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The Zaporozhian Sich (Ukrainian: Запорoзька Січ, Zaporoz'ka Sich) as a historical territory existed between the 16th and 18th centuries, centred in the region around today's Kakhovka Reservoir. The region stretches across the lower Dnieper river. At one point the area was a condominium of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire. Soon after the Russian Empire settled colonies of South Slavs and Moldavians in the Sich lands (1752 onwards, see New Serbia), Russian troops liquidated[clarification needed] the Sich (1775). With the liquidation the area became part of Novorossia.
It is considered[by whom?] that the Zaporozhian Sich started from a fortress built on the Khortytsia island in the middle of the Dnieper River in the present-day Zaporozhia region of Ukraine. The term "Zaporozhian Sich" can also refer metonymically and informally to the whole military-administrative organisation of the Zaporozhian Cossack Host.
The history of the Zaporozhian Sich comprises six periods of time:
- the emergence of the Sich (1471—1583)
- as part of the Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown by inclusion in the Kiev Voivodeship (1583–1657)
- the struggle with the Rzeczpospolita (Commonwealth), the Ottoman Empire, and the Crimea Khanate for the independence of the Ukrainian part of the Rzeczpospolita (Commonwealth) (1657—1686)
- the struggle with Crimea, the Ottoman Empire, and the Russian Empire for the unique identity of Cossacks (1686—1709)
- the creation of the Danubian Sich outside the Russian Empire and finding ways to return home (1775 - 1828)
- the standoff with the Russian government during its attempts to cancel the self-governing of the Sich; and its fall (1734—1775)
The Volhynian prince Dmytro Vyshnevetsky established the first Zaporozhian Sich on the island of Small (Mala) Khortytsia in 1552, building a fortress at Nyz Dnieprovsky (Lower Dnieper) and placing a Cossack garrison there. In 1558, however, Tatar forces destroyed that fortress. Soon another sich was created on the now-flooded island of Tomakivka as a fortified encampment 40 miles south, near the modern city of Marhanets. Tatars also razed that sich (1593). With the destruction of the Tomakivka Sich the third Sich was created on the Bazavluk island in 1593 that today is flooded as well. It survived until 1638, when a Polish expeditionary force destroyed it while suppressing a cossack uprising. Another sich, first mentioned in 1628, stood at Mykytyn Rih near the present-day city of Nikopol. From here Bohdan Khmelnytsky's uprising began in 1648. There was also the Chortomlyk Sich, which Russian forces mercilessly razed directly after the Battle of Poltava (1709) on the grounds that the Zaporozhian Host had allegedly broken the Cosack oath of loyalty to the Russian Tsar by allying themselves with Ivan Mazepa and with King Charles XII of Sweden. Then another Sich was built at the mouth of the Kamianets river, which also was destroyed by Russian Empire government in 1711. The cossacks then fled to the Crimean Khanate to avoid persecution and founded the Oleshky Sich in 1711 (today it is the city of Tsuryupinsk). In 1734, however, they were allowed to return to the Russian Empire. Being discriminated in the Khanate cossacks gladly accepted the offer to return and build another Sich in close proximity to the former Chortomlyk Sich. This was the last Sich which was banned in 1775 by the Government of Catherine the Great. It was the end of the war between the Russian and Ottoman Empires, for possession of the steppes near the Black Sea and Crimea. Russia's government needed no more service from the Zaporozhian Cossacks for protection of the borders in that area.
A minority of the Cossacks (about 5 thousand) left Zaporozhia to serve the Ottoman Empire at the mouth of the Danube River, where they founded Danube Sich.
In 1780, after disbanding the Zaporozhian Cossack Host, General Grigorii Potemkin made an attempt to gather and reorganize the Cossacks on a voluntary basis to help defend Ukraine from the Turks and what was to be war with the Turks (1787 - 1791). He was able to gather almost 12,000 Cossacks and called them the Black Sea Cossacks. After the conflict was over, rather then allow the Cossacks to settle across Southern Ukraine, the Russian Government began to resettle them on the Kuban and in 1860, they changed their name and became the Kuban Cossacks.
The term "sich" — a noun derived from the verb in eastern Slavic languages sikty (сікти) "to chop" or "cut", meaning to clear a forest for an encampment, or to build a fortification with the trees that have been chopped down.
As a rule, siches grew up close to the fords across the Dnieper on the right river-bank, from where cossacks easily controlled the Tatar invasions to the Rzeczpospolita part of Ukraine. The wood fortifications, impregnability of the position near rapids on the Dnieper River provided effective protection from attack.
The list of Zaporozhian Siches and their leaders
- Khortytsia Sich, 1556–1557 years.
- Tomakivka Sich, 1564–1593 years.
- Michał Wiśniowiecki (1529–1584) (1569-1570)
- Iwan Swiergowski (1574)
- Samiylo Kishka (1574-1575)
- Bohdan Ruzhynski (1575-1576)
- Jacub Szach (1576-1578)
- Ioan Potcoavă (1577-1578)
- Lukyan Chornynsky (1578)
- Jan Oryszowski (1581)
- Samuel Zborowski (1581-1584)
- Bohdan Mokoshynsky (1584)
- Mykhailo Ruzhynski (1585)
- Zakhar Kulaha (1585)
- Bohdan Mokoshynsky (1586)
- Lukyan Chornynsky (1586)
- Demyan Skalozub (1585-1589)
- Krzysztof Kosiński (-1593)
- Bazavluk Sich, 1593–1638 years.
- Hryhoriy Loboda (1593-1596)
- Bohdan Mokoshynsky (1594)
- Jan Oryszowski (1596)
- Severyn Nalyvaiko (1596)
- Khrystofor Netkovsky (1596-1597)
- Hnat Vasylevych (1596-1597)
- Tykhin Baybuza (1597-1598)
- Fedir Polous (1598)
- Semen Skalozub (1599)
- Samiylo Kishka (1600-1602)
- Havrylo Krutnevych (1602-1603)
- Ivan Kutskovych (1602-1603)
- Ivan Kosyi (1603)
- Kaletnyk Andriyevych (1609-1610)
- Olifer Holub (1622-1623)
- Mykhailo Doroshenko (1623-1625)
- Kaletnyk Andriyevych (1624-1625)
- Marek Zhmaylo (1625)
- Mykhailo Doroshenko (1625-1628)
- Hryhoriy Chorny (1628-1630)
- Ivan Sulyma (1628-1629)
- Lev Ivanovych (1629-1630)
- Taras Tryasylo (1630)
- Timothy Orendarenko (1630-1631)
- Semen Perevyazka (1632)
- Timothy Orendarenko (1632-1633)
- Ivan Petrizhitsky-Kulaga (1632)
- Andriy Didenko (1633)
- Dorothy Doroshenko (1633)
- Ivan Sulyma (1633-1635)
- Sava Kononovych (1637)
- Pavlo Pavlyuk (1637)
- Illyash Karayimovych (1638)
- Yakiv Ostryanyn (1638)
- Dmytro Hunia (1638)
- Mykytska Sich, 1639–1652 years.
- Chortomlyk Sich, 1652–1709 years.
- Kamyanets Sich, 1709–1711 years.
- Oleshky Sich, 1711–1734 years.
- Nova Podpolnenska Sich, 1734–1775 years.
- Danubian Sich, 1775–1828 years.
Organization and government
The Zaporozhian Host was led by the Sich Rada that elected a Kosh Otaman as the leader of the host. He was aided by a head secretary (pysar), head judge, head archivist. During the military operations the Ottoman carried an unlimited power supported by his staff as the military collegiate. He decided with an agreement from the Rada whether or not to support a certain Hetman (such as Bohdan Khmelnytsky) or other leaders of state.
Some sources refer to the Zaporozhian Sich as a "cossack republic", as the highest power in it belonged to the assembly of all its members, and because the leaders (starshyna) were elected. The Cossacks formed a society (hromada) that consisted of "kurins" (each with several hundred cossacks). There was a cossack military court that severely punished violence and stealing among compatriots; the bringing of women to the Sich; the consumption of alcohol in periods of conflict, etc. The administration of the Sich provided Orthodox churches and schools for the religious and secular education of children.
The Sich population had an international component, and apart from Ukrainians included Moldavians, Tatars, Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, Russians and many other ethnicities. The social structure was also complex, consisting of: destitute gentry and boyars, szlachta (Polish nobility), merchants, peasants, outlaws of every sort, run-away slaves from Turkish galleys, run-away serfs (as the Zapooizhian polkovnyk Pivtorakozhukha), etc. Some of those that were not accepted to the Host formed gangs of their own claiming to be Cossacks as well. However, after the Khmelnytsky Uprising these formations largely disappeared and were integrated mainly into Hetmanate society.
Army and warfare
The Cossacks developed a large fleet of fast light vessels. Their campaigns were targeted at rich settlements on the Black Sea shores of the Ottoman Empire, and several times took them as far as Constantinople and Trabzon (formerly Trebizond).
The Zaporozhian Sich emerged as a natural method of defense by the Ukrainian people against the frequent and devastating raids of Crimean Tatars, who captured hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, Belorussians and Poles. Such slaving operations were called "the harvesting of the steppe".
Because of the Tatars' constant interference, the Ukrainians found it hard to survive, let alone make a living. They created a self-defense force, the Cossacks, fierce enough to stop the Tatar hordes.
Some researchers say that the constant threat from the Crimean Tatars was the impetus for the emergence of cossackdom. During the raids of retribution to the Black Sea shores of the Ottoman Empire and Crimean Khanate, the Cossacks not only robbed rich settlements, but liberated their compatriots from slavery.
In later years the Sich became the center of Cossack life at the southern boundaries of Moscow state. The Zaporozhian Host was governed by the Sich Rada alongside its Kosh Ataman (sometimes called Hetman, from German "Hauptmann" ).
After the Treaty of Pereyaslav (1654), the Host was split into two, the Hetmanate with its capital at Chyhyryn, and the more autonomous region of Zaporizhia which continued to be centred on the Sich. During this period the Sich changed location several times.
During the reign of Peter the Great cossacks were used for the construction of canals and fortification lines in the northern Russia. An estimated 20–30 thousands were sent each year. Hard labor led to the high mortality rate among builders. Only an estimated 40% of cossacks returned home.
After the Battle of Poltava the original Sich was destroyed in 1709, and Mazepa's capital - Baturyn - was razed. This is sometimes referred to as the Old Sich (Stara Sich). From 1734 to 1775 a New Sich (Nova Sich) was constructed.
Fear of the independence of the Sich resulted in the Russian Administration first abolishing the Cossack Hetmanate in 1764 and finally totally destroying the Zaporozhian Sich itself by military force in 1775.
By the late 18th century, the Cossack officer class in Ukraine was incorporated into the Imperial Russian nobility (Dvoryanstvo). The rank and file Cossacks, however, including a substantial portion of the old Zaporozhians, were reduced to peasant status. They were able to maintain some freedoms and continued to provide refuge for those fleeing serfdom in Russia and Poland. This aroused the anger of the Russian empress Catherine II. Also, tension rose after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, when the need for a southern frontier ended after the annexation of the Crimea. With the colonisation of New Russia, tensions were created between the Cossacks and numerous Slav colonists. European female travelers used to penetrate into the Sich and to report the naked men there. Using that as the excuse, Catherine II decided to disband the Sich.
In May 1775, General Pyotr Tekeli received orders to occupy the main Zaporozhian fortress, the Sich, and to destroy it. The order was given by Grigory Potemkin, who was formally admitted into Cossackdom a few years earlier. Potemkin was given direct orders from Empress Catherine.
On June 5, 1775, General Tekeli surrounded the Sich with artillery and infantry. He postponed the assault and even allowed visits while the head of the Host, Petro Kalnyshevsky, was deciding how to react to the Russian ultimatum. The Zaporozhians decided not to spill Russian blood and to surrender, not to the Empire but to Catherine the Second as a woman and the mother of the state, who according to an ultimatum had only wanted to have these ferocious bachelors transfer to family life.
The Sich was officially disbanded by the August 3 1775 manifesto of Catherine the Second "On the Liquidation of the Zaporozhias Sich and Annexarion of it to Novorossiya Governorate" (Об уничтожении Запорожской Сечи и о причислении оной к Новороссийской губернии).
The Sich was razed to the ground. Starshyna became hereditary Russian nobility and obtained huge lands in spite of their previous attempts to relocate Sich to either North America or Australia. Under the guidance of the starshyna Lyakh, a conspiracy was formed among a group of 50 Cossacks to pretend to go fishing in the river Inhul next to the Southern Buh in the Ottoman provinces and to have 50 passports for this, which Zaporozhian Cossack Grigory Potyomkin issued for them. The pretext was enough to allow the Russians and Cossacks, defected from Turkey to become Russian border guards, to let about 5000 Zaporozhians to Turkey, because there were no photos in passports in those time. The fleeing Cossacks traveled to the Danube Delta where they formed a new Danube Sich, as a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Some of them moved to Hungary to have a Sich there as a protectorate of Austrian Empire. According to folklore, some moved to Malta, because Kosh members considered themselves the kind of Maltese chivalry. As long as Potyomkin could not be guilty, so Petro Kalnyshevsky was arrested and exiled to the Solovetsky Islands (where he lived to the age of 112 in the Solovetsky Monastery). Four high level starshynas had been repressed and exiled. These Kalnysh's comrades died in Siberian monasteries. Lower level starshynas who remained and went over to the Russian side were given army ranks and all the privileges that accompanied them, and allowed to join Hussar and Dragoon regiments. Most of the ordinary Cossacks were made peasants and even serfs. Though when the Host of Loyal Zaporozhians had been formed, they had Siches on Bug and Dniester, but the Ukrainian writer Adrian Kaschenko (1858–1921) and historian Olena Apanovich note that the final abolition of the Zaporizhian Sich of 1734-1775, the historic Cossack stronghold perceived as the bastion of the protection of the Ukrainians and their ways of life, had such a strong symbolic effect that the memories of the event remained for a long time in local folklore, and new Siches on the Bug and the Dniester, such as Sich in Austria, were not reflected in folklore.
- History of the Cossacks
- Zaporozhian Cossacks
- Tatar invasions
- Jewish cossacks
- Khmelnytsky Uprising
- Black Sea Cossack Host formed a few years after the destruction of the Zarporozhiya.
- Danubian Sich, formed by some of the escapees of the Zaporizhian Cossacks in the delta of Danube, under the protectorate of the Ottoman Empire.
- Dmytro Yavornytsky, historian of the Zaporozhian Cossacks who mapped the locations of the various Siches.
- Encyclopedia of Ukraine (English)
- Dmytro Yavornytsky (1892, reissued 1990) Історія Запорiзьких Козаків (the History of the Zaporozhian Cossacks) Vol.1 ISBN 5-11-000647-4 (Ukrainian)
- Cossack Navy 16th - 17th Centuries
- Володимир Антонович. Про козацькі часи на Україні. - Дев'ята глава
- Volodymyr Selezniov Capital city of liberties http://www.day.kiev.ua/en/article/history-and-i/capital-city-liberties
- Turchenko F. (ed), "Ukrains'ke kozatstvo. Mala entsyklopediia", Kiev, 2002
- Adrian Kashchenko, "Opovidannia pro slavne viys'ko zaporoz'ke nyzove", Dnipropetrovsk, Sich, 1991, ISBN 5-7775-0301-2
- Olena Apanovich, "Ne propala ihnya slava", "Vitchizna" Magazine, N 9, 1990
- Cossack raids
- Zaporozhia - Encyclopedia of Ukraine
- Article on Zaporozhian Sich in "Welcome to Ukraine" Magazine