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Chapter 2

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

in Foreign Comments
and Descriptions

by Volodymyr Sichynsky

published by
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Inc.
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 4

 p52  Chapter Three

The Rise of the Zaporozhian Sich

The sixteenth century saw the rise of the Zaporozhian Sich. While in Western Europe armed and fearless seadogs were crossing the Atlantic and reaching the shores of North and South America, in Ukraine the same zeal for the Faith and for freedom caught up the Ukrainian people and started a new political movement. Desirous of forming their own state, thousands of Ukrainians formed an armed camp on the Dnieper River, the Zaporozhian Sich. In their courage and bravery they rivaled the early rulers of Kiev, and they began a new and dynamic period in the history of Ukraine. In a few years they became an object of terror and concern to all of their neighbors, Poles, Muscovites, Turks, Tartars or whoever else attempted to restrain their exuberance and reduce them to the status of serfs.

Small wonder, then, that the strong and inspiring nature of the Zaporozhian Host, its truly democratic system of government and the devotion of its members to the interest of their people — all evoked considerable interest and comment in Western Europe. The struggle of the Kozak Host against the Polish rule and the Tartars for equality and national emancipation, based on justice and freedom, attracted many foreign travellers to Ukraine who, upon returning to their respective countries, made some remarkable comments about the Free Ukraine and its armed might, the Zaporozhian Host.

It must be added that at that time, as now, enemy propaganda stopped at nothing to persuade the world that the Ukrainian Kozaks were common outlaws fighting for loot rather than for national ideals. But the reports of the Western European travellers who visited Ukraine were far more accurate and unbiased.

For instance, Gamberini, an Italian traveller who in 1584 visited Ukraine, wrote:

p53 "From among the Kozaks one could organize 14,000 to 15,000 well-armed troops, desirous more of glory than of loot, troops that would be ready for any danger. Their arms consist of swords and muskets, of which they have a great abundance. They are good in warring on foot and on horseback . . . they are also dexterous on the sea. They have all kinds of boats in which they make extensive raids against the Black Sea shores."

L. Mueller, Duke of Kurland, in his Memoirs, published in Leipzig in 1585, touches on the reign of the Polish King Stefan Batory and also gives very important data on the arrest and execution by the Poles of Ivan Pidkova, a Ukrainian Kozak leader:

"Pidkova was an outstanding man, gifted with unusual physical strength. He could bend a new and unused horseshoe like a stick. This Pidkova, elected by the frontier Kozaks (on the border between Moldavia and Wallachia) as their leader (Hetman), mercilessly attacked the Turks. But the King of Poland (who was on good terms with Turkey) had some apparently good friends write a letter to Pidkova asking him to come to a designated place for a talk, with the king's promise of protecting his honor and faith. Pidkova, being an open man, believed this and went to his good friends, who thereupon told him to leave his Kozaks and to report to his royal highness, assuring him that not a hair of his head would be harmed . . ."

But the Polish king broke his word, arrested and executed Pidkova in order to placate the Turkish emperor.

The same author wrote of Kiev:

"The city of Kiev in ancient times must have been a beauti­ful and great city. It is evident from the ancient walls which gird it over eight miles, and from its great and illustrious churches. In those churches there are beauti­ful and splendid under­ground cellars . . . mighty stone columns like monoliths . . . It is quite clear from this what a wonder­ful city Kiev must have been in the past."

He comments on the unused wealth of the steppes on the Black Sea shore: "The grass there grows so high and dense that one cannot ride there with a wagon; the grass entangles the  p54 spokes of the wheels and stops the wagon. In the wood of the trees there is a profusion of bees."

Erich Lassota von Steblau, the Legate of the Emperor Rudolph II to the Ukrainian Kozaks, spent an entire month in the summer of 1594 at the Zaporozhian Sich. He made a very comprehensive report not only on the Sich but on the several Ukrainian towns through which he passed. Of his stop at Lviv, he wrote:

"Lviv is the capital of Red Ruthenia (Galicia). The city is the seat of an episcopal cathedral, a governor, a garrison and a county administration. There are two castles: one inside the city, the other outside on a high hill which affords a view of several miles. In this city there is a very rich trade: it is above all in the hands of Armenians who have settled here and who have a beauti­ful church, in which mass is celebrated according to their habits and rite."

Of Kamyanets in Podolia the author writes:

"The city also has an episcopal cathedral, is the seat of a governor, a garrison and a county administration, and is located in a place strongly fortified by nature itself, and no other city in Poland can be compared with it; it has a castle, which is connected with the city by a high bridge."

Another Ukrainian town Lassota describes is Pryluky:

"Pryluky, a great and new fortified city with a castle; it has four thousand houses on the river Desnytsya . . . The city is surrounded by beauti­ful and fertile lands and pastures, on which here and there are little odd‑looking buildings with gun emplacements, wherein peasants take cover when surprised by the Tartars and defend themselves. Every peasant going to work in the field carries a musket on his shoulder and a sword or hatchet at his side for they are always in danger of an attack by the Tartars and are never safe from them."

Of Kiev, Lassota states that it is

"a glorious capital and an independent principality . . . It is huge and well fortified, and in the past possessed a great number of beauti­ful churches and buildings, both public and private . . . Especially famous is the  p55 St. Sophia Cathedral, which is unequalled in greatness and which was built by Emperorº Volodymyr with the St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople as a model. Although the cathedral has been preserved, it is now in a state of sorry neglect. The upper ceilings, particularly in the middle, are decorated with mosaics, while the floor is made up of beauti­ful colored stones; there is a gallery or choir loft, the railing of which between columns is made up of undivided discs of sculptured azure stones. From the choir loft a series of spiral steps lead into a turret, where Volodymyr, according to what has been passed down from generation to generation, was in the habit of calling his rada; this light and clear place even now is referred to as the 'capital of Volodymyr.'

"Attention should also be drawn to the ruins of the beauti­ful gates, which even now are called 'Golden' by some, and 'Iron' by others; they were beauti­ful and artistic structures, if one is to judge by their remains."

Of St. Michael's Church in Kiev, the author writes: "It is a splendid structure, in the middle of which there is a round cupola, with a golden roof; it is decorated inside with mosaics, while the floor is made up of small colored stones."

His reports on the Zaporozhian Sich, make it clear that the Kozak officers were well acquainted with all the subtleties of diplomatic relations and etiquette, and often surprised Lassota by their breeding and education.

Lassota thus describes his arrival at the Zaporozhian Sich, which then was located on the island of Bazavluk in the Dnieper, where the Zaporozhian officers greeted him with an honor guard and the firing of cannons:

"Early in the morning (June 19) the leader of the Zaporozhians (Hetman Bohdan Mykoshynsky) in the company of a few officers paid us a visit; later on he gave us a reception. After dinner they heard the Muscovite legate . . . But before they received him, their leader sent us word that the audience to be given to the Muscovite legate was not to create any misunderstanding, because they knew only too well that his imperial highness stood above all other European kings, and his legates accordingly  p56 were to be heard first. But they anticipated and in fact were virtually positive that the Muscovite wanted to express his views as to the recruitment of military forces; therefore, it was considered advisable to hear him first."

During the talks of Lassota with the Zaporozhian officers, the latter complained that it was "difficult for them to rely on Moldavians, by nature a people unstable and treacherous, whose infidelity was well known to the Kozaks." In addition, the "Kozaks said that they were not in the habit of rendering their services or moving into military campaigns when conditions were uncertain, and therefore desired that I make a treaty with them in the name of the Emperor."

Apparently, Lassota came to enlist the Kozaks into the service of the Emperor against the Turks. He writes that the Kozaks unmasked Casimir Chlopicki, a Polish agent, who tried to represent himself as a "former Kozak hetman." He allegedly was an intermediate between the Emperor and the Kozaks, but in reality, writes Lassota, "being an impostor he caused serious misunderstandings."

With respect to the Muscovite legate, Lassota writes that even before he came to the Zaporozhian Sich he met the Muscovite at the mouth of the Psiol River, at which time the Muscovite told Lassota that the Muscovite prince already had the Kozaks in his service, but that he (the legate) "would further consolidate relations with the Kozaks through honors and gifts."

This deceit­ful role of the Muscovite legate was soon unmasked when it became evident that he had come to the Zaporozhian Sich as a bargainer and observer rather than as a protector.

Lassota calls the Zaporozhians

"brave and enterprising people, who from an early age are trained in the military art and who have thoroughly come to know the enemy — the Turks and Tartars. They have their own artillery and many of them know how to handle this weapon, so that they do not need to hire and support special artillerymen (the general custom of the day). Their officers, satisfied with the regular pay, do not seek more."

 p57  Lassota draws some interesting conclusions as to the role of the Zaporozhian Kozaks:

"Because of the fact that the internal affairs of Poland, as it appears, threaten to erupt into a rebellion, therefore we consider it of the utmost importance to underscore the friendliness of this brotherhood (the Zaporozhian Kozaks), who not only enjoy immense influence in Ukraine (Volhynia and Podolia), but toward whom all Poland looks."

He says of his departure from the Zaporozhian Sich:

"On July 1 I said good‑by to the officers and their leader and to all the Zaporozhian knights; they for their part thanked me for my labors and presented me with marten furs and a hat made of beauti­ful foxes; they also gave me and their legates (Captains Sasko Fedorovich and Nichipor) letters to the Emperor and credentials."

There was music and cannon salvos in honor of the departing legate.

Of his return to Regensburg in Bavaria, Lassota writes:

"I and the Kozaks (the Zaporozhian legates who came with him from Ukraine) were cordially received in the presence of privy secret counsellors at an audience granted by the Emperor, during which the Kozaks gave the Emperor two Turkish flags (which they had captured in a battle with the Turks)."

Later on, Lassota and the Kozak legates departed for Vienna to visit the headquarters of the supreme commander of the Emperor's forces. Unfortunately, Lassota discontinued his memoirs at this point.

In so far as the Polish historiographical sources are concerned, they present the Ukrainian military forces and the Zaporozhian Sich negatively. But even among the Poles there were some observers who depicted the Ukrainian military organization in its true light. To such certainly belongs the Polish writer Bartosz Paprocki, who published a book, Panosza, in 1572 in Cracow. Knowing only too well the prejudices entertained by the Poles with respect to the Ukrainians, Paprocki writes:

"Do not think that I am flattering the Rus (Ruthenians or Ukrainians). I lived but a short time among them and have not  p58 as yet conspired with them; but I have recognized their glorious deeds and am certain that their glory will not die but will go down into posterity. Like brave lions, they defend all Christianity. Almost yearly these serious people hunt down the Tartars, being not afraid of military adventures . . . Almost every one could be called Hector . . . You yourself should contribute to the Ruthenians from your wealth in recognition of the fact that only because of them (Ruthenians) do you live in peace. Show your worth by commemorating the deeds which are continually being performed by these, one might say, holy people. Who in our time could in anything surpass a Ruthenian? Send him as a legate, he will perform his tasks better than you could show him. You should seek among the Ruthenians both the Hetman (general) and good soldier . . . Because your spoiled brat becomes a man here (Ukraine). He does not play pranks on the street, he disturbs no one.

"Your spoiled brat becomes the soldier; your gentleman‑son becomes (in the Zaporozhian Sich) the captain and the brave knight . . . Please heed me: It is not proper for a wise man to enrich himself with things which belong to others, nor is it manly for a rich man to deride those who are poor. Among the Podolians (Ukrainians in Podolia) there is none to say who is master and who is serf, they have not a penny's worth of conceit. They do not wear expensive clothes, yet they are covered with a glory far more precious than clothes. The fame of the people (Ukrainian) is spreading over the world, and it will stay with them eternally, although Poland may die. What Hercules did, none could do, not even the terrestrial gods; yet every Ruthenian could do the same. Samson tore the lion's mouth: the exploits of our time are a simple thing for the Ruthenian. The horrible Turk opened his mouth, but the brave Rus thrust his hand therein. When Turkey rushed upon Poland with a mighty army, it was stopped by the Ruthenian force. The Ruthenians (Ukrainian Kozaks) hurl themselves off the precipice of war, forgetting all else, and if they attain victory, we all shall be covered with glory. Be grateful for the glory they (Ukrainians) bring you, although  p60 you are not with them in the military expeditions; do not cast a jealous eye upon their wealth, as every time they fight, you are sitting somewhere in your parks."

One of the most important works of the XVIth century dealing with Eastern Europe, and especially with Muscovy is the book by Giles Fletcher, entitled: Of the Russe Common Wealth, or manner of government by the Russe Emperour, (commonly called the Emperour of Moscovia) with the manners, and fashions of the people of that countrey, London 1591.​a


[image ALT: The title page of an old book.]

3. The title page of the book by G. Fletcher on Moscovia, London, 1591.

No author or political man who wants to know the background and conditions in Eastern Europe and its policies can afford to miss this book by Giles Fletcher, for its careful analysis of the Moscow government in the XVIth century throws much light on the present regime in the Kremlin.

Born in Kent, England, Giles Fletcher attended the University of Cambridge, where he received the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence. In 1588 Queen Elizabeth appointed him minister to Moscow to a "friendly union and renovation of trade relations between England and Moscovia." Fletcher spent the years 1588‑89 in Moscow, and upon his return to London in 1591 wrote his remarkable book.

Before we cite from this book, it is worthwhile to mention the curious and significant events that accompanied its appearance. When it was published in 1591, the Muscovite government, through the English merchants who were at that time in Moscow, requested Minister William Cecil (1520‑1598) to prohibit the sale of the book on the London markets and have the whole edition burned. This may account for the disappearance of virtually the entire first edition (the only known copies are in the British Museum in London and the New York Public Library).

Subsequent editions of the book did appear in the English language in 1643 and 1656. The first attempt to publish Fletcher's book in the Russian language resulted in a great cultural scandal. The translation was prepared by O. Bodyansky, a well-known Ukrainian scientist and a professor at Moscow University,  p61 and published in the Memoirs of the Imperial Society of History and Russian Antiquities (Chteniya Imperatorskago Obshchestva istorii i drevnostey rossiyskikh) in 1848, where O. Bodyansky was general secretary. Despite the fact that the book passed the official censor­ship, its sale and circulation were prohibited by the Imperial Minister of Education two hours after its publication. Even those copies which had been sent to members of the Scientific Society were confiscated. Professor Bodyansky himself was suspended and sent to a provincial university in Kazan. The issuance of Fletcher's book in the Russian language was possible only after the revolution of 1905, when the Bodyansky translation was used.

Giles Fletcher proved to be an author with highly developed powers of observation and a capacity for seeing through the whole system of government of the Muscovite tars and princes and the habits and customs of the Muscovite people as a whole. Significantly, Fletcher's book received the recognition and approval of even some Russian historians.

In the preface to the book, dedicated to the English Queen, Fletcher writes:

"My meaning was to note things for mine owne experience, of more importance than delight, and rather true than strange. In their manner of government, your Highness may see both a true and strange face of a tyrannical state, (most unlike to your own) without true knowledge of God, without written Lawe, without common iustice . . ."

(The work of Fletcher was reprinted in the original spelling in Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century, ed. by Edward A. Bond, London, Hakluyt Society, No. 20, 1856).

In Chapter 7, "The state or forme of their Government," we read:

The state and forme of their Government (Moscovia) is plaine tyrannicall, as applying all to the behoofe of the Prince, and that after a most open and barbarous manner: as may appear by the Sophismata or secretes of their government afterwards set downe as well for the keeping of the nobilitie and commons in an under  p62 proportion, and far uneven balance in their severall degrees, as also in their impositions and exactions, wherein they exceede all just measure without any regard of nobilitie or people . . . both nobilitie and commons are but storers for the prince, all running in the ende into the Emperours coffers: as may appear by the practice of enriching his treasurie, and the manner of exactions set downe in the title of his customes and revenues . . .

"To shewe his Soveraintie over the lives of his subjects, the late Emperour Ivan Vasilowich, in his walkes or progresses, if hee had misliked the face or person of any man whom hee met by the way, or that looked upon him, would command his head to be strook off. Which was presently done, and the head cast before him."

In Chapter XII of the emperours customers and other revenue, he writes:

"Means used to draw the wealth of the land into the emperours treasurie: To prevent no extortions, exactions, or briberies whatsoever, done upon the commons by their dukes, diaks, or other officers in their provinces: but to suffer them to go on till their time bee expired, and to sucke themselves ful. Then to call them to the pravezh (or whippes) for their behaviour, and to beate out of them all, or the most part of the bootie, (as the honie from the bee), which they haue wrung from the commons, and to turne it into the emperours treasurie, but never any thing backe againe to the right owners, how great or evident soever the injurie be. To this ende the needy dukes and diaks that are sent into their provinces, serve the turne very well, being chaunged so often (to wit) once a yeare, where in respect of their owne and the qualitie of the people (as before was said) they might be continued for some longer time, without all feare of innovation. For comming still fresh upon the commons, they sucke more egerly like Tiberius the emperours flies, that came newe still upon all olde sore; to whome hee was wont to compare his praetors, and other provinciall officers.​b

"To make of these officers (that have robbed their people) sometimes a publike example, if any be more notorius then the  p63 rest: that the emperour may seem to mislike the oppressions done to his people, and transferre the fault to his ill officers.

"As, among divers other, was done by the late emperour Ivan Vasilowich to a diack in one of his provinces: that (besides many other extortions and briberies) had taken a goose ready drest full of money. The man was brought to the market place in Mosko. The emperour himselfe present made an oration. 'These, good people, are they that would eate you up like bread,' etc. Then asked hee his polachies or executioners who could cut up a goose, and commaunded one of them first to cut off his legges about the middes of the shinne, then his armes above his elbowes (asking him still if goose fleshe were good meate), in the ende to choppe off his head: that he might have the right fashion of a goose readie dressed. This might seem to have beene a tollerable piece of justice (as justice goeth in Russia) except his subtill end to cover his owne oppressions."

Stating that Muscovite people are in a state of complete slavery, Giles Fletcher writes:

 p64  "Wherein they name and subscribe themselves kolophey that is, their villaines or bondslaves: as they of the Nobilitie doo unto the Emperour. This may truly be saide of them, that there is no servant nor bondslave more awed by his maister, nor kept downe in a more servile subjection, then the poore people are, and that universally, not only by the emperour, but by his nobilitie, cheif officers, and souldiers. So that when a Poore mousick meeteth with any of them upon the high way, he must turne himselfe about, as not daring to looke him on the face, and fall down with knocking of his head to the very ground as he doth unto his Idoll . . .

"For this purpose also they are kept from traueling, that they may learne nothing, nor see the fashions of other countries abroad. You shall seldome see a Russe a traveller, except he be with some ambassadour, or that he make a scape out of the countrie. Which hardly he can doo, by reason of the borders that are watched so narrowly, and the punishment for any such attempt, which is death if he be taken, and all his goods confiscate."

Following the Muscovite terminology, Giles Fletcher refers to the Ukrainians as "Chircasses." Mentioning that south of Muscovy there live various Tartar hordes and other uncivilized peoples, he writes:

"Except the Chircasses that border Southwest, towardes Lituania, and are farre more civil than the rest of the Tartars; of a comely person and of a stately behaviour."

Other English sources describing Moscovia make reference to Ukraine and its inhabitants, the "Chircasses."

For instance, Sir Jerome Horsey in his book, The Voyages of Master Jerome Horsey ouer Land from Mosco (1584), writes under date June 10, 1584 of the hired soldiers in Muscovia:

"Not long enough after 1,200 Polish gentlemen, valiant souldiors, and proper men came to Mosco offering their service to the Emperor, who were all entertained: and in like sort Chirkasses (Ukrainians), and people of other nations, came and offered service."

Another English book, The Voyage of Master Henry Austel  p65 by Venice and Thence to Ragusa ouer Land, and to Constantinople: and from thence by Moldauia, Polonia, Silezia and Germanie to Hamburg (1586), contains some references to Ukrainian towns and rivers:

"The 19. (October 1586) we came to Zotschen, which is the last towne of Bogdania upon the riuer of Neister (Dniester), that parteth the said countrey from Podolia.

"The 20. we passed the riuer of Dniester and came to Camyanetz in the countrey of Podolia subiect to the king of Poland; this is one of the strongest townes by nature and situation that can be seene.

"The 21. we came to Skala. The 22. to Slothone, or Sloczow (Zolochene, Zolochiv).

"The 24. to Leopolis (Lviv) which is in Russia alba, and so is the most part of the countrey betwixt Camyanetz and it.  p66 And it is a towne very well built, well gouverned, full of trafique and plenti­ful: and there we stayed five dayes."

[image ALT: An engraving of a city with many spires and towers, with manicured fields in the foreground and a range of hills in the background, four of which are prominent; above this scene, flanking a central title cartouche (transcribed in the text of this page), four coats of arms, two on either side. It is a 17c view of Lviv, in what was then Poland.]

4. The City of Lviv.
Engraving of the publication Civitates orbis terrarum, Koeln, 1617.​c

[A much larger version, in which the text is fully readable, opens here (4.0 MB).]

The captions read:

Russiae Australis Vrbs primaria
emporium mercium Orientalium


The chief City of Southern Russia,​d
a most famous market of Oriental wares.

[upper left-hand coat of arms:]

Insigne Civitati Leo:
poliensi à Diuoº Sigismūd
primo donat: A. 1526.

Arms granted to the City of Lviv
by Sigismund I, 1526.

[upper right-hand coat of arms:]

Insigne Civitati Leopoli:
ensi à Sixto Vo Pont. Maximo
donatum. A. 1586.

Arms granted to the City of Lviv
by Pope Sixtus V, 1586.

[topographical features, from left to right:]

Mons Caluus

Bald Mountain

Arx superior quae sereno caelo decem
à Leopoli milliaribus cernitur.

The upper citadel, which on a clear day is seen from ten miles from Lviv.

Mons Stephani vulgo Leonis dictus.

Stephen Mountain,
commonly called Lion Mountain.

Ecclesia Metropolitana DEIparae

Metropolitan Church
of the Virgin mother of GOD.

Ecclesia Russica S. Crucis.

The Russian Church of the Holy Cross.

P. Peterson, a Swede who was in Moscow in 1608 and wrote a history in Swedish of the rebellion of Dimitri the Impostor, underscores the important role played by the Ukrainian Kozaks who opposed Moscow and its interference in the internal life of the neighboring countries. He writes that Dimitri crossed the borders of Moscovia with the help of the Ukrainian Kozaks under the leader­ship of Korela, (who captured the fortress of Chernihiv), and describes him as a "magician who through his miracles helped Dimitri" to ascend the throne in Moscow.

The first newspapers that appeared in the first half of the XVIth century contained general remarks about Ukraine and the Ukrainian Kozaks. These news items were, of course, fragmentary and based on second-hand information.

For instance, in the first issue of the official French weekly, Gazette de France, which appeared in the first days of May, 1631, and on September 14, 1638, the following was printed:

"The position of Turkey has deteriorated because the Kozaks on their boats entered the Black Sea, trying to reach Constantinople. On the way they destroyed Mizena​e and other cities which belong to the Sultan."

In issue No. 81 of the same newspaper there is a report of 4,000 Ukrainian Kozak horsemen who, under the command of Taraska, fought on the side of the Emperor against the French troops commanded by General De Suasson in Luxembourg.​f The report says that under the pressure of the Ukrainian Kozaks the French troops were scattered and fled in panic across the river.

"The Kozaks rose against the Pol. King, and are willing to make a truce under the following conditions: a) they demand freedom of religion with all the rights and privileges which were abrogated by the Warsaw Sejm; b) that the Polish army may enter Ukraine only in a case of extreme danger and that they themselves will protect their frontiers; c) that the registration of 6,000 Kozaks be abolished. (These Kozaks were under the command of Polish officers.)"

[image ALT: An engraving of a walled town; a bridge over a river in the foreground leads to a gate in the walls. Behind the town rises a low hill, and to our right, an even smaller walled compound can be seen. The town must be quite small, since its largest building, seen from the long side, three stories tall with a tower of three more stories, is about one-sixth the entire maximum width of the town. It is captioned 'Premislia', and depicts the city of Przemyśl.]

5. The City of Peremyshl. Dutch engraving of 1659.​g

Thayer's Notes:

a A very careful complete transcription of the book can be found at Early English Books Online.

[decorative delimiter]

b Josephus, Ant. Iud. XVIII.174.

[decorative delimiter]

c The black-and‑white engraving printed in the book is a heavily screened reproduction clearly from some other printed book, in which none of the captions is readable. I have replaced it by a version I found online, which also by good fortune is in what appear to be its original colors.

[decorative delimiter]

d The reader will notice that "Russia" here does not mean what we are now accustomed to understand. Lviv at the time had been part of Poland for nearly 300 years. As often, Rus′ is what is meant.

[decorative delimiter]

e I've been unable to identify this place; though not much more success­ful, Ukrainian researcher Oleksii Cherednichenko shares some information:

See the original report in the Gazette (1631). Note also the dating, which is different from Sichynsky's. Just guessing here, but I would probably bet on it being some corrupted form of Mesembria (now Nisebr, Bulgaria) or else, less likely, Samsun, cities on the Black Sea which were indeed pillaged by Cossacks in the 17c. Not in 1631 to which the relation refers though — but then the entire quoted report appears to be erroneous and based on hearsay, as in 1631 Cossacks seemed to have gone no farther than the Crimea; and indeed, one of the next Gazette reports of 1631 stated that the Cossacks actually didn't seem actively to attack the Ottoman Empire that year (Gazette again).

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f Louis de Bourbon, comte de Soissons, seems to be meant. He revolted against the French king in 1636, took refuge in the independent Principality of Sedan, not far from Luxembourg, allied himself with Spain and died in battle in 1641. And while it is true that the onslaught of four thousand screaming Cossacks scared the daylights out of the French, who initially fled — "Alors les ennemis qui s'estoient assemblez des autres quartiers jusques à quatre mille voyans leurs gens ainsi bien receus par les François, vinrent fondre sur eux avec des hurlemens & cris effroyables; ausquels nos gens n'estant pas accoustumez ils en prirent telle épouvante qu'ils laschérent le pied, & se retirérent jusque aux marais qui estoient sur le bord de l'eau qu'ils venoient de passer" (Gazette, No. 81 [1636], p334 f.) — the final outcome of the battle was in fact a victory for the French, a defeat for the Poles.

"Taraska", however, (a diminutive of the common "Taras") has resisted me: the Gazette has Tarasky, and this led Polish historian Count Maurycy Dzieduszycki to suggest in his history of the Lisowczyki (Krotki rys dziejow i spraw Lisowczykow [1844], II.510 f.) that it was a Pole named Tyrawsky who was meant, these Lisowczyki mercenaries being sometimes confused with Cossacks.

As for "the river", if it was a large one, it can only be the Moselle or the Rhine: but if not, there is no shortage of smaller streams in the area. Here again, I am indebted to Mr. Cherednichenko for finding the correct issue of the Gazette in the welter that is Gallica, a very rich repository of information but also very hard to navigate; as well as for

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g The black-and‑white engraving printed in the book is a heavily screened reproduction clearly from some other printed book, and so pasty as to obscure the details of the buildings. I have replaced it by a version I found online.

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Page updated: 12 Nov 23