Zaporizhzhya Sich

The emergence of the Ukrainian Cossacks

The first written mention of the Sich appears in 1551 in the Polish historian Martin Belsky (1495-1575). In its “World Chronicle”, he reported that in the first half of the XVI century. on Khortitsa Cossacks gathered to monitor the crossing, fishing and to fight the Tartars. Then the twelve thresholds (Kodak, Sursko, Lohanskyy, Nenasytetskyy etc.) Crossed the Dnieper from shore to shore and dragged along the flow of almost 100 km. After that the river overflowed in the broad floodplain – Great Meadow, where there were many creeks and islands (more than 250). At different times in January situated on different islands – Little Khortytsya, Tomakivtsi, Bazavlutsi and others.

The complexity of the issue of location and time of the first camp is spontaneously coming to Zaporozhye Cossacks built in different parts of the so-called “Gorodets” and bins or “battles” of fallen trees for protection from enemy attacks. However, such improvised settlements were slaboukriplenymy and so the onslaught of the enemy very quickly cease to exist without leaving behind memories recorded in historic sources. The establishment of the first Sich historians usually associated with the name of the Cossack leader Dmitry Vyshnevetsky.


Vyshnevetsky Dmitry (Bayda, 1516-1563) – one of the first known in the history of Ukrainian Cossacks Hetman, a descendant of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Olgerd. In 1551 – Cherkasy and Kaniv headman, organizer repel Tartar attacks. In 1560 – in the service of the Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1561 returned to Ukraine. In 1563 undertook a military campaign in Moldavia. After the betrayal of a Moldovan contenders for power Cossack army was defeated, and the Hetman was captured, was sent to Istanbul and executed there.

Under his leadership during 1552-1556 pp. on. Small Khortytsya was built fortress walls which not only ensure safety, but later became a kind of base to make trips to Crimea, unit cohesion Zaporizhzhya Cossacks.

Eventually, a new in Zaporozhye Ukrainian (Cossack) state, called the proto-type of the true state. The main features of the state is the existence of a special system of agencies and institutions that perform functions of public authorities; law, enshrining a system of rules sanctioned by the state; a certain area under the jurisdiction of the State. Sich were inherent in all of these symptoms. The specific historical conditions and circumstances of the Cossacks significantly influenced the process of self Cossacks predetermined unique image of the Cossack state. The supreme legislative, administrative and judicial authority Sich Sich Rada was. Its decisions are binding. Typically, the board considered the most important issues of domestic and foreign policy, conducted by the division of lands and lands judged criminals who committed the most serious crimes and others. An important function of the board was elected Host Government – Military officers and local authorities – palankovoyi or regimental officers. At different times the number Cossack was varying and sometimes exceeded 150 people. This group consisted of Cossacks, military officers – ataman, a military judge, Captain military, military secretary and the chiefs smoking; military servants, cornet, bunchuzhnyy, Dovbush, clerk, etc .; Palanka derivatives and rulers – Col., clerk, captain and others. Sergeant concentrated in the hands of administrative power and justice, led the army, will manage finances, January represented internationally.

Apart from its own government, the camp functioned as a Cossack own right, which was not the written law, and “ancient custom, verbal law and common sense.” This is due to the lack of tradition as the Cossacks were then relatively short history; permanent military confrontation that would not let you focus on the inner life; Cossacks fear that the written laws change and limit their freedom. Last registered Cossack right to those relationships that uklalys in the camp, have sustained military and administrative organization (38 military huts and territorial palankas 5- 8) rules led military action activity administrative and judicial authorities, the order land use contracts, defined crimes and punishment . Zaporozhye small and its territory, which was called “Land of the Cossack Army.” Located on the territory of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, partly Kherson, Kirovograd, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya Sich in the XVIII century. the size of the area close to the island of England. The territory of Zaporozhye constantly changing, borders tolerated. However, it can hinder the recognition of the Cossack state, as many nomadic peoples borders were constantly moving, and the existence of the state is still recognized.

So, we have a kind original form of statehood, the essence of which experts see in the self-governing structure of the self and the form of economic survival for the vacuum state and constant military threat. January Kostomarov called “Cossack Christian republic”, and this definition has become a classic, because Zaporozhian Host indeed been characterized by certain features of a democratic republic. Here there was no feudal land ownership or serfdom; dominated formal equality between all Cossacks (the right to use land and other lands, participate in councils, etc.). In the camp has been the dominant electoral system of management, control activities are carried Cossack Council. For the Cossacks there was no authority: all their leaders and otamans they perceived solely through the prism of established customs and traditions. Inconsistency Cossack leader regulations could result in not only removal from office, and even death. The very ritual of electing elders testified deeply rooted democracy of the Cossack communities. So, as usual elected ataman had to abandon two clubs and only the third – to agree. To he did not forget his place, not scorned ordinary Cossacks and remembered where he came, the old Sich threw his head smeared with sand or mud. A basket had to be grateful for the kindness and trust and worship on four sides. At the same time, sworn Ataman Cossacks around obeyed him and were respectful to him.

At one time well-known researcher of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville aptly remarked that American civilization has grown by two great opposing principles that are organically united into one – the spirit of freedom and the spirit of religion. The same applies to the Cossacks. Interference of freedom of religious and national principles is not only based on the worldview of Cossacks, and is a kind of ideological foundation of the entire structure of the Cossack state. Deep religious, zealous defense of the Orthodox faith – typical signs of spiritual life Zaporozhye. Suffice it to say that joining the Society of Zaporizhzhya began with a question: “In God you believe?” That orthodoxy obviously greatly influenced the formation of romantic chivalry model, which was the Zaporozhye Cossacks. For the Orthodox value system of deep spirituality opposed to selfish individualism and material interests relegated to second place.

On the positive attitude of the Cossacks religion suggests the existence within liberties Zaporozhian Host, more than 60 churches. Cossacks constantly attended the ceremonies and various prayers. Characteristically, the reading of the Gospel all Cossacks vyprostovuvalysya and half drew sword from its sheath as a sign of readiness to defend the word of God weapons from the enemy. Each Cossack, when he died, the church vidpysuvav icon medal, ingot gold, silver and more. In 1755 Cossack bought a basket of silver chandelier weighing 5 pounds and $ 3 thousand. Rub., Which at that time was a huge sum (salary troops are then totaled 4660 rubles.). Especially Cossacks commitment to Orthodoxy was in fighting stick a catholic faith and Uniate movement. In terms of constant stress, risk their lives by religion and church to shelter the rest of the Cossacks, which could balance and calm the bubbling Cossack life and ready for self-sacrifice and heroism that were the essence of Zaporizhzhya mode of existence. That is why we can say that between Orthodoxy and the Cossacks there was a deep connection, Cossack system was democratic character and because Sich could reasonably be called “Christian Cossack republic.”

Cossack state form has its own characteristics. First, it did not come on ethnic and moral and psychological basis. People are not united power of the government, and spiritual kinship. Second, Zaporizhzhya Sich was deformed state option: the intensive development of the military – a powerful army and weapons and primitive economic sector (lack of own financial system, money, cities, developed infrastructure).

So Zaporizhzhya Sich, with a number of key attributes of statehood, yet was just a kind, genuine transition model between full state and the professional community. Internal weaknesses (dominance under pressure of the military and the non-economic, demographic, cultural and other state-functions) transition model and adverse external influences and did not allow this germ, sketch Ukrainian statehood grow into a new quality, but a noticeable bright trace in the Ukrainian state Cossack state certainly left.