Ruthenia, 1667-1795

RUTHENIA is an expression applied for the Russian (i.e. Belorussian, Ukrainian) speaking provinces of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the population of which adhered to Greek Orthodox christianity - as opposed to Catholic, Lithuanian-speaking Lithuania proper.
By the UNION OF LUBLIN 1569 Lithuania and Poland had merged to form a unified kingdom (a union Lithuania's nobility was attracted to in order to enjoy the privileges of the Polish nobility. The nobility of Ruthenia assimilated, taking on a Polish identity.
During the Counterreformation, the Jesuits attempted to establish a union of the Catholic and the Orthodox church, an attempt which partially succeeded (the UNIATE CHURCH in Belarus in 1596 (Union of Brest), the bishops of LVOV and PRZEMYSL (Eastern Galicia) joined in the late 17th century). In the late 16th century, Prince Mikhail Radziwill founded numerous Calvinist parishes in Belarus; the first bible in Belarussian had already been printed in 1517.
In 1648-1654 the cossacks under Hetman Bogdan Chmelnicki rebelled. In 1655-1660 Poland was invaded by the Swedes; Belarussian Hetman Janus Radziwill, in a (failed) attempt to restore the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, sided with the Swedes.

During the Russo-Polish War 1654-1667, Russian troops occupied Vitebsk, Mogilev, Polovck, Minsk (1655); in the early 1660es the Poles retook Belarus. The TREATY OF ANDRUSSOVO reestablished peace; Poland ceded SMOLENSK, KIEV and the east bank of the Dnjepr to Russia. In addition the treaty granted Russia the right to intervene in Polish affairs if the rights of the Orthodox community were threatened.
In 1697, the Polish Sejm forbade the use of official Belarussian language; in 1699 it decreed that Orthodox christians were banned from holding office.
In 1733, at the beginning of the WAR OF POLISH SUCCESSION, Russia annexed the Zaporozhe Cossacks (hitherto loosely loyal to Poland). In 1772, in the FIRST POLISH PARTITION, Russia took Lithuanian lands to the north of the Dvina and to the east of the Dnjepr, with Vitebsk. In 1793, in the SECOND POLISH PARTITION, Russia took estern-central Ukraine and western-central Belarus, taking the remainder in the THIRD POLISH PARTITION of 1793.

History of Minsk
The Belarusian Greek Uniate Church, by Alexander Nadson
Poland's Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church, from Poland in the Classroom
Article : Greek Church, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition; scroll down for Greek Uniate Churches : Ruthenia (disappointingly brief)
Timetable Belorussian History, from bas-net
Belarus after Vitaut : its Golden Age and Decline, from Notes from the History of Belarus by Jauhen Reshatau
Union of Brest, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1812 edition
Brest through the Centuries : Under Polish Influence, from Brest Online
Diocese of Lublin, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition, includes a detailed paragraph on the Union of Lublin
REFERENCE The Treaty of Brest, 1595, from Modern History Sourcebook and from

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 11th 2002, last revised on November 8th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz