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This webpage reproduces a section of

Survey of Ukrainian Historiography
By Dmytro Doroshenko

published by
The Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences
in the U. S., Inc.,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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 p38  Ukrainian Chronicles of the XVII Century

The "Cossack Chronicles"

The writing of chronicles in the Ukraine continued throughout the Lithuanian and Polish periods, and as in the times of the ancient Kiev State, the chronicles were written for the most part in the monasteries. This type of history writing reached its peak in the seventeenth century when it also transcended the narrow bonds of dry records and assumed the form of pragmatic history with some attempts at synthesis. The writing of the chronicles at the same time ceased to be the exclusive preoccupation of the clergy and the monks; there appeared the so‑called "Cossack Chronicles," written by laymen often members of the Cossack Host, who took an active part in, or were witnesses of, the events they described. As a result of the greatly increased national consciousness which reached its climax during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, nearly all the historical works of the seventeenth century were imbued with ardent patriotism. The following are the most important works of that period:

Letopystsi Volyni i Oukrayiny (The Chroniclers of Volynia and the Ukraine), is an early seventeenth century collection which once belonged to the son of the Kiev mayor, Bohdan Balyka, and later to the monk Illya Koshchakovsky. Today it is preserved in the Ossolineum Library.14 It contains a compilation of old Ukrainian and Lithuanian chronicles, notes on the Moscow war of 1612 by B. Balyka, biographies of the Metropolitans of Kiev from 988 to 1590, a Ukrainian translation of Opalinski's diary of the Khotyn war, and various other notes.

Hustynsky Litopys (The Hustyn Chronicle) covers the period from the beginning of the Kiev State to 1597. When it was recopied and completed in 1670 by the Hieromonach Mykhaylo Losytsky of the Hustynsky Prylutsky Monastery, this compilation of Ukrainian and Polish chronicles was entitled Kroynika. It begins with the Chronicle of Nestor and contains the Galician- p39 Volynian Chronicle recounting the relations of Ukrainian lands with Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Muscovy, Crimea, and Turkey. It extends to the year 1597 and ends with the chapter O nachale kozakov (The Beginning of the Cossacks), based on works by Sarnicki15 and Bielski.16 Losytsky's original contribution begins with a chapter on the early Cossack period, which is followed by chapters on the new calendar,17 the Church Union, and on the polemical defense of the Orthodox faith and Ukrainian nationhood. The main inspiration of the whole work is love of one's country which is held to be innate in everyone, drawing all toward it like a magnet. Hence the author of the chronicle expresses the hope that the historical past may not be hidden from the Ukrainian people.

Mezhyhorsky Rukopys (The Mezhyhorsky Manuscript), dating from the seventeenth century, contains the chronicles of Kiev and Volynian lands (1393‑1611, and 1612‑1620), and also the chronicle of the Mezhyhorsky Monastery (near Kiev) from 1608‑1700, which is very important for any historian of the city of Kiev or of the Cossack period and is written in an engaging style. Both chronicles were published by V. Antonovych (Sbornik letopisei, otnosyashchikhsya k istorii yuzhnoi i zapadnoi Rossii, Kiev, 1888).

L'vivsky Litopys (The Lviv Chronicle), so called by the Galician scholar D. Zubrytsky since it was found in Lviv, from 1498 to 1649, records events from 1498 to 1626 very briefly; but beginning with 1630, the annual entries are much more detailed and deal with events in the Kievan lands, Podolia and Galicia. The author, a Podolian, studied in Medzhybozh in 1621, lived in Kiev in 1626, and became a monk of the Mezhyhorsky Monastery. Kulish assumed that he was a Galician. The L'vivsky Litopys  p40 has been printed several times (e.g., in Naukovyi Sbornik, Lviv, 1867).

Khmelnytsky Litopys, from 1636 to 1650, is most valuable for the study of the history of the early period of Khmelnytsky because of the information it contains about the destruction of the country during the wars. It was printed as a supplement to the Litopys of Samovydets', Kiev, 1878.

Podil'sky Litopys (Podolian Chronicle) also existed, but it has not been preserved.

Apart from these chronicles, we have also many complete or fragmentary monasterial chronicles, containing general as well as specific information about life in the regions around the monasteries:

Hustynsky Monasterial Litopys (1600‑1641).

Mharsky Litopys (of the Mhar Monastery near Lubny in the Province of Poltava) contains fragments dated between 1682 and 1775. The story "About the Building of the Stone Church of the Transfiguration in the Mhar Monastery" is most valuable because it provides us with very important information about the construction of stone churches in the Ukraine in the second half of the seventeenth century. It was edited by Lazarevsky (with a preface) and published in Kievskaya Starina, 1889, IV‑VI.

The Chronicle of the Motronynsky Monastery (Chyhyryn District) from 1516 to 1749; fragments from it were published by Mykola Bilozersky in Yuzhnorusskiya letopisi (The South Russian Chronicles) Kiev, 1856.

The Chronicle of the Satanovsky Monastery (in Podolia) were written in Polish, and copied by the Uniate abbot, Modest Sylnytsky, between 1770 and 1793. It is preserved in the Ossolineum Library.

The Chronicle of the Pidhoretsky Monastery (in Galicia, near Brody), from 1659 to 1715, entitled Sinopsis ili kratkoe sobranie istorii (Synopsis or Short Collection of Histories), gives details about Doroshenko's expeditions in alliance with the Turks in 1672 and in later years. Excerpts from it were published by Ivan Franko ("Myron") in Kievskaya Starina, 1890, VII.

 p41  Kroynika monastyrya sv. Mykhaila tserkve Zolotoverkhoho (The Chronicle of the Monastery of St. Michael of the Zolotoverkhy Church) of the second half of the sixteenth century was based chiefly on the Polish chronicle of M. Bielski.

The church chronicle of Dobromil (in Galicia) covers the period 1648‑1700, and was printed by V. Antonovych in Sbornik letopisei, Kiev, 1888.

Even in the second half of the sixteenth century the older type of chronicles (Litopysy) were yielding to a new kind (Kroyniky), composed, according to the Polish tradition, in the form of pragmatic treatises, although at the same time preserving the general character of compilations from various older and foreign sources. The composition of such chronicles had become very widespread in the seventeenth century, especially during the second half of it, in connection with the great national and political movement at that time which, after Khmelnytsky's attempt to reestablish an independent Ukrainian state, led to the creation of the Hetman State on the left bank of the Dnieper. The authors of such chronicles, which also bear the names of "histories" and "synopses," were mostly clerics. Among the more important works in that group are the chronicles of T. Safonovych, P. Kokhanovsky, I. Gizel, and L. Bobolynsky.

Theodosius Safonovych was the abbot of St. Michael Zolotoverkhyi Monastery in Kiev between the years 1655 and 1672. In 1672 he wrote a work entitled Kroynika z letopystsov starodavnych (A Chronicle from the Old Chroniclers). The Polish source chiefly used was the work of M. Stryjkowski.18 The main purpose of Safonovych's work was to provide every Ukrainian with a survey of the nation's history so that he might "be able to answer questions about his country, since people who do not know their national origin are regarded as fools." The author openly acknowledged his debt to foreign sources, saying that he wrote down all he could find in various Rus′ and Polish chroniclers.

 p42  The central theme of Safonovych's chronicle is the unity (sobornost') of all Ukrainian lands; he is just as much concerned with the history of Galicia as with the history of Kiev and Volynia. He attempts to point to those factors in history which led to the creation of the Cossack State in the Ukraine. Although lacking literary talent, the author shows in this work great and sincere love for his country and genuine patriotism. His chronicle has not come down to us in the original; it exists only in copies. An edition of it was prepared by Professor Golubev in the publications of the Kiev Archeographic Commission.19

The chronicle of the Hieromonach Panteleymon Kokhanovsky, the administrator of the Pechersky Monastery (in Kiev), written between 1681 and 1682 under the title Obshyrnyi sinopsis russkii (A Comprehensive Rus′ Synopsis), is really a compilation of source material from Ukrainian and Polish chronicles.

Inokentii Gizel, of German descent, was a pupil of Petro Mohyla, and was sent to study at foreign universities. Later he was put in charge of the Pechersky Monastery's printing press, was a professor and rector of the College and, in 1656 became the archimandrite of the Pechersky Monastery. He died in 1683. Gizel was one of the defenders of the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate. His main work is Sinopsis ili kratkoe sobranie (Synopsis or a Short Collection) the first edition of which was published in 1674 in Kiev. The second edition appeared in 1678, and the third in 1680. Among the sources used by Gizel were the works by Stryjkowski, Kromer,20 Bielski, Guagnini,21 Długosz,22 Nestor, and several other Ukrainian and foreign chroniclers.

The material is arranged in the following order: The narration  p43 begins with an account of the origins of the Slavs who are regarded as descendants of Japhet, Mosoch, and other patriarchs. The genealogy of the tsars is traced back to Augustus. The narrative takes us from accounts of the first Princes, and of the destruction of Kiev by the Tatars, directly to the expedition of Mamay and to the battle on the Don between him and the Muscovite Prince Dmitrii Ivanovich. There follows a description of the fate of Kiev under Lithuanian rule, and, immediately after it, we learn of the establishment of the Patriarchate in Moscow. After a list of Kiev voyevodas and an account of the joining of the Ukraine to Muscovy, the book ends (in the second edition) with the Chyhyryn war of 1677. "Although," writes Ikonnikov, "the Synopsis does not omit Northern Russia, in actual fact it is nothing much else than a history of the Kievan Principality, not of all Rus′" (Opyt russkoi istoriografii, II, p1556). The Synopsis became the most popular textbook of history in the Ukraine, and even more so in Muscovy, where it was reprinted in many editions until the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Leontii Bobolynsky, the Hieromonach of the Troyitsky Monastery in Chernihiv wrote in 1699 the chronicle [. . .] which comprises 636 folios, of which the first 350 contain an account of world history up to the capture of Constantinople by the Turks. It is followed by a description of the "Turkish states, how they were created and multiplied into these eastern lands", and by accounts of Lithuanian and Polish history up to the time of Stefan Batory. The chronicle ends with chapters on Ukrainian history, the message of Isaya Kopynsky to Yarema Vyshnevetsky, and a description of the Chyhyryn campaigns of 1677 and 1678. Bobolynsky's chronicle which is written in beauti­ful Ukrainian, close to the popular speech, was first published in 1854 as an appendix to Hrabyanka's Chronicle (Archeographic Commission in Kiev),23 [. . .]

The Author's or the Editor's Notes:

14 After the Second World War the Ossolineum Library was moved to Kraków; the fate of some of its collection is not known.

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15 Stanislaw Sarnicki, born 1530, a Calvinist preacher in Kraków, was the author of Descriptio veteris et novae Poloniae (1595) and Annales sive de origine et rebus gestis polonorum et lithuanorum, libri VIII (1587).

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16 Marcin Bielski was the author of Kronika Święta; his son, Joachim, continued his father's work and wrote Kronika Polska which terminated in the year 1599 and contained a chapter entitled O Kozakach.

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17 The Gregorian Calendar (New Style) was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

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18 Maciej Stryjkowski, a Polish historian of the sixteenth century. Author of Opisanie Sarmacyi europejskiej and Kronika Polska, Żmudksa, Litewska i wszystkiej Rusi (Królewiec, 1582).

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19 The events of 1917‑20 and the death of Golubev were responsible for the abandonment of this publication.

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20 Marcin Kromer (1512‑1589), author of De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum.

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21 Alessandro Guagnini (1538‑1614), an Italian who served in the Polish army. Author of Sarmatiae Europeae vel Asiaticae descriptio. . . (1578) and Rerum polonicarum tomi tres (Frankfurt, 1584). A Polish translation of his work containing a chapter on the Cossacks appeared in 1611. A Ukrainian translation was circulated in manuscript form.

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22 Jan Długosz (1415‑1480), famous Polish chronicler, author of Annales seu cronicae inclyti regni Poloniae opera in 12 volumes, first published in Leipzig in 1711. It is doubtful now whether Gisel was the author.

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23 This comprised only a part of Bobolynsky's chronicle; the complete work has never been published.

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Page updated: 18 Jun 22