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Zaporizhia (Ukrainian: Запорожжя, Zaporozhzhya; Polish: Zaporoże or Dzikie Pola (Wild Fields or Savage Steppe), Russian: Запоро́жье, Zaporozhye) is a historical region which is situated about the Dnieper River, below the Dnieper rapids (porohy, poroża), (now Ukraine), hence the name, translated as "territory beyond the rapids". During the 16th to 18th centuries it was a semi-independent Cossack territory with the centre at the Zaporizhian Sich.

It corresponds to modern Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, major parts of Zaporizhia and Kirovohrad Oblasts, as well as parts of Kherson and Donetsk Oblasts of Ukraine.



Zaporizhia was the name of the territory of the Cossack state, the Zaporozhian Host, whose fortified capital was the Zaporizhian Sich. From the 15th century to the late 17th century it was fought over by Muscovy, the Polish Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire. For most of that time it was controlled by Poland, but it was never peaceful, and was widely regarded as turbulent and dangerous, the refuge of outlaws and bandits. In addition to many invasions by neighbouring countries, inhabitants of the Zaporozhe had to deal with an influx of new settlers from all directions and conflicts between the szlachta (Polish nobility) and independent Cossacks, who enjoyed a kind of autonomy in the region. Further, Cossacks often raided the nearby rich lands of the Ottoman Empire, in return provoking raids by Ottoman vassals, the Tatars, on the Polish soil.

Modern Ukraine with the historic Zaporizhia region shown in color

After the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav, the state became a suzerainty of Muscovy, and was split in two. The Cossack Hetmanate of Left-bank Ukraine had its capital at Chyhyryn, and later at Baturyn and Hlukhiv.

The more independent Army of Lower Zaporozhia was centered at the Old Sich (Stara Sich). In 1709, Tsar Peter I ordered the destruction of the Old Sich, forcing the Zaporozhian Cossacks to flee to Oleshky, on the Black Sea in Ottoman territory. In 1734, the Russians allowed the Cossacks to re-establish their republic as the Free Lands of the Zaporozhian Host, based at the New Sich (Nova Sich), but brought in many foreign settlers, and destroyed the Sich for good in 1775, incorporating the territory into New Russia.


During the turbulent times of 16th and 17th century, Zaporizhia was a highly unstable region, subject to constant incursions by the Ottoman Empire, torn by warfare as well as internal strife. Historians estimate, that an average peasant's hut did not last over 10 years.[1] In the years 1605-1633, for example, Red Ruthenian lands suffered 100,000 people taken captive (jasyr) by the Ottomans, and 24,000 dead; in the first half of the 17th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonweath, controlling Zaporizhia, lost approximately 300,000 of people due to the Ottoman raids.[1]


  1. ^ a b Podhorodecki, Leszek (1978). Stanisław Koniecpolski ok. 1592–1646. Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej. ISBN B0000E946H. P.148-150

See also



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