- For the musical group, see Haydamaky (band)
The haidamakas, also haidamaky or haidamaks (singular haidamaka, Ukrainian: Гайдамаки, Haidamaky, from Romanian haidamac (vagabond) , the latter word could be from Turkish haydamak, "to pursue"), were according to this exonym, known since 1737, paramilitary bands in 18th-century Ukraine. Other more ancient exonyms of the same haidamaks are "levenetz" and "deineka". The haidamak movement was formed mostly of local freeCossacks (not being members of any Host) and peasantry (kozaky and holota), and rebels were used to call themselves Cossacks. Haidamaks waged a war mainly against the Polish nobility and collaborationists in right-bank Ukraine, though the movement was not limited to the right bank only, and they participated in Zaporozhian raids on the Cossack szlahta in the Left-Bank Ukraine as well. The latter raids occasionally deteriorated to common robbery and murder, for example in the so-called Matsapura case in the Left Bank in 1734. The equivalent to haidamaka is opryshok in Ukrainian Galicia, and hajduk in the Balkans. Hajduk is also used in Polish language. The term "Haidamaks" had been used not as an exonym but as a self-name only since Ustim Karmaluk's uprising. His rebels first called themselves haidamakas.
The unrest against the nobility and the Roman Catholics led to the haidamaka rebellions (haidamachchyna). There were three major uprisings, in 1734, 1750, and the largest – usually referred to as Koliyivschyna in 1768.
The first uprising came in the war for control of the Polish Kingdom in 1734 after the death of Frederick Augustus II. Russian troops, brought to remove King Stanisław I (Leszczyński), were initially seen as liberators from Poles and an insurrection developed in Kiev, spreading to Podolia and Volhynia. After Augustus III gained the throne, the insurrection was defeated by Russian military. Small raids by haidamakas against Polish nobility continued in the following years under the leadership of Hnat Holy.
In 1750, another uprising occurred as the haidamakas continued to receive popular sympathy. Based in the lands of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, they moved into the south of the Kiev Palatinate, generating a near-complete rebellion by Right-Bank Ukraine. Although they captured a number of towns and areas, they were eventually crushed due to lack of organization.
In 1768, led by Zaporozhian Cossack Maksym Zalizniak and leader of the Uman Cossack paramilitary group Ivan Gonta, the peasants were initially successful in conquering much of the Kiev and Bracław Voivodeships, as well as large chunks of Volhynia and Podolia. In captured territories the nobility, Ukrainian Catholics, Jesuits and the Jews were murdered en masse (see Massacre of Uman), which led to a quick response by the Polish army. By July of the same year the revolt was suppressed with Russian military assistance, though bloody repression against the Cossacks lasted for several years. See Koliyivschyna article for more details.
Because of the massacres of Jews, Jesuits, Uniates, and Polish nobility, the Polish language term Hajdamactwo became a pejorative description of all Ukrainians. However, their actions were preserved generally positively in Ukrainian folklore and literature (with some notable exceptions). Haidamaky (1841) is an epic poem by Taras Shevchenko that treats its subject both sympathetically and critically.
The last flare-up of the Haydamak violence occurred in 1830's, during the Ustym Karmaliuk rebellion. This final chapter of Haydamaka history was unique in large part due to the support the rebellion enjoyed not only among the peasantry, but also among the Poles and the Jews marginalized and rendered destitute by the Russian Empire.
- Я. Шульгин, «Очерк Колиивщины» (Киев, 1890)
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