« ElőzőTovább »
manent curtailment of the privileges of the community. The Don-Cossacks, habituated to the sway of Russia, and surrounded on almost every side by Russian provinces, were not objects to the Czar of the same jealous suspicion as their brethren of the Ukraine, whose indomitable spirit of independence had led them to defy successively Poland and the Porte, and the geographical
irretrievably under the iron yoke of Russia; while, in the territory of the Don-Cossacks, who had remained tranquil since the war of Stanko Razin, similar scenes of blood and devastation arose from an insurrection which broke out nearly at the same time, though apparently without any concert with the disorders in the Ukraine. The details which we possess relative to this outbreak are imperfect. Accord-position of whose country, extending ing to the Russian historians, it originated in an attempt by Prince Dolgoruki (the son of the opponent of. Stanko) to reclaim the refugee serfs who had sought an asylum in the Cossack villages, to the incredible number, as stated by Lesur, (Histoire des Kosaques, vol. ii.) of 30,000 in a single year. The unpopularity of this proceeding, and the hereditary hatred borne to the name of Dolgoruki, excited violent commotions; and the prince was at length surprised and slain, with his guards and suite, in a night attack headed by a Cossack named Bulavin, the chief of a stanitza, who, elated by this success, assumed the command of the malecontents, and fruitlessly attempted the surprisal of Azoph, which had been in the posses sion of Russia since the peace of 1699. But the insurgents were unable to make head against the Russian troops, who poured from all sides into the revolted districts. Bulavin and 20,000 of his partisans perished in the field, or by the hands of the executioner; while 10,000 more sought shelter in Krim Tartary, the usual sanctuary of Russian exiles. Here their descendants remained till the occupation of the Krim by Catharine II., and did good service to the Porte in its wars against their former country.
The sedition of Bulavin, notwithstanding the formidable numbers of his followers, was an unpremeditated popular commotion, in which neither the Ataman nor the more influential chiefs took part; and, from the scanty accounts which have been transmitted to us, it does not appear that the severities which attended its suppression were followed by any material* or per
along the flank of Russia Proper, enabled them to open a road for an invader into the heart of the empire, whenever an opportunity should be found of throwing off their subjection to the Czar. In order to secure this important province by reducing its inhabitants to the same footing as his other subjects, the designs of Peter, which had been suspended by the Swedish invasion and the revolt of Mazeppa, were resumed and prosecuted with an unrelenting rigour to which the Cossacks, prostrate at the feet of the conqueror, could no longer offer any effectual opposition: their right of internal jurisdiction by their staroshines and officers, which had hitherto been religiously respected, was supplanted by the erection at Gloukhoff of a Court of Judicature, administered according to the dilatory forms of Russian law, and from which an appeal lay only to the governor of Malo, or Little Russia, a name now formally conferred on the country by an imperial edict, in token of its incorporation with the Russian empire.† The titular Ataman was retained constantly at the court of Moscow, as a pledge for the fidelity of his people; and the change in the condition of the Cossacks from allies to subjects of the Russians, was still more distinctly marked by the ceremonial observed at the ratification of the peace of Nystadt with Sweden in 1721, when their leaders were compelled to swear allegiance to the Czar in the same terms as the authorities of the other ceded provinces. The ancient independence of the Ukraine was now, both in name and fact, extinct; and on the death, in the following year, of Skoropaski, who
De Guignes states that the dignity of Ataman was suppressed by Peter; but, in this and other points, he has evidently confused the history of the Don and Ukraine Cossacks.
Such was the importance attached by Peter to the sovereignty of Malo-Russia, that his title of Emperor of all the Russias is said to have been assumed with an express view to its assertion.
had borne the title of Ataman ever since the deposition of Mazeppa, the office was suffered to remain vacant. But the Cossacks, though no longer able to vindicate their liberties by force of arms, still retained the spirit of freemen; and an energetic remonstrance was presented at the foot of the throne in 1724, by a deputation from the Ukraine; their various grievances were enumerated and insisted upon; and Peter was boldly reminded, that in infringing the convention by which his predecessor had bound himself to the observance of their privileges and independent jurisdiction, he dissolved the tie which connected the Cossacks with the crown of Russia.* The despotic temperament of the Czar, accustomed to see in his subjects only the blind instruments of his sovereign will, was irritated to fury by this address: the deputies were denounced as rebels, and thrown into the dungeons of Schlusselburg, where a few only survived the hardships of their imprisonment till the accession of Catharine I., who (in obedience as she said to her husband's last commands) released them and restored them to their country. But though Catharine, during her short reign, showed herself well disposed to ameliorate the condition of the Ukraine, the oppressive edicts of Peter still remained in force; and it was not till the fall of their arch-enemy, Menzikoff, in the reign of Peter II., that the Cossacks obtained a partial restoration of their privileges, with liberty to elect an Ataman. Their choice fell on Daniel Apostol, who had been the spokesman of the deputation to Peter I., and was regarded by the Cossacks, from his subsequent sufferings, as a martyr to their cause; and, as the favour extended to them by Peter II. was continued by his successor Anne, the Ukraine presented such a spectacle of returning prosperity, that the remains of the Zaporofskis, who had sought refuge in Krim Tartary after the overthrow of Mazeppa, made overtures of submission in 1733 to the court of Petersburg, on condition of being restored to their former possessions. The koschevoi-ataman Orlik, an old follower of Mazeppa, who had succeeded Horodenko, vehemently,
but in vain, opposed all reconciliation with their former foes: the promises and gifts of Russia prevailed: Orlik retired into Turkey, where he became a Moslem and entered the service of the Porte; and the Zaporofskis, after having signalized their zeal for their resumed allegiance by a sanguinary foray into Volhynia, re-occupied in triumph their ancient setsha on the Dniepr, and welcomed with discharges of artillery the Russian commissioners appointed to receive their adhesion to the Czarina.
In the war of 1806 with the Porte, the Cossacks of the Ukraine furnished to the Russian army a contingent of 20,000 men, who were mostly organized as irregular cavalry; but their exploits no longer corresponded to their former fame. Deprived since the time of Peter I. of the free exercise of arms, they had lost the habit of using them; and their total inability to withstand the impetuous onset of the Spahis, suggested to the Russian commanders the expedient of arming both the Ukraine and Don Cossacks with the lance, which has since become so formidable in the hands of the latter, as a means of repelling the scimitars of their fiery opponents. The Zaporofskis, on the contrary, who formed a separate corps of 8000 men, distinguished themselves as of old, both by valour and relentless ferocity, which defied the control of the Russian generals. In the wild partisan warfare in the marshes of the Dniepr and the steppes of the isthmus, they recognised both the character and scene of their ancient achievements; and when Munich at length entered as a conqueror the hitherto impregnable capital of the descendants of Zingis, their appetite for blood and plunder was amply glutted by the sack of Perekop. In three successive campaigns, the Tartar territories fell almost wholly into the hands of the Russians; but the losses of their Austrian allies on the side of Hungary arrested them in the career of triumph, and Anne was reluctantly compelled to acquiesce in the treaty of Belgrade (1793), which restored all her conquests except the dismantled fortress of Azoph.
The forms of the ancient Cossack constitution had been partially restored
* Lesur, ii. 151. Scherer, ii. 206.
by Peter II., but the virtual authority
"Comme un vaste et sombre nuage
Soon after the accession of Catharine II., Razumofski was deprived of the titular dignity of Ataman, the revenues annexed to which amounted to 100,000
rubles annually; the empress herself for some time assumed the title, till it was merged in that of Ataman-General of all the Cossacks, which she conferred on her favourite Potemkin. slender remains of the Cossack privileges in the Ukraine, were now destined speedily to disappear. On the promulgation of the project for a new general code in 1767, all their internal jurisdictions were summarily abolished by an imperial edict, and included under the new regulations of the empire. A capitation and hearth tax was levied; and the deputies who appeared at St Petersburg to exclaim against these arbitrary measures, were thrown into prison, and are supposed to have died in confinement. A few years later, the annihilation of this branch of the Cossacks as a separate community, was completed by a decree which declared the peasants attached to the soil, and enabled the Russian nobles to possess estates in the Ukraine: even the distinction of territory was obliterated in 1776 by the new general division of Russia into viceroyalties. Six thousand migrated into Poland during these changes; but the remainder submitted in silence, and became, as Heber describes them at the commencement of the present century, "in all respects bona fide Russians, but still preserving their language and dress, and very proud of their Cossack descent."
But the indomitable Zaporofskis were not so easily reduced to obedience: and their smouldering discontent, which various causes had contributed to excite, burst into á flame at the attempt to coerce their savage freedom within the bounds of legislative enactments. By the treaty of Belgrade, it had been stipulated that the extensive plains between the Dniepr and the Seimka should be left desert and abandoned, as a boundary between the two empires: but this neutral ground was speedily encroached upon by the Russians, who aimed at extending to the western frontier of the Khan's dominions, by the occupation of this fertile delta, the line of circumvallation which the possession of Azoph had at length rendered complete on the east. The reclamations of the Tartars produced no ef
fect: and the supine court of Constantinople, buried in a thirty years' peace, (unexampled for duration in the Ottoman annals,) saw with indifference the communication with its vassal kingdom gradually intercepted: towns, villages, and military posts, rapidly sprung up; while settlers were invited from Germany, Switzerland, and even Scotland, to aid in the colonization of the rising province of New Servia, as this hitherto nameless district began to be called. In the efforts made by the Tartars to check the progress of the new colony, they received zealous assistance from the Zaporofskis, who claimed the territory as pasture-land for their herds, and were unwilling, like the red Indians of North America, to have their fortresses approached too nearly by the haunts of civilisation. The settlers, harassed by the inroads of their wild neighbours, at length applied to Petersburg for protection: and some regiments of cavalry were located as military colonies in the most exposed quarters, where an irregular warfare was carried on to such an extent, that the Zaporofskis were on the point of being denounced as open rebels, when the promulgation of the new code brought their disaffection to a climax. They unanimously refused compliance: and when, in the following year (1768,) war at length broke out between Russia and the Porte, they not only withheld their appointed contingent, but many deserted to the Turks on their advance towards New Servia, in order to wreak their vengeance on those whom they considered as the usurpers of their soil. The Tartar Khan, KrimKherai, who was appointed generalissimo of the Ottoman forces, by a daring and unexpected manœuvre crossed the Dniestr on the ice in the depth of winter: and the wretched inhabitants of New Servia were exposed without defence to a torrent of desolation, which (if credit is to be
given to the narrative of De Tott) rivalled in merciless atrocity the deeds of the early followers of Zingis. But the death of Krim-Kherai, who was poisoned through the jealousy of the Grand-Vizir, speedily changed the fortune of the war: and when its triumphant conclusion, by the peace of Kutchuk-Kainardji in 1774, left the Russians at liberty to regulate the affairs of their own frontier, the contumacy and rebellion of the Zaporofskis were not long in meeting with due punishment. The setsha was surrounded by a cordon of troops, and its inhabitants, excepting a portion who escaped into Tartary, made prisoners: a few only were allowed to retain their lands on condition of submitting to the new ordinances, but the majority were either draughted into Russian regiments, or exiled to distant parts of the empire: the vacant lands being assigned to Russian proprietors, and colonized by peasants forcibly transplanted for the purpose, from Podolia and Volhynia: while the new town of Kherson became the emporium of Russian commerce in the Mediterranean, till superseded twenty years later by the erection of Odessa.* With their expulsion from their ancient haunts the name of the Zaporofskis ceased to exist :† but a portion of the same race, under a new appellation, have continued to the present day. These derive their origin from the refugees who fled into the Krim on the destruction of the setsha, and who earned their pardon from the Russians, in the struggle which preceded the final annexation of that country to the Muscovite empire, by turning their arms against the nation which had sheltered them. This last act of treachery was rewarded by Potemkin with an establishment on the territory between the Don and the Kuban, which the Kuban Tartars had deserted on its seizure by Russia: and there, under the title of Tcherno
* It should be remarked, that the name of this modern city is correctly New Odessa; while Varna is marked in the Russian maps by its classical name of Old Odessa ;—a tolerably significant hint to its present possessors !
A paragraph appeared in some English papers shortly after the passage of the Pruth, by the Russians in 1828, stating that the Zaporofskis had just tendered their voluntary allegiance to the Russian empire, and that their Ataman, late a pasha of two tails, had held the helm of the barge in which Nicholas crossed the Pruth! This extraordinary blunder passed, however, uncontradicted.
Three-fourths of the Tartars expatriated themselves after the treaty of Kainardji
morski or Black-Sea Cossacks, their descendants still remain, carrying on an incessant border warfare with the Circassians. They elect their Ataman, subject to the governor of Ekatarinoslaf they are allowed free fishery in the sea of Azoph, and the still more valued privilege of making and selling brandy free from duty. Their num bers are estimated at about 15,000 effective men; and, in conjunction with the Cossacks of the Terek (a branch of the Donski), they serve in the frontier cordon on the line between the Black and Caspian Seas.
The history of both the branches of the Cossacks on the Dneipr may now be considered at a close, one of them being reduced to insignificance, and the other melted into the general mass of the Russian population; but, before we recur to the changes effected in the condition of the Don-Cossacks, it is necessary briefly to advert to the famous rebellion of Pugatchef; an event which, though removed by its magnitude and importance beyond the scope of merely Cossack history, demands some notice in this place, from both the leader and his original, partisans having been of the Cossack nation. In our introductory remarks, allusion was made to the prevalence among the Cossacks of the roskolnik or schismatical tenets, and the persecution to which these sectaries had frequently been subjected by the Russian sovereigns. As early as the reign of Peter I., a large body of them had migrated into the Tartar territorities rather than shave their beards, to the preservation of which they attached peculiar importance; from their patron saint, St Ignatius, they were known among the Tartars as Inat Cossacks, under which name they are mentioned by De Tott in 1768, as forming part of Krim-Kherai's army. A similar attempt in 1771, to deprive of these cherished appendages, and subject to regular military discipline, the Cossacks of the Yaik (a wild race deriving their origin from those of the Don, and professing almost universally the roskolnik heresy), led to a sedition in their capital of Yaikskoi, in which both their own Ataman and the Russian commissioner lost their lives, in
endeavouring to restore order; but the advance of a Russian corps speedily induced the appearance of submission, and the town was retaken from the insurgents.
The germs of disaffection, however, remained; and when, two years later, the daring adventurer Yemedyan Pugatchef, a Don-Cossack by birth and a roskolnik by religion, made his appearance near Yaikskoi, and assumed the name of the deceased Czar Peter III., the Cossacks of the Yaik became his first, as they continued to the last his firmest, supporters and followers. The extraordinary career of this impostor, who was at one time master of the whole country between the Ural and the Volga-his repeated victories over Russian generals, and his final betrayal and execution at Moscowremind the reader of the exploits of Stanko Razin, whom Pugatchef resembled also in the success with which he allured the serfs to his standard, by promising the abolition of slavery, and by the cruelties which he exercised on all the nobles who fell into his hands. But the details of the war, which cost in its progress and suppression the lives of 300,000 persons, belong rather to the general history of Russia than of the Cossacks, whom it only affected by its origin among a remote and obscure branch of their body. On the extinction of the revolt, the Cossacks of Yaik suffered severe punishment: and, in order to mark their treason by a perpetual stigma, Catharine abolished the name of Yaik by an imperial edict, and substituted that of Cossacks of the Ural, by which they have been since known.
The final abolition of the privileges of the Ukraine, must have prepared the Don-Cossacks for a similar invasion of their own rights; but their formidable and still unbroken numbers made the experiment too hazardous to be risked, at a juncture when all the forces of the empire were required for the execution of the ambitious projects of Catharine: and the capricious favour of Potemkin, who saw and appreciated their value as irregular troops, was a farther safeguard to their remaining immunities. Important
-in 1769, the peninsula alone furnished 40,000 cavalry-in 1782, only 450 houses in Kaffa were inhabited. Most of them fled to Turkey: but many to Circassia and other parts of the Caucasus.