Red Rus/Present day Ukraine
The main element of the Great State Coat of Arms of Ukraine is the Emblem of the Royal State of Wlodzimierz the Great (the Small State Coat of Arms of Ukraine). The Great State Coat of Arms of Ukraine shall be established with the consideration of the Small State Coat of Arms of Ukraine and the Coat of Arms of the Zaporozhian Host.
The current day Ukrainian sites are trying very hard to associate themselves with the notion that they are descendants of the Rusins and Ruthenians, please do not let yourself be lead down that wrongful path. The Rusin and Ruthenian people were totally different to the present day Ukrainians.
Also see Kiervan Rus Page
These are the major Towns of Ukraine
Ukrainian or Rusin
Far before the era of AD began, southern parts of contemporary Ukrainian territory were populated by Scythians and Sarmatians, nomadic pastoralist peoples of Indo-Iranic origin. Their belligerent leadership frightened the Persian and Mydian despots in the first half of the 1st millenium BC. Military expeditions of Persian nobility against Scythians were extremely unsuccessful.
Scythian herders enjoyed freedom of their prairies until first Greek colonizers disembarked on coasts of contemparary Crimea and Bessarabia and deployed huge armies of fortune-seekers. Scythian supremacy over Northern Black Sea Coast was undermined, shaken and destroyed. In the 6th century BC shining and glamorous city-states of Khersonessus, Olvia, Pantikapeuss and Pheodossia took over this vast area and their colonial slave-and-bread trading empires characterized the region's development for almost three centuries.
Black Sea Greeks (that is the way historians came to call them) used quarells among Scythians and later Sarmathians in their interest, the amount of their trade and the extent of their power was growing. Black Sea city-states formally recognized Alexander of Macedonia as their sovereign, when he ceased power ovber the Greek world, but as though his empire was short-lived, the Black Sea Greeks didn't experience Macedonian influence whatsoever. They benefited from trade with post-Macedonian hellinistic Greece, the rest of Greek world in Asia Minor and Rome.
In 400s AD hordes of new invaders started to flock into the area from the East and the most important from them. The Huns. Founding strongholds all over the land, preparing for a jump into Europe, Huns are now being considered to contribute to the local poulation in terms of blood, horseback riding and other cultural assets they brought into the area.
While Huns were struggling for decaing and dying Rome, the Ostgotts, a germanic tribe led by Vinitar was returning from Italy to find a safe place to live, they aimed at Crimea. On their way they were attacked by people, called themselves Polyans, led by Boszh. Furious Vinitar, the grandson of Alarikh, the first barbarian to cease Rome, defeated Polyans and set up a massacre in their stronghold on the Danapris river, the Bussov Horod, which later became known as Kijow.
During 6 to 8th centuries the process of both Slavs breaking away in the West and unification of Slavs in the East and in the North was accelerating.
The Northern Slavs, mixed with future Finns and Scandinavians found the Republic of Nowgorod ( New City ) on the Baltic Sea. In the South, however, the merchant city of Kijow was expanding its influence upon Indo-Iranic and partly West Slavic peoples. In the South-West ( later Galicia and Bukovina ) Slavic warlords conqured and integrated lands of White Croatians and North Wallachs and the Slavic population partly mixed with them.
In the East, Kijow was gradually becoming dominant among more than fourteen large tribe-unions.
The last princes of Kijow of the Roxolan dynasty were Askold and Dier. They were murdered during a fight between the Pagans and Christians. The decisive role in Pagans' victory was played by a bunch of Viking warriors led by half-Slavic Novgorodian Oleh.
In mid 8th century Oleg became the first prince of Kijow of Rurick Dynasty. Using mercenary troops, Oleg subjugated the rest of Eastern Slavs and enforced his power over them by a complicated tributary and military democracy system. Oleg also succeeded in managing huge military operations against Khozzars, a nation of Jewish origin residing on Volga. The Bysantium and all of the Western world was frightened, when Oleg and his armies appeared near Constantinople and assaulted it. The world was now aware of a new power in the East. The Kijow Rus.
After Oleg's death, his relative Igor became the Great Prince. Igor was greedy and cruel and his management of this newborn empire infuriated some of his subjects. When a conflict broke out between him and the Drevlyans, a small tribe near Kijow, his enemies executed him in the most horrifying manner.
His wife, Olga, became the ruler. The Great Princess was the first to accept Christianity and establish friendly relations with Eastern Roman Empire. Her son, Swiatoslaw, was a great military commander. He fought off nomadic tribes like Pechenigy and conquered Bulgaria.
His sons began a destructive feud over Kijow and it was the time of ruine, until the eldest, Vladimire the Red Sun, ceased Kijow and became the fifth Great Prince. He baptised Rus into Christianity in 988 and fought off Byzantinians, also secured Bulgarian holdings of Rus.
His son Jaroslaw the Wise, ruled until 1037 and made up the first set of laws, came to be known as Rus's Truths. After his death a series of princely wars broke out and a new disaster came from the East , the Cumans.
The sixth prince of Kijow, Wlodzimierz the Monomach ( The Single Ruler ) defeated both his adversaries and the Cumans. He was the first and the last absolute ruler of Kijow, but his attempts to bring Rus's princes back together failed. After his death in 1100's, The Kijow Rus ceased to exist as a single entity and Kijow came to be only a religious centre.
The states-successors of Kijow Empire were the following; the Southern and Western lands were dominated of Galician-Wolyian Principality with its capital first in Halich and later in Chelm(Kholm).
The North-East came under the influence of Vladimir-Suzdal Principality, which is now considerd to be the first stronghold of the Russian ( Muscovite) nation. The North consisted of entire colonies of the half-Scandinavian merchant empire of Nowgorod, which in itself was still a Republic.
In mid 1100s two major powers on the former Kijow Empire's territory appear to be Galician Principality, since in 1170s the throne of Galicia was seized by Wolynian Prince Roman Mstyslav, and Wlodzimierz-Suzdal Principality under the Boholiubsky Dynasty. This period, between the death of Yaroslav the Wise in 1037 and the first Mongol Aggression in 1248 is not covered very well in the world's history because of Russian and later Soviet shovinism in historiography.
But that was the very period, when two dominant Eastern Slavic nations formed, the Ruthenians, in the later years the Ukrainians have insisted that they evolved from those people and the Russians who in the later years they were to be known as Muscovites, as keeping the different peoples and interests of the Empire was starting to prove increasingly difficult.
Both Great Princedoms and that's the way their leaders referred to themselves as, were more of princely leagues, since they comprised an innumerable number of semi-integrated little princedoms, landowner's (boyars) estates, nomades and highlander's villages. Both saw the capture of Kijow as their primary objective for a long time -- the demolishing of Kijow by Andriy Boliubski of Volodymir-Suzdal and capture of Kijow by Roman Mstislawitch of Galicia are the most known examples. As Kijow declined as an economic centre, the interests of these new countries turned in different directions.
Galician princes engaged in dynastical marriages or incessant wars with Hungarian, Polish or Vallaccian ( Romanian) nobility and the Galician territory and influence extended all over modern geographic Western Ukraine (everything to the West from Kijow), partly Belarus ( Polozk Princedom), Moldova ( both the one now named the republic of Moldova and the Romanian Moldova to the West from Dnister, South-Eastern Poland and Transcarpathia. Galicia under Mstyslawitch Dynasty, belligerent, glorious and rich state became one of the largest European countries and, what the most important, an ally of Byzantium, and, of course an object of envy to many East European monarchs.
North-East, the Wlodzimierz-Suzdal, had close relations with North European Nations and growing Lithuania and Nowgorod Republic, trying not to lose their relationship with Byzantium.
In 1199 The Great Prince Roman of Galicia was killed in a battle with Hungarians. His two sons, the eldest Vasylko, and the younger, Daniel were saved by their relatives from the boyars anger, the Boyars, the large landowners, were fed up with the absolute rule of Roman and they started to change princes on the throne fast. When Vasylko became of age, they blinded him. The great internal feud weakened the country.
Daniel, even though becoming of age in the time of trouble, has shown himself as a gifted leader, gathering all forces he could and he suppressed, the boyars oligarchy bloodily and severely in 1220's. Apprehending the Mongol menace after Kalka Battle, in which his predecessor Mstyslav II of Galicia was killed and defeated, Daniel was travelling around Europe seeking for help. The only thing he acquired was a king's crown from the Pope..
Under Daniel, the first king among Eastern Slavic rulers, Galicia was fortified, the new capital was built, Kholm (now Chelm in Poland), It ceased back the power it lost after Roman's death and became the strongest among the other Eastern Slavic states.
The first invasion of Eastern Slavic states by Mongols was led by Batu Khan in 1248, who rolled his 400,000 army over Volga River and swept through South-Eatern princedoms in a matter of two months, Ryazan was the first. Batu's straightforward march to Vladimir and Suzdal demolished the North-East princely coalition. Batu's failure to reach Novgorod saved the craddle of the Russian nation from loot and fire but not from vassal dependance on the gigantic Mongolian State, the capital of which, Saray, was set up on the Lower Volga.
Around the same time the 15,000 army of Khan Kuromsah, one of the Batu's chief commanders invaded Kingdom of Galicia, but was defeated and kept back by Galician army led by King Daniel. Mongols could not stand a big independent state on their way to Europe and a 50,000 army of Burunday, the third noble among the Mongols,swept through Galicia and ceased the former capital, Galytch. Daniel was forced to negociate and agreed to become a Mongolian ally, but not to pay tribute. The Galician authority was dramatically reduced comparatively to what it was before, but it still remained, damaged and stripped, an independent country.
Before his death Daniel built the city of Lwow, named after his son Lew, who became the second King of Galicia. Under Lew's rule, Galicia started to experience strong pressure from Lithuania Poland and Hungary, especially because of dynastical marriages between Galicians and Poles ( Lew's son, Shwarno, became the heir of Polish throne and the Lithuanian heir married Lew's daughter), however the kingdom was still successful in diplomatic balancing between Western Slavs, Hungarians and Mongols.
North Eastern remnants of Kyiv Rus stagnated under the Mongols Yoke, even though Russian nobles started to build up their influence among Mongols through dynastical marriages and rights to collect tribute.
During the rule of the Lew's son, Juri, Galicia lost Transcarpathia to Hungarians and big chunk of Bukowina with the fortress Chern to the Moldavians. The country started to decay. Yuri was the last from the Daniel's dynasty to rule the Ruthenian people. His successor, prince Gedimin, was of Lithuanian blood.
At the time,in late 1320s, the first uprising of the Slavs in the North against Mongols took place. A Muscovite warlord, prince Dmitri Donskoi defeated a large army of Khan Mamay, the Mongolan Commander, at Kulikowo. This uprising was praised by Russian historians as the end of Mongolan domination of North Eastern Rus. The next action undertaken by Mongols was the destruction of Russian troops wherever found, great fire of Moscow and a holocaust. North East was very quickly "tied back to the Prairy Warrior's horse". The real meaning of this uprising were signs of decay in Mongol's empire.
In 1350 Galician leadership exchanged the country's independence for their own security, territory's autonomy and the right to speak their own language, also the protection from Mongols, Poles and Hungarians. Kijow Princedom, badly ran by prince Mykhaylo, the last prince of Kijow and vassal of Mongols, joined Lithuania with great relief and joy. The Polozk Princedom, most of modern Belarus was also quickly integrated into this new superstate.
Lithuanian nobility was speaking this South East Slavic, preached Christianity and comprised together with West Kijow Rus, Galicia and Belarus a new Empire, which later came to be known as Lithuanian Rus.
In the beginning of the 15th century Galicia and the majority of other Kijow's successors became more or less autonomous parts of the Great Princedom of Lithuania. Wealthy, powerful and orthodox, the Ruthenian nobility of these lands was the major powerbreaker in this new empire. Lithuanian rulers married Ruthenian princesses and were the members of the Orthodox church, the leader of which, until 1403, resided in Kijow. Even after the Patriarch ran away to Moskow, Kijow was generally considered to be the Ortodox centre.
After 1420's however, the Catholic and Polish influence in Lithuania started to grow rapidly. When the Lithuanian Prince Jagiello married the Polish princess Jadwiga, the integration between Lithuania and Poland began. The new state was going to come to pass, the RzeczPospolita, The Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania.
A group of treaties were signed between Polish Kings and nobility, which were to diminish the role of high nobility (the magnates), especially Ruthenian, and that of the Orthodox clergy. These treaties set conditions under which Ruthenian magnates could remain rulers of their estates, they were to abandon habits of self-government, speak Polish and accept Catholicism. Lithuanian nobility and clergy did that already.
As for Ruthenian magnates, a very small number of them did and were threafter ostracised. The leader of the noble opposition, Konstantin Ostrozoski, the magnate of Ostroh, was the one to found the Academy. His academy was a stronghold of patriotism, Orthodoxy and resurrectionism. A different way to oppose Poles was found by a group of Orthodox bishops, they went to Rome and agreed with Pope to establish the Uniate, or Greek Catholic Church, which preserved all Orthodox ceremonies and orders, but recognized the Pope as its leader. Even though these two ways of opposition were widely practiced, the tension grew.
The outbreak of this hate and this cry for help was felt and heard by one of the most prominent Orthodox nobles, Prince Dmytro Bayda - Vyshnevetzki, who in 1490, founded the fortress of Hortizya on the lower Dnipro River, among almost uninhabited, wide prairy territories between RzeczPospolita, Crimean Khanate and rapidly growing Muscowy, and which came to be known as Zaporozia.
The fortress of Hortyzia housed thousands of desperate refugees from Galicia, Wolynia, Moldova, who knew how to use the sword and a rifle and hated Turkish scavengers. Prince Bayda waged several wars on Turcs and Crimean Khanate until his capture and execution in Ottoman Empire in 1499. But Khortyzya didn't die with him, it expanded and became the centre of a semimilitary state, came to be known as Sich.
That was the time when Galician, Wolynian and Kijow lands started to be called "Ukraine", "the Edge", because they found themselves now at the very East of gigantic Polish state. The dwellers of the edge, which were still called Ruthenians by other nations and in Galicia.
The Sich soon established its governing traditions. On the top of the ladder there stood the Hetman, an elected supreme official and, what was much more important, commander-in-chief. The Hetman was elected by the general assembley of all the Cossacks "the free riders", who carried arms the "Rada". The next in the hierarchy was the Clerc General, the supreme civil official with his "starshyna" (some adequate of the cabinet) who were carrying out Rada's decisions in what concerned minor legal cases, calling for Rada sessions due to reasons other than military and diplomatic activities.
The Rada's tribunal was the major judicial institution. Cossack Sich was a military democracy, Hetmans held no particular terms and could be dismissed anytime due to various reasons, unsuccessful military operations, high unpopularity or immoral conduct. The territory of Sich , modern Zaporozia, partly Kherson, Donetzk and later Cherkassy and Poltawa provinces of Ukraine (the Podniprovia, the Upper Dnipro Lands), was divided into Kureni, a mixture of an administrative and military unit. A Kurennyi Otaman was at the head of every Kuren. Once the Hetman didn't want or was not able to lead the army he appointed one of the Otamans,the Nakaznyi Otaman to substitute for him. The Kureni were divided into Polky, some kind of military divisions, led by Polkowniki (Colonels). Every kuren and polk had their Clerc, his starszyna and the Rada.
During 1500's to 1580's Sich was engaged in long heavy wars with Crimean Khanate and Ottomans. Those were wars for profit. The Cossacks often served as mercenaries. The population of the Sich swelled, because of thousands of peasants running away from their masters. Neither Poles, nor Turcs could not do much to Cossacks, they could won a battle but not the war. Moreover, Sich's leadership with its one of the most trained armies in Europe was always supportive to one or other side, when Poles fought Turcs, Moldavians fought Poles, Hungarians fought both or vice versa.
The situation changed, however, when Cossacks started to intrude into what was called "internal Polish affairs". Beginning from 1580s, the number of uprisings led by dying out Ruthenian nobility, inspired by Cossacks' military successes and attempting to drive out Poles and unite those oppressed lands with Sich, increased. Most of them were hopeless, because Cossacks and especially their leaders thought of themselves as very different from others, even a different nation, nation of Warriors, the free riders, and they rarely left Sich and Sich's territories, recognized and established Cossack lands, for something other than profit.
The first insurrectionist to ask Cossacks directly for help was little Galician noble, Krzysztof Kosynski by name.
In 1592 Kosynsky was elected Hetman and led a little army of peasants and Cossacks against Poles. He defeated Poles at Ostrog, but was killed during the siege of the city. The uprising died out. Peasants ran away and Cossacks returned to Sich, not willing to engage into diplomatic difficulties with Poles. But since that time a number of prominent Cossacks started to create the idea of Cossack's mission, to liberate their lands.
First three decades of the 17th century were greatly influenced by the above idea, Cossacks freed thousands of captives from Turkish hands, virtually stopped for a long time Turkish and Crimean raids, devastated a number of Turkish and Crimean cities. They were especially successful under Hetman Petro Konashevich Sahaydachny, who, together with some Polish troops destroyed Ottomans' army at Khotyn in 1630's.
After Sahaydachny's death, Cossacks closed themselves up on their territories and estates and their leaders after Sahaydachny were not to adventurous, risky and strong to leave the Sich and run after fortune. Poles call this period the "Golden Peace". But the peace was not to endure for long.