Chronology of the Hetmanate: 1552-1795

The Formation of a Cossack National Identity

Hetman Dmytro Vishnevetsky Baida

Prince Dmytro Vishnevetsky Baida

1553: Prince Dmytro Vyshnevetsky, a nobleman from the region of Volhynia west of Lviv, is dispatched by Sigismund II Augustus, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, to fortify an island – Mala Khortytsia – beyond the Dnipro River rapids. Vyshnevetsky has earned an affectionate nickname, “Baida,” after fighting for many years alongside Cossacks against the Tatars. The purpose of Vyshnevetsky’s mission to Mala Khortytsia is twofold: (1) to strengthen the frontier of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania against the Tatars, and (2) to appease the Crimean Khanate by curbing Cossack interference with the slave economy. Using Cossack labor on the island, Vyshnevetsky builds a fortress, the historical “nucleus” for what will become the Zaporozhian Sich (sometimes called the ‘Zaporizhian Sich’), a settlement of free Cossacks whose government (the ‘Zaporozhian Host’) is centered on the eastern reaches of the Dnipro. The word ‘Zaporozhia’ means ‘beyond the rapids.’ But while Vyshnevetsky’s fortress is ostensibly designed to prevent Cossacks from conducting raids further down river, the Crimean Khan ultimately sees it as a threat.

1556: When Tsar Ivan IV (‘the Terrible’) of Muscovy sends troops down the Dnipro to attack Crimea, Vyshnevetsky provides 300 Cossacks of his own, thus joining forces with a power that is hostile to Poland-Lithuania, and displeasing the Polish Crown. The joint Muscovite-Zaporozhian force is unable to capture its target, the fort of Islam Kerman, 200 kilometers down the river from Khortytsia, but several months later the Khortytsia Cossacks return with a larger force and seize the citadel.

'Zaporozhian Cossacks Fighting Tatars from the Crimean Khanate' by Jozef Brandt (1890)

‘Zaporozhian Cossacks Fighting Tatars from the Crimean Khanate’ by Jozef Brandt (1890)

1557: The Crimean Khan launches an assault on the Sich across the frozen Dnipro River, but after fierce fighting the Tatars are forced to withdraw. The Cossacks lose many men but gain substantial military materiel from the enemy. Vyshnevetsky immediately informs Sigismund of the victory and requests reinforcements in manpower and equipment, but he is rebuffed. He is given only a modest stipend and reminded that the Crimean Khanate is an ally of Poland-Lithuania, not to be attacked or aggravated. Without defense from Poland-Lithuania, the Sich is vulnerable, and the Crimean Khanate ultimately overruns the stronghold and eradicates all traces of Cossack presence. Furthermore, Sigismund is held responsible for Vyshnevetsky’s actions, and a force 20,000-strong Tatar army is launched against Ukrainian lands further west, such as Volhynia and Podilia, causing massive loss of life and capture of more slaves. Vyshnevetsky takes an oath of allegiance to the Tsar of Muscovy and receives a 10,000-ruble stipend. Vyshnevetsky leads campaigns against the Tatars and Ottomans in alliance with Muscovy.

1561: Vyshnevetsky faces conflicting loyalties when Tsar Ivan IV diverts his forces north to fight the Livonian Wars. Vyshnevetsky then returns to Sigismund II Augustus to offer his services again, and is welcomed warmly.

1563: The Turks capture Vyshnevetsky as he attempts to conquer Moldavia. He is turned over to the Turks, taken to Istanbul, tortured and hung by his ribs until he dies. In Ukrainian folk tradition, Vyshnevetsky goes on to become a hero and is labeled the first Cossack ‘hetman,’ the title used by the supreme commanders of the Polish army.

Map of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after Union of Lublin (1569)

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after Union of Lublin (1569)

1569: Poland and Lithuania form the Lublin Union, by which all lands of Ukraine come under the jurisdiction of Poland. This brings the yoke of serfdom to Ukraine, sowing the seeds of future social tension, and a revival of Orthodoxy occurs in reaction to Polonization and the growth of Catholic influence. The first Orthodox community is formed in Lviv, followed by Kyiv and other cities.

1596: The Union of Brest-Litovsk is signed under King Sigismund III of Poland, subordinating the Eastern Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church in his kingdom. The “Uniates” acknowledge the supremacy of Rome in matters of faith and dogma, but preserve the liturgy and rites of Orthodoxy. Although the Uniate Church is destined to preserve Ukraine’s national identity, the population divides as resistance to the Union of Brest-Litovsk grows. Ukrainian Orthodoxy embraces 2 trends – Byzantine and Western. Metropolitan Petro Mohyla synthesizes the two traditions.

1598: Tsar of Muscovy Feodor I, the son of Ivan the Terrible, dies. A 15-year interregnum known in Russian historiography as the “The Time of Troubles” begins. During this period, Muscovy experiences civil uprisings, invasion, occupation and other instability coincident to the end of the Ryurik dynasty and the beginning of the reign of roughly three centuries of Romanov rule. The chief imperial power in the region is the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, with supports pretenders to the throne in Moscow before installing a Polish sovereign.

Field Crown Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski (detail of painting by Matejko)

Field Crown Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski (detail of painting by Matejko)

1610: Up to 10,000 Cossacks join the army of Field Crown Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski in his march on Moscow. Polish forces capture Moscow. Prince Władisław Sigismund Vasa, son of King Sigismund III Vasa, is elected Tsar of Russia.

Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa, son of King Sigismund III Vasa of Poland, and Tsar of All Russia from 1610-1613

Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa, Tsar of All Russia from 1610-1613

1612: The Polish garrison in Moscow falls to Russian attackers, and Polish troops are gradually forced out of Moscow.

1613: The first Romanov, Michael I, becomes tsar of Muscovy.

1616: Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny becomes Hetman of the Zaporozhian Host.

Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny

Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny

1618: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth requests the assistance of Konashevych-Sahaidachny for a war on Muscovy. He provides King Sigismund III Vasa of Poland with 20,000 Cossacks near Moscow, forcing the Muscovite armies to flee from several forts and cities. The Polish-Ukrainian alliance ultimately fails to seize Moscow.

Reply of the Zaporizhian Cossacks to the Sultan by Ilya Repin

Reply of the Zaporizhian Cossacks to the Sultan by Ilya Repin

1621: Ukrainian Hetman Konashevych-Sahaidachny brings 40,000 Cossacks to help Poland repel an invasion by the Turks, fighting in alliance with Polish Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz to rout the Ottoman invaders. The Polish-Ukrainian alliance defeats an army of 160,000 Turks and 60,000 Tatars on the Polish frontier.

Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz

Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz

1632: Prince Jeremi Vyshnevetsky, ruler over much of Ruthenia, converts from Eastern Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism and turns the Orthodox Cossacks against him. Many old Rus families become Polonized. At the same time, Metropolitan Petro Mohyla founds a college – the Mohyla Academy – based on the Jesuit model. It allows the Orthodox to receive a good education while resisting Polonization and Catholicization. The students form the intellectual elite of Ukraine-Rus. Unfortunately, the Polish Sejm greatly reduces the power and prestige of the Cossacks in peacetime, and numerous uprisings break out. All are ruthlessly suppressed until Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky appears in the Zaporozhian Sich.


Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky

The Great Revolt

1645: When a powerful Polish magnate confiscates Khmelnytsky’s estate, all attempts by the hetman to appeal to the King of Poland for justice over the next few years prove futile. Finally, Khmelnytsky organizes and leads an uprising against Polish rule that is to prove fateful for Ukraine as a nation.

1648: Khmelnytsky makes an agreement with the Khan to receive Tatar military support, and a Cossack-Tatar army meets Polish troops on the battlefield, defeating the Poles in three separate battles. News of the Cossack victories incite the serfs to rebel and massacre Polish landlords, Uniate clergy, and Jews. Khmelnytsky pays the Tatars with thousands of Ukrainian slaves.

1649: A formal state of Cossacks called the Hetmanate is formed from Khmelnytsky’s victories, and this lasts until the end of the 18th century. Khmelnytsky tells the Polish ambassadors he will fight forever against Polish enslavement and for the Orthodox faith. He captures King John Casimir, but the Tatars – bribed by the Poles – force Khmelnytsky to sign a peace treaty.

1651: A decisive battle takes place between Polish troops, led by the king, and Khmelnytsky and the Tatar khan. During the battle, the khan runs frightened from the battlefield, followed by his army, and Khmelnytsky is captured. The defeat at Berestechko initiates a period of Polish-Ukrainian wars. Khmelnytsky tries to defeat the Poles again, but is again betrayed by the Tatars, and so turns to a bigger ally: Russia.

1654: The Treaty of Pereyaslav unites Russia and Ukraine. Khmelnytsky demands that the Russian ambassador swear solemnly on behalf of Tsar Alexei that the rights of the Cossacks will remain unchanged. The Russians are outraged, and negotiations break off. Some of the most eminent commanders refuse to sign the treaty, and the original documents signed in Pereyaslav are lost. After the joint Russian-Cossack campaign against Poland, the Cossack delegation is not admitted to peace talks. Khmelnytsky finds new allies in Sweden and Brandenburg, and Swedish troops seize almost all of Poland’s territory. But the military support of Russia and the Tatars helps defeat the Swedes, upsetting Khmelnytsky’s plans.

The oddly-shaped flag of the Cossack Hetmanate (1649-1775). From 1654 onwards, it would be a vassal state of Russian stardom, and its existence would me marked by fierce struggles for freedom from the Russian yoke.

Oddly-shaped flag of the Cossack Hetmanate, which existed formally from 1649-1775. From 1654 onwards, the Hetmanate would be a vassal state of Russian tsardom. Its existence would me marked by fierce struggles for freedom from the Russian yoke.

The Ruin

Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky

Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky

1657: Khmelnytsky dies, and his son, Yuri, tales over as Hetman of Ukraine but relinquishes the office in a matter of weeks to Ivan Vyhovsky. Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s alliance with Moscow has allowed Russia to defeat the Khanate and reach the Black Sea coast. But it has also expanded and strengthened Russian power. Without Ukraine, Russia would never have become an empire. Khmelnytsky is thus a key figure in the formation of the Russian imperial tradition.

Khmelnytsky’s death marks the beginning of a 30-year period in Ukrainian history known as “The Ruin.” During this time, Moscow lends its support at various times to three hetmans in Left-Bank Ukraine (east of the Dnipro River): Ivan Briukhovetsky (r. 1663-68), Demian Mnohohrishny (r. 1668-72) and Ivan Samoylovych (r. 1672-1687). All three prove fickle in their loyalty to the Ukrainian state, and a series of wars ensues, followed ultimately by Russia’s partition of Ukraine.

1658: Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky attempts to return to Poland in a partnership of three free states: Poland, Lithuania and the Principality of Rus. But the rights of Ruthenian citizens are so abridged by the Polish Sejm that even its most ardent advocates cannot accept the treaty, and Vyhovsky faces a rebellion by pro-Russian Cossacks.

Map of the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth (1658)

Map of the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth (1658) (Map: SeikoEn)

Hetman Yuri Khmelnytsky

Hetman Yuri Khmelnytsky

1659: Vyhovsky surrenders the office of hetman and retires to Poland. Yuri Khmelnytsky again takes over, and this time remains Hetman of the Zaporozhian Host for about four years. But the country descends into chaos and fratricidal wars.

1663: Ivan Briukhovetsky, a pro-Russian Cossack, succeeds Yuri Khmelnytsky and rules Left-Bank Ukraine with extreme cruelty and brutality.

Left-Bank Ukraine Hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky

Left-Bank Ukraine Hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky

1665: Petro Doroshenko becomes Hetman of Right-Bank Ukraine and begins his rule as a pro-Polish reformer. He tries to give a voice to lower social classes through a series of general councils, and to eliminate his dependence on the starshyna (senior officers) by creating special infantry units answerable only to him. Briukhovetsky, meanwhile, signs the “Articles of 1665,” placing Ukraine under the direct authority of the Russian tsar.

1667: The Treaty of Andrusovo is signed, officially dividing Ukraine between Poland and Russia along the Dnipro River. Upon hearing of the terms of the treaty, Doroshenko changes his pro-Polish policy and turns to the Ottoman Empire for help. At the Battle of Brailiv, with the help of the Crimean Tatars, Doroshenko defeats the Poles and secures control over Right-Bank Ukraine (west of the Dnipro).

Hetman Petro Doroshenko

Hetman Petro Doroshenko

As the Treaty of Andrusovo is highly unpopular, Briukhovetsky also breaks off relations with Moscow and organizes a rebellion against the Russian tsar. By this time, however, Briukhovetsky’s reputation for cruelty has turned most of his people against him.

1668: Doroshenko appoints Demian Mnohohrishny Acting Hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine and supports an uprising against Ivan Briukhovetsky, resulting in Briukhovetsky’s assassination.

Left-Bank Ukraine Hetman Demian Mnohohrishny

Left-Bank Ukraine Hetman Demian Mnohohrishny

Doroshenko is proclaimed Hetman of All Ukraine, but his domestic enemies soon unite against him. Mnohohrishny pledges loyalty to the Russian tsar, and Doroshenko moves to secure a permanent alliance with the Ottoman Empire.

1669: The alliance of Ukraine and the Ottoman Empire is approved by the Korsun Cossack Council and proclaimed by Sultan Mehmet IV. Moscow then appoints Demian Mnohohrishny as Hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine.

Right-Bank Ukraine Hetman Mykhailo Khanenko

Right-Bank Ukraine Hetman Mykhailo Khanenko

1670: Mykhailo Khanenko secures a pact with the Poles to recognize his hetmancy over Right-Bank Ukraine. Khanenko and Polish King John Sobieski then lead a massive joint invasion of Right-Bank Ukraine.

1672: Petro Doroshenko, aided by a 100,000-strong Ottoman Army, invades Poland and defeats the Polish army. The peace treaty specifies that a number of Polish provinces (voivods) will be turned over to Ottoman control, either directly or as Ottoman protectorates administered by the Ukrainian Hetman Doroshenko.

The Crimean Tatars take many prisoners, and Right-Bank Ukraine faces plunder and pillaging by the Turks. Doroshenko begins to lose the respect of his previously loyal civilians because of his collaboration with the hated Ottomans, on whom he has been forced to rely increasingly as his forces are weakened by the ongoing wars. Ivan Samoylovych succeeds Mnohohrishny as Hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine.

1674: At the Council of Officers in Pereyaslav, Ivan Samoylovych is proclaimed Hetman of All Ukraine. Mykhailo Khanenko surrenders his hetman title to Samoylovych in exchange for some landed estates, but the title of hetman cannot enter into force until Doroshenko abdicates. This he refuses to do.

Left-Bank Ukraine Hetman Ivan Samoylovych

Left-Bank Ukraine Hetman Ivan Samoylovych

Samoylovych, together with the Muscovite Grigory Romodanovsky, launches an expedition against Doroshenko and besieges Chyhyryn, a central Ukrainian city and capital of the Hetmanate at the time. However, Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa manages in time to lift the siege and drive the Muscovite forces beyond the Dnipro.

1675: At the Cossack Council in Chyhyryn, Doroshenko abdicates and pledges his allegiance to Muscovy, witnessed by Ivan Sirko. But the Muscovite government demands that he do this in Left-Bank Ukraine, and that the act be witnessed by Samoylovych and Romodanovsky. Doroshenko refuses.

1676: Samoylovych crosses the Dnipro with an army of 30,000 and once again besieges Chyhyryn. After several hours, Doroshenko asks his 2,000-strong Serdiuk garrison to cease resistance, as he has decided to abdicate. Doroshenko is arrested and brought to Moscow where he is kept in honorary exile, never to return to Ukraine. Samoylovych proclaims himself Hetman of All Ukraine and again attempts to take the Right Bank. But within two years, the Turks have driven him back across the Dnipro. Ukraine is partitioned, and the Zaporozhian Sich is placed under Russia’s jurisdiction.

1686: Russia and Poland sign the Eternal Peace Treaty, which recognizes Polish rule over Right-Bank Ukraine and removes the Poles from Zaporozhia.

Anti-Russian Rebellion and the Petrine Tyranny

1687: Ivan Mazepa is elected Hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine and wins the favor of Tsar Peter I. But Mazepa begins watching the Northern War closely, particularly the victories of the Swedes.

Hetman Ivan Mazepa on the 10 hryvnia note

Hetman Ivan Mazepa on the 10 hryvnia note

When Swedish King Carl XII arrives in Kyiv, Mazepa can only provide a few thousand Cossacks instead of the promised 30,000. Peter I orders the execution of every Zaporozhian Cossack on the spot.

1709: The Swedish and Russian armies meet at Poltava. Russia defeats Sweden and buries Ukraine’s chances of achieving independence. Mazepa finds refuge in Moldavia and soon dies there. Mazepa’s close lieutenant, Pylyp Orlyk, is chosen as Hetman in Exile by the Cossacks and Carl XII.

Peter the Great orders the destruction of the Zaporozhian central stockade (Sich) and the complete expulsion of the Zaporozhian Cossacks from the area without a right of return.

1710: In Moldavia, Orlyk writes one of the first state constitutions in all of Europe: the “Pacts and Constitutions of Rights and Freedoms of the Zaporozhian Host.” This document, unusual for its time, establishes a democratic system based on the separation of powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches. Under the “Pacts and Constitutions,” the hetman is chief executive, and a democratically elected Cossack parliament, the General Council, serves as law-making authority. The constitution specifies the King of Sweden as “protector of Ukraine.”

Hetman Pylyp Orlyk

Hetman Pylyp Orlyk

1715: Having carried out unsuccessful incursions into Right-Bank Ukraine with the help of Crimean Tatars over the preceding few years, Orlyk moves to Sweden with his family and an entourage of Cossacks, leaving five years later to begin a journey that will take him to Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and France, before he eventually settles in Salonica, Turkey. There he attempts to organize an alliance with the Ottoman Empire against Russia.

1721: The title of the “Tsardom of Muscovy” is formally renamed the “Russian Empire” by Tsar Peter I, who becomes Emperor Peter the Great in history.

1733: As Russia prepares for a new war against the Ottoman Empire, it becomes open to negotiating the return of the Zaporozhians.

1734: The Treaty of Lubny specifies the return to the Zaporozhians of all their former lands in exchange for service in the Russian army during times of war. They are permitted to build a new stockade in the region (called the ‘New Sich’) on the Dnipro River to replace that which Peter the Great has destroyed.

Empress Elizabeth of Russia

Empress Elizabeth of Russia

1742: Orlyk dies in Jassy, in the Principality of Moldavia, a broken man. In the same year, Peter the Great’s daughter Elizabeth becomes Empress of Russia and secretly marries a Russian-registered Ukrainian Cossack, Alexei Rozumovsky.

1750: Due to his influence over Elizabeth, Alexei secures for his brother, Kyrylo, the post of Hetman of the Zaporizhian Host (Left-Bank Ukraine).

1754: Kyrylo Rozumovsky becomes Hetman of Right-Bank Ukraine (and thus All Ukraine). With the patronage of Empress Elizabeth, there appears a genuine chance of restoring autonomy to the Cossack lands.

Russian Imperial Hegemony and the Destruction of the Hetmanate

1762: Catherine II (the Great) becomes Empress of Russia after assassinating her husband, the reformist Emperor Peter III. She aggressively pursues the expansion of the empire to the west and south by military campaigns. During her rule, she absorbs much of Ukraine at the expense of two declining powers: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire. Catherine the Great extends Russian control to the Black Sea and annexes southern Ukraine. Count Kyrylo Rozumovsky will be the last Hetman of the Zaporizhian Host to enjoy official Russian imperial recognition of the title.

1764: The despot Catherine II strips Rozumovsky of his title and abolishes the Hetmanate.

Count Kyrylo Rozumovsky, the last Hetman of the Zaporizhian Host to enjoy official recognition of the title by the Russian Empire

Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky

1774: The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, signed between the Russian and Ottoman Empires, awarded Russia territories at Azov, Kerch, Yenikale, Kinburn, and the small strip of Black Sea coast between the rivers Dnipro and Bug. The treaty gives Russia free maritime movement – both military and commercial – in the Sea of Azov, grants Russia the status of “protector” of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, and makes Crimea a Russian protectorate.

Petro Kalnyshevsky, the last Hetman of the Zaporizhian Host, who was exiled to the White Sea region

Hetman Petro Kalnyshevsky

1775: After 223 years, the free community of the Cossacks, the Zaporozhian Sich, ceases to exist when the despot Catherine the Great orders it destroyed. The last of the chieftains, Petro Kalnyshevsky, is exiled to the White Sea, to which many Ukrainians will be exiled after him during the Soviet era. Kalnyshevsky becomes the last Hetman of the Zaporozhian Host.

1783: Catherine the Great annexes Crimea, nine years after the Crimean Khanate gained nominal independence (guaranteed by Russia) from the Ottoman Empire as a result of her first war against the Turks.

The despot Empress Catherine II of Russia, who abolished the Hetmanate of Ukraine (1764) and the Zaporizhian Sich (1775). (Photo: US-PD)

Empress Catherine II of Russia, who abolished the Hetmanate of Ukraine (1764) and the Zaporizhian Sich (1775)

The palace of the Crimean khans passes into the hands of the Russians.

1786: Catherine the Great conducts a triumphal procession in Crimea, provoking another Russo–Turkish War.

1787: The Ottomans restart hostilities in the second Russo-Turkish War, which is disastrous for the Ottomans.

1792: The Treaty of Jassy ends the Second Russo-Turkish War, legitimizes Russian claims to Crimea and grants the Yedisan region to Russia.

1795: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is extinguished by partition. The empires of Austria-Hungary, Prussia and Russia divide Poland between themselves, and Russia absorbs Ukraine and Crimea. Catherine II turns the territory of the Hetmanate into a province of Russia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: