Ukrainian lands under the reign of Great Lithuanian princedom and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

As it was already earlier noted, the period of Catholicism imposition on Ukrainian population and inculcation of polonisation through nobility of Ukrainian seigniorial layer had begun since the times of Krevsky union. However, it is not necessary to forget about Lithuanian period, rather influential for the Ukrainian earths, i.e. the period of possession of the part of Ukraine (considerable part) by the Great Lithuanian princedom. Some words about it, i.e. the period of «before Krevsky union» time.
The borders of the Great Lithuanian princedom impress ...
From 1236 till 1263 there was rather historical event when the Lithuanian ethnic earths were united and the state with the same name was founded. In 1253, «the leader of all Lithuanians» Mindgaus, being expressed in modern language, for the reasons of political expediency, accepted Christianity and received a crown from Pope's hands and in the day of his crowning - on June, 6th, today it is the national holiday in Lithuania though the given day has also the most direct relation for Ukraine. And in the forties of fourteenth century, during the board of Algerdas-Olgerd, it was proclaimed, that «all Russia should simply belong to Lithuanians», and they, i.e. the Lithuanian leaders, having shown annexation miracles, stepped into the Ukrainian earths. Having taken the bigger half of former Kiev Russia, and having crushed the Tataro-Mongolian army in the fight on the river Sinie Vody in autumn of 1362, Lithuanians provided stability to the new state and protected it from external encroachments for some time. The great Lithuanian princedom became the greatest in Europe. And it was so at the expense of territories of «not Lithuanian origin».
But there is one more aspect, I would tell, the most important in this event when before eighteen years prior to the epoch-making Kulikovsky fight the army of the grand duke Lithuanian Olgerd, strengthened by Ryazan, Tver and Moscow princedoms, had crushed three Horde khans on Sinie Vody. That defeat, as modern historians consider, had the most fatal consequences for Golden Horde. The invincible Golden Horde had been dealed a blow, equal to Stalingrad on the importance of events of the last century. And that place, «Stalingrad of fourteenth century» was the river bank of Sinyuha around village Torgovitsa in Kirovograd region, where in autumn of the same 1362, Olgerd's army put a hard blow to the horde. It was the end of Golden Horde Yoke. By the way, Kirovograd region is offended by historians today, at least because the most significant «fights on waters», occurred there ...


But there is also another version, saying that the well-known fight of the grand duke Lithuanian Olgerd with Tatars occurred not in the present Kirovograd region on Sinie Vody, that on the river Sinyuha, but on the territory of present city Khmelnik on Podolia, at the river Snivoda flowing on the border of Kiev region, Volhynia and Podolia. By the way, many military historians who investigate military aspects of our general history are interested at the fight on Sinie Vody, about which, unfortunately, there is little information. At that time, that fight had essential influence on historical events, as its result was the sharp indulgence of political influence of Golden Horde on the earth of former Kiev Russia and joining of Kyiv region, Pereyaslav region and Podolia to the Great Lithuanian princedom. But, anyway, the fight took place and as military historians justify, «in our advantage».
From the moment of already known Krevsky union, which confederatively fixed neogenic state of the Great Lithuanian princedom and Kingdoms of Poland, on the world maps there was a state which entered the history, thanking to northern and southern terminations as the territory «from sea to the sea», today is used by a number of historians of our western neighbour in the argument of "southern vector of borders». But, speaking about a southern direction, it is necessary not to forget about Teutonic award - northwest, formidable opponent.
It is necessary to return to history again. Dynastic Krevsky union strengthened Poland and Lithuania positions in opposition with the Teutonic award which, logically, splashed out in the well-known Gryunvaldsky battle.
It is a picture reproduction of «Gryunvaldsky fight». There are Teutonic banners, Polish Benders, but Ukrainian and Russian banners, are not seen ...
In 1410, according to the numerous researches, the connected army of Poland and Lithuania inflicted defeat over the Teutonic award in Gryunvaldsky fight (Teutonic award was definitely liquidated in 1466). But, there is another but. It is necessary not to forget that «connected army of Poland and Lithuania» included, as actually Polish and Lithuanian regiments, khorugvs (separate groups of active armed forces), consisting of soldiers of «Podolia and Galicia earths», and also Grodno, Kovensky, Lidsky, Smolensk, Mstislavsky, Orshansky, Polotsk, Vitebsk, Kiyiv, Pinsky, Novgorod, Brest, Volkovysky, Drogichinsky, Melnitsky, Kremenetsky and Starodubsky khorugvs. And it is absolutely another diplomatical landscape, showing a special role of Russian, Belarus and Ukrainian soldiers in the decision of problems of the given fight.
On the one hand, that «fight of people» (though, in due course, those «fights of people», were uncountable), rallied the Slavic people and friendly armies. On the other hand that fight divided them into obvious winners and, those, who adjoined to them. In my opinion, purely Ukrainian khorugvs were unfairly related to the number of last ones. Plus that fight, to be more exact its results seriously loosened federal device of Polish-Lithuanian state. And, as result, the «courtesies exchange» began, as so who was the main winner, and it ended by active opposition in which Ukrainians were less protected than anybody. Relations of the Lithuanian nobility with Ukrainian szlachta worsened. The territories promised after Gryunvaldsky fight in the autonomous control by Ukrainian szlachta, didn't receive its status. On the contrary as an example in 1452 Volhynia was occupied by the Lithuanian armies and transformed into the usual province (voivodeship) under the control of Grand duke's deputy. In 1471, Kyiv with adjoining territories comprehended similar destiny. Position of Ukrainian earths, from Galicia to Podneprovye, became more and more uncertain. On the boundary of fifteenth-sixteenth centuries it was clear, that the decline of Great princedom Lithuanian was inconvertible. In 1522 Moscow princedom «under the consent of the parties» annexed Chernigov and adjoining earths to the northeast of Ukraine. In 1562-1570 crisis of the Great Lithuanian princedom reached tops when Lithuania was involved in new Livonsky war with Moscow kingdom. Exhausted by military expenses and threat of Moscow intrusion, Lithuanians were compelled to address to Poland for the help. Poles were ready to give it, but for the payment. Their main condition was association of Poland and Lithuania in one political united body, which had been connected by the general monarch till then, whose power was far not absolute. And that payment wasn't good for the Ukrainian people who, living on their earths, but not in territorial space of Lithuania, were sold, in direct and figurative sense, to the new owner - Poland.
The status of the Great Lithuanian Princedom, 1529. The Slavic font of Cyril and Mefodiy language had been still used.
It's no wonder, because affirming on Russian earths; Lithuanian princes aspired to provide support and authority among local population in any possible way. They faithfully concerned local traditions and customs, and even partially adopted culture of Russia. Records management was conducted mainly in the language which was generated in the days of Kiev Russia; there were local officials on many important posts. That fact also testifies about considerable cultural influence, that the majority of Lithuanian princes and those who held power accepted orthodox belief.
But it was already in the past. Poland-Lithuania opposition led to reorientation of the east Slavic nobility. Interest of Ukrainian, Belarus and Lithuanian szlachta in the Polish model of statehood with the political rights and class privileges for szlachta led not to federation, but to polonisation consolidation on all space. The lost of considerable territories by the Great princedom Lithuanian during Livonsky war, economy destruction, death of people which threatened with full absorption by Moskovia, led to the day that on July, 1st 1569 Seym passed the decision about union of two states - the Great Lithuanian princedom and Poland. The new state was named as Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (literal translation from Polish - Republic of both people). The uniform king, who was crowned in Krakow as the Polish king and the grand duke Lithuanian, ruled the new state, and also the general Seym and senate, which skeleton consisted of Poles. After Lublin union Podlyashye, Volhynia, Bratslavschina (East Podolia) and Kyiv area in which structure there were already Galichina and the Western Podolia went to Poland. The administrative-territorial device of the Polish sample was established on Ukrainian earths which departed to Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth there were six voivodeship on Ukrainian earths: Russian (with the centre in Lviv); Belzskoe (Belz); Podolsk (Kamenets); Volynsk (Lutsk); Bratslavsky (Bratslav) and Kyiv (Kyiv).
Consequences of Lublin union were that the Polish magnates and szlachta received the big possibilities for the Ukrainian earth's assignment, ruthless operation of peasants, petty bourgeoisies and spiritual enslavement of the Ukrainian people. The problems of belief and language got the special sharpness after Lublin union. Catholic Church aspired to increase supporters' amount. Therefore in Ukraine Jesuit schools and collegiums were established. They promoted educational development: many Ukrainians had an opportunity to study at the West European universities. However renunciation from the native language and parental belief became frequent payment for erudition. As in the middle of the sixteenth century representatives of the lower class had the limited possibilities for education, szlachta polonisation meant loss of the Ukrainian power, capable to head struggle for statehood restoration.


Here whence the term «from sea to the sea» came from
Throughout two centuries Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of the largest states of Central and the Western Europe. The annals testify that in 1569 its territory reached the maximum area, it occupied almost one million square kilometers. The population varied in different years from six to fifteen millions people, whose ethnic structure was made by: Poles - 40 %, Ruthenians - 20 %, Lithuanians - 15 %, Germans - 10 %, Jews - 5 %, Samogitians (Estonians) - 3 %, Latvians - 3 % and others - 4 %.
The Crimean Khanate, together with Nogai Khanate changed historical interpretation of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth borders «from sea to the sea».
The religion and culture became a special theme. Having got under the power of Great Lithuanian princedom, Ukrainians had all bases for optimism concerning own church. The Lithuanian nobility gradually adopted the orthodox belief from the citizens, which had showed the sample of high culture since the times of Kiev Russia. Not casually, that in 1458 grand Lithuanian dukes revived metropolitan country in Kyiv. But, adhering to the practice of that time, grand dukes, and further Polish kings, took the protection right away that was an opportunity to appoint orthodox bishops and even the metropolitan. Such innovation quickly loosened the way of life of Orthodox Church. The corruption generated by disdain of the secular power was even more pernicious. From time to time priests behaved so shamefully, that contemporaries complained, as if it was possible to meet only «human garbage» among them that would more likely go to the tavern, than to the church (annalists testified that exactly Poland selected «such cadres»). In due course under such circumstances cultural influence of Orthodoxy became limited enough.
There was also one more reason. The gain of Constantinople by Turks in 1453 deepened intellectual and cultural stagnation of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and deprived Orthodox Church of an enthusiastic example. And during the same time the Polish society experienced the period of cultural blossoming.
The relative religious tolerance was inherent to Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, unlike the majority of European countries where struggle against heterodoxy was developed. Nevertheless, it was not observed special tolerance to Orthodoxy. On the basis of it, Orthodoxy could accept some kind of cultural challenge of Polish Catholicism. Competing with the spiritual opponent (instead of the enemy, according to some historians) by its methods, small group of Ukrainian orthodox magnates and szlachta established orthodox schools and printing houses in their land plots. So, in 1568 in Lviv Grigory Hodkevich gave the haven to printer Ivan Fedorov in his manor (where there was a first Russian printing house). «Not crowned king of Ukraine» - prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky, one of the richest and mightiest magnates of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the greatest conventional patron of Orthodox Church. Thanks to such educational work in the cities where Ukrainians made oppressed, but closely rallied minority, there were new advocates of Orthodoxy. Unlike the singles, similar the Ostrozhsky, holding the power, there were groups of petty bourgeoisies which united in the so-called brotherhoods. Brotherhoods won respect and popularity, caring about widows and orphans of their dead associates, supporting hospitals and giving interest-free loans to the members. In the middle of the same sixteenth century, brotherhoods in Kyiv and Lviv were the major and the most influential. They exemplified other brotherhoods which arose in Galich, Rogatyn, Striy, Yaroslav, Kholm, Lutsk and Bratslav.
At the same time Catholic archiepiscopate was founded in Lviv. Monasteries, of especially Franciscan and Dominican awards started to appear in Ukraine. They "served" Catholic population which number quickly grew. It was Polish, German, Czech and Hungarian szlachta which received the earths in Galicia, and also German townspeople invited by the Polish monarchs for assistance in cities development. Many Galitsky boyars and simple people adopted belief of Polish szlachta. Since the middle of fifteenth century, after Galicia reorganization in Russian voivodeship, i.e. Polish kingdom province, and Latin introduction as an official language, there had been so little that reminded of power and greatness of those earths during princely times of Kiev Russia.
All sixteenth and first third of seventeenth century was «a gold epoch» of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was being respected and afraid of. At the same time Catholic archiepiscopate was founded in Lviv. Monasteries, of especially Franciscan and Dominican awards started to appear in Ukraine. They "served" Catholic population which number quickly grew. It was Polish, German, Czech and Hungarian szlachta which received the earths in Galicia, and also German townspeople invited by the Polish monarchs for assistance in cities development. Many Galitsky boyars, and simple people adopted belief of Polish szlachta. Since the middle of fifteenth century, after Galicia reorganization in Russian voivodeship, i.e. Polish kingdom province, and Latin introduction as an official language, there had been so little that reminded of power and greatness of those earths during princely times of Kiev Russia.
All sixteenth and first third of seventeenth century was «a gold epoch» of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was being respected and afraid of.
Polish szlachta was accepted with respect and servility in Istanbul, yesterday's Constantinople.
But, already in the middle of seventeenth century, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth entered into the most severe political crisis connected, as with the revolt of Ukrainian people, so with the Swedish intrusion into the Poland, and long war with the Russian state. Political events deepened the features of stagnation and decline, found out in the economy of Poland already from the beginning of that century. One of the decline reasons was numerous revolts of Ukrainian people. And that is so, without participation of "supervising role" of szlachta which, to troubles of the people, excuse me for the expression, «spited", as well as the Polish szlachta. Corvee, quitrents, requisitions, robbery etc., became usual norms of "dialogue" with the Ukrainian people. During Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth period there was a term "cattle", which related to the Ukrainian peasant. Sirs' duty was also added to that list that in the literal translation means guilty (i.e. Obliged, and all ...). But duties of peasants were not limited to processing of the lords' earth. They should do other various works for the sirs without any compensation and without account on: underwater duty and estate protection, repair of roads, emergency works during the summer harvest season, work on sir's kitchen garden etc. Both natural quitrents, and money tax remained.
Besides the duties in favour of the landowner the main weight of the state taxes laid down on the peasant. Their ruin and decline was a consequence of ruthless operation of country economy. Land-poor and landless Ukrainian peasants (but not Polish) increased, they compelled to employ in farm laborers under the heaviest conditions. Wars, epidemic and the hunger-strikes which became rather frequent in the middle of seventeenth century worsened position of peasants. There was serfdom (much earlier, than in the Russian state). The boundless power of sirs (own and aliens) over their "citizens" proved to be true by many Seym decisions. Feudal lords sold or presented their serfs, disposed of their inheritance, had the unlimited judicial power over them. At the beginning of eighteenth century, sirs (as own so aliens) possessed the so-called sword right (i.e. the right of life and death in relation to their bondmen), the right of the first night (i.e. the right of the bondmen first marriage night with the bride) and so on. Peasants protected by all means against sirs' oppression. They ran from the sirs, refused to carry out duties, and killed the oppressors. In spite of the fact that szlachta had a strong enforcement machinery, peasants' revolts often flashed.
First of all, the falling of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the views on Ukrainian statehood creation began with peasant wars of Ukrainians against panschina. There came an era of Cossack wars and Great Bohdan Khmelnitskiy.
One of the most truthful Polish directors presented these events by the brightest manner in the picture «By fire and sword». Shortly and clearly ...


Map from the German historical atlas «Russian lands in Europe, 1300-1796».


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