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Chapter 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Abyss of Despair

Rabbi Nathan Hanover

Bloch Publishing Company
New York, 5710‑1950

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 3

 p29  II

These are the records of the massacres of Nalevaiko, (may his name be blotted out)

In the year (5)362,1 according to the minor reckoning, the seventeenth year of the reign of King Sigismund, there arose a Ukrainian Priest, by the name of Nalevaiko2 to avenge the cruel treatment accorded his people. He exhorted his people in the following words: "How long will ye keep silent at the cruelties perpetrated by the Polish people?" Gathering a large army of Ukrainians like the sand on the shore of the sea,3 he staged a rebellion against the Kingdom of Poland, and conquered all of [Little] Russia up to the City of Cudnow.4 When the King was apprised of this he sent two generals with all his army equipped with chariots and riders to wage war against Nalevaiko. The Polish army prevailed and they captured the enemy Nalevaiko alive. They brought him to the capital city of Warsaw to stand in judgment for the crime of rebelling against the King. Justice was meted out to him, while his people were still further enslaved. The Cossacks who supported him were punished by having the number of their privileged reduced to twenty thousand. The rest were compelled to pay taxes to the  p30 King and the nobles. Thus the number of Cossacks which was originally thirty thousand was reduced by ten thousand. Henceforth, there were only twenty thousand Cossacks. And the land had rest.5

In the year 391, according to the minor reckoning, King Sigismund died,6 after ruling over Poland for forty‑six years. He was succeeded by his son Wladislaw in 392.7 He ruled over the Kingdom of Poland sixteen years. He had married a woman of noble descent, the daughter of Kaiser Matthias, the sister of Kaiser Ferdinand, may his glory increase, who now sits on the throne in the city of Vienna, may the Lord preserve him. The queen died in the year 405,8 according to the minor reckoning, and in the year 4069 he took another wife, the daughter of a French King and the sister of the present King of France.10 Wladislaw was a kind and benevolent King, he loved justice and he loved Israel. Peace reigned in his days.

The Editor's Notes:

1 1602. The date mentioned by Hanover is incorrect. This rebellion had its beginning in 1596.

2 There were two brothers Nolevaiko,º one Danion, a priest and the other, Semion, a lieutenant. Apparently, the second was the rebel.

Thayer's Note: According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Severyn Nalyvaiko was the leader of the rebellion, but his brother Demian participated as well. Among the first Ukrainians to stand up to Poland, they are considered Ukrainian national heroes.

3 Gen. 22:17. Hanover is inclined to exaggerate. He makes use of this phrase whenever he wishes to convey the idea of a multitude. The author uses the traditional reference "holy congregation" for each community, but for the sake of smoother reading the translator omitted it.

4 In the Province of Zhitomir, Wolhynia.

Thayer's Note: In Polish, properly Cudnów; now known by its Ukrainian name, Chudniv.

5 Judges 3:11.

6 1631. Hanover errs in the date of Sigismund's death. He died in April 1632.

7 1632. Wladislaw was elected king in Nov. 1632 and was crowned in February 1633.

8 1645.

Thayer's Note: Queen Cecilia Renata died in 1644. She was indeed the sister of Ferdinand III, the ruling Holy Roman Emperor at the time this book was written. She was thus the daughter of Ferdinand II. Our author seems to have confused the latter with Ferdinand's predecessor on the imperial throne, Emperor Matthias (among his other titles, he held that of archduke of Austria), who was childless.

9 1646.

10 Louis XIV.

Thayer's Note: The French king at the time was indeed Louis XIV — who had no sister, however; our author is mistaken. The second wife of King Władyslaw was Marie Louise Gonzaga, duchess of Nevers, called Ludwika Maria in Polish: the closest she ever got to being a sister of King Louis was as the prospective bride of his uncle Gaston d'Orléans.

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Page updated: 4 Dec 22