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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 8

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 10

 p121  Chapter Nine

The Last Acts in Poland

At the beginning of the seventeenth century nearly all of Ukraine was within the borders of Poland and the Polish King and the magnates were able to feel that Ukraine offered a purely Polish internal question. They were to be disillusioned. The formation of the Church Union and the Ukrainian cultural revival, together with the actions of the Kozak Host, proved that the Polish state as then constituted could not master the problem. The revolt of Khmelnitsky and his placing of the Host under the supremacy of the Tsar definitely established Ukraine as an international problem, perhaps the greatest in Eastern Europe.

Poland had a last chance at the time of the Union of Hadiach in 1658, when it seemed for a moment as if Ukraine would enter along with Poland and Lithuania into a new tripartite form of government. It was not to be. The Kozaks were not willing to back Vyhovsky in his undertaking, the Polish King and magnates had learned nothing, and the scheme fell through. Instead there was made between the King and the Tsar the Treaty of Andrusivo in 1667 whereby Ukraine was definitely divided along the Dnyeper and Kiev passed into Muscovite hands.

As we have seen, the struggle continued and Ukraine was cruelly devastated. More and more the Kozak Host was driven to the eastward and a large part of the Ukrainian lands in Poland lost contact with it. The last endeavor of the Kozaks came during the hetman­ship of Mazepa, when Paly had endeavored to unite what was left of it in Poland with the main forces of the Kozaks.

 p122  Poland was steadily falling into ruin. The Kings were no longer able to govern, except on paper, and during the eighteenth century, Russian and Swedish armies were constantly marching across her territory. The King and magnates were only too ready to be peaceful, provided they were not asked to fight for themselves or for any else. It might have seemed an ideal they made for a Kozak movement, but the main body of the Host had been so punished after the defeat of Mazepa, that it could give no support to the Kozaks in Poland. Step by step the Host vanished from the Polish lands. It was consistently deprived of its possible supports and from the early part of the eighteenth century, it ceased to play any role in Polish affairs.

Lviv had been one of the centres of the Ukrainian cultural revival, but this too languished under the new conditions. By now there were practically no noble families that continued to support the Orthodox Church. The Poland of the late seventeenth century was no longer interested in the welfare of its own cities. Trade and commerce were hampered in every way by the senseless quarrels of the magnates and the szlachta and by the impotence of the Diet to take any action for the good of the state and the improvement of economic conditions. As a result the Brotherhoods which had played such an important part in Ukrainian life a few years earlier, no longer had the income that would permit them to continue their old scale of activities. The schools which they had supported languished and were finally closed, while the Polish government worked to accelerate the process of their dissolution.

The formal division of the country in 1667 and the addition of Kiev to the Muscovite lands, foreshadowed the diminution of the power of the Orthodox in Poland. When the Tsar was putting pressure upon the Sultan of Turkey to have the Patriarch of Constantinople formally transfer the Metropolitan of Kiev and his subordinate dioceses to  p123 the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow,​a the Poles considered it time to act. In 1676 they forbade the Orthodox in case of dispute to appeal to the Patriarch and they demanded that all Orthodox cases be tried in Polish courts. They placed the Brotherhoods under the control of their bishops and the Polish courts and forbade the Orthodox to leave or reenter the country. Such measures, far more drastic than those of a century earlier, aroused hostility but no revolt, for the Orthodox Church, except in a few areas, was now too weak to do more than present ineffectual protests. It was now unable to stage those mass demonstrations that fifty years before had revived a threatened hierarchy and under Kozak protection raised it to new heights of power.

The next act was the elimination of Orthodoxy almost entirely from the bulk of the Polish lands, especially in Western Ukraine where the process of Polonization had gone furthest. The work of inducing the people of this area to accept the Union was accomplished largely through the efforts of Josef Shumlyansky, (1643‑1707), the Archbishop of Lviv. Shumlyansky had very early in his career accepted the Union. He was doubtless an able, if hardly spiritual, man. He had taken part in various military campaigns and he was later, after his acceptance of the bishopric, wounded at the siege of Vienna, the last great exploit of Polish arms. He was also a skilful diplomat and served on many missions for the King. He profited by the Treaty of Andrusivo to have himself nominated by the King as the administrator of those lands of the Kiev metropolitan that still remained in Poland. All in all, he gathered under his own control all those Orthodox threads that still served to hold together a dying movement. Yet he felt that time was playing on his side and when the King, in 1680, attempted to expedite the Union by calling a council similar to the one in Brest a century earlier, Shumlyansky refused to attend. However,  p124 he secretly notified the King and the Roman Catholic authorities that his return to Orthodoxy from the Union was not a sign of altered interests. He won the confidence of the authorities and for twenty years he undermined the Orthodox Church by appointing only secret partisans of the Union to the more responsible posts. When he felt himself strong enough to come out into the open, he was ably seconded by the other bishops and the elimination of the Orthodox Church in Western Ukraine was an accomplished fact. Neither the Brotherhoods nor the nobles were able to resist the movement and that undertaking which had been so disastrous to the Polish state a century earlier was carried through as a well-prepared scheme by a Polish government that was already losing its control of events.

Even the Brotherhood of Lviv, though it continued the struggle, was no longer able to protest effectively. Shumlyansky established his own printing press and this deprived the Brotherhood of its source of income, for it had formerly had a monopoly of printing in Church Slavonic and exported many books to the rest of Ukraine, a trade that had been cut off by the actions of Moscow. Finally, when the Swedes besieged the city in 1704, the Brotherhood was compelled to contribute an enormous sum to the ransom demanded. By these and many other acts of annoyance, it was finally ruined and in 1708 it too accepted the Union.

Thus the two pillars of support of the Ukrainian revival, the cultural work of the Brotherhoods and the power of the Kozaks, were both liquidated in Poland, and Western Ukraine was put entirely at the mercy of the Polish government. The nobles had long since become Polonized and the eighteenth century is a sad period when there seemed even less hope of a revival than there had been in the sixteenth.

 p125  All that seemed to be left of the old movement was the fanatic faith of the peasant serfs, who clung to their Orthodox religion and their native traditions. Yet what could they effect under the conditions of the time?

They could merely grumble and at times break out into desperate revolts. Particularly in the eastern parts of the country and along the Hungarian and Moldavian borders there was a constant state of unrest headed by the Haydamaks. The name apparently comes from a Turkish word for brigand, but the Haydamaks were no ordinary bandits. They were a manifestation of that tendency that had earlier produced the original Kozaks, and had developed in the Ottoman Empire the various Chetniks and other groups which fought stubbornly and often without definite plan for the welfare of the enslaved populations. They could always rely upon the sympathy and protection of the peasants in their raids upon the manor houses and the Jewish merchants who worked for the nobles, for throughout the entire area the collapse of the Kozak movement had brought back the great estates that had existed before the time of Khmelnitsky and the landlords were even more tyrannical and overbearing than they had been before. Their demands for money to supply their western tastes were greater and life was almost impossible for their unfortunate underlings.

It was small wonder then that the peasants welcomed the incursions of armed bands to burn and to plunder their oppressors. The result was a wild and turbulent period which made life dangerous but which could not offer, as had the Kozak Host, any prospect of improvement. The Haydamak bands rarely united except for some major operation. The leaders were even more torn by mutual feuds than had been the old Kozak organization, which had been on the way to achieving a stabilized organization.

The Zaporozhian Sich, which had returned to Russian  p126 territory after a short stay in Turkey, was also only a shadow of its former self. Nevertheless now and then some particularly bold Haydamak leader would get in touch with the Sich and detachments of Kozaks would swarm across the unprotected border to aid them, and in case of defeat the Haydamaks would go back with the Zaporozhians. Yet this no longer had the same force as when the Kozaks would dare to defy even the Sultan of Turkey. The world was becoming settled and the social order had no real place for these doughty champions of liberty and independence.

The Orthodox Ukrainians had still enough power and energy to rise up in short but furious revolts. Yet these usually lacked any directive purpose and spent themselves in savagery, without the formulation of any definite plan or purpose. They were usually called forth not only by the deplorable conditions of the people but they were abetted for the purposes of Russia in order to punish Poland and interfere with her affairs.

This was the case with the revolt of the Haydamaks in 1734. Poland was in turmoil after the death of August II. The Russian Empress Anna was backing August III for his father's post, while many of the anti-Russian nobles were trying again to place Stanislas Leszczynski on the throne. Under such conditions Russian armies, together with detachments of Kozaks, were invading the country. Rumors, perhaps spread by the Russian commanders, had it that the Russians and Kozaks were coming to expel the Polish landlords and to free Ukraine as in the days of Khmelnitsky. It was only a rumor but the peasants took it seriously and rose in revolt throughout the eastern provinces. This was especially marked in the province of Braslav, where the Russian commander had actually asked the nobles supporting August to send their Kozak retainers to help the Russians. On the strength of this, Verlan, who commanded the Kozaks of Prince Lubomirski, embroidered  p127 his fancies and declared that Anna had ordered a rising, so that the peasants could become Kozaks and join the Hetman state. Armed with this, he raised a considerable army and set out to plunder the nobles' estates.

In the middle of the spreading fire, the city of Danzig, the chief base of Leszczynski, fell to the Russians and August III ascended the throne. There was no longer any need of rousing the peasants against the Poles. As a result the Russian troops were at once put at the service of the Polish King and the nobles to suppress the uprising. Once the peasants had realized that the Russian army was backing their enemies and not themselves, the movement quickly subsided and the peasants had nothing to do but to return to their former serfdom. Those who were unwilling to do this or were too deeply involved to feel safe made their way to the Sich or into Wallachia and joined the more or less permanent Haydamak bands.

Disorders continued during the following years but not on a sufficiently large scale to influence the general course of events. It was not until the revolt of the Kolii in 1768 that the fires of unrest flared up violently and again the revolt followed the same course as that of 1734. It is only remarkable because the grandfather of Shevchenko served in it and his tales induced the great poet to compose his longest narrative epic, the Haydamaki.

The eternal controversies between the Orthodox and the Uniats were the spark that set off this turmoil. In 1760 there broke out renewed fighting in the Polish parts of the province of Kiev as the Uniats tried to force the Orthodox to join them and the Orthodox, under the backing of the abbot of the Motronin monastery, refused. Violence followed violence on both sides and the Orthodox sexton of Mliiv was murdered. At the request of the people of the area he had hidden the chalice of the local church. He was  p128 accused by the Uniats of using it for purposes of orgies, and was publicly tortured by them and put to death.

Even then these disturbances would have followed the normal course, had it not been for the Confederation of Bar, when the Pulaskis, including Casimir who was to die as a general in the American Army, raised the standard of revolt against Russian interference in Polish affairs. Russian troops were moved into the Ukrainian area in the southeast and the peasants again jumped to the conclusion that Catherine the Great was encouraging them to revolt against their landlords. Maksym Zalyznyak, a Zaporozhian Kozak, led the revolt and when he and his bands marched toward Uman, they were joined by Ivan Gonta, captain of the Kozak retainers of the Potocki estate at Uman. There was a considerable massacre at Uman when the Kozaks and the Haydamaks took the town and other bands operated in the southern part of the province.

The outcome was the same. In June, the Confederates of Bar were forced to cross the Polish border into Turkey after being defeated by the Russian troops. The Russian commanders then willingly listened to the plea of Stanislas August Poniatowski for assistance. They invited the leaders of the revolt to meet them as if they were ready to give them more support, and then arrested them and turned them over to the Poles, where they received severe punishment. Some, including Gonta, were tortured to death.

Again the situation returned to normal. The Haydamaks continued their raiding on a small scale. There were the usual burnings of manor houses, and the killing of nobles, but none of the attacks called forth a wide movement on the part of the population. The mood of the people continued uneasy but there was no open struggle and in 1792 the division of Poland brought the Ukrainians directly under Russian control.

 p129  Yet during this century, which saw the definite triumph of the Union in Galicia and the downfall of the Orthodox Ukrainian organizations, there began to be signs of an astonishing metamorphosis in the thought of the Union. It had been initiated in the sixteenth century to break the power of the Ukrainian cultural revival among the Orthodox and to safeguard the Polish state against the Kozaks and their unbridled devotion to Orthodoxy. For nearly two centuries it had been generally understood that the members of the Union, in submitting themselves to the Papacy, were cutting themselves off from the Ukrainian cause. It had been confidently believed that the Union would swing ultimately into the Roman Catholic Church and that it would lose its identity in the mass of Catholic Poland, exactly as the nobles had done, when they became Polonized and Catholic. This had been the great argument of all the Orthodox and had been the cause of the bitterness that had existed between the two groups.

As Russia extended its control over Kiev and then abolished the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, things began to change. The Russian censors arbitrarily banned many of the books which had been circulating among both Orthodox and Uniats and insisted on replacing them with books of the pure Russian type. The Uniats adopted a contrary policy. They continued to use the old traditional books, written or printed in the old traditional way. It gave them a strong hold on many sections of the Ukrainian population who could no longer look to Kiev for the writings to which they were accustomed. In many sections, especially in Galicia, the bulk of the population, once they had accepted the Union and their children had been brought up in the new environment, commenced to feel at home in it.

Some of the more enterprising and capable bishops of the Union spoke out very strongly against a further process  p130 of Latinization. For example, Bishop Shumlyansky who had played such a large part in winning over by guile or persuasion the population of Lviv and the Brotherhood of that city, was equally emphatic in his recommendations to his clergy to try to start parish schools and to build up the Ukrainian Uniat educational system. His work was watched and followed by many of the other bishops. The successes achieved were far scantier than had been those won by the Orthodox cultural movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; but the seed was sown, although it was not to take effective root until after the division of Poland. A keen observer could have predicted by the middle of the eighteenth century that the Union was not only a means of disrupting the Orthodox but that it would in time take its place as a definite Ukrainian Church. The idea seemed preposterous at first sight, but with each new effort that was put forth the tendencies in this direction became more clear and the actions of the Austrian rulers after the division of the country worked strongly in this direction.

It thus happened that the very period that saw the ending in Poland of the old form of the Ukrainian problem witnessed another aspect of it that was to dominate the province of Galicia during the nineteenth century. The dream of using the Union to Polonize the country failed exactly as had the more direct methods that were employed before the Union, for the Union was in itself enrolled in the service of the Ukrainian cause, and it had its chance to be effective when Russian pressure was directed toward the suppression of that Ukrainian Orthodoxy that had been the first inspirer of the recovery of the national consciousness.

Thayer's Note:

a It was finally in 1686 that the Patriarch of Constantinople was prevailed upon to transfer his jurisdiction over the Kievan Orthodox Church to Moscow. The Patriarchate of Constantinople reversed the ruling in 2019, and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is now once again autocephalous.

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