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Sclavonic term, signifying "beyond the cataracts;") who, like the northern Joms. vikingar of old at the mouth of the Elbe, were bound to observe strict military regulations in their setsha or entrenchment, and never to admit a woman within its precincts. As their numbers and security increased, they had extended their settlements beyond the islands and marshes which were their original retreats; and their stanitzas or villages, which were secured by a double palisade from the attacks of roaming parties of Tartar cavalry, were scattered over the fertile but then uninhabited district lying south-east of Podolia, and subsequently known as the Polish "Ukraine," or border, which, till that period, had remained
"A wild plain of far extent,
From these positions they harassed the Tartars with continual incursions; till, acquiring confidence by success, they ventured, in 1527, to attack, under their Ataman Lanzkaronski, a retreating force of 20,000 Krimean troops, whom they surrounded in the forests, and cut off almost to a man.
The reputation which they acquired by this and other achievements against the common enemy, made the Polish kings 'solicitous to secure the constant cooperation of these indefatigable auxiliaries; and an offensive and defensive treaty was concluded in 1540, between Sigismond I. and the Cossack association, by virtue of which the Atamans (whose independence of the Polish kingdom was expressly recognised) engaged to aid Poland to the utmost of their power in the defence of her frontier against both the Russians and Tartars, in consideration of the cession of the vacant tracts as far as the Dnies
ter; an agreement which was defined and extended by the Diet in 1562, when the services of the Cossacks were rewarded by an annual subsidy, and an additional grant of territory. By a third compact in 1576, between Stephen Batthori and the Ataman Rosczinski, they acquired the town of Tehremetof for a capital, with the dependent districts, on condition that a certain number should be organized as cavalry; their forces having hitherto consisted solely of irregular bodies of infantry. Under stipulations thus fixed, the Cossacks of the Ukraine continued, for nearly a century after the original treaty with Sigismond, the firmest bulwark of the Polish frontiers; and the Zaporofskis, not content with a defensive warfare, launched their light barks and galleys from the mouth of the Dniepr, in defiance of the Turkish fortresses of Oczakow and Kil-burnu, which guarded on each side the embouchure of the Liman; and, treading in the steps of Igor and Yaroslaf,* spread pillage and devastation on the coasts of the Black Sea. If they found their retreat to their fastnesses interrupted by a naval force, they_placed their boats, according to the Turkish historian Naima, on a sort of drays, and, drawing them overland to a higher part of the stream, launched them again where the intricacies and windings between rocks and shoals, well known to themselves, defied the pursuit of the heavy Turkish galleys. In 1614, they surprised Sinope, which they plundered and burned," slaying every Musulman who fell in their way, and making their families slaves," (Naima;) and in 1626, during the minority of Sultan Murad IV., they even ventured, during the absence of the capitan-pasha with the fleet, to insult the imperial city of Canstantinople. They entered the Bosphorus with 150 boats,† each rowed with two oars on a side, and two men to each oar, and carrying fifty fighting men, armed with
sack manners and institutions in the early part of the 17th century. siderable falls have been reckoned, but it is only in the autumn or winter that they are worth seeing, the high floods of the early summer covering them so completely, that few of the falls are then perceptible; at that season the barks of the Cossacks float safely over the loftiest ledges and the wildest whirlpools."-Bremner's Excursions in Russia, ii. 447.
* See Gibbon, ch. 55.
+ The Cossack boats were built without keels, for the convenience of river navigation, and were steered at either end indifferently. A representation of them is given in the work of Beauplan.
fire-arms, scimetars, and scythe-blades set straight on staves; and, meeting with no opposition, disembarked their men on each shore of the strait, burning and destroying the villages and palaces, and "causing a general consternation," to use the words of Rycaut, "not unlike that at London when the Dutch entered the river off Chatham." The great chain was drawn across the Bosphorus, and all the vessels fit for service manned and armed in haste to protect the city from a coup-de-main: but the objects of the assailants was rather plunder than glory or conquest; and, after having faced the Ottoman flotilla for a whole day without coming to an engagement, they burned the great light-tower in bravado, and made good their retreat with their booty into the Black Sea under cover of the night, having given Constantinople a more effectual alarm than it had sustained since its dominion had passed from the house of Palæologus to that of Othman.
The impunity of this enterprise gave the Cossacks fresh courage; and four years afterwards their Ataman, with 200 galleys, blockaded the mouth of the Bosphorus, and cut off the supplies of provisions from the capital to such an extent, that proposals of peace were made by the Porte to Poland, on condition that the depredations of the allies of each party, the Cossacks and the Tartars, should be mutually suspended: "for the Cossacks and Tartars were two sorts of people who lived equally on spoils and booty; the first as offensive to the Turk as the latter to the Pole: and, therefore, as it was an equal benefit, so it was an agreement of even terms to counterchange the caution given reciprocally for one and the other," (Rycaut.) But it was not in the power of either Government to control their wild auxiliaries by the terms of a treaty: the negotiation was broken off by the news of an irruption of the Tartars into Podolia; and the Cossacks continued their career of devastation till a formidable armament was sent into the Black Sea under the Capitan-pasha, who defeated the Cossack flotilla, and captured the Ataman with seventy of his galleys. The remainder took refuge at the mouth of
the Kuban river, where, surrounded by an army of Turks and Tartars on land, and blockaded by the Capitan-pasha on the sea-side, they formed a rampart of their boats, and defended themselves desperately for seven days and nights; at the end of which their entrenchments were forced, the defenders put to the sword, and all the galleys carried in triumph, "with the crosses of their flags turned down," to Constantinople.
This victory, the details of which are borrowed from Evliya Effendi, seems to have relieved the Turks from their apprehensions on the side of the Black Sea; and the dissensions which had been for some time rising between the Cossacks and Poles, prevented the former from re-organizing their naval forces. The successors of Stephen Batthori on the Polish throne, had departed from the prudent policy observed by that prince towards the Cossacks, whom they affected to consider, in consequence of the Convention of 1576, as vassals of their crown: their civil and religious liberties were alike outraged by attempts forcibly to substitute the authority of the Papal See for the Greek ritual, and by the encroachments of the neighbouring Polish seigneurs on their possessions in the Ukraine,which, under their occupancy, had been converted from a wilderness into a rich and cultivated province. The arrogance of the Volhynian and Podolian nobles, accustomed to treat as serfs the peasantry on their own domains, was ill suited to the jealous spirit of liberty which animated their Cossack neighbours; and the breach was still further widened by the pertinacious refusal of the Cossacks, to give up to their masters the peasants who took refuge with them, or to conform to the treaties of peace between Poland and the Porte, by discontinuing their incursions on the Turkish and Tartar territories. The execution of one of their chiefs by the Polish authorities, in 1610, in satisfaction of complaints made by the Porte, had nearly occasioned an open rupture; but their services in the wars in which Poland was then engaged against Russia and Sweden,* were too valuable to be dispensed with, and a temporary reconciliation
*Their disgard for the rules of civilized warfare was not confined to their contests with the Tartars; in the war with Gustavus Adolphus, a Cossack party seized Salvius and Horn, the colleagues of Oxenstiern in an embassy to the Diet, in spite of their safe-conduct; and their release was not procured without difficulty. Locemus, viii. 550.
was effected; but the suppression of the Cossack liberties was, from this period, an object never lost sight of by the Poles; and in 1636, taking advantage of the consternation produced by the defeat of the Kuban, they suddenly poured an army into the Ukraine under the Grand-Marshal Koniek polski, occupied the strongholds, put the Ataman to death, and formally abrogated all the privileges granted by Stephen Batthori.
An instant and general revolt was the consequence of this treacherous procedure; and a tedious war ensued. Those who remained in the Ukraine elected Bogdan Khmielniçki, an exiled Lithuanian noble, and the hereditary enemy of Koniek polski, for their Ataman, and maintained a sanguinary and mostly successful guerilla warfare; but a band of 6000 abandoned their country, and directed their march to the eastward, with the desperate design of fighting their way across the Caucasus, and offering their services to the Shah of Persia, then at war with the Porte. But on reaching the banks of the Don, they were easily persuaded by the Cossacks of that region to abandon this distant and perilous march, and join them in attacking Azoph, which, ill fortified and feebly garrisoned, fell into the hands of the confederates in the winter of 1637; and from this remote fastness they again infested the coast of Anatolia with their piracies, till the death of Murad IV. and the conclusion of the Persian war left the Turks at leisure, in 1641, to dispatch a force to retake it. The Cossacks, however, nothing daunted, held out gallantly till the approach of winter compelled the besiegers to retire; when, after razing the buildings and fortifications, and choking the harbour, they evacuated the place before the return of the Turks and Tartars, in the ensuing spring, to renew the attack; and effected their retreat into Russia, where the Czar Mikhail Romanof assigned them as a residence the extensive region on the east of the Dniepr, comprised in the modern governments of Kharkof and Voronetz, which, since the expulsion of the Tartars, had remained waste and uninhabited, but now received the name of Slobode Ukraine, or colonies of the frontier.
In the mean time, the servile war (as the Polish historians* term it) continued to desolate the Ukraine, generally to the advantage of the Cossacks; who, having at length called in the Tartars to their assistance, defeated the Poles in three bloody engagements, and extended their ravages so far into the interior, that the crown jewels were removed from Cracow for secu. rity; and in 1648, taking advantage of the interregnum and confusion consequent on the death of Wladislas VII., they advanced to within twenty leagues of Warsaw, and alarmed the Diet of Election there assembled. The newly elected king, John Casimir, (who had been a cardinal previous to his elevation to the throne,) at first refused to head the army against the Cossacks, declaring that he would not be instrumental to the subjugation of a people "who had taken up arms only to maintain themselves in the possession of their ancient privileges and liberties, as became a warlike nation who had voluntarily joined the Poles, not as slaves but allies ;"-but the events of the campaign of 1649, (in which, after routing once more the combined forces of the Palatines, the Cossacks invested Leopol and Lublin, and captured Kiow, where Khmielniçki established his headquarters,) compelled him to take the field. The invaders were overthrown in a pitched battle, and Khmielniçki, deserted by the Tartars, who returned to their own country as soon as the prospect of plunder failed, made overtures for an accommodation; and a peace was concluded in August 1649, by which the relations of the Poles and Cossacks were re-established on the ancient footing. But the policy which prompted the King to conciliate rather than exasperate the hardy militia which had so long formed one of the best bulwarks of Poland, was ill appreciated by his turbulent nobles, who now treated the Cossacks as conquered, and renewed their oppressions and spoliations to such an intolerable extent, that in less than a year from the conclusion of peace, the war broke out afresh with increased inveteracy, after a fruitless appeal by the Cossacks to the King, who replied that it was beyond his power to repress the excesses of the nobility. The Cossacks and Tar
* Pastorius de Bello Casaceico, &c.
tars once more spread pillage and massacre through Poland, blockaded the fortified towns, and laid the open country under contribution. Nearly half of the Polish territory was in their power, when the king, roused by the magnitude of the danger, levied an army of 100,000 men, with which he discomfited, at Bereteskow in Volhynia, in June 1651, a host of Cossacks and Tartars, estimated by the Polish writers at the incredible amount of 300,000 combatants.
The Cossacks were again abandoned by their Tartar allies, who concluded a separate peace; but their spirit of independence and resistance to Poland was still unsubdued, and they determined to appeal for assistance to the Czar, Alexis Inikhailowitz, in whose dominions many of their brethren, driven from their homes by the events of the war, had sought shelter and protection with the Cossack colony lately established in the SlobodeUkraine. The Czar, intent upon de pressing the power of the Poles, for whose crown he had been an unsuccessful candidate at the late election, eagerly accepted the invitation; and, entering Poland with a powerful army, was met on the frontier by Khmielniçki, who, by a formal convention concluded in the Spring of 1654, placed himself and his followers under the supremacy of Russia, and at the same time surrendered to Alexis, as pledges of his sincerity, Kiow, and the other Polish frontier towns of which he was in possession, and which were thus for ever severed from the Polish monarchy. The Zaporofskis alone refused to be included in this agreement, maintaining themselves in rugged independence among their inaccessible haunts, and substituting the authority of an Ataman,* chosen from their own body, for that of the chief of the Ukraine, whom they had hitherto obeyed.
The defection of the Cossacks was a severe blow both to the pride and power of Poland; but the republic, distracted by the civil wars of the king and the aristocracy, and overwhelmed by the attacks of the Swedes and Russians, was in no condition to reclaim her revolted allies by force of arms; and, after several years of desultory warfare, the truce of Andrussow was
concluded in 1667, by which the Cossack territory was divided, the eastern part of the Ukraine, with Kiow, and all the former conquests of Poland within the ancient limits of Russia, remaining in the possession of Alexis. But when Russia appeared on the point of uniting under her sway all the various Cossack tribes from the Caspian to the Euxine, a rebellion broke out in an unexpected quarter, which, if the abilities and moderation of the leader had been equal to his courage and popularity, might have terminated in the dismemberment of the Muscovite empire, and the erection of a Cossack kingdom in its southern provinces. The name of this adventurer was Stephen, or Stanko Razin, whose brother had been Ataman of the Don-Cossacks, but had suffered an ignominious death in the campaign of 1665, against the Poles, by order of the Russian commander Dolgoruki, for refusing to keep his men in the camp longer than their stipulated term of service. The disaffection occasioned by this ill-timed act of severity, was appeased for the time by the prudence of the Czar, who appointed Stanko to the dignity which had been held by his brother; but the desire of vengeance remained unextinguished, and in 1669, taking advantage of the popular discontent at the deposition of the patriarch Nikon, who was regarded by the lower orders as a saint, he appeared suddenly in arms at the head of 20,000 Cossacks, disowning his allegiance to Russia, and declaring himself the champion of orthodoxy and liberty. By proclaiming freedom from vassalage to the serfs who should join him, he attracted them to his standard in such numbers, that the Russian governors were unable to make head against them in the field; and he speedily found himself undisputed master of all the open country on the shores of the Caspian, from the Yaik to the Persian frontier, every where giving out, that his aim in taking arms was to free the serfs from the oppression of the boyars, and exercising (in the language of a Russian historian) "worse than Tartar" cruelty on every member of the privileged classes who fell into his hands. considerable force, accompanied by an armed flotilla on the Volga, was at
* This chief was distinguished as the Koschevoi-Ataman. NO. CCLXXXVII. VOL. XLVI.
length equipped against him by the viceroy of Kasan; but the soldiers, seduced by Cossack emissaries, massacred their officers, and went over in a body to the rebels. The garrisons of Tzaritzin and the other fortified towns on the Volga, followed their example; and Stanko advanced upon Astrakhan, which still held out for the Czar, at the head of a motley host of 200,000 men. The governor Prozorofski prepared for resistance; but his guards were overpowered by a general revolt of the populace, who hurled the viceroy and his family from the lofty tower of the cathedral, and threw open the gates to the Cossacks. Razin entered the city in triumph, and abandoned it to the license of his followers, who involved in indiscriminate pillage and massacre the Russian authorities and wealthier inhabitants, as well as numerous foreign merchants from all parts of Asia, who had been attracted by the great annual fair held on the arrival of the caravans.
The possession of Astrakhan, where he fixed his headquarters, inflamed the ambition of the Cossack leader, who now assumed in his public manifestoes the style and pomp of a sove reign, and sent envoys to the Tartar Khan and the Shah of Persia, inviting them to join him in depressing the power of the Czar. His efforts to procure foreign aid were unsuccessful; and at Ispahan his ambassadors were put to death by Shah Soliman: but his adherents in Russia were augmented daily by the activity of his emissaries, who taught the serfs every where to expect him as their destined deliverer from the yoke under which they groaned: even in Moscow, his partisans were known to be so numerous, that, on his again advancing from Astrakhan into the interior, the Czar prohibited Dolgoruki, who was by this time at the head of an army levied in provinces remote from the scene of revolt, from hazarding a general engagement, lest the loss of a battle might be followed by an insurrection in the capital. But Simbirsk, which Stanko Razin had invested in order to open the road to Kasan, proved the term of his conquests: his disorderly troops were foiled in every
attack by the skill and courage of the governor, Bariatinski: and, in leading them on in person to final assault, he received a wound which compelled him to retire to Astrakhan, leaving the conduct of the war to his lieutenants, among whom the Russian annalists particularly mention an Amazonian nun, who had quitted her cloister at the beginning of the revolt, and fought, in the habit and arms of a man, at the head of a corps of Cossacks. The Russian generals now ventured to resume the offensive; and the insurgent divisions, deprived of the presence of their redoubted leader, and scattered over a wide extent of country, were rapidly surprised and routed in detail: the Cossack heroine was wounded and captured in one of these partial encounters, and underwent the fate of her prototype, Joan of Arc, being burned alive in the public square of Arsamas by order of Dolgoruki, who tarnished his success by the most savage and unrelenting cruelty. Twelve thousand Cossacks were gibbeted and impaled in the neighbourhood of Arsamas alone; all the other revolted districts were chastised with equal severity, and in Tamboff and Rezan, where the serfs had risen in a body against their lords, 100,000 men are said to have been destroyed, either by the sword or by the hands of the executioner. without a single decisive encounter, the Cossack army melted away; and the termination of Stanko's career followed closely the ruin of his hopes. Though still in possession of Astrakhan, and at the head of a considerable force, he suffered himself to be deluded by the artifices of a treacherous relative, who assured him of a pardon if he would voluntarily present himself at Moscow, and make his submission to the Czar. But, on his arrival in the capital, he was instantly seized, and, after having been exposed on a scaffold during several days to the view of the people, publicly quartered alive on the Smenskoidvor, meeting his fate with the same ferocious courage which had characterised his life. One of his principal officers, known in Russian history by the uncouth sobriquet of the Devil's
* April 1671 De Guignes erroneously places the defeat of the Cossacks in 1678, and the death of Stanko in 1679.