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Cossack Hetmanate
Vassal of Rzeczpospolita (1649)
Vassal of Russian Empire (1654-1707, 1709-1775)


Flag Coat of arms
The Hetmanate in 1654.
Capital Chyhyryn1
Language(s) Ukrainian
Religion Greek Orthodox
Government Republic
 - 1648–1657 (first) Bohdan Khmelnytsky
 - 1750–1763 (last) Kyrylo Rozumovsky
Legislature Cossack Rada
 - Established 1649
 - Treaty of Pereyaslav 1654
 - Treaty of Andrusovo January 30, 1667
 - Disestablished 1764
 - 1762 est. 1,027,928 
1 The capital was later moved to Baturyn and then Hlukhiv.

The Hetmanate or officially Viysko Zaporozke (Ukrainian: Гетьманщина, Het’manshchyna; Військо Запорозьке, Viys’ko Zaporoz’ke) was the Ukrainian Cossack state consisting of the Hetmanate lands and the Zaporizhian Host which enjoyed a period of independence followed by autonomy in the central and north-eastern regions of Ukraine between 1649 and 1775. It began with the Khmelnytsky Uprising of 1648, and the first leader was Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who ruled from 1648–57.

The Hetmanate lost independence as a result of the Treaty of Pereyaslav (Pereyaslavska Rada) of 1654. The Treaty of Andrusovo (Andrusiv) of 1667 divided the state between Russia and Poland. This division caused the civil war Ukraine between various parties of Ukrainian Cossacks that lasted till the end of the 17th century. In the 18th century the territory of the Hetmanate was limited to left-bank Ukraine. In 1764 the autonomy of the Cossack state and the post of hetman were abolished by Catherine II of Russia.

Its capitals were Chyhyryn, Baturyn and finally Hlukhiv.

The Hetmanate state consisted of most of what is now central Ukraine and a small part of today's Russia. Specifically, its territory included what is now the oblasts (provinces) of Chernihiv, Poltava, and Sumy (without the southeastern portion), the left-bank territories of Kiev and Cherkasy, as well as the western portion of Bryansk Oblast of Russia. The lands of the Zaporizhian Host had a certain degree of self-government with its own administration.





After many successful military campaigns against the Poles, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky made a triumphant entry into Kiev on Christmas 1648 where he was hailed liberator of the people from Polish captivity. In February 1649, during negotiations in Pereiaslav with a Polish delegation, Khmelnytsky had made it clear to the Poles that he was the sole autocrat of Rus', positioning himself as the whole leader of all Ukraine.

As ruler of the Hetmanate, Khmelnytsky engaged in stae-building across multiple spheres: in the military, administration, finance, economics, and culture. He invested the Zaporozhian Host under the leadership of its hetman with supreme power in the new Ukrainian state, and he unified all the spheres of Ukrainian society under his authority. This would involve building a government system and a developed military and civilian administrators out of Cossack officers and Ukrainian nobles, as well as the establishment of an elite within the Cossack Hetman state.

Union with Russia

After the Crimean Tatars betrayed the Cossacks for the third time in 1653, Khmelnytsky realized he could no longer rely on the Ottoman support against Poland, the hetman was forced to turn to Muscovy for help. Negotiations began in January 1654 in Pereiaslav between Khmelnytsky, numerous cossacks and on the Muscovite side led Vasilii Buturlin, and concluded in April in Moscow by the Ukrainians Samiilo Bohdanovych-Zarudny, and Pavlo Teteria and by Aleksey Trubetskoy, Vasilii Buturlin, and other Muscovite boyars.

As a result of the treaty, the Zaporozhian Host became a suzerainty of Muscovy, and was split in two; the Cossack Hetmanate with its capital at Chyhyryn and Zaporizhia, centered around the fortress of the Zaporozhian Sich. The treaty also led to the Russo-Polish War of 1654–1667.

The Ruin and the division of Ukraine

After Khmelnytsky's death, his son Yuri Khmelnytsky was appointed his successor. However, he was unfortunately not only young and inexperienced, but clearly lacked the charisma and the leadership qualities of his father.

Instead, Ivan Vyhovsky, the general chancellor of the Hetmanate and an adviser to Bohdan Khmelnytsky was elected hetman in 1657. Vyhovsky was trying to establish a more independent policy from Moscow and found himself in the middle of a civil war. After a revolt, led by the Zaporozhian Otaman Yakiv Barabash and Martyn Pushkar, which culminated in a bloody confrontation near Poltava in June 1658. Where Vyhovsky emerged victorious but weakened, he decided to break his ties with Muscovy and concluded the Treaty of Hadiach with Poland on September 16, 1658.

Under the conditions of the treaty, Ukraine would become a third and autonomous component of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, under the ultimate sovereignty of the King of Poland, but with its own military, courts, and treasury. But the treaty was never implemented because it was unpopular among the lower classes of the Ukrainian society where more rebellions occurred. Eventually Vyhovsky surrendered the office of hetman, and fled to Poland.

This led to the period called "the Ruin," where constant civil wars broke out through the state during the 17th century.

During the Ruin in 1667, the Russo-Polish war ended with the Treaty of Andrusovo where the Cossack Hetmanate was divided into regions called the left and right-bank Ukraine. The Hetmanate was only left with the Left-bank with its center in Kiev and some autonomy in the Kingdom of Moscow. The right-bank Ukraine except for the city of Kiev became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and all Hetmanate administration was abolished and the voivodeships of Czernigow, Kijow, and Bracław reinstated back in the Kingdom of Poland.

The Mazepa era

Charles XII and Mazepa at the Dnieper after the Battle of Poltava.

The period of the Ruin was effectively over when Ivan Mazepa was elected hetman, and brought stability to the state. He united Ukraine which, once again, was under the rule of one hetman. The Hetmanate flourished under his rule, particularly in literature, and architecture. The architectural style that developed during his reign was called the Ukrainian Baroque style.

During his reign, the Great Northern War broke out between Russia and Sweden. And Mazepa's alliance with Peter I caused heavy losses of cossacks, and Russian interference in the Hetmanate's internal affairs. When the Tsar refused to defend Ukraine against the Polish King Stanislaus Leszczynski, an ally of Charles XII of Sweden, Mazepa and the Zaporozhia Cossacks allied themselves with the Swedes on October 28, 1708. The decisive battle took place in June 1709 in Poltava where it was won by Russia, which put an end to Mazepa's goal of Ukrainian independence, promised in an earlier treaty with Sweden independence. Following Poltava, the Hetmanate's autonomy became nominal and the governorate of Kiev was established.

End of the Zaporozhian Host

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During the reign of Catherine II of Russia, the Cossack Hetmanate's autonomy was progressively destroyed. After several earlier attempts, the office of hetman was finally abolished by the Russian government in 1764, and his functions were assumed by the Little Russian Collegium, thus fully incorporating the Hetmanate into the Russian Empire.

On May 7, 1775, from a direct order from the Empress Catherine II, the Zaporozhian Sich was to be destroyed. On June 5, 1775, Russian artillery and infantry surrounded the Sich, and razed it to the ground. The Russian troops disarmed the Cossacks, the treasury archives were confiscated. And the Koshovyi Otaman Petro Kalnyshevsky was arrested and exiled to the Solovki. This brought the end of the Zaporozhian Cossacks.


The Kyiv Mohyla Academy as seen today.

The Hetmanate coincided with a period of cultural flowering in Ukraine, particularly during the reign of hetman Ivan Mazepa.


Visitors from abroad commented on the high level of literacy, even among commoners, in the Hetmanate. There was a higher number of elementary schools per population in the Hetmanate than in either neighboring Muscovy or Poland. In the 1740s, of 1,099 settlements within seven regimental districts, as many as 866 had primary schools.[1] The German vistitor to the Hetmanate, writing in 1720, commented on how the son of Hetman Danylo Apostol, who had never left Ukraine, was fluent in the Latin, Italian, French, German, Polish and Russian languages [2] Under Mazepa, the Kiev collegium was transformed into an Academy and attracted some of the leading scholars of the Orthodox world [3]. Mazepa established another Collegium in Chernihiv. Many of those trained in Kiev, such as Feofan Prokopovich (founder of the Russian Academy of Sciences) would later move to Moscow, so that Ivan Mazepa's patronage not only raised the level of culture in Ukraine but also in Moscow itself.[3] A musical academy was established in 1737 in the Hetmanate's then-capital of Hlukhiv. Among its graduates were Maksym Berezovsky, the first composer from the Russian Empire to be recognized in Europe, and Dmitry Bortniansky.

The Mezhyhirskyi Monastery, located on the right bank of the Dnieper. Fyodor Solntsev, 1843.

In addition to traditional printing presses in Kiev, new printing shops were established in Novhorod-Siverskyi and Chernihiv. Most of the books published were religious in nature, such as the Peternik, a book about the lives of the monks of the Kiev-Pechersk monasatary. Books on local history were compiled. In a book written by Inokentiy Gizel in 1674, the theory that Moscow was the heir of ancient Kiev was developed and elaborated for the first time [4]


In 1686 the Orthodox Church in Ukraine changed from being under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch in Constantinople to being under the authority of the Moscow. Nevertheless, before and after this date local Church leaders pursued a policy of independence. Hetman Ivan Mazepa established very close relations with Metropilitan Varlaam Iasynsky (reigned 1690–1707). Mazepa provided donations of land, money and entire villages to the Church. He also financed the building of numerous churches in Kiev, including the Church of the Epiphany and the cathedral of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, and restoration of older churches such as Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev which had deteriorated to a state of near ruin by the mid-seventeenth century, in a style known as Ukrainian Baroque.[5].


The social structure of the Hetmanate consisted fo five groups: the nobility, the Cossacks, the clergy, the townspeople, and the peasants.


The St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kiev, built with funds from Hetman Ivan Mazepa.

As had been the case under Poland, the nobility continued to be the dominant social class during the Hetmanate, although its composition and source of legitimacy within the new society had changed radically. During the Khmelnytsky Uprising the Polish nobles and Polonized Ruthenian magnates fled the territory of the Hetmanate. As a result, the noble estate now consisted of a merger between the nobility that had stayed in the territory of the Hetmanate (old noble families that did not succumb to Polonization and lesser nobles who had participated in the uprising on the side of the Cossacks against Poland) with members of the emergent Cossack officer class. Unlike the Polish nobles whose lands were redistributed, the nobles loyal to the Hetmanate retained their privileges, their lands, and the services of the peasants. Together, the old nobles and the new Cossack officers became known as the Distinguished Military Fellows (Znachni Viiskovi Tovaryshi). Thus, the nature of noble status was fundamentally changed. It no longer depended on ancient heredity, but instead on loyalty to the Cossack state.[6] Over time, however, Cossack officer lands and privileges too became hereditary and the Cossack noble and officer class acquired huge landed estates comparable to those of the Polish magnates whom they had replaced.

A Zaporozhian Cossack painted by Serhiy Vasylkivskiy ca. 19th century.


Most Cossacks failed to enter the noble estate and continued their role as free soldiers. The lower rank Cossacks often resented their wealthier brethren and were responsible for frequent rebellions, particularly during the the Ruin, a period of instability and civil war in the 17th century. These resentments were frequently exploited by Moscow. The Zaporizhian Sich served as a refuge for Cossacks fleeing the Hetmanate as it had been prior to Khmelnytsky's uprising.


During the Hetmanate, the Roman Catholic Church and Uniate Clergy were driven from Ukraine. The Black, or monastic, Orthodox clergy enjoyed a very high status in the Hetmanate, controlling 17% of the Hetmanate's land. Monasteries were exempt from taxes and at no times were peasants bound to monasteries allowed to forgoe their duties. The Orthodox hierarchy became as wealthy and powerful as the most powerful nobles.[7] The white, or married, Orthodox clergy were also exempt from paying taxes. Priests' sons often entered the clergy or the Cossack civil service. It was not uncommon for nobles or Cossacks to become priests and vice versa.[7]


Twelve cities within the Hetmanate enjoyed Magdeburg rights, in which they were self-governing and controlled their own courts, finances and taxes. Wealthy townsmen were able to hold office within the Hetmanate or even to buy titles of nobility. Because the towns were generally small (the largest towns of Kiev and Nizhyn had no more than 15,000 inhabitants) this social group was not very significant relative to other social groups.[7]


Peasants comprised the majority of the Hetmanate's population. Although the institution of forced labor by the peasants was reduced significantly by the Khmelnytsky Uprising, in which the Polish landlords and magnates were expelled from the territory controlled by the Hetman, those nobles loyal to the Hetman as well as the Orthodox Church expected the peasants under their control to continue to provide their services. Thus as a result of the Uprising, approximately 50% of the territory consisted of lands given to Cossack officers or free self-governing villages controlled by the peasants, 33% of the land was owned by Cossack officers and nobles, and 17% of the land was owned by the Church. With time, the amount of territory owned by the nobles and officers gradually grew at the expense of the lands owned by peasants and rank-and-file Cossacks, and the peasants were forced to work increasingly more days for their landlords. Nevertheless, their obligations remained lighter than they had been prior to the Uprising and until the end of the Hetmanate peasants were never fully enserfed and retained the right to move.[8]


Territoral Division

Map showing the Polky of the Cossack Hetmanate.

The Hetmanate was divided into military-administrative districts known as regimental districts (polki) whose number fluctuated with the size of the Hetmanate's territory. In 1649, when the Hetmanate controlled the Right and the Left Banks, it included 16 such districts. After the loss of the Right Bank, this number was reduced to ten. The regimental districts were further divided into companies (sotnias), which were administered by captains.[9]


The Hetmanate was led by the Hetman, his cabinet, and two councils, the General Council and the Council of Officers. The hetman was initially chosen by the General Council, consisting of all cossacks, townspeople, clergy and even peasants. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, its role became more ceremonial as the hetman came to be chosen by the Council of Officers. After 1709, his nomination was to be confirmed by the Tsar. The hetman ruled until he either died or was forced out. The hetman had complete power over the administration, the judiciary, the finances, and the army. His cabinet functioned simultaneously as both the General Staff and as the Cabinet of Ministers. The Hetman also had the right to conduct foreign policy, although this right was increasingly limited by Moscow in the eighteenth century.[10]

Each of the regimental districts making up the Hetmanate was administered by a colonel who had dual roles as supreme military and civil authority on his territory. Initially elected by that regimental district's Cossacks, by the eighteenth century the colonels were appointed by the Hetman. After 1709, the colonels were frequently chosen by Moscow. Each colonel's staff consisted of a quartermaster (second-in-command), judge, chancellor, aide-de-camp, and flag-bearer.[9]

Throughout the eighteenth century, local autonomy was gradually eroded within the Hetmanate. After the Battle of Poltava, hetmans elected by the Council of Officers were to be confirmed by the tsar. The tsar also frequently appointed the colonels of each regimental district. In 1722 the governmental branch responsible for the Hetmanate was changed from the College of Foreign Affairs to the imperial Senate. That same year, the hetman's authority was undermined by the establishment of the Little Russian Collegium, appointed in Moscow and consisting of six Russian military officers stationed in the Hetmanate who acted as a parallel government, ostensibly to protect the rights of rank-and-file Cossacks peasants against repression at the hands of the Cossack officers. When the Cossacks responded by electing as Hetman Pavlo Polubotok, opposed to these reforms, he was arrested and died in prison without having been confirmed by the tsar. The Little Russian Collegium then ruled the Hetmanate until 1727, when it was abolished and a new Hetman, Danylo Apostol, was elected. A code consisting of twenty-eight articles was adopted that regulated the relationship between the Hetmanate and Russia. It continued to be in force until the Hetmanate's dissolution. The document, known as the 28 Confirmed Articles, stipulated that:

  • The Hetmanate would not conduct its own foreign relations, although it could deal directly with Poland, the Crimean Khanate, and the Ottoman Empire about border problems as long as these agreements did not contradict Russian treaties
  • The Hetmanate continued to control ten regiments, although it was limited to three mercenary regiments
  • During war, the Cossacks were required to serve under the resident Russian commander
  • A court was established consisting of three Cossacks and three government appointees
  • Russians and other non-local landlords were allowed to remain in the Hetmate, but no new peasants from the North could be brought in [11]

In 1764, the office of Hetman was abolished by Catherine II and its authority replaced by a second Little Russian Collegium consisting of four Russian appointees and four Cossacks headed by a president, Count Peter Rumyantsev, who proceeded to cautiously but firmly eliminate the vestiges of local autonomy. In 1781, the regimental system was dismantled the Little Russian Collegium abolished. Two years later, peasants' freedom of movement was restricted and the process of enserfment completed. Cossack soldiers were integrated into the Russian army, while the Cossack officers were granted status as Russian nobles. As had previously been the practice elsewhere in the Russian Empire, lands were confiscated from the Church (during the times of the Hetmanate monasteries alone controlled 17% of the region's lands [12]) and distributed to the nobility. The territory of the Hetmanate was reorganized into three Russian provinces whose administration was no different from that of any other provinces within the Russian Empire.[13]

See also

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-0830-5.  
  2. ^ Volodymyr Sichynsky (1953). Ukraine in foreign comments and descriptions from the VIth the XXth century. New York: Ukrainian Congress Committee of America
  3. ^ a b Magocsi 1996, p 259.
  4. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 257.
  5. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 258.
  6. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 250.
  7. ^ a b c Magocsi 1996, p 252.
  8. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 253.
  9. ^ a b Magocsi 1996, p 235.
  10. ^ Magocsi 1996, pp 235–236.
  11. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 274.
  12. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 279.
  13. ^ Magocsi 1996, pp 275–276.

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