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Pokuttya or Pokuttia (Ukrainian: Покуття, Romanian: Pocuția, Polish: Pokucie) is a historical area of East-Central Europe, between upper Prut and Cheremosh rivers, in modern Ukraine. Historically it was a culturally distinct area inhabited by Ukrainians and Romanians on the previously unpopulated borderlands between the lands of Lviv and Halych. Although the historical centre of the area was Kolomyia, the name itself is derived from the name of the town of Kuty and literally means by Kuty ("Kut" by itself means "corner"). Presently, the region is inhabited by Ukrainians.
Władysław II Jagiełło, needing financial support in his battles against the Teutonic Knights, used the region as a guarantee in a loan which he obtained from Petru I of Moldavia, who thus gained control of the region in 1388. Petru I was eager at gaining influence in the internal politics of the Kingdom of Poland, supporting the cause of his long-time allies, Jagiellons of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Pokuttia, therefore, became the feudal property of the princes of Moldavia, but remained within the Kingdom of Poland. As in other famous similar cases in middle age Europe (such as Foix, or Dauphiné), the local feudal had to swear oath of allegiance to the king for the specific territory, even when the former was himself an independent ruler of another state. Depending on the political and military strength of each person, the king could ask for allegiance, omitting the words for Pokuttia, or could refrain from asking an oath altogether. Consequently, the region became a matter for judicial and military dispute between the two countries, because the debt had never been paid in full by Poland, and because Pokuttia was a more valuable asset than the money.
In 1485, Moldavian prince Stephen the Great, after losing in the previous year his country's exit to the Black Sea to the Ottomans, was in serious need of alliances, and swore allegiance to Casimir IV Jagiellon, King of Poland for Pokuttia, in what is known as the Colomeea oath. However, Casimir's successor John I Albert of Poland, used the treaty as a pretext to invade Moldavia itself in 1497, but after four months of siege, failed to conquer the fortress of Suceava, Stephen's capital. Moreover, when abandoning the siege, his army ran into a trap, was decimated, and many nobles were killed. See Battle of the Cosmin Forest.
After that, in 1498, Pokuttia was conquered by Stephen the Great, annexed and retained by Moldavia until the Battle of Obertyn in 1531, when it was recaptured by Poland's hetman Jan Tarnowski, who defeated Stephen's son Petru Rareş. Minor Polish-Moldavian clashes for Pokuttia continued for the next 15 years, until Petru Rareş's death.
In the wake of the World War I and the fall of Austria-Hungary, it became disputed between Poland and a short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic. However, during the Polish-Ukrainian War it was seized without fight by the Romanian army (see: Romanian occupation of Pokuttya), and handed over to Polish authorities. After the Polish-Soviet War was concluded, it remained in Poland.
In the effect of the 1939 invasion and partition of Poland between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, the area was attached to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (falling to Nazi control after the start of Operation Barbarossa and until 1944). It remains a part of modern Ukraine, incorporated into the western Ukrainian oblast of Ivano-Frankivsk, roughly corresponding to the southern half of the oblast.
Throughout Middle Ages, Obertyn was Pokuttia's main castle, while Kolomyia was the region's main town and fair. Pokuttya's population still contains today some Romanian and Ukrainian Hutsul communities. At 2001 census here were recorded 600 Romanians and Moldovans.
- Popular culture has it that Casimir ordered the tent in which the oath was taking place to be uncovered at a moment's notice, so as to present Stephen on his knees in front of the latter's nobles and escort. It is said that Stephen, renowned for his religious piety, quickly turned towards an icon and crossed himself, in order not to appear undignified in front of his men.
Places of interest
- Deliatyn (Delyatyn)
- Kolomyia (Romanian: Colomeea)
- Kuty, Stari Kuty (Romanian: Cuturi)
- Obertyn (Romanian: Obertin)
- Carpathian National Park