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Ruthenians: Wikis


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Total population
60 million est.
(48 mln Ukrainians, 12 mln Belarusians)
Regions with significant populations
Previously Ruthenia;
currently Ukraine, Belarus, Maramureş

Previously Ruthenian;
currently Ukrainian, Belarusian


Orthodoxy, Eastern-Catholicism

Related ethnic groups

other East Slavic peoples

Modern Ruthenian states: Ukraine and Belarus

The term Ruthenians (Ukrainian: Русини, Руські, Rusyns, Rus') is a culturally loaded term and has different meanings according to the context in which it is used. Initially it was the ethnonym used for the Ukrainian people. With the emergence of Ukrainian nationalism in the mid 19th century, the term initially went out of use first in eastern and central Ukraine, just later in western Ukraine. In western Ukraine, especially Carpathian Ruthenia, and in Ukrainian ethnic territories outside of Ukraine it is often still used (see Rusyns).



Originally the term Rusyn was an ethnonym applied to eastern Slavic-speaking ethnic groups, who inhabit or inhabited the cultural and ethnic region of Rus' (Русь) often written through its Latin variant Ruthenia.

Then, the terms "Ruthenians" or "Ruthenes" were the Latin terms referring to Slavic Orthodox people (they spoke the Ruthenian language) who lived in Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[1] They inhabiting the area that is now Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia (area around Bryansk, Smolensk, Velizh and Vyazma). It was also the ethnonym used by the Ukrainian kozaks to describe themselves.

After the area of White Ruthenia (Belarus) became part of the Russian Empire, the people of the area were often seen as a sub-group of Russians, and they were often named White Russians due to a confusion of the terms "Russia" and "Ruthenia". The Belarusian language in the area has evolved from the Ruthenian language.

Later "Ruthenians" or "Ruthenes" were used as a generic term for Greek Catholic inhabitants of Galicia and adjoining territories up until the early 20th century who spoke Western dialects of the Ukrainian language and called themselves Русины, Rusyny.

The language these "Ruthenians" or "Ruthenes" spoke was also called the "Ruthenian language"; the name Ukrajins’ka mova ("Ukrainian language") became accepted by much of the Ukrainian literary class only in the early twentieth century in Austro-Hungarian Galicia. After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918 the term "Ukrainian" was usually applied to all Ukrainian-speaking inhabitants of Galicia.

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RUTHENIANS, a name applied to those of the Little Russians who are Austrian subjects. The name is a form of the word Russian. The Ruthenians were separated from the bulk of Russians by the accident of the two feudal principalities of the old Red Russia, Halic and Volhynia, having fallen to Lithuania, which in turn was united with Poland. At the partition of Poland no one troubled about ethnological boundaries. The language is in substance like the Little Russian of the Ukraine, though it has marked differences; the most interesting dialects are those in the extreme W., which approach to Slovak and that of the Huzuli in Bukovina. The Ruthenians number some three million in Galicia, Bukovina, and in the Carpathians along the edges of Hungary from the 21st meridian eastwards. Throughout Galicia the Poles form the aristocracy, though in two-thirds of it Ruthenians form the bulk of the population, while the middle class is Jewish or German. The Ruthenians are therefore under an alien yoke both politically and economically: in religion they mostly belong to the Uniate Church, acknowledging the Pope but retaining their Slavonic liturgy and most of the outward forms of the Greek Church. Their intellectual centre is Lemberg (Lviv or Lwow), where some lectures in the university are given in their language, and they are agitating for it to have equal rights with Polish. Yet here Little Russian is freer than in the Russian empire, and in Lemberg is the centre of its literature, the society called by the name of Sevicenko, the Little Russian poet. This society publishes voluminous transactions in a special orthography and deals with everything concerning Little Russia, its archaeology, people and language.

See summary of the work of the Sevicenko for ten years in Archie f. slavische Phil. xxvii. (1905), p. 279.

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