White Russia(Belorussia)

National & Regional costumes

Short Description/History

The first written document of the Belarusian statehood goes far back as 980 AD, when Prince Rogvold began his reign on Polotsk lands which are the historic and religious center of the Belarusian nation and culture. The formation of the features of Belarusan people began in the Polotsk Principality. The young and growing state made close trade ties with German cities and with the neighbouring eastern and southern Scandinavian principalities. On the Polotsk territory under the influence of local cultural views the traditions of Byzantine architecture were revaluated and as a result the outstanding Polotsk architecture school emerged in the 12th century.

It greatly influenced the architecture of Smolensk and Vladimir-Suzdal principalities and later of the Moscow state.

From the 13th till the 16th century the territory of contemporary Belarus was the center of a medieval polyethnic state-Grand Duchy of Litva. The Grand Duchy of Litva which is sometimes called by historians Belarusan-Lithuanian state was one of the largest, most powerful and flourishing states in medieval Eastern Europe. The lands of contemporary Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine and a part of Russia comprised this state. The large role of ethnic Belarusans in this state is proved by the fact that the state language in the Grand Duchy of Litva was Belarusan

The period that started in the 15th century, when the crusader's expansion was crushed in the west, and lasted until the middle of the 17th century, when Moscow launched its widescale aggression, is considered the Golden age in Belarusan history. In this period there was a wide growth of old and the foundation of many new cities and towns. There occurred significant evolutionary processes in the culture and economy of Belarusan people. A number of historic facts provide evidence for that. In 1517 the great Belarusan scholar from Polotsk Doctor Francisc Skaryna published the Bible in the Belarusan language. Thus the Belarusans became the third nation after Germans and Czechs that had a printed Bible in their native language. In 1588 the third edition of Grand Duchy Statute came out. It was a comprehensive and elaborate state code of laws that stood above the local legal norms. Written in the Belarusan language it was the only full code of laws in Europe since the Roman Law and until the Napoleonic Code adopted in 1804. The above historic facts prove the Grand Duchy of Litwa to have been a major political and cultural center in Eastern Europe at that time.

Grand Duchy of Litva-Belarusan-Lithuanian State in 13-16 centuries

In 1569 the Grand Duchy of Litva and the Polish Kingdom established a political union according to which the Litva-Poland confederation- Rzecz Pospolita-emerged. As a result of three divisions of Rzecz Pospolita in 1772, 1793 and 1795 between three empires - Russia, Austria and Prussia - the Belarusan lands were incorporated into the Russian Empire. So the third division of Rzecz Pospolita in 1795 practically stopped the development of Belarusan statehood for more than 100 years.

RzeczPospolita - a political union of the Grand Duchy of Litwa and the Polish Kingdom in 16 to 18 centuries

Belarusans under the Russian rule did not want to lead slave's lives. In 1794 on the territory of contemporary Poland, Belarus and Lithuania a national liberation uprising broke out. It was headed by Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Lithuanian nobleman by birth. The uprising was directed against Russia and Prussia that made the second division of RzeczPospolita and against the local reactionary aristocracy that had taken power in the lands. To support Russian and Prussian troops Austria also entered the fighting against the rebels. Kosciuszko was injured in a battle and captured by Tsarist troops was imprisoned in Petropavlovskaya Fortress in the Russian capital of that time - St. Petersburg. The uprising started in mid-spring and was brutally suppressed in mid-autumn 1794. The result of its suppression was the third division of RzeczPospolita in 1795.