Wednesday, 17 January 2018 19:24


Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 17.01.2018 




The word Ukraine (Ukraina) first appeared in a chronicle in 1187. This happened even before the Mongol invasion, which undermines the Muscovite (Russian) imperial storyline about a “common cradle” of Ukraine with the Russian (Muscovite) people. For a long time, Muscovy (Russia) tried to promote the idea that Ukraina was derived from the word okraina “outskirts, borderland”. This was possible because in conditions of censorship, few researchers even read the chronicles.

An entry in the chronicle for 1187 mentions that the Pereyaslav's Prince, Volodymyr Hlibovych, was “mourned by all of Ukraine”. The Pereyaslav Principality was one of the principalities of Rus’ proper (which included the principalities of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Pereyaslav and Novhorod-Siverskyi at the time). 


Much of the Pereyaslav Principality was further situated from the borders of Rus’ than Kyiv itself. Therefore, the word “Ukraine” could not mean the outskirts of the principality. Most important, it would be absurd to assume that the prince was mourned by precisely borderlands rather than the entire principality.


the ukra iconThe Great Prince Sviatoslav II Yaroslavych with his family, life-time illumination from the Izbornik of Sviatoslav, 1073. 

In the year 1189 the chronicle mentions Prince Rostyslav Berladyk, that he came to "Galician Ukraine" (a prince would come to principality to rule it as one entity rather than some of its border regions). The Galician-Volhynian chronicle has the following entry for 1213: "Danylo returned home and traveled with his brother and accepted Berestii, Uhrovesk, Vershchyn, Stolpe, Komov and all of Ukraine". 


Again, this is a reference not to outskirts but to the entire principality of Zabuzhia with the center in Uhrovesk (now a settlement in the village of Novo-uhruzke in Luboml county of Volyn Oblast). 


The chronicles also wrote about Polish princes who, after a military expedition to Galicia and Volhynia, returned "to their Ukraine", i.e. to their own principality.


the ukra coin
Silver coin, minted under Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great in Kyiv, c. 1000 AD 


Furthermore, there was no principality, state or other entity whose outskirts could include Chernihiv Ukraine, Siverskyi Ukraine and, all the more so, Kyiv Ukraine. 


The use of the word Ukraine in the literature from the 12th until the 15th century clearly shows that this term was a synonym for "principality" or "land". The modern Ukrainian word kraina means country. 

Therefore, Ukraine is a more recent name for Rus’, just like France for Gaul and Spain for Iberia. Before the Anglo-Saxon conquest, modern Great Britain was called Britain, then Albion and later England. China changed its name with each subsequent ruling dynasty. Muscovy (Russia) was called the USSR just recently, the Muscovite Kingdom prior to that, and Zalesye and Suzdal in its earliest times. 



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