THE GLORIOUS ZAPORIZHZHYA
The important area of the Military Cossack Department of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences historical research is the Zaporizhzhya Sich. This is the unique War & Democratic organization with the centuries of history. This is the bright page in the history of the Cossacks.
The Crimean Khanate became a real disaster for the people of Ukraine after the collapse of the Golden Horde. This State was under the protectorate of the powerful Ottoman Empire and did not have sufficient economic basis for its existence. That is why Crimea Khanate has made the predatory military expeditions and the slave trade as a major economic factor of its existence. Tens or even hundreds of thousands Ukrainian people were taken during Tatars raids and brought to the slave markets of the Crimea. The destroyed, looted and burned towns and villages, thousands killed people were left after the Tatars raids.
At first, the small groups of Cossacks resisted the Tatars in the wild field. They suddenly attacked the small detachments of the Tatar troops. The Cossack patrols warned residents of towns and villages about the approach of the Tatars, in order to enable them to escape and save the children.
The first Hetman of Ukraine was elected in 1506 from knighthood. The Hetman Lyantskoronsky was a relative of the Orthodox Prince of Ostrog, who had won together with the Cossacks three grate victories over the Turks the Tatars and over the Volohs and returned to Ukraine lands near the Dniester and the mouth of the Dnieper (which had been captured by Batiy). During this period the Cossacks made the forts and building for a permanent staying and for protection from the Tartars, below the thresholds (over the thresholds) of the Dnieper. So, the Zaporizhzhya Sich appeared at that way. There were only unmarried Cossacks, who were attracted by the freedom and opportunity to choose their leaders (Kosh Ataman) in Sich. Poland government found them useful and gave them the land for there industry between rivers: Konskaya, Samara, Kalmius, Tashlyk and Bug. Formally, the Cossacks were subordinated to the hetman of Ukraine.
In 1540 a descendant of Lithuanian and Ukrainian princes Dmitry Vishnevetsky (Bayda) became the Cossack. He was approved by the Cherkassy and Kanev reign in 1550. He left Cherkassy and Kanev reign in 1552 and he with his Cossacks arrived to Zaporizhzhya. Then he built the strong camp on the island Khortytsya. From that time Zaporizhzhya army was created. The Army was based on patrol Cossacks with the main aim to protect the southern borders from the infidels.
Cossacks won many glorious victories over the Tartars and the Turks. Cossacks using their ships (called gulls) captured the city in Turkey and the suburbs of Istanbul itself. They freed thousands of slaves, sunk a lot of Turkish galleys, and earned the glory of the best soldiers of Europe. Polish King Stefan Bator greatly appreciated Cossacks, equaled them with the nobles, and in written declare presented the large land area to the Zaporizhzhya army. Meanwhile the King did some harassment to the Cossacks, as he was constantly threatened by war Turkish Sultan because of the military actions of the Cossacks His successor Sigismund during almost forty years of his reign tried to destroy the Cossacks and the Orthodox in order to ultimately enslave the people of Ukraine. In these times, the Sich became the center of the liberation struggle; the Cossacks were forced to confront not only Turks and but Poland as well.
Zaporizhzhya Sich Army has been divided into 38 regiments from the time of old men memory:
The names of the regiments were provided in the memory of the cities, from which the first Cossacks emerged in the Zaporizhzhya or in the honor of the glorious regiment chiefs.
Every year on date of the 1st of January the Cossacks elected or re-elected regiment chiefs by a simple majority. Then they chose the Kosh Ataman, the military judge and another seniors, everything was open and transparent.
The Great Meadow – the large territory along the Dniper down from the island Khortytsya, with a length of almost 200 kilometers and a width of 5 to 40 kilometers – was very important for Sich. The Great Meadow consisted of many rivers, canals, lakes, estuaries and islands, overgrown with woods and reeds. It always covered the Cossacks from danger, it was impossible to find them there. And the Sich itself was mostly located in hidden places of the Great Meadows: at Tomakovsky island, Mikitovom cape or in Chertomlyk mouth. Besides that the Great Meadow fed Cossacks and was inexhaustible source of food. There were so many fish during the spawning period in any river or lake of the Great Meadows that if to stick a spear into the water, it did not fall, it was held by the bodies of fish. If Cossack went into the reeds and loudly screamed, he could just shoot in the sky and was sure to get into goose or other bird, because the birds covered the entire sky.
There were so many goats, deer in forest that it could be easily hunted even by children. The wild bees brought so much honey that the Cossacks used it only a small part. Thanks to the Great Meadow Cossacks had always a lot of provisions. They left only a small part to themselves and the rest of provision was sold, even in distant lands, bartered for arms and ammunition. They were saving these treasures of nature. The young game was not touch, and the game was hunted no more than necessary. And later, after the destruction of the Sich and the creation of provinces, the tenants came and began to beat the birds and beasts, to destroy this wealth savagely, to cut down centuries-old forests from the trees where the Cossacks made their glorious seagull. The Soviet government flooded almost the entire Great Meadow in order to make the Kahovka water reservoir.
A scientist of Military Cossack Department conducts the scientific research in the Sich in order to learn the history and customs, leading personalities. The Cossack epoch still has many secrets till now!
Zaporizhzhya Sich had always been the energetic center of Ukraine. The liberation war of Bohdan Khmelnitsky in 1648 - 1654 years started from here. Cossacks were famous in France and Germany's emperor invited them as the best warriors in order to support him during the war against the Turks.
The policy of enslavement, which was held by Russian Tsar Peter I, forced the Cossacks to support the Swedish King Karl XII (after Pereyaslav Council, Poland again started military action against Ukraine, there was no help from Russia, and Bohdan Khmelnitsky concluded a military alliance with Sweden against Poland in 1656, so the Cossacks considered Swedes as a allies). Peter I ordered to destroy the Sich. Russian Colonel Yakovlev, with a significant military force captured the Sich, when there were only a few hundred of old Cossacks who heroically died protecting the Sich. Some of the Cossacks escaped in the swamps of the Great Meadows. After the battle of Poltava, Cossacks who made war with Swedes, retreated to Perevolochna, and only the lack of leadership (Hetman Mazepa went to Bender), did not gave them the opportunity to provide the resistance to the forces lead by Menshikov. Cossacks founded the Oleshkivs'ka Sich at the mouth of the Dnieper, in the realm of the Crimean Khan. And only in 1734, the Cossacks, with the permission of the Empress Anna Ivanovna, returned to Bazavlug (western part of the Great Meadows), where they set up the New Sich.
Cossacks always bravely fought with the Tatars and Turks. Russians could not overcome them without their help, so they thought that the Russian government would not affect their liberties.
The Russian government gradually took away Cossack lands and settled there Serbs and Germans. After accession the Crimean Khanate in 1772 to Russia, Catherine II ordered to destroy the Sich. In 1775 the Sich was surrounded by almost 70 thousandth Russian troops under the command of General Tekeli. At that time there were about four thousand Cossacks (another 6000 were in the fields). Generally, Cossacks almost never exceeded 10 thousand; they fought with a great art, not quantity, winning far more numerous opponents. Cossacks decided to fight, not to give up on outrage Mother – Sich. Only the intervention of Archimandrite Vladimir, who applied to the Orthodox Cossacks asking not to shed the blood, caused the most of the Cossacks to leave the Sich forever, using the clandestine ways of Father - the Great Meadows.
But Sich was not an organization that could be so easy to disappear. Most of the Cossacks crossed the Danube and founded Zadunayskaya Sich in the delta of Danube (lasted until 1828), in the realm of the Turkish sultan. The Sultan did not press the Cossacks, on the contrary – he did not interfere in their affairs, he gave them the gun-powder and money. The Sultan wanted them to be a shield against Russia, which is rapidly gaining strength. Zadunayskaya Sich lived on the ancient customs and liberties of the Cossacks; the number of Cossacks was growing at the expense of refugees from the enslavement in Ukraine, where all Cossacks lands where distributed to Russian landowners. People in Ukraine were enslaved or ran away. The part of the Cossacks, who stayed in Ukraine created the Chernomor Army, and received lands between the Bug and the Dniester. Chernomor Cossacks gloriously fought against the Turks. Alexandr Suvorov called them “the best light cavalry in the world”. But after the war the lands were captured, distributed to the landowners of Novorossiysk province. The Cossacks received the lands on the Kuban, on the border with the Circassians. They became part of the Kuban Cossack Army later.
Our scientists are exploring the Cossack traditions preserved in the Kuban and monuments in Zadunayskaya Sich, which are the essence of the Cossacks nature - firmness, the reasons for their victories.
The brotherhood arose exactly in the Sich – the place where the Cossacks intermarried spiritually and exchanged their crosses, divided a piece of bread, fought closely to each other and protected each other from death by their bodies. If the Cossack was killed his brother became the avenger. The history has recorded the numerous facts when the Cossack found his “brother” had taken in captive, went to the prison in order to let his “brother” go to the freedom. Spiritual intermarry of the Cossacks gave them a great power. This is one of the reasons for their invincibility, and the fact that they rarely found themselves in captivity. Many people were killed in the ongoing battles in Ukraine, so there were many children- orphans. The Cossacks took many of them to the Sich, brought them up to Cossacks.
Studying of Zaporizhzhya Sich shows we can understand the power of man, his persistence and faith, a great spiritual force, which was given by the God. Understanding why Napoleon Bonaparte on the island of St. Helena, before his death said that the main reason of his defeat in Russia and the collapse of his empire - were the Cossacks.