Michał Czajkowski

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Michał Czajkowski

Michał Czajkowski (Polish spelling), or Mykhailo Chaikovsky (Ukrainian spelling), or Sadyk Pasha (Turkish: Mehmet Sadık Paşa) was born 19 September 1804 in Halchyn, near the town of Berdychiv in the Province of Volhynia, in right-bank Ukraine, which had been annexed to the Russian Empire at the end of the eighteenth century. He died on 18 January 1886, in Borky, in central Ukraine. He was a Polish writer on Cossack themes (Ukrainian school in Polish literature)[1] and a political emigre who worked both for the resurrection of Poland and also for the reestablishment of a Cossack Ukraine.

Early life[edit]

Czajkowski, a descendant of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky (reigned 1663–68),[2] was born into the Polonized Catholic gentry of right-bank Ukraine and participated in the Polish insurrection of 1830-31. After the failure of this uprising, he went into exile in France where he developed his ideology of the resurrection of Cossackdom and wrote several novels on this theme. Very popular at this time, some of them were translated into several languages including French and German. In general, in his early writings, Czajkowski saw no conflict between Polish and Cossack interests and romanticized the history of Ukrainian-Polish relations.

France and Turkey[edit]

During his French period, Czajkowski briefly collaborated with the radically oriented Polish Democratic Society, and then with the moderate Confederation of the Polish People, before going over to the conservative Polish emigre faction led by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski called the "Hotel Lambert," after the Prince's residence in Paris. At Czartoryski's bidding, Czajkowski went to Turkey where he was active in Bosnia and Serbia and supported anti-Russian activities in the Caucasus. In the years following the unsuccessful revolutions of 1848, he helped arrange for political asylum for refugee Polish and Hungarian revolutionaries. Russian and Austrian efforts to have him extradited back to his homeland, and conflicts with Paris led to his eventual conversion to Islam and his new name "Sadyk Pasha". He thereupon organized an Ottoman Cossack Brigade to fight against the Russians. His Ottoman Cossack unit actually saw some action in the Balkans during the Crimean War but never got to invade Ukraine from the south which was the original intention of its organizers.

Return to Ukraine[edit]

Although Czajkowski returned from the war with honours and was able to live a comfortable life in Turkey, his restless nature could never be completely satisfied. His differences with the Hotel Lambert had steadily increased over the years and he was becoming more and more estranged from the Polish political emigration. He was also frustrated by the failure of his larger Cossack project. In 1872, the Russian government offered him an amnesty, and in part under the influence of his third wife, a young Greek girl, he accepted the Russian offer, converted to Orthodoxy, returned to Ukraine and chose to live in Kiev. During this period he wrote his very extensive memoirs. His young wife proved unfaithful, however, and in 1886 a dispirited Czajkowski took his own life. One of his sons, Ladislas Czaykowski/Muzaffer Pasha, became governor in Mount-Lebanon in 1902.


Czajkowski is remembered as a great Cossack enthusiast, a contemporary and friend of other prominent Polish romantics like the poet Adam Mickiewicz, and a leading member of the Ukrainian School of Polish literature. His writings had a profound influence upon younger generations of aristocratic Poles from right-bank Ukraine and boyhood reading of them probably influenced the future prominent historians, Volodymyr Antonovych and Vyacheslav Lypynsky to go over to the Ukrainian national movement.

His son, Władysław Czajkowski, became an Ottoman official.

Famous Works[edit]

  • Powieści Kozackie (Cossack Tales, 1837)
  • Wernyhora (1838)
  • Kirdzali (1839)
  • Owruczanin (The Man from Ovruch, 1841)
  • Ukrainki (Ukrainian Women, 1841)


  1. ^ Ukrainian school in Polish literature at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  2. ^ Radyk, O. Mykhailo Chaikovsky. Adventurist who dreamed to revive Sich. Ukrayinska Pravda (Historic Pravda). September 29, 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas M. Prymak, "The Strange Life of Sadyk Pasha," Forum: A Ukrainian Review, no. 50 (1982), 28-31. A nicely illustrated article with a bibliography.

External links[edit]