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Sunday, 14 January 2018 15:27

A HISTORY OF UKRAINE. EPISODE 24. RUS' IS UKRAINE, NOT RUSSIA

Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 14.01.2018 

 

EPISODE 23 HERE 

 

Just like Ukrainian Cossacks, many historians now believe that the name Rus’ comes from the Sarmatian tribe of Roxolani which settled in Central Ukraine to the south of Kyiv starting from the 2nd century BC. In this region, there are rivers with such names as Ros, Rosava, Rostavytsia, Rutets etc. 

 

Since ancient times, Rus’ was the name applied only to Central Ukraine — the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Pereyaslav principalities, i.e. the territory of modern Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv oblasts and parts of Sumy, Cherkasy, Vinnytsia and Poltava oblasts. Starting from the 12th century, it was extended to include the Western Ukraine. Princes believed that Rus’ was their homeland (‘votchyna’ patrimony). The other dependent territories were thought of as being subject to Rus’. 

 

In the time of Kyivan Rus’ the population of Ukraine was called rusyny (rarely rusy). The name Rusyn largely persisted in Central Ukraine until the 18th century, in Halychyna (Galicia) and Bukovyna until the 20th century and in some places in Zakarpattia (Subcarpathia) until this day. 

 

the rus panto

Christ Pantocrator, mosaic, main dome of St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Kyiv, 11th century. 

 

The outskirts of the Kyivan state, where the Russian and Belarusian peoples later arose, were not called Rus’ — neither when they were under Kyiv’s rule until the 12th century, nor several centuries later. 

 

Imperial Russian ideologues have tried to create a myth that the capital of Rus’ first allegedly “moved” from Novgorod to Kyiv and then from Kyiv to Moscow. However, the Varangians could not bring with them the name of Rus’ because this name was used in reference to Ukraine in the writings of the Gothic historian Jordan in the 4th century and in the works of the Syrian author Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor in the 6th century, while the Varangians appeared in the historical arena in the late 8th century only.

 

the rus demetrios
Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki, mosaic, St. Michael’s Cathedral of Kyiv, early 12th century. 

 

In Muscovy itself, the term 'Russia' began to be used in reference to this country by the authorities as late as in the 15th century only, when the idea of seizing Ukraine’s lands began to circulate there. This word is taken from the Greek language because it was common knowledge at the time that Rus’ was the territory of Ukraine. 

 

Muscovy was finally renamed as 'Russia' by the tsar’s orders of 1713 and 1721. In the late 18th century, Empress Catherine II ordered people, under the threat of flogging, to identify themselves as 'Russians' and banned the customary designation “Muscovites”

 

Since the times of the Volhynian Prince Roman Mstyslavych (the late 12th century), all the princes of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia bore the names “princes and rulers of the Rus’ land” and their seals had the inscription “king of Rus’”. In contrast, Andrei Bogoliubskiy (Andrei Godlover), the prince of Suzdal (now the heart of Muscovy), reportedly “wanted to be the ruler of all Suzdal lands”. 

 

the rus archangel

Archangel, mosaic, St. Sophia’s Cathedral of Kyiv, 11th century. 

 

In the 16th and the 17th centuries the Ukrainian Cossacks considered their campaigns against Istanbul to be a continuation of the campaigns launched by Kyiv princes against Constantinople. Famous Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1596—1657) was called “the ruler of Rus’” in official documents and diplomatic correspondence. The "History of the Rus’ People", a work written in Ukraine in the 18th century, underlined the unambiguously Ukrainian nature of Rus’. 

 

The most prominent Ukrainian writer, Taras Shevchenko (1814—1861) never used the word 'Russia' in his works, always referring to Muscovy instead. The Ukrainian language has the artificial word rosiyany ‘Russians’, while the native adjective ruskyi ‘Rus’’ refers to all things connected with the Kyivan medieval state. There are lots of family- and nick-names like Moskvyn, Moskal, Moskaliuk, Moskalenko, etc, in Ukrainian language, and there is no one name like Rosiyanenko, Rosiyaniuk, etc. 

 

TO EPISODE 25

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