16th Century
19th Century

The Cossacks 1600-1790

In 1533, Russia had gained the area around Charkov, in 1556 Astrakhan. Since the ZAPOROZHE COSSACKS lived between Poland-Lithuania, Russia and the Crimean Tatars. In Russia's Time of Troubles (1605-1612), the Zaporozhe Cossaxks fought for the FALSE DMITRI.
Until the 1640es they usually held with Poland-Lithuania. The DON COSSACKS, living between Russia and the Tatars, sided with Russia; yet both hosts were rather independent-minded and unpredictable.
The COUNTERREFORMATION had an effect on the Zaporozhe Cossacks, too, as Jesuits came into the region, trying to convert them to Catholicism, with partial success.
In 1648, BOGDAN CHMELNICKI, angered by the Polish authorities refusing him justice, joined the Zaporozhe Cossacks, was elected Hetman and started a cossack uprising; his cossacks killed or expelled Polish landowners, Jewish settlers, Jesuit priests. For years he was successful; when he came under pressure in 1654, he placed himself and his host under the protection of the Czar.
Protesting inflation, additonal burdens caused by the Russo-Polish War 1654-1667), STEPAN RAZIN led the DON COSSACKS in rebellion against Russia (1667-1672); it took the Russian army years to get the rebellion under control; Razin was executed in 1672.
In 1707 Hetman IVAN MAZEPPA lead the Zaporozhe Cossacks in a rebellion against Russia's Czar Peter the Great. Mazeppa allied himself with Sweden's King Charles XII. and fought with him in the BATTLE OF POLTAVA 1709. Peter burnt the Zaporozhe Sich; many cossacks fled; a new Cossack host was formed in the KUBAN region, another one at the YAIK (Ural) River. Mazeppa's successor as hetman, PYLYP ORLYK, in 1714 emigrated to Sweden, where he founded a hetmanate-in-exile.
The cossacks, because of the structure of their society, always remained a state of their own, nonwithstanding the Russian protectorate. In 1773/1774 the Zaporozhe Host joined the PUGACHEV REBELLION; after it was defeated, Catherine the Great dissolved the Zaporozhe Host and had the area settled by farmers called in from everywhere (Serbia, Montenegro, Valachia, Germany etc.). The Yaik Cossacks, who had opposed and even fought Pugachev's rebellion, were renamed URAL COSSACKS.

The Cossacks Page, by Artiom Kochukov
Cossack, database entry from NUPI, ethnologic-historical
The Cossacks, from A Short History of Austria-Hungary, by the Encyclopedia Britannica 1914, posted at Don Mabry's Historical Text Archive
Century of Rebellion, from Russian Culture
Mazepa, Hetman of the Ukrainian Cossack State 1687-1709, trsl. and posted by George Skoryk
List of Ukrainian Hatmans, Atamans, Chiefs 1518-1763, by Victor Prysyashnyuk
History of the Zaporozhe Cossacks under Hetman Pylyp Orlyk (1710-1714), from, scroll down
DOCUMENTS Engraving featuring Stepan Razin, 1671, another one : Stepan Razin lead to his execution, 1672, from Russian Art and Culture Tour
Le Traite de paix polono-ukrainien de Zboriv, 18 aout 1649, from cliotexte, in French
Map : Cossack State after 1649, from Historical Atlas of the Ukraine
Ukrainian Cossack Flags, 1651, from Northern Wars 1648-1730
Image : The Conquest of Astrakhan 1676 by Stephan Razin from Mappa i Citta ed Altre Mappe Antiche

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 8th 2004

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