White Ruthenia

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White Ruthenia (Old Church Slavonic: Бѣла Роусь, Bela Rous; Russian: Белая Русь, Belaya Rus), alternatively known as Russia Alba or White Russia, is an archaism[1][2] for the eastern part of present-day Belarus, including the cities of Polotsk, Vitebsk, and Mogilev.

The coat of arms of the Polatsk Voivodeship: a Pahonia with a white background

History[edit]

Russia Alba between Livonia Aquilonaris and Moscovie Pars from the map Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus, 1539

Many other variants of this name appeared in ancient maps: for instance, Russia Alba, Russija Alba, Wit Rusland, Weiß Reußen (Weißreußen), White Russia, Hviterussland, Hvíta Rússland, Weiß Russland (Weißrussland), Ruthenia Alba, Ruthénie Blanche and Weiß Ruthenien (Weißruthenien), assigned to various territories, often quite distant from that of present Belarus. For example, at one time the term was applied to Novgorod.[clarification needed]

The 16th century chronicler Alexander Guagnini book Sarmatiae Europeae descriptio popular in Europe, but in fact plagiarized from Maciej Stryjkowski , wrote that Rus' was divided in three parts. The first part, under the rule of the Moscovite Grand Duke, was called White Russia. The second one, under the rule of Polish king, was called Black Russia. And the rest was Red Russia. He also said Moscow was the center of White Russia and Russian metropolitanate, and that Grand Duke of Moscow was called the White Czar, especially by his subjects.

Only by the late 16th century did it become a name for the area of the present Belarus. The origins of the name, which is attested from the 14th century, are unclear[3] Vasmer's dictionary mentions the dichotomy of "white" land and "taxed" land in Domostroi and speculates that "white" Russia may have referred to the parts of Russia that were not subject to Tatar rule. Another speculation in Vasmer is that the color of the clothes of the White Russians (perhaps as well as the color of their hair) may have contributed to the name. Oleg Trubachyov calls both theories "complete fantasies".[vague]

Some other Slavic people have been distinguished by colour. There have been, for example, White, Red and Black Croats. (White Croats and White Croatia lived in today's south-east Poland and western Ukraine, beyond the Carpathians; Red Croats and Red Croatia were situated in today's Croatia, present-day Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, southern Dalmatia and most of Albania, as well as "Old Serbia" (Raška and Metohija). Black Croats resided beyond the River Don; White Serbs in today's east Germany. There is also a region historically known as Black Ruthenia (Black Russia, Чорная Русь / Chornaya Rus’), it covers northwestern lands of modern-day Belarus: Grodno, Slonim, Navahrudak, Vawkavysk and partly Minsk region.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "White Russia". Oxforddictionaries.com. 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2017. 
  2. ^ "White Russian". Oxforddictionaries.com. 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017. 
  3. ^ Vasmer's Etymological Dictionary: белору́с

Bibliography[edit]

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