treaty of Nystad, 1721, with Sweden, Tsar Peter obtained the Baltic provinces and his political influence now extended to the whole Baltic littoral. Turkey was satisfied with the return of the fortress of Azov and of the shores of the Azov and the Black Sea, which Peter had surrendered by the Treaty of Pruth of 1711  p404  and wished no war with Russia. Poland was quite prostrate and under King August of Saxony, Tsar Peter dictated Polish policy and governed the country almost as his own. Sweden was quite exhausted and never recovered again. Orlik died in exile in 1739 and with him was buried the idea of a Ukrainian independent State, to lie dormant for almost a century and a half before coming to life again in 1917 under very different circumstances.


The Author's Notes:

1 Bandura or Kobza — Ukrainian national musical instrument.

[decorative delimiter]

2 After Charles XII's defeat, his candidate, the Polish King Stanislaus Leszczynski was driven by Tsar Peter out of Poland and took refuge in France where his daughter Marie was married to King Louis XV and was French Queen. Leszczynski had still many followers in Poland and very many left Poland to follow him into exile.


Thayer's Note:

a In the text as printed, this quotation mark is put at the end of the next paragraph. It seems clear that only this short passage belongs to the contemporaneous chronicler.


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Page updated: 14 Jun 22