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This webpage reproduces a chapter of

History of the Ukraine
By Dmytro Doroshenko

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

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 1

 p3  Introduction

There is no national group among the Slavic peoples so little known to the English-speaking world as the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian people at the present time are being moved by that power­ful spirit of nationalism which has so continuously transformed political society, particularly since the middle of the Nineteenth century. It is therefore a special satisfaction to be able to introduce to the English world a History of the Ukraine written by one of the foremost Ukrainian historians.

Demeter Doroshenko​a was born in 1882. His ancestors belonged to the old Cossack-nobility of the province of Chernigov and played a distinguished part in Ukrainian history. Having in mind an academic career the author studied history and philology in the Universities of Warsaw, St. Petersburg (Leningrad), and Kiev. Because of the anti-Ukrainian attitude of the Czarist government Dr. Doroshenko was refused appointment to the faculty of the University of Kiev. He, therefore, devoted himself to literary and newspaper work. In 1903 he became an active member of the Ukrainian Revolutionary Party, and later identified himself with the Radical Democratic Party.

At the beginning of the War in 1914 Dr. Doroshenko was appointed a representative on the Board of the All‑Russian Union of Cities and was given the task of administering the Relief Department of that part of Galicia and Bukovina which was occupied by the Russian army and was suffering from the devastation of war. At this time he was in close contact with the leaders of the opposition in the Russian Duma, notably with Kerensky and Miliukov. The Revolution of 1917 brought him at once into the forefront of the Ukrainian national movement which resulted first in autonomy for the Ukraine and then in independence. In rapid succession he was appointed Vice-Governor of Kiev province, Governor-General of the occupied area of Galicia and Bukovina, and Governor  p4 of the Province of Chernigov. In agreement with the provisional Government of Russia he undertook to organize the first administration of the Autonomous Ukraine in 1917. In 1918 he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of the Independent Ukraine under Hetman P. Skoropadsky.

With the political downfall of the Independent Ukraine the author engaged himself in academic work. He became Professor of History in the Ukrainian University of Kamenets-Podolsky. In 1922 he migrated to Czecho­Slovakia and was appointed a member of the faculty in the Ukrainian University which had been established in Prague. In 1926 he was attached to the Czech University of Karl IV. From 1926 to 1931 he was director of the Ukrainian Scientific Institute in Berlin. In 1936 he became Professor of Church (Greek-Orthodox) History in the Joseph Pilsudsky University of Warsaw.

Dr. Doroshenko has written extensively for European publications, German, French, English, Swedish, Czech, Polish, Serbian, and others. His most important books include the following: Index of Ukrainian Literature (in Russian) St. Petersburg, 1904; The Slavic World (in Ukrainian) 3 vol. Berlin, 1922; Outline of Ukrainian Historiography (in Ukrainian), Prague, 1923; The Ukraine in Western European Literature in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (in German) Berlin, 1927; A History of the Ukraine, 1917‑1923 (in Ukrainian), 2 vol., Uzhorod, 1930‑32; and A History of the Ukraine (in Ukrainian) 2 vol., Warsaw, 1932‑34. The last-named is the work now presented in abridged form in this book.

It can readily be seen from this brief outline of Dr. Doroshenko's career how admirably equipped he is to interpret Ukrainian history from the standpoint of Ukrainian nationalism since his long academic training has been enriched through personal experience in the practical field of politics during a most critical period. The author is interested not only in the political aspect of history but he also writes movingly concerning social conditions.

 p5  The History here presented is an abridgment of two volumes. In condensing the work Madame Keller has faithfully maintained the general narrative but has omitted those sections dealing chiefly with historiography, which though of great interest to the historian and specialist have little appeal to the average student. It is assumed that the ordinary reader wishes to know where the Ukraine is, what is the origin of the people and of the name, and what is the historical state tradition which has come down to the present, to blossom forth in the contemporary national movement.

Russian historians have always presented Ukrainian history as merely a regional history subsidiary to their own. Polish writers have treated Ukrainian history as simply particularist frontier developments in connection with their own state evolution. Both Russian and Polish publicists have tended to portray modern Ukrainian nationalism as an artificial movement promoted by ambitious Ukrainian intellectuals and supported by outside intriguing powers. They deny to this movement deep roots of tradition which feed the present nationalist manifestations with the vital sap of historical consciousness. This Russian and Polish attitude of exclusiveness can no longer success­fully be maintained in the light of recent historiography. The continuity of the Ukrainian state tradition is the theme ably supported by Dr. Doroshenko. In the nature of things some of the material must be controversial but the fairness and moderation of the author is a fine tribute to his objectivity. His history is a survey of the process of the political, social, economic and cultural development of the Ukrainian people from their beginnings to the present day.

One of the remarkable facts concerning the Ukrainians is that, broadly speaking, they occupy essentially the same territory now that they did when they first appear in history. At present the territory inhabited by the Ukrainians is divided politically among four states, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U. S. S. R.), Poland, Rumania and Hungary. This vast territory extending  p6 from the western slopes of the Carpathian Mountains to the foot of the northern Caucasus, from the marshes of Pinsk in the basin of the river Pripet in the north to the shores of the Black Sea in the south, is enclosed between 20.5° and 45° longitude east and 44° and 53° latitude north, and comprises about 800,000 square kilometers. The rich black soil of this vast territory renders it one of the most fertile lands in Europe. As such it was viewed with envious eyes by neighboring states and even by peoples more remote. The absence, for the most part, of easily defended geographical boundaries accentuated the problem of defence.

Politically by far the most important part of Ukrainian territory is within the so‑called Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic which belongs to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Ukrainian territories in Poland are Eastern Galicia, Volynia, and the southern parts of Kholm and Polissia. In Rumania Ukrainians inhabit the northern territory of Bukovina and Bessarabia while in Hungary they occupy the north-east corner which was formerly known as Ruthenia, Pidkarpatska Rus or Carpathian Ukraine.

According to the statistical data of 1931 the population of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was 26,796,000, with some seven million Ukrainians living elsewhere in the U. S. S. R. In Poland there are 6,257,000 Ukrainians; in Rumania, 1,100,000; in Hungary (in 1931 Czecho­Slovakia) 570,000. The total number of Ukrainians in Europe amount to thirty‑six million. Ukrainian colonization began in Siberia and in the basin of the Amur and Assuri rivers about the middle of the Nineteenth century. At the end of the century large numbers began to emigrate to the United States, Canada, Brazil, and the Argentine. It is estimated that 1,254,000 Ukrainians live in Asia; about 700,000 in the United States; around 300,000 in Canada; 130,000 in South America; and 240,000 in other countries. The number of Ukrainians in the world was therefore about thirty-nine million in 1931. Allowing for the increase since then one may  p7 reckon without exaggeration the present number as being over forty million.

The terms "Ukraine" and "Ukrainian" are those now accepted to apply to the area inhabited by Ukrainian-speaking people. Other names, official and popular, have been used in past times. The decision to accept "Ukraine" and "Ukrainian" has been made by the people themselves, who alone have the right to make it. In applying the terms "Ukraine" and "Ukrainian" to past periods the same practice is followed as in any other history where the modern national designation is used roughly to apply to territories in times when actually other administrative or official designations were employed in whole or in part. A brief account of the historic designations may serve to dissipate some confusion.

The oldest historic name for Ukrainian territory was "Rus". It is more than probable that it originated with the Scandinavian vikings, possibly as the name of one of the tribes of Northmen who assisted in the formation of the Kievan State. At first it was applied exclusively to the region about Kiev, the nucleus of the subsequent large Kievan State. By the middle of the Eleventh century the name had been extended to include the whole of Eastern Europe. By the Thirteenth century the designation "Rus" had acquired a political significance, meaning "belonging to the state," and had spread to the north-east where a new Slavic group — the present Russian, Great Russian, or Muscovite group — was in the process of formation. Instead of taking a new name this emerging group adopted the general name "Rus".

The Ukrainians retained the historic name "Rus" when they became part of the Lithuanian and Polish States. Although the Muscovite princes, who united under their sway all "Great Russian" territory had some right to call their state "Rus" since they were descended from Rurik, the Scandinavian prince who founded the Kievan State, their neighbors, the Ukrainians, Poles and Lithuanians, as well as western Europeans, usually called the country Muscovy and the inhabitants Muscovites. In the Seventeenth  p8 century the compound name "Rus‑Ukraine" was used to denote the present Ukraine.

The name "Ukraine" is of considerable age. It is first used in the Kievan Chronicle of 1187. The name derives from the word "krai" or "kraina" meaning region, country and also border. It was probably employed to denote a region dividing the Christian or civilized world from the barbarian and pagan, and later, the Mohammedan world. At least this is the explanation of the name given by a Polish historian of the Seventeenth century who wished to emphasize the borderland character of the Ukraine which at that time was part of Poland. The name "Ukraine" was first popularly employed in the Seventeenth century at which time it was freely employed in Cossack epics, such as the "Dumy" and in popular songs. Soon it was adopted by the educated classes often joined with "Rus" as "Ukraina‑Rus" or "Rus‑Ukraina". It then appeared in historical documents, diplomatic dispatches, literature, and history. Finally it appears on contemporary maps. It was then adopted by Poles, Muscovites and western Europeans.

After the union of the Ukraine with Muscovy in 1654 a new political designation was introduced for the Ukrainian territory and people. This was "Little Russia" (Malaia Rossia or Malorossia). The Muscovite Czars having become over-lords of the Ukraine adopted the high-sounding title "Czar of the Great and Little Russias," though in fact it should have been "New and Old Russia" or "Muscovy and the Ukraine." In introducing the name of "Little Russia" for the Ukraine the Muscovite statesmen revived the practice of the Patriarch of Constantinople who in the Fourteenth century began to apply the name "micra Rosia", or in Latin "Rossia Minor", to the old Rus territory about Kiev. This territory had been thus differentiated from that of the Great Russians to which was applied the term "Rossia Magna". This distinction was similar to that in ancient history when the term "Magna Graecia" was applied to the Greek colony of South Italy which developed its own political life distinct  p9 from the older Greek land in the Balkans called Graecia Minor.​b

The Russian Government having adopted the name of Little Russia (Malaia Rossia) as the official designation for the Ukraine went so far as to prohibit in the Nineteenth century the use of the names "Ukraine" and "Ukrainian". At times when even the name Little Russia seemed to have rather a separatist suggestion the geographical designations of "Yougo-Russia" and "Yougo-Russian" (Yougo means south) were used to denote the former Cossack Ukraine, while Volynia, Podolia, Kholm and Polissia were known under the official names of "Yougo-Zapadnyi-krai" or "Zapadno-Russki-krai" (South-west or West Russian region). These artificial names came into use among Russians but were never accepted by the Ukrainians, who continued to term the land "Ukraine" and themselves "Ukrainians", when not forbidden by the censor­ship. The national revival of the Nineteenth century definitely fixed the name "Ukraine" to all the territories populated by Ukrainians in Russia and Austria, and termed the population "Ukrainians". They took this name with them as emigrants to Asia and America. In Galicia and Carpathian Rus which were never under Russian rule the historic names of "Rus" and "Ruski" continued to be used much longer. But even these regions in Nineteenth century and Twentieth century centuries adopted the terms "Ukraine" and "Ukrainian" to express the feeling of national unity and community of aspiration.

Prior the War of 1914 the official name for Ukrainians in Austria was "Ruthenian". This term was derived from medieval Latin. It was applied to the Kievan Princedom and was also used by the Galician and Volynian kings. The term differed from the designation "Rossia" which was derived from the Greek of the Patriarchs of Constantinople. Hence "Russia" and "Russian" designated modern Russia after the foundation of the Empire by Peter 1,º while "Ruthenia" and "Ruthenian" continued as a Latin name in the area acquired by Austria through the partition of Poland.

 p10  Thus the Russians appropriated the old historic name of "Rus" abandoned by its original bearers who adopted the term "Ukrainian" to express their distinctive nationality.

The dawn of Ukrainian history is marked by the existence of East Slavic tribes situated between the Carpathian mountains and the Don river north of the Black Sea, with the Dnieper river constituting the central geographical artery. The presence of these tribes is noted by various classical writers. In the Ninth century under the dynamic leader­ship of Viking or Scandinavian adventurers the Slavic tribes were organized into a state with its capital at Kiev. This state was brought into contact with the Eastern Roman Empire, particularly its capital, Constantinople. From here this Slavic state received the elements of a more advanced culture, including Christianity. The Kiev state under its ruling Scandinavian dynasty, which was soon absorbed in the Slavic sea, enjoyed several centuries of flourishing civilization, though always it had to fight to maintain itself against the inroads of nomadic tribes. This was the first Ukrainian state.

In this period the ruling house became divided into several branches and the country itself was broken up into principalities. A number of principalities emerged in the north in the region of the Upper Volga. Among these was the principality of Moscow. The city was established in 1147 about three hundred years after the founding of Kiev. The principality of Moscow was later to swallow the surrounding principalities and finally to emerge as the nucleus of the Russian Empire of modern times. In Russian history the Kiev area which was incorporated into the Russian Empire less than three hundred years ago was regarded simply as a fragment of the first "Russian" state which was recovered by the patriotic zeal of Russian czars. The fact is, as Professor Doroshenko indicates, the historic tradition centering in Kiev diverges from that centering in Moscow. Differences in geographical conditions, in ethnic mixture, and in political circumstances produced distinctive developments.

 p11  The historic roads diverge rapidly after the invasion of the Mongols in the Thirteenth century. The Ukrainian tradition is developed further in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth centuries in the so‑called Galician-Volynian Kingdom in the west with its centre in Halich on the Dniester river. The Kiev area and other Ukrainian principalities passed under the Lithuanian state where they continued to maintain their essential institutions. The rapid growth of the Lithuanian state was due to vigorous rulers who sought to withstand the conquests undertaken by German knights who had gained a foothold in the East Baltic in the Thirteenth century. While this large state in East Europe in the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth century had a Lithuanian dynasty at its head, nine-tenths of the population were Slavic and a wide latitude was given to the exercise of local rights and customs. This long period still further differentiated the Ukrainian and Great Russian tradition.

The necessity of further resistance to the Germans in the East Baltic region tended to draw Lithuania and Poland together. Dynastic ambitions also played a part. In 1386 the ruling houses of these two countries were united. A loose political union in which each state had its own administration culminated in an organic union in 1569 which brought all Ukrainian lands within Poland. For Poland it was a time of comparative economic prosperity. There was a growing demand in Western Europe for the agricultural products of Poland. This brought about an extension of settlement in the rich steppe lands of the Ukraine. It also brought about an accentuation of the tendency toward the rise of a landed gentry and the reduction of the peasantry to serfdom.

On the land south of Kiev the area of occupation of the steppes was pushed forward by Ukrainian groups who were typical frontiersmen. They were fighters and raiders, their traditional enemy, the Tatars, being still in possession of the Crimea and constituting a menace to the entire surrounding area. These frontiersmen lived partly by hunting and fishing. At times they engaged in  p12 farming. Thus developed the famous Cossack Ukrainians. The Polish Government attempted to organize and control them as border guards but they were not easily controlled by a distant authority. Their numbers were constantly recruited by peasants and adventurers fleeing from the increasingly harsh social conditions on the estates of Poland. Behind the protective outpost of Cossacks the Ukrainian peasants cultivated the rich black soil which blossomed forth under their care. Kiev again flourished and became a lively cultural centre.

At the same time an attempt was being made to bring the Greek-Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of Rome. A Uniate Greek-Catholic Church had been established in 1596. It met with considerable success in the Ukrainian areas of Galicia and Volynia and was tolerated by the Polish king. In distant Kiev however the Orthodox followers resented the attempt to suppress or transform their Church and looked upon the movement as essentially a movement toward Polonization. The Orthodox Church in the Ukraine began to look to the Cossacks as the defenders of their organization and faith.

The dissatisfaction of the Cossacks with the treatment accorded them by the Polish Government, the resentment of the Ukrainian peasants against Polish landlords, and the religious suspicion directed against Roman Catholic Poland combined to produce a number of uprisings against Polish authorities in the beginning of the Seventeenth century. These culminated in a fierce and widespread revolt in 1648 under the leader­ship of Bohdan Khmelnitsky. Beginning with a Cossack revolt it rapidly assumed the proportions of a national movement in which the common people saw in the efforts of Bohdan Khmelnitsky an attempt to re‑establish the old Ukrainian Kingdom of Kiev. The setting up of local forms of government proceeded swiftly.

Professor Doroshenko follows the varying fortunes of this revolt and notes many cross-currents which served to confuse the issues. He rightly emphasizes the tremendous significance of the decision to call upon the aid of  p13 Moscow in the struggle against Poland. The Treaty of Pereyaslav of 1654 gave Moscow certain ambiguous rights over the Ukraine. This Treaty continued the long struggle between Poland and Russia, the possession of Ukrainian lands being now a definite issue. The struggle ended in 1795 in complete Polish disintegration and an almost complete victory for Moscow as far as Ukrainian territory was concerned.

The Ukrainian movement for independence was at its height in the Seventeenth century, particularly between the years 1648 and 1676. Its successes did not last. In spite of political defeat, however, the struggle left enduring popular memories which served to perpetuate the state tradition and feed the revived national consciousness in the Nineteenth century.

Even when the Ukraine passed under the overlord­ship of Russia it required more than a century of consistent effort on the part of the latter to eliminate all forms of self-government and local rights which had been established in the Cossack period and previously. In the early Eighteenth century Peter the Great narrowly escaped disaster at the hands of the Ukrainian Hetman, Mazepa, who was allied with the power­ful Swedish king, Charles XII. Not until 1785 in the reign of Catherine II were the political institutions of the Ukraine entirely assimilated to those of Imperial Russia. In the meantime a social transformation had taken place. The Ukrainian peasantry were steadily reduced to serfdom, and finally in 1783 they were deprived of the last vestige of their freedom, the right to move from one estate to another. A new aristocracy, Russian and Russian-Ukrainian, constituted the only privileged class.

Imperialist Russia, based on a system of political absolutism, dominated East Europe and played an increasingly important part in the international life of Europe generally. At the very time, however, when absolutism and aristocracy appeared nearly everywhere in Europe in the ascendancy the new radical ideas of modern nationalism and democracy were germinating. The French Revolution  p14 beginning in 1789 ushered in the new age of politics. While the French Revolution was followed by Napoleonic despotism and the reaction of 1815, the new ideas continued to eat with acid persistence into the old political structures.

Hardly had the last remnants of freedom in the Ukraine been swept away when the first beginnings of a national renaissance appeared. Poets and writers heralded the new dawn. Dr. Doroshenko traces the rise of the new nationalism in the Ukraine. When it was suppressed in Russia the movement was carried on in Galicia, that part of the Ukraine which the Hapsburgs of Austria had taken in the first partition of Poland in 1772. After the Russian Revolution of 1905 the Ukrainian national movement began to develop more actively and openly in the Ukraine under Russia. Before the forces could be fully organized and co‑ordinated there came the War of 1914.

The War was particularly tragic for the Ukrainian people who found themselves divided in opposing imperialistic camps and compelled to fight for causes not their own. Suddenly and dramatically the situation was changed. The collapse of Russia in 1917 resulted in the formation of an independent Ukrainian Republic there, while the downfall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 was followed by the establishment of a West Ukrainian Republic. Fighting desperately to maintain themselves these two Republics united in January, 1919. They were compelled to fight against Bolshevists, pro‑Czarist forces (White Russian armies), Poles, Rumanians, and they were even further handicapped by typhus and the effect of Allied intervention. It is little wonder that they fought a losing battle. The Bolshevists were finally victorious in the East Ukraine where a Socialist Soviet Republic was set up and united with the other Soviet Republics. In the west Poland over‑ran East Galicia. It had been the intention of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to give this latter area the right of self-determination, setting up an autonomous state. Poland, however,  p15 wished to include this area in her kingdom,​c and having occupied it she continued to hold it. In 1923 the Council of Ambassadors, the successor to the Paris Peace Conference, ratified Poland's occupation on the understanding that autonomy would be granted to the territory. Ruthenia, separated from Hungary, was incorporated in the newly-established CzechoSlovak state. Here also autonomy was promised, a promise not realized till the September crisis of 1938. After a few short months of hopeful activity as a self-governing unit the region, which had changed its name to Carpatho-Ukraine, was over‑run in March, 1939, by the Hungarian army and once more united with the Hungarian state. Late in 1918 the Rumanian army occupied the Ukrainian part of Bukovina which previously had proclaimed its union with the West Ukrainian Republic.

Thus Ukrainian nationalist hopes have been frustrated in every direction. National movements, however, are not lightly dissipated when they are rooted in historical tradition, and when the people concerned are subjected to continuous humiliation and persecution. It may be comforting to dismiss troublesome questions from one's mind and rationalize them into non‑existence, but problems of nationalism have a way of appearing spectre-like at all international courses. As a contribution to the understanding of the present Ukrainian question this History is particularly welcome. It is, however, more than a contribution to contemporary politics; it is an interesting human record.

G. W. Simpson,

University of Saskatchewan.

June, 1939.

Thayer's Notes:

a Properly, in Ukrainian, Dmytro Doroshenko.

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b Fuzzily inaccurate in a couple of ways. (1) There was not one unitary Greek colony in southern Italy, rather a number of small Greek colonies that together would eventually be spoken of as Magna Graecia. (2) "Graecia Minor" was not an ancient name for Greece proper, but rather a name that started to be used over a thousand years later by some Renaissance and post-Renaissance cartographers: the term has also been applied to Magna Graecia and to the Greek colonies in what is now . . . Ukraine.

The writer's point, however, is a good one: the ancient term "Magna Graecia" ("Great[er] Greece") did not mean that the Greek land par excellence was southern Italy, but rather that the area was an extension of the Greek heartland, much as we say "Greater New York" to mean a fairly wide area surrounding the core of New York City — and hardly to mean that these suburbs are more important than the city. Similarly, "Great Russia" means the outlying lands of the core Rus, which latter is firmly attested to have been an area more or less coinciding with what is now Ukraine.

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c Poland ceased to be a kingdom in 1795, indeed to exist as a separate nation-state. When the nation-state was reconstituted in 1918‑1919, it was as a republic.

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