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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 13

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 15

 p172  Chapter Fourteen

The Revival in Galicia

During the seventeenth century, there had gradually developed differences in those sections of Ukraine which had remained under Polish control after the Treaty of Andrusivo. This was largely the result of the endless conflict between the Orthodox and the Uniats, and was marked by the steadily weakening of the Orthodox, especially after the beginning of the eighteenth century when the great Brotherhood of Lviv formally accepted the Union. In the eastern portions of the Polish controlled territory, the Orthodox still retained considerable, if only negative, power, and it was in those regions that the last revolts against Poland took place. At times the Koliishchina​a had threatened to spread westward along the Carpathians but the danger was averted and peace was maintained.

Then came the divisions of Poland and most of the areas in which the Union had secured an undisputed supremacy passed into the hands of Austria-Hungary. Soon after, the latter seized from Turkey northern Bukovina, which was still largely Orthodox and had formed the northern section of Moldavia, long a storm centre.

The Ukrainians living in the Carpathian Mountains formed part of the Kingdom of Hungary. These people had suffered from the vicissitudes of the past centuries and little is known of their early history or of their appearance in the area where they still dwell.

In his historical novel, Zakhar Berkut, Ivan Franko gives a picture of the early democratic life of these villagers in the time of the Tatar invasions but it is not certain whether or not they ever formed an independent state. In all probability  p173 the central authority in these mountain valleys was not well developed in the Middle Ages. The various valleys paid more or less feudal allegiance to the rulers of Ukraine but the mountain passes were closed several months in the year by snow and with the confused conditions in Galicia and the struggles between Poland and Hungary, the region was more or less forgotten.

The people were Orthodox and apparently formed part of the see of Peremyshl but the bishops rarely visited them. Education was on a far lower level than anywhere else in Ukraine and the revival of the sixteenth century had little or no effect upon the mountaineers. Hungarian rule, which had been established in the fourteenth century weighed heavy upon them. Peasants and clergy alike were serfs, illiteracy was widely prevalent and almost the rule, and the physical, economic and intellectual conditions left everything to be desired.

Apparently also in the fifteenth century an Orthodox bishop was settled at Mukachevo, but this again did not mean much. The monasteries had lost most of their wealth in the disturbances of the preceding centuries and the bishops had to live on fees collected from the ordination of young priests and the annual contributions that they were compelled to make for the support of the central organization. It was the same situation that had come up elsewhere in the Ukrainian lands but there was really no centre to maintain any education and things went constantly from bad to worse.

It was an ideal situation for the spreading of the religious Union. One of the landowners, Homonai, introduced it on his estates in the seventeenth century. He won over the priests and monks, but the peasants, as they had done so often, refused to accept it. However, the idea took root and by 1640 a considerable number had more or less formally adhered, so that in 1649 it was possible for the adherents  p174 to hold a meeting at Uzhorod and formally request to be accepted under the same terms as had been satisfactory fifty years before at Brest. The Pope acknowledged this in 1652.

As can be seen from the above, the struggle for the Union or the Orthodox faith in Carpatho-Ukraine, as everything else in the area, was far less centralized, far less standardized, and the villages maintained a certain independence in their misery, for the Hungarian system of administration had grouped the area into several counties with little possibility of cooperation or mutual help.

There were times, however, when the temper of the people flared up to white heat and revolts broke out or were threatened. Thus, for example, at the time of the outbreak of the Koliishchina in the province of Kiev, around 1770, there was marked unrest in this area. The peasants, some of whom apparently did not know that they had accepted the Union, turned against their landlords and the Uniat priests and there were repeated on a small scale those disorders that marked the disturbances in the East. There were the same rumors that the Orthodox ruler of the east was going to come to their assistance and, as elsewhere, no help ever came, and the authorities put down the revolt and the unrest with an iron hand.

The Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and her son Joseph II were made uneasy by these troubles. They were already looking with greedy eyes at the southwestern sections of Poland and of Western Ukraine, and it did not seem a wise policy to allow disorders to spread among people related to those whom they were desirous of annexing. Besides that, the old feuds as to the relative rights of Austria and Hungary became involved in the picture and once peace had been restored, the rulers began to look around to see what could be done.

There were many things needed, but in the mind of the  p175 rulers of the eighteenth century, the idea of relieving the fundamentally bad economic conditions of the area made no impression. Rather the Empress felt that she was receiving good advice, when she was told that it was the ignorance of the people and still more of the clergy that was responsible for the confusion. As a result she soon turned her attention to the founding of schools in this area. One was established at Mukachevo for the clergy and steps were taken to improve the condition of the priests. These were timid and minor actions but they were destined to have great influence upon the future. Bishop Andrey Bachinsky, who was installed at Mukachevo at almost the same moment when the province of Galicia was falling into Austrian hands, was a competent administrator. He gathered around him a small number of educated priests and through his schools did what he could for the country.

All this was not much, but when Maria Theresa took over Galicia and the other Ukrainian lands, she had already an example before her. She felt that she had hit upon the correct policy and it was not long before she opened a school in Vienna for the Western Ukrainians, or the Ruthenians as the Austrian government, following Polish practice, insisted upon calling them. In view of the attitude of the Austrian government toward religion, it was only natural that this education was at first made available only for young men who were candidates for the priesthood of the Uniat Church.

As we have seen, the Uniat Church, which had been fostered by the Polish kings and magnates to disintegrate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the metropolitan see of Kiev, had become by the course of events inseparably connected with the Ukrainian cause in the west. Yet it possessed at the time of the division of Poland very few educated members, except some of the higher clergy. The parish priests and their congregations were woefully uneducated.  p176 The church was generally regarded as merely the church for the peasants and it was quite widely ridiculed by the Polish-speaking nobles.

It was then an act of real charity and kindness for Maria Theresa to endeavor to educate the clergy and to raise their intellectual standards and equipment. It was to determine for nearly a century the nature of the national revival in Galicia and Western Ukraine generally. On the one hand, it bound the leaders of the Uniat Church more closely to the Austro-Hungarian throne and put them in the position of a welcome counter-balance to the Polish aspirations for recovery of their lost territory and, failing that, to dominate and play the role of an upper class under Austrian control.

On the other hand, it preserved and strengthened all those conservative tendencies that had been inherent in the Kiev Academy during the seventeenth century and had been even earlier a handicap to the work of the Brotherhoods in the sixteenth. It meant the definite strengthening of those tendencies which were opposed to the introduction of the vernacular language. The vast majority of the educated priests and scholars of Austria-Hungary spoke Latin more or less well. It was only natural therefore that the Ukrainian clergy trained in the schools of Maria Theresa laid especial emphasis on the Church Slavonic in the form in which it had been traditionally preserved. Relatively little effort was expended on the modernization of this language and in many ways the writings of these men were even further from the daily speech of the people than had been the case two centuries before, when the scholars of Kiev sought to go back to the pure form of Church Slavonic.

It was therefore nearly fifty years before the leaders of the Ukrainian movement in Austria-Hungary reached the point that had been arrived at by Kotlyarevsky in Eastern  p177 Ukraine. The intellectual life of the Western Ukrainians and their writings remained in that same artificial form that had been prevalent everywhere before the publication of the Eneida. More than that, there were many who looked askance at the new Ukrainian system that was coming into vague under the power of the Tsar. They saw in the apparently new writing something which might develop into a menace to the integrity of the Church teachings and they opposed its introduction into the schools of the province.

Nevertheless, although the Ukrainian revival came far later than that of many of the other peoples of the Austrian Empire, it followed the same general pattern, with a certain amount of political activity allowed to Ukrainians as Ukrainians, especially in the lower administrative levels and for those few members of the group who were not serfs but were recognized as free men.

It was not long after the provinces passed into the hands of Austria-Hungary that there was established a theological seminary for Uniat priests in Lviv and this was even more accessible than was the school in Vienna. Later, in 1784, the University of Lviv was founded and in this it was provided that there should be certain courses in the Ruthenian language, that is, the old mixture of Church Slavonic, Ukrainian and Polish that had been the dominant language of the Kiev school in the seventeenth century. A preliminary school to prepare the Ukrainians for admission to the University was established. For a while all seemed well, but it was a false dawn.

The key to these events was to be found in the policy of Maria Theresa and still more of the Emperor Joseph II, who reigned with her for many years and then was sole emperor from 1780 to 1790. Maria Theresa was devoutly religious. Joseph II, her son, belonged to the same class of enlightened despots as did Catherine the Great of Russia.  p178 He was interested in unifying his domains just as ardently as was Catherine, but he had a different problem to face, for he desired to make German and not another Slavonic language the general language of administration. Besides that, both mother and son were suspicious of the loyalty of the Poles, who had just been annexed to the Austrian domains, and it seemed a wise measure to lighten the burdens of the Ukrainian population in an endeavor to win their loyalty. Besides these educational reforms, Joseph had very decided ideas on the necessity of lightening the burdens of the serfs and of abolishing most of the abuses to which they had been subjected in the past.

All of these varying motives, often conflicting with one another, tended to give an opportunity for the Ukrainian population in Western Ukraine to improve their status. All the results achieved were won during the years of the reign of Joseph II and the brief years of Leopold II, but when Francis II came to the throne in 1792, conditions changed.

Externally the French Revolution was then going on and Austria took a defiant attitude toward everything that savored of liberalism in any way. The rights of the landowners were restored throughout the Empire and this deprived the peasants of any hopes that might have been enkindled in them by the promises of Joseph II. Then too, there were no signs of revolt among the Poles in the annexed provinces. This was in a way a deliberate choice of the Polish authorities and even during the revolt of Kosciuszko in 1794, he did his best to prevent the spreading of the movement for a restored Poland into that part of the territory that was held by Austria, and endeavored to concentrate the national uprising against Russia and secondarily against Prussia. Thus it seemed to the interest of Vienna at this moment to cooperate with the Polish landlords in Western Ukraine and to try to limit the spread  p179 of dissension, while Austria prepared to take her share in the final division. Then with Poland out of the way, efforts to improve the conditions of the Ukrainians within Austria sagged severely and during the years that followed, the situation remained fairly static.

Yet the situation never went quite back to that prevailing before the time of Joseph II. It is true that by 1808 the courses in the University of Lviv and the preparatory gymnasium had faded away at the instance of the Poles and there remained only a few parochial and private schools where the traditional dead language was the medium of instruction. Yet there was an increasing number of Ukrainians who were able to secure an education in schools where German as well as Polish was taught. All too often, however, these men acquired a contempt for the peasant masses and sought for positions elsewhere in the Austrian civil service, so that they did not give to their people the benefit of their education. Many of those who remained tended to prefer Polish as a more fashionable language and thus added to the number of able people who were lost to the Western Ukrainian cause.

The real difficulty that prevented the Ukrainians of Western Ukraine from more successful work was the language question and until that was definitely settled, real progress was impossible. All the work at the University of Lviv was carried on in the old traditional language. None of the leaders of Western Ukraine had the vision or the energy of Kotlyarevsky to break away from the old ecclesiastical tongue and write in the language of the people. After the time of Joseph II, education fell back into the hands of the clergy and they maintained that same idea that had run through the history of the old Brotherhoods, the idea that the people's cause and the people's faith could only be maintained by emphasizing the use of the old ecclesiastical language. This never became adapted to the  p180 civil needs of the population, high or low, and in the early nineteenth century it had much to do with the delays in the Ukrainian cause.

When the secular writings of Kotlyarevsky were first brought into Western Ukraine, they aroused only a series of attacks on the part of the conservative leaders who saw in them something secular and therefore suspicious or heretical. They made their way very slowly even among the literate classes who were bound up with the old ideas, and were not welcomed as enthusiastically as they had been in Great Ukraine.

Indeed it was not until the end of the thirties, when Shevchenko was already doing some of his best work, that any serious attempt was made to introduce the speech of the people into literature. At that time Markian Shashkevich, a young priest, wrote a series of poems in the vernacular. They aroused a great deal of controversy and were refused publication in Galicia but the author succeeded in having them appear in Budapest. Still, such were the censor­ship laws of the time, that while they were officially approved in Hungary, every copy that reached Galicia was seized by the censor and police. Shashkevich died in 1843. His two closest friends, who survived him, ultimately left the Ukrainian cause. Ivan Vahilevich after some years accepted the Polish thesis as to the Ukrainians of Galicia, and Yakiv Holovatsky accepted a position in the Russian Archaeological Service.

Already there had begun that linguistic feud which was to stifle the life and thought of Western Ukraine for many years. The vast majority of the intellectual leaders were Uniat priests and they, together with some of the more conservative people, held out strongly for the maintenance of the old artificial Church Slavonic language. Among the more progressive elements there were the followers of Shashkevich, but there were others who seriously wanted  p181 to adopt Russian as the form of the vernacular to be followed, and these developed into the Moscophile or Russophile party of later days. It must not be supposed however that these people knew any Great Russian. Very few were ever able to read any of the Russian classics which were already being written, but they followed the most elaborate theories that almost any Ruthene would be able to use Great Russian in one hour, if he really set his mind on it. They refused to face any of the difficulties in their position and simply idealized Russia because it was not Austria-Hungary, and because it was a Slavonic country. Had they even attempted to learn Russian, the situation would not have been so absurd.

This feeling spread quite widely in Western Ukraine and in Bukovina and even more strongly among the Carpatho-Ukrainians, where it has continued to the present time, especially among the more illiterate portions of the population, and the Orthodox elements. It was a curious mixture of a romantic idealization of Russia, a confusion of rus′sky and russky, and a desire to get away at all costs from the horrible and unsatisfactory present.

As the period of 1848 drew nearer, with the growing unrest among all the subject populations of Austria-Hungary, the situation again changed. After 1846 it was already becoming evident that unrest among the Poles was increasing. The government, especially Count Stadion, the governor of Galicia, set itself to woo the Ukrainians and to assure their loyalty. To this end there was allowed to be organized a political society, the Holovna Rada, which aimed to be the intermediary between the Ukrainians and the government. A newspaper the Zora Halitska (the Galician Star) was started, and a Congress of Ruthenian Scholars demanded that the language should be completely reorganized, with a uniform system of spelling for both Eastern and Western Ukraine and that it should be freed from  p182 all Russian and Polish influences. To further this goal, there was organized an Educational Society, on the lines of the Czech Matica. Politically the Congress demanded the separation of the Polish and Ruthenian (Ukrainian) parts of Galicia, so the Ukrainian people would be directly under the control of the Austrian government.

The Austrian government did not look unkindly upon these demands and for a while it seemed likely that it would take steps to carry them out. Ukrainian lectures, this time in the vernacular, were introduced again into the University of Lviv and Ukrainian schools were started throughout the province. As a still further step, the government decreed the liberation of the serfs, and thereby it struck a powerful blow at the Polish landlords in a way well described a little later by Ivan Franko in the Master's Jokes. The same promises were made in both Bukovina and Carpatho-Ukraine, where Adolph Dobryansky took the lead during the revolt of Kossuth and the Hungarians. Finally he joined the Russians when they invaded the country to help the Austrians against the revolting Hungarians, and he carried with him many of the intellectuals in the province.

As so much else in Austria during the year 1848, little positive was gained, for when the unrest had subsided, the Austrians conveniently forgot all the promises that they had made a few months earlier. In 1849, with the danger passed, they again turned the control of Galicia over to the Poles and in both Carpatho-Ukraine and in Bukovina, where the Russophile movement had grown strong, turned against all of its leading representatives. The Ukrainian newspapers were largely abolished and the power passed back into the hands of those classes who had little use for the vernacular language of the people.

The reaction after 1848 roughly coincided with the arrest of Shevchenko and the crushing of the Society of Saints  p183 Cyril and Methodius in Russia. Yet the revival up to that period had shown striking differences in Eastern and Western Ukraine. In Russia it had been a lay revival, with special emphasis upon the development of a modern literature in the face of a determined government, which insisted upon the unity of both Russians and Little Russians. Any thought of political action was in the beginning useless, and prison or Siberia was the fate of every one who dared to advocate national recognition. Under Austrian rule, the Uniat Church had taken the lead in the movement. It had developed into an anti-Polish but government-favored policy, which only too readily admitted the racial and cultural differences between the Poles and the Ruthenians. Unfortunately, there were no outstanding political leaders to profit by this opportunity. Before the triumph of reaction the Ruthenians were most hampered by the stubborn conservatism of their own people who refused to face the fact that it was necessary to modernize the language.

Actually the two Ukraines had become widely separated areas with differences in religion, in the goal of their efforts, and in their weapons of struggle. There was little knowledge on either side of what the other was doing and perhaps even less appreciation. Yet in both regions, and in Bukovina and Carpatho-Ukraine, the Ukrainians had awakened from their long slumber. Something was stirring, but the trend to cooperation was still very weak and it was only the Congress of Ruthenian Scholars that had even mentioned the possibility of joint action, even in the cultural and linguistic spheres, so well had the enforced separation done its work. Everything seemed lost as 1850 approached, but the new dullness was not of long duration.

Thayer's Note:

a The last revolt of Western Ukraine against Polish domination, the Koliishchina broke out under the leader­ship of Maksim Zaliznyak and Ivan Gonta in 1768 and culminated in a massacre of Poles and Jews at Uman.

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