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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 9

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

The Story of the Ukraine
by Clarence Manning

published by
Philosophical Library
New York,

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 11

 p131  Chapter Ten

The End of Kozak Liberties

The disastrous outcome of the revolt of Mazepa gave to Peter the Great his opportunity. The battle of Poltava had definitely strengthened his position and that of Russia in Europe. It carried with it the definite weakening of Poland and made it clear that henceforth the Polish state would not be able even to cherish hopes of resisting the demands of the Russian Tsar. Thereby it freed him from any necessity of consulting the wishes of the Kozaks, who might in other cases have been tempted to resume their loyalty to the King. Besides that, the disloyalty of Mazepa had been so evident that Peter could have an open excuse for acting.

As soon as the old Hetman's treason had been made clear, Peter ordered the Kozak officers to elect Ivan Skoropadsky in his place; but he already took care that the new hetman should not have the power of the old. Within two months, as soon as Charles had been defeated and it was possible for Peter to make far‑reaching plans, he sent a Russian official, Izmaylov, to remain with the hetman "to be resident minister at the hetman's court with the function of assisting him for 'forceful' advice in settling all issues, because of the recent rebellion in Little Russia and the Zaporozhian uprising." Skoropadsky and all the Kozaks knew well what this meant, especially when the tsar refused to allow a formal confirmation of the conditions of the Treaty of Pereyaslav. To make the significance still plainer, the Tsar moved the hetman's capital to Hlukhiv near the Russian border and assigned two regiments of Russian troops to  p132 watch over the safety of the hetman and arrest him at the slightest suspicious sign.

This was a good beginning, for every one knew and realized that from that time on Skoropadsky would be hetman only in name. He and the Kozak officers would have to bear the brunt of any unpopular actions. The Kozaks would merely murmur at their own officers and the Russians would then step in to act as the champions of the masses and try to win them away from their allegiance to the Host. At the same time Peter very ostentatiously treated Skoropadsky with respect on the occasions of his state visits to the capital, and waited.

The building of the city of St. Petersburg and the various other works in the north, like the construction of the Ladoga Canal, demanded an abundance of labor. The Kozaks were in a way bound to government service and Peter summoned large numbers of them to the north, where they were compelled to labor under the most unhealthy conditions. They died by the thousands, and the Host the next year or on the return of the survivors was compelled to furnish other large contingents. Orlyk, who kept in touch with the situation from abroad, openly said that it was the object of Peter to exterminate the whole Host by these methods. He may have exaggerated Peter's purpose but facts certainly seemed to support him.

At the same time Skoropadsky was not strong enough to maintain order at home. He was much under the influence of his wife and friends. His son-in‑law, whom he made army judge, indulged so extensively in bribery that Peter again felt himself called upon to intervene and in 1722, he appointed a Little Russian Board under Brigadier Velyaminov to supervise the administration of justice under the hetman. This act definitely transferred the most important functions of the Host in times of peace to the Russian commanders of the garrison in Ukraine. Even Skoropadsky  p133 protested against this last act, and the refusal of his petition so hurt the old man that he died a few months later.

In the meanwhile all the old vices that had existed in the Hetman state, of striving for the control of estates and land on the part of the officers, continued with increased energy. Peter saw to it that his favorites, like Menshikov, received large estates in Ukraine. He appointed Russian officers in the Kozak regiments and saw to it that they were richly rewarded, so that even the officers of the Hetman's Council consisted largely of Russians and not of Ukrainians.

On hearing of the death of Skoropadsky, Peter followed the same tactics that he had used in disposing of the Patriarchate. He appointed Colonel Polubotok Acting Hetman with instructions to listen to Velyaminov, exactly as he had used Stephen Yavorsky to carry on the Patriarchate until the Holy Synod was ready to function. Then he transferred the responsibility for the Little Russian Board to the Senate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where it had previously rested. It was another symbolic act in the elimination of all privileges on the part of the Kozak Host and the Ukrainian population, and was intended to show that the Ukrainians were only Little Russians and part of the Russian state. When the officers petitioned for the election of a new hetman, Peter postponed decision on the ground that all the hetmans had been traitors, except Khmelnitsky and Skoropadsky and he sent another agent to Ukraine to aid Velyaminov in securing evidence of Kozak dissatisfaction with their officers and in investigating the misdeed of the latter.

He also summoned Polubotok to St. Petersburg so that the Acting Hetman could be near the Tsar. This made it more difficult for Polubotok, who was sincerely endeavoring to restore justice and discipline in the Host, to undertake any positive action. His efforts to do this merely made his position worse and when it was discovered that he was  p134 sending letters to Ukraine to tell the people how to act under the new investigations, Peter solved all problems by arresting and incarcerating him in the Fortress of Saints Peter and Paul in Petersburg together with Colonels Apostol and Miloradovich, who had been summoned also to the capital. Thus the governing body of the Kozak and their most influential leaders were in prison, while Peter was planning his next step. Polubotok could not stand the new insults and he died in prison in the fall of 1724, just a few months before Peter himself passed away.

It is fair to presume that had Peter lived, he would ultimately have wiped out the Host. As Tsar he had no use for any factor in Russian life which reminded him too strongly of the past and which could find no parallel in Europe. The Kozak Host as the government of Russian Ukraine seemed to him superbly out of date. Its leaders still claimed to be entitled to the rights and liberties which they had enjoyed when they joined Moscow. They continued a military organization of the past and as Peter had abolished the old streltsy, the old Muscovite army, so he would the Kozaks.

The ambitious monarch had already realized one thing which perhaps had not impressed itself so deeply upon the Kozak officers. They were to a certain degree outmoded as a military force. His long struggle with Charles XII had shown him that the irregular cavalry of the past, the Kozak strength, was not so fitted to cope with the trained armies of Western Europe as they had been with the mobile cavalry of the Turks and Tatars. With Russia interfering more and more in European quarrels, Peter needed the manpower of Ukraine. He did not need the Kozaks and his practical mind was only too ready to believe that the Host was no longer of service. It could, however, be employed to advantage in the far southeast, and so thousands of Kozaks  p135 were sent there on practically constant military service, where again their losses were tremendous.

With the death of Peter, the era of rapid westernization spent its force. The Tsar's successor and widow, Catherine I, with her favorite, Menshikov, did not have the energy of her late husband. She was not so permeated with the spirit of ruthless change and not so sure of her position that she could alienate large classes of the population. Difficulties were again appearing along the Turkish border and it seemed to the governing powers that the aid of the Kozaks might be useful, if hostilities broke out. Besides, the country was becoming dangerously underpopulated as a result of Peter's inhuman methods, his excessive taxation, his deportations and his drawing off of thousands of Kozaks to practically certain death in the swamps of the north.

Catherine, too, soon died but Peter's grandson, Peter II, who came to the throne in 1727, carried out the policy at the advice of Menshikov and later of Prince Dolgoruky. Once more the Kozak officers were allowed to elect a hetman, the aged Daniel Apostol, who had been released from the prison where Polubotok died. The Kozaks were given back some of their privileges but not all, for they were now to be allowed to elect a hetman only when the Tsar gave permission. Besides that, the general army court was to be composed of three Russians and three Ukrainians, and the treasury of the Host was to be administered by two treasurers, one Russian and the other a Ukrainian. In time of war the Host was to be under the field marshal of the Russian army. The lower officers were to be nominated by the companies and appointed by the hetman, the regimental officers were to be appointed by the hetman, but the colonels and the officer's council had to have the approval of the Tsar.

Apostol, who was over seventy years of age when he was elected to the post, did his best to revive the dignity of his  p136 position. He tried to arrange for the codifying of the Ukrainian laws and to prevent the Kozak officers from getting control of the lands still in the hands of the Kozaks. It was a difficult task because the constant assimilation of the position of the officers, first to the Polish nobles and then to the Russian, had started and continuously strengthened the demand that the officers act entirely like those of equal rank around them and this involved the lowering of the lesser Kozaks into serfdom.

It was during the hetmanate of Apostol that the Zaporozhian Kozaks who had fled into Turkey after the fall of Mazepa finally returned to the country and in 1734, they were allowed to resettle on the site of the Sich. They were now only 7000 in number, but they were to be used under their own officers in the guard of the border.

Meanwhile, in 1730, Anne had ascended the Russian throne as Empress. Anne left the control of the high positions in Petersburg almost entirely to German favorites but in general she approved the policies of Peter the Great, and the death of Apostol gave her the opportunity to renew the Little Russian Board, which was to consist of three Russians and three Ukrainians. The board was to be under the chairman­ship of the Russian imperial resident, at first Prince Shakhovskoy. Shakhovskoy typified the harsher type of Russian administrator and constantly sought to be placed in complete control of Ukraine without any consideration of the rights of the Kozak officers. Although he did not succeed in this, the period became memorable in Ukrainian history for the harsh conduct of affairs, and the arrests of even the most important persons. The Metropolitan of Kiev and the city government of Kiev were all arrested on varying pretexts for desiring to maintain some part of their traditional rights.

In 1741, following the death of Anne and the removal of the baby Emperor, Ivan VI, Elizabeth, the daughter of  p137 Peter the Great, seized the throne after a palace revolution. It might have been presumed that she would continue her father's policy, but she had a personal reason for changing it.

Elizabeth had been kept in retirement for many years and during this period she had met and fallen in love with a Ukrainian singer, Alexis Rozumovsky. The two were morganatically married and while Rozumovsky played no open role in Ukrainian affairs, he quietly influenced Elizabeth to look upon Ukraine with more sympathy and favor. She went with him on a trip through Ukraine in 1744 and at that time came into contact with the Officers' Council. They assured her of their loyalty and petitioned for the election of a new hetman. She asked their leaders to Petersburg on the occasion of the marriage of her nephew, Peter of Holstein, to Catherine and then informed them that the new hetman would be Cyril Rozumovsky, the brother of Alexis, but that he was still being educated abroad and could not be considered for two years, when he would return to the country. She kept her word slowly. In 1747 the Senate was ordered to provide for the election of a new hetman, and in 1749, after Rozumovsky, who had been showered with various honors including the Presidency of the Academy of Sciences, had met the Kozak delegates and had visited Ukraine, the delegates were informed that an Imperial Minister was travelling to Ukraine to arrange for the election.

The election took place on February 22, 1750 and of course Rozumovsky was unanimously elected amid general rejoicing. Elizabeth, following this, officially invested him with the insignia of office, turned back the control of Ukrainian affairs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and officially restored the Kozak rights as they had been in 1722 before Peter commenced his changes almost simultaneously with the death of Skoropadsky. Rozumovsky was made a Russian Field Marshal.

 p138  It might have seemed as if conditions of the past were back. But it was only an archaeological revival. Cyril Rozumovsky had the nominal and perhaps the real power of the preceding hetmans but Ukraine had greatly changed. In the past the hetmans, even if they had been elected under imperial orders, had been chosen from among the outstanding colonels of the Host. Rozumovsky was a young man, fond of pleasure, little skilled in administration and he owed his power entirely to the whim of Elizabeth, his more or less open sister-in‑law. He had no desire to stay in Hlukhiv but spent most of his time in St. Petersburg where he frequented the court circles.

He left the administration of the country entirely in the hands of the Officers' Council, which did its best to reorganize the administration after the changes that had been made during the reign of Anne. It was really a thankless task, for in the last analysis they had the job of remodeling an administration which had never been quite suited to its purposes.

The regimental areas still retained the purely military form, but the practical independence of the colonels separated them to a considerable degree from the Officers' Council which handled the general affairs of the country. There were the same changes in the laws, whereby the smaller villages were theoretically under the army courts and the cities possessed their own courts, under the Magdeburg Law and the Lithuanian Law, both organized before the union of the Host and Russia.

The great difficulty was that during the eighteenth century there had vanished almost the last remnants of the old Kozak democracy. The power of Russia rested outside of the tsars and bureaucrats in the hands of the great landowners, and the Kozak officers loved to think of themselves as the gentry of Little Russia and acted accordingly. Yet they were still proud of many of their ancient liberties and  p139 the hetmanate of Cyril Rozumovsky allowed at least the officers to be happy and contented. As for the peasants they were on the whole no worse off than they had been for decades, so that this period had really some justification for seeming the best part of the eighteenth century.

It was however a period of cultural Russification. The abolition of the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church brought the teaching of the Academy of Kiev into a purely Russian system. The richer people preferred to send their children to the newer and more fashionable schools in St. Petersburg and other Russian centres, and there was repeated again what had happened in the sixteenth century, when the older Ukrainian aristocracy became almost completely Polonized and there were left only the Kozaks and the townsmen to carry the burden of the cultural revival. Now the higher Kozak officers had become the aristocratic element and were Russianized superficially at least, and the towns had lost most of their original importance.

The situation, such as it was, rested too largely upon the close bonds between Cyril Rozumovsky and Elizabeth. When she died in 1761, her nephew Peter III ascended the throne, only to be overthrown in a few months by his wife, Catherine, who then became Empress.

Catherine at once decided to standardize the government of the Empire and to this end she decided to abolish the local autonomies that had existed in various border provinces. This meant the actual elimination of all the Ukrainian rights and privileges and the placing of the Ukrainians on the same basis as the Great Russians. At the same time Cyril Rozumovsky, in his role as Colonel of the Izmailovsky Regiment, had been one of the men to whom she owed her throne at the time of her coup d'état and she did not wish at once to cast him out of his position. She therefore  p140 waited until she received a report that he was seeking to have the hetmanate made hereditary in his family.

It is not known definitely whether this proposal was put forward by some of the Officers' Council in an endeavor to please him, whether he had engineered the move, or whether it was inspired by Teplov, who had accompanied him to Ukraine as his tutor and who was regarded as the spearhead of Russian influence during his hetmanate. Although the proposal was not signed by the officers, word of it was reported to Catherine and along with it were sent reports of the oppression of the peasants and ordinary Kozaks by their officers.

The Seven Years War, which saw the end of the French possessions in America and the rise of Prussia, ended in 1763. Then, with peace in Europe, 1764 proved another turning point in the complicated game that involved Russia, Poland, and Ukraine. In that year Catherine succeeded in forcing the election as King of Poland of Stanislas August Poniatowski, a former lover. His relatives, the Czartoryski Family, had hoped to put one of their number on the throne, but Catherine by her energetic use of Russian money and Russian troops definitely had her way and she could know with satisfaction that Poland would from that time on cause no trouble. Just as the weakening of Poland had caused the Tsars to increase their control of Ukraine, so the placing of a Russian puppet on the Polish throne justified Catherine in going further in Ukraine.

She accordingly requested the resignation of Rozumovsky. He postponed doing it as long as was practicable, but was finally compelled to yield and asked to be relieved of his difficult and dangerous office. This was accepted on November 10, 1764 and in return she gave him a pension of 60,000 rubles a year and allowed him to keep the vast estates that had formerly been connected with the post of hetman. She replaced him with a new Little Russian Board  p141 composed of four Russians and four Ukrainians, seated in order of seniority to show that there was no difference between the two peoples, and left the power in the hands of the governor general, Count Rumyantsev. At the same time she instructed Rumyantsev to give particular attention to the introduction of serfdom and to beware of the general dislike of the Kozak officers for Russia.

At almost the same period she remodelled the Land of Free Communes. This was the area to the east where Kozaks who were dissatisfied with the Hetman state took refuge, and which had been spontaneously organized into regiments by the population on the Kozak model. Various hetmans had tried to secure the annexation of this territory to the Hetman state, but the Tsars had persistently refused to allow it and had encouraged the settling of Russians in the same area. Catherine accordingly turned this into a definite province, abolished the Kozak regiments, replaced them with hussars and introduced the Russian system of taxation.

The restored Sich was the next to receive the attention of Catherine's centralizing policy. She had early begun to colonize the south of Russia and she looked with envy at the lands occupied by the Kozaks. Yet they were still very useful whenever a Turkish war broke out. They fought with their usual bravery and received many honors for their courage both on land and sea. They might have expected some real sign of the gratitude of the Empress, but she was not interested in maintaining the organization despite its usefulness. It was in the way of Russian expansion.

Finally in 1775, she issued a conflicting statement that the Zaporozhians were neglecting the land and also were abandoning their past mode of life and permitting farmers to settle on their lands to raise grain. The truth seems to have been that the Kozaks, under their koshovy Peter  p142 Kalnyshevsky, were trying to develop their own land in their own way and were succeeding too well.

General Tökölyi was accordingly sent secretly with a large force of Russian troops and artillery to the Sich. When it was in position, Tökölyi peremptorily announced that the Sich was to be destroyed. The koshovy and several of the officers, including the chaplain, finally persuaded the Kozaks to yield without fighting, as many had wished to do. The fortresses was razed on June 5 and the property was entirely turned over to the government.

Then as a curious aftermath of this, Kalnyshevsky and the other officers who had led the movement for surrender were all arrested. The koshovy himself was sent for imprisonment to the Solovyetsky Monastery in the far north where he lived until 1803 in solitary confinement and was allowed to leave his cell but three times a year. It was the last ungrateful act of the Empress.

The rest of the Kozaks who did not enter certain regiments were reduced to serfdom and the very name of the Zaporozhian Kozaks was ordered wiped out. Many of the Kozaks, however, succeeded in escaping into Turkey where the Turks allowed them to live near Ochakiv and about 7,000 soon gathered there. Later they were allowed to settle near the mouth of the Danube, but they were on the whole dissatisfied with life in the Ottoman Empire.

Finally, in 1783, Prince Potemkin, to prevent the flight of more of the Kozaks from Russian control, persuaded Catherine to renew the institution under the name of the Kozaks of the Black Sea and settle them in the area of Kuban to the east. This brought together under Anton Holovaty a large number of the Kozaks who continued to take part in the Russian wars, and finally, early in the nineteenth century, a considerable number returned from Turkey on the outbreak of another war between Turkey and Russia.

 p143  With the Sich and the eastern areas properly consolidated, Catherine turned her attention to the Hetman state, which had continued quietly under the iron rule of Count Rumyantsev. In 1780 Catherine issued a new order, completely abolishing this and dividing its territory into three provinces which were to be administered on the Russian pattern. This was done the next year and serfdom was introduced exactly as in Russia proper. In 1783, even the old regiments were dissolved as military units and those who wished to continue service were enrolled in new regiments of carbineers. Nothing was left which would preserve the memory of the Hetman state or of the heroic past of the Zaporozhian Kozaks. Finally in 1786 even the last remnants of autonomy in the Church were abolished and the property of the individual churches and monasteries was taken over by the state and placed in the same pool with all the property of the Church in Russia.

Then in 1793, with the second division of Poland, the largest part of right bank Ukraine was also brought into the Russian Empire and those of the Ukrainians who had remained under Poland found themselves again united with the Ukrainians of the left bank under the new conditions. Their position had been hard enough before, but the masters were given even more power under Russian law than they had had under the rule of Poland and the condition of the helpless peasants grew steadily worse.

The only people who profited were some of the officers, for the complete abolition of all Ukrainian rights and privileges moved them into the status of Russian landowners and nobles. Some of them had been striving to achieve this for a long while. To accomplish it they had broken down the democratic ideas of the Sich and throughout a troubled century, they had sought in every way to separate themselves from the mass of the Kozaks. Now they had at last  p144 succeeded, but at the cost of all of those special privileges which they had so long valued.

The ruin was overwhelming. There was left not a vestige of that independence or of those traditions which had endured in the Dnyeper valley since the days of Prince Volodymyr. The spirit of Moscow had conquered and its will to unity had been achieved. Nothing could be left except the songs sung by despairing serfs. The written records were preempted by the conquerors and the official Russian history whereby Moscow was the legitimate descendant of Kiev had no one to contradict it.

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