From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In English, Ruthenia is a geographical exonym for a cross-border region of Eastern Europe. It can refer to significantly different and even mutually exclusive areas, dependent on the historical period and subject.

The word "Ruthenia" originated as a Latin rendering of the region and people known originally as "Rus'" – the same root word as Russia. In European manuscripts dating from the 13th century CE, "Ruthenia" was used to describe Rus': the wider area occupied by the Ancient Rus' (commonly referred to as Kievan Rus'). This historical territory corresponds to modern Ukraine and Belarus, as well as western Russia. However, the geographical implications of "Ruthenia" and "Russia" began to diverge in meaning as early as the 14th century CE.

In modern usage, Ruthenia usually refers to a region centred on, but not restricted to, Zakarpattia Oblast (the Transcarpathian administrative region) of south-western Ukraine. It is strongly associated with areas inhabited by Rusyn minorities. Ruthenia refers also often to Red Ruthenia alone, which was as well the ancestor of a little different region of Galicia or Halychyna (Ukrainian: Галичина, Halychyna; Rusyn: Галичина; Polish: Galicja; Russian: Галиция/Галичина, Galitsiya/Galichina; Slovak: Halič). us' (Galicia–Volhynia).

The Ruthenian Voivodeship (Latin: Palatinatus russiae, Polish: województwo ruskie, Ukrainian: Руське воєводство) was a voivodeship of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1366 until the 1772 First Partition of Poland.[1] Together with a number of other voivodeships of southern and eastern part of the Kingdom of Poland, it formed Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown, with its capital city in Kraków. Following the Partitions of Poland, most of Ruthenian Voivodeship, except for its northeastern corner, was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, as part of the province of Galicia. Today former Lwów Voivodeship is divided among Poland and Ukraine.

Contents [hide] 1 History 2 Municipal government 3 Administrative division 4 Voivods 5 Neighboring voivodeships and regions 6 See also 7 Notes 7.1 References History[edit] Settled in prehistoric times, the central-eastern European land that is now the southeastern part of Poland and the western part of Ukraine was overrun in pre-Roman times by various tribes, including the Celts, Goths, and Vandals (Przeworsk culture). After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was invaded by Hungarians, Slavs and Avars. The region subsequently became part of the Great Moravian state, and in the 10th century became a site of contention between Poland, Kievan Rus and Hungary. In Polish sources, the region was called Ziemia czerwieńska, or "Czerwień Land", from the name of Cherven, a town that existed there. Today there are several towns with this name, none of them related to Red Ruthenia.[2]

This area was mentioned for the first time in 981, when Volodymyr the Great of Kievan Rus took it over on the way into Poland. In 1018 it returned to Poland, 1031 back to Rus. For approximately 150 years it existed as the independent Ruthenian principality or kingdom of Halych-Volhynia, before being conquered by Casimir III of Poland in 1349. Since these times the name Ruś Czerwona is recorded, translated as "Red Ruthenia" ("Czerwień" means red in Slavic languages, or from Polish village Czermno), applied to a territory extended up to Dniester River, with priority gradually transferred to Przemyśl. Since the times of Władyslaw Jagiełło, the Przemyśl voivodeship was called Ruthenian Voivodeship (województwo ruskie), with its center eventually transferred to Lwów. It consisted of five lands: Lwów, Sanok, Halicz, Przemyśl, and Chełm. The territory was controlled by the Austrian Empire from 1772 to 1918, when it was known as the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.

Latin Wikisource has original text related to this article: Geographus Bavarus Zygmunt Gloger in his monumental book Historical Geography of the Lands of Old Poland provides this description of the Ruthenian Voivodeship:

In the 10th and 11th centuries, Przemysl and Czerwien were the largest gords in this region. Later on, Halicz emerged as the capital of the province, while the city of Lwow was founded only in 1250. In ca. 1340, King Kazimierz Wielki took control over Red Ruthenia, freeing this land from Tatar yoke (...) The province was governed by royal starostas, the first one of whom was a man named Jasiek Tarnowski. Most probably in final years of reign of King Wladyslaw Jagiello, it was named Ruthenian Voivodeship, as at that time the voivodes of Przemysl began calling themselves the voivodes of Ruthenia. Firs such voivode was Jan Mezyk of Dabrowa.

Ruthenian Voivodeship consisted of five ziemias: those of Lwow, Przemysl, Sanok, Halicz and Chelm. The two last ones had their own local authorities; furthermore, the Land of Chelm was completely separated from other Ruthenian lands by the Belz Voivodeship. Therefore, we should speak separately of four Ruthenian lands, and the Land of Chelm, whose history was much different after the Partitions of Poland (...) The lands of Lwow, Przemysl and Sanok had their sejmiks, which took place in their respective capitals. General sejmiks for these three lands were at Sadowa Wisznia, where seven deputies were elected to the Polish Sejm: two from each land, and one from the County of Zydaczow. Starostas resided at Lwow, Zydaczow, Przemysl and Sanok. The voivodeship had six senators: the Archbishop of Lwow, the Bishop of Przemysl, the Voivode of Ruthenia, the Castellan of Lwow, and Castellans of Przemysl and Sanok (...) The city of Lwow was the seat of a separate Lesser Poland Tribunal for the voivodeships of Ruthenia, Kijow, Volhynia, Podolia, Belz, Braclaw and Czernihow (...) The County of Zydaczow, even though officially part of Lwow Land, was often regarded as a separate ziemia, with its own coat of arms, granted in 1676. In that years, Lwow Land had 618 villages and 42 towns, while County of Zydaczow had 170 villages and 9 towns.

The Land of Przemysl was divided into two counties: those of Przemysl and Przeworsk. In 1676, the County of Przemysl had 657 villages and 18 towns, while the County of Przeworsk had 221 villages and 18 towns (...) The Land of Sanok, located in the Carpathian Foothills, was not divided into counties. In 1676, it had 371 villages and 12 towns (...)

The Land of Halicz, with its own separate local government, was divided into the counties of Trembowla, Halicz and Kolomyja. It had its own sejmik at Halicz, where six deputies were elected to the Polish Sejm (two from each county), also one deputy to the Crown Tribunal and one to the Treasury Tribunal at Radom. The Land of Halicz had one senator, and starostas, who resided in Halicz, Trembowla, Kolomuja, Tlumacz, Rohatyn, Jablonow, Sniatyn, Krasnopol, and other locations. In 1676, it had 565 villages and 38 towns.

The Land of Chelm was an enclave, separated from Ruthenian Voivodeship by Belz Voivodeship. The Bug river divided this land into two parts, and since the 10th century, Chelm was contested by Poland and Rus. In the course of the time, the Lithuanians also joined the conflict. It was ended in 1377, when King Louis annexed Chelm. The Land of Chelm had its own local offices, and a sejmik, where two deputies to the Sejm and one deputy to the Lesser Poland Tribunal were elected. It was divided into counties of Chelm and Krasnystaw, starostas resided in Chelm, Krasnystaw, Ratno, Luboml, Hrubieszow, and other locations. The Land of Chelm had two senators: the Bishop of Chelm and the Castellan of Chelm. In 1676, there were 427 villages and 23 towns in both counties (...) Southern part of the Land of Chelm belonged to the vast Zamoyski Family Fee Tail, which stretched beyond the region, into Urzedow County of Lublin Voivodeship.

Ruś Czerwona – (14th century) Municipal government[edit]

Late Middle Ages[edit]

By the 15th century two major states claimed their Rus' ancestry: the Muscovy and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Natives used different forms of the name Rus' for their country, and some of these forms also passed into Latin and English.

By the 15th century the Moscow principality (or Muscovy) established its sovereignty over a large portion of ancient Rus' territory[citation needed] including Novgorod, Pskov, and parts of Chernigov and Pereyaslavl principalities.[citation needed] From 1547 the Moscow principality adopted the title of Tsardom of Rus' (or Russia)[citation needed] and claimed sovereignty over "all the Rus'". This laid the foundation of the modern Russian state.[citation needed] The Muscovy population was Eastern Orthodox and used the Greek transcription of Rus', being "Rossia",[citation needed] rather than the Latin "Ruthenia".

In the 14th century the southern territories of ancient Rus', including principalities of Galicia–Volhynia, Kiev and others, became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which, in the 15th century, united with Catholic Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Due to their usage of the Latin script rather than the Cyrillic script, they were usually denoted by the Latin Ruthenia. Other spellings were also used in Latin, English and other languages during this period.

These southern territories have corresponding names in Polish:

Modern age[edit]


The most numerous population of the ancient Rus' descendants, the Russians,[citation needed] still keep the same name for their ethnicity (russkie), while the name of their state, Rus', was gradually replaced by its Greek transcription, Rossia. Russian population dominates the former territory of Muscovy, Vladimir Rus, The Grand Principality of Smolensk, Novgorod Republic, and Pskov Republic, and they are also a significant minority in Ukraine and Belarus.


The use of the term Ruthenia on the lands of ancient Rus' survived longer as a name used by Ukrainians for Ukraine. When the Austrian monarchy made Galicia a province in 1772, Habsburg officials realized that the local East Slavic people were distinct from both Poles and Russians, and still called themselves Ruthenians, until the empire fell apart in 1918.

In the 19th century the ethnonym Ukrainian was not in common use. Indeed, Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko despite using the word Ukraine for the area of ancient Rus, never uses the term Ukrainian as an ethnonym in any of his works, but rather uses the terms Kozak or Russian and "Malorussian" ("малороссийский"[1]), which was according to the law and society norm made by Russian Empire.

In the Russian Empire by 1840 the superior term Малая Русь (or Малороссия), Little Rus', Rus Minora for Ruthenians become degradative and they began calling themselves Ukrainians for Ukrayina.[citation needed] In the 1880s and 1900's, the popularity of the ethnonym Ukrainian spread and the term Ukraine became a substitute for Ruthenia among the Ruthenian/Ukrainian population of the Russian Empire. In time the term Ruthenian became restricted to western Ukraine, an area then part of the Austro-Hungarian state.

By the early 20th century, the term Ukraine had replaced Ruthenia in Galicia/Halychyna and by the mid-1920s also in the Ukrainian diaspora in North America.

Modern Ruthenia[edit]

Rusyns from Transcarpathia in stage folk-costumes from Central Ukraine. Photo: Mokre, Sanok County (Poland). 2007

After 1918, the name Ruthenia became narrowed to the area south of the Carpathian mountains in the Kingdom of Hungary, named Carpathian Ruthenia (It incorporated the cities of Mukachevo, Uzhhorod and Prešov) and populated by Carpatho-Ruthenians, a group of East Slavic highlanders. While Galician Ruthenians considered themselves to be Ukrainians, the Carpatho-Ruthenians were the last East Slavic people that kept the ancient historic name (Ruthen is a Latin deformation of the Slavic rusyn). Nowadays, the term Rusyn is used to describe the ethnicity and language of Ruthenians who did not embrace the Ukrainian national identity.

Carpatho-Ruthenia formed part of the Hungarian Kingdom from the late 11th century, where it was known as Kárpátalja. In May 1919, it was incorporated with nominal autonomy into Czechoslovakia. After this date, Ruthenian people have been divided among three orientations. First, there were the Russophiles, who saw Ruthenians as part of the Russian nation; second, there were the Ukrainophiles who, like their Galician counterparts across the Carpathian mountains, considered Ruthenians part of the Ukrainian nation; and, lastly, there were Ruthenophiles, who said that Carpatho-Ruthenians were a separate nation, and who wanted to develop a native Rusyn language and culture. On 15 March 1939 the Ukrainophile president of Carpatho-Ruthenia, Avhustyn Voloshyn, declared its independence as Carpatho-Ukraine. On the same day Hungarian Army regular troops started to occupy the new state. The Hungarian occupation regime was pro-Ruthenophile.[citation needed] In 1944 the Soviet Army occupied Carpatho-Ruthenia, and in 1946, annexed it to the Ukrainian SSR. Officially, there were no Rusyns in the USSR. In fact, Soviet and some modern Ukrainian politicians, as well as Ukrainian government claim that Rusyns are part of the Ukrainian nation. Nowadays the majority of the population in the Zakarpattya oblast of Ukraine consider themselves Ukrainians[1], however, a small Rusyn minority is still present[2].

A Rusyn minority that remained after World War II in northeastern Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) rapidly became Slovakisized.[3]

Cognate word[edit]

The element ruthenium was isolated in 1844 from platinum ore found in the Ural mountains. Ruthenia is the Latin word for Rus'.

Fictional usage[edit]

In the movie The Assassination Bureau, the conference of European leaders being held to try and stave off the impending World War is held in a castle in Ruthenia.

In the game Crusader Kings 2, a kingdom of Ruthenia can be formed by accumulating enough lands corresponding roughly to today's Belarus, northern Ukraine and western Russia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ All-Ukrainian population census '2001
  2. ^ All-Ukrainian population census '2001(Ukrainian) wrote: "Also for the first time collected data that characterize ethnic groups and nationalities of individual synonymous with other names. Particular part of the Ukrainian nationality is an ethnic group - Ruthenians. Total area called themselves Rusyn - 10,1 thousand people."
  3. ^

External links[edit]