- For the musical group, see Haydamaky (band)
The haidamakas, also haidamaky or haidamaks (singular haidamaka, Ukrainian: Гайдамаки, Haidamaky) were according to this exonym, known from 1737 as pro-Ukrainian (Cossack) paramilitary bands in the 18th-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Other more ancient exonyms of the same haidamaks include levenetz and deineka. Equivalents of haidamaka include opryshok in Ukrainian Galicia, and hajduk in the Balkans. Hajduk is also used in Polish language. The first people to use the term "Haidamaki" to refer to themselves fought in Ustim Karmaluk's uprising of the early 1830s.
Because of the massacres of Jews, Jesuits, Uniates, and Polish nobility, the Polish language term Hajdamactwo became a pejorative label for Ukrainians as a whole. However, Ukrainian folklore and literature generally (with some notable exceptions) treat the actions of the Haidamaki positively. Haidamaky (1841), an epic poem by Taras Shevchenko, treats its subjects both sympathetically and critically.
Haidamaks waged 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 szlachta in 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.
Opposition to the nobility and to Roman Catholics led to the haidamaka rebellions (haidamachchyna). Three major uprisings took place, 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 in 1733. Russian troops, brought in to remove King Stanisław I (Leszczyński), were initially seen[by whom?] as liberators from the Poles, and an insurrection developed in Kiev, spreading to Podolia and Volhynia. After Augustus III gained the throne of Poland-Lithuania in 1734, the Russian military suppressed the insurrection. 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[by whom?] 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 Poles - with Russian military assistance - had suppressed the revolt, though bloody repression against the Cossacks lasted for several years. See Koliyivschyna article for more details.
The last flare-up of the Haydamak violence occurred in 1830s, 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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