Black Ruthenia

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Black Ruthenia (Latin: Ruthenia Nigra), Black Rus (Belarusian: Чорная Русь, Polish: Ruś Czarna) identified a historic region around Navahrudak (Novgorodok), in the western part of contemporary Belarus on the upper reaches of the Neman River. Besides Navahrudak, other important cities of the Black Ruthenian region included Hrodna (Grodno), Slonim, Volkovysk (Vaŭkavysk) and Niasvizh (Niasviž).


The phrase of "coloured" Ruś first appeared in Western European sources circa 1360, but referring to Red Ruthenia (in modern Ukraine). After the Lithuanian grand duke Mindaugas had conquered the area around 1240, it was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and administered within Nowogródek Voivodeship, also called "Black Ruthenia Voivodeship".

During the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, the eastern part around Slutsk was annexed by the Russian Empire and incorporated into the Minsk Governorate. The western part followed in the Third Partition of 1795 and was administered within the Grodno Governorate. Early Russian sources do not use the term "Black Ruś", the name "Black Ruthenia" appears primarily in historical writings from the 18th century.

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