The Lithuanian princes were reasonable rulers; in some cases they

assimilated - adopted local customs, language and religion. People did

not resist them and appreciated their protection from Poland, Moscow and

Tatars. However, under Polish rule, western Ukraine was subjected to

exploitation and colonization by influx of people from Poland and

Germany, who were taking over property and offices from local boyars.

There was a period of wars between Poland and Lithuania, but on

15th August 1385 they agreed to unite their kingdoms. In 1386 Polish

queen Yadwiga was forced to marry Lithuanian prince Yahaylo, who thus

became King of Poland and Lithuania.

In 1400 Lithuania, together with its Ukrainian principalities,

separated under king Vitowt - Yahaylo's cousin. This arrangement was

opposed by Yahaylo's younger brother, Svytryhaylo. Ukrainian

principalities under Vitowt were loosing their national character and

independence to Polish influences. In 1413 a decision was made to allow

only Catholics to occupy important government positions ("Horodlo

Privilege"); wide spread discrimination against Orthodox population

followed. Nearly all Ukrainians in those days were Orthodox, therefore

Ukrainian princes and boyars were helping Svytryhaylo in his fight with

Vitowt. After Vitowt died in 1430, Svytryhaylo defended himself from

Poles, but by the year 1440 his sphere of influence was reduced to

Volynj principality.

There was a period of hostilities between Lithuania and Moscow,

when about 1480 several principalities in eastern Ukraine were annexed

by Moscow. Also several popular uprising took place. The rebellion

under Mukha in 1490, in western Ukraine, was seeking help from

neighboring Moldova; uprising under prince Mykhaylo Hlynskiy in 1500 in

eastern Ukraine expected help from Moscow and Tatars. However Poland

and Lithuania, at that time, were very strong, therefore all uprisings

were squashed.

Meanwhile, in the South, marauding Tatar hordes converted large

area of the country into wilderness, without any law or order. It was

very rich part of Ukraine with productive soil, wild animals and rivers

full of fish. It attracted many adventurous people, who although had to

fight Tatars there, could be free from suppression by Polish and

Lithuanian overlords. They began to organize under hetmans, thus

originating Cossack society. To defend themselves from Tatars, they

were constructing forts called "sitch" and amalgamated into sort of

union, with Zaporizhia, downstream of river Dnipro cascades, as a


In 1552, one of Ukrainian princes, Dmytro Wyshnevetskyi, being

among Cossacks, built a castle on island Khortytsya. From there,

Cossacks conducted raids on Crimean towns sometimes with help from

Moscow. Dmytro wanted to develop Zaporizhia, with help from Lithuania

and Moscow, into a powerful fortress against Tatars and Turks. Being

unable to achieve this goal, he left Zaporizhia in 1561, became involved

in a war in Moldova, was captured and executed by Turks in 1563.

In 1569, by the Union of Lublin, the dynastic link between Poland

and Lithuania was transformed into a constitutional union of the two

states as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Most of Ukraine became

part of Poland, settlement of Polish nationals followed, Polish laws and

customs became dominant. Most of Ukrainian princes and boyars, except

for few - notably Ostrozkyis and Wyshnevetskyis -, were replaced by

Polish nobles. Peasants lost land ownership and civil rights and

gradually became serfs, exploited as manpower in agriculture and

forestry, by landowners. Suppression of Orthodox Church retarded

development of Ukrainian literature, arts and education; preferential

treatment of Catholics inhibited economic and political advancement of


In spite of that there was a modest revival of Ukrainian culture

later in 16th century. Church schools and seminaries were set up, based

at first on properties of Ukrainian magnate Hryhoriy Khodkovych and

later on holdings of Ostrozkyi princes. Printing industry began,

culminating in publication of Bible in print shop ran by Ivan

Fedorovych. Trade and church brotherhoods sprang up; they established

schools and hospitals and became centers of defense of Orthodox Church

and fight for justice and equality.

Such situation also multiplied influx of people to Cossack

territory thus increasing Cossacks strength. Tatars were pushed out

into Crimea; Cossacks became more daring in their raids on Turkish


Although Ukrainian Cossacks defended not only Ukraine, but also

whole eastern Europe from Turks and Tatar hordes, they were causing

diplomatic problems for Poland because Turkey used Cossacks as an excuse

for wars against Poland. When Cossack leader, Ivan Pidkova, conqueredMoldova in 1577, Poles captured and executed him in order to appease the

Turks. They tried to control Cossacks by recruiting some of them into

Polish military system as, so called, Registered Cossacks, but they

could never really tame them.

With decreasing danger from Tatars, Polish nobles and Ukrainian

princes loyal to the king, were granted possessions in territory

controlled by Cossacks and began to introduce their ,freedom limiting,

unpopular laws. Dissatisfied with such treatment Cossacks, under

Kryshtof Kosynskyi, rebelled about 1590, and by year 1593 controlled

most of eastern Ukraine. After Kosynskyi, Hryhoriy Loboda became

Cossack Hetman in 1593.

Another section of Cossacks, numbering about 12000, under Semeryn

Nalyvayko, were recruited by Pope and German Kaiser for war against

Turks. They conquered Moldova and in 1595 returned to Ukraine to fight

against Polish rulers and to defend Orthodox population from Jesuits,

who were instigating amalgamation with Catholic Church. In 1596 at a

synod of Brest, the Kyivan metropolitan and the majority of bishops

signed an act of union with Rome. The Uniate church thus formed

recognized supremacy of the pope but retained the Eastern rites and the

Slavonic liturgical language.

Also in year 1596 Polish king, Sigismund III Vasa, ordered Field

Marshal Stanislav Zholkewski to subjugate Cossack forces. After several

months of fighting, Zholkewski surrounded Cossacks, led by Nalyvayko,

Loboda and Shaula, at river Solonytsya near Lubny. There were about

6000 Cossack fighters and just as many women and children facing much

more superior force. The prolonged siege, lack of food and fodder,

internal squabbles (Loboda was killed in one the fights between sections

of Cossacks) and intensive cannon fire destroyed defenders' capacity to

resist. In order to save their families, Cossacks agreed to

Zholkewski's terms to let them go free in exchange for handing over

their leaders. However, after surrender, Poles did not keep their word;

they attacked and started to massacre defenseless and disoriented

Cossacks. Only a section under leadership of Krempskyi broke through

and joined with troops of Pidvysotskyi, who were coming to the rescue of

besieged Cossacks.

Zholkewski, exhausted by prolonged fighting, decided to abandon the

idea to conquer Cossacks. He returned to Poland, where he tortured and

executed captured Cossack leaders; most severe punishment was handed to

Nalyvayko, who was tortured for about a year prior to a brutal



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