The Struggle for Ukraine

Part One

The prize: the right bank of the Dnieper with its valuable starosties. - Colonization of the Right Bank by the Cossacks from the 1680s. Palii's methods inimical to the szlachta. - Ivan Mazepa, hetman on the Left Bank, szlachcic and Cossack, loyal to the tsar but denounced as a Pole. - The Cossack colonizer Samus' stands up for the liberties of the Cossacks and the plebs. - The uprising of 1702 and its ring-leaders. - Mazepa's views on how to induce the Republic to enter the war against Sweden. - The attitude of Peter I and Mazepa towards Samus' and Palii who holds Bela Tserkov. - Mazepa turns against Palii. His arrest and banishment (1704). - In the alliance with the Republic against Sweden (1704) the tsar pledges the recovery of Bela Tserkov.- The role of Patkul. - Charles XII predominant in Poland. Leszczyński's hopes of recovering Kiev and Smolensk. - Mazepa holds Bela Tserkov for the Russians. - Discontent among his Cossacks. - Mazepa complains of attempts by the tsar's enemies to suborn him. - The sorry state of his army. Its traditional organization in danger. - Mazepa in touch with the pro-Swedish Poles. - Vasyl' Kochubei lays information against Mazepa who protests his innocence. - His secret agreements with Leszczyński and Charles XII.


Between 1686 and 1714 the right-bank Ukraine was a prize contested at different times and in different combinations by four parties: Poland-Lithuania, Russia, the leaders of the Cossacks, notably Palii and Mazepa, and by the Ottoman Empire. The rich soil of this 'earthly paradise', when adequately populated and not devastated by war or civil strife, produced an abundance of grain, flax, hemp and also tobacco. Saltpetre was extracted for the manufacture of gunpowder; the trees in the forests could be, and eventually were, cut down for masts and construction timber, the bee farms in the clearings supplied honey and wax. Grain was not in this period exported in large quantities but rather used for distilling and brewing or fed to oxen which were driven for sale to Gdansk or Silesia.

To the Ruthenian inhabitants of Ukraine, whether Cossacks or peasants, the political division of their country into the Left Bank of the Dnieper under Russian and the Right Bank (Kiev excepted) under Polish domination made no sense. Many prominent Cossack families who had left their estates on the Right Bank against their will in the 1670s were still expecting to return to them and the population at large was in the habit of crossing the Dnieper in either direction in search of better living conditions. Any Cossack hetman worthy of the name was bound by the tradition of his community to aspire to the reunification of Ukraine. But a Cossack hetman had virtually no standing in international relations and the Russians took the view that however desirable reunification under their aegis might be, it was more important to preserve the treaty of peace and alliance with Poland concluded with such difficulty in 1686 and this meant strict compliance with its terms. Articles 4 and 5 of the treaty, as if foreseeing trouble, had ruled that the co-Tsars Ivan and Peter were not to meddle with or extend their protection to the Cossacks living at Nemirov, Pavoloch and other places and that no support was to be given or protection extended by the tsars or their successors to any subjects of His Polish Majesty in White Russia or on the right bank of the Dnieper to the south of Kiev who had turned disobedient and obstreperous and wanted to become subjects of Their Tsarish Majesties. Any such attempt would not be allowed to cause a war. In addition article 7 stated that the ravaged and deserted places downstream from Staiki as far as Chigirin, including Kanev, Cherkassy and Krylov had been claimed by the delegates of the Tsars but not ceded by the Polish delegation (headed by Krzysztof Grzymułtowski, palatine of Poznan). In the circumstances it was agreed to leave these places in their uninhabited state until the matter could be settled by an appropriate agreement.

The Poles, while no doubt valuing the provisions of articles 4 and 5, disliked article 7 and were not reconciled to the cession of the Left Bank or of Kiev. The Sejm had not ratified the treaty and Grzymułtowski himself soon after its conclusion had expressed the hope that there might be an opportunity to make good the loss. The end of the war with Turkey in 1699, followed on 13 September 1700 by a barely noticed treaty of peace and friendship between Augustus II and the Tatar khan Devlet Giray, conjured up the tempting prospect of a reversal of alliances.

It was on the Right Bank and further inland, in the palatinates of Podolia, Volhynia and Kiev (which retained its name after losing its capital) that lay not only some of the vast private estates owned by members of the most powerful senatorial families in the Republic but also the valuable benefices which they held of the Crown. Only occasionally was a homo novus favoured by the king with a grant of one of these properties. Known as starostwa niegrodowe (non-executive starosties, as it were), they consisted mostly of agricultural land cultivated by peasants living in villages but also comprised small towns and urban settlements. Some of these benefices, consisting likewise of urban seats (grody) and rural property served as remunerative endowments for the holders of the juridical and administrative office of actual, executive starosta (starosta grodowy). Although the tenure of all these benefices was, in law, individual they were, in practice, handed down from one generation to the next or ceded to a relative by assignment. In law the income from the starosties was divided between the tenant and the public purse, the tenant retaining one fifth whereafter one half of the remainder went towards the upkeep of the standing army and the other was held at the disposal of the Crown. Originally only a quarter of the residual income - kwarta - was paid to the army but the term remained in use after the rate was doubled in 1632. In the course of time these proportions changed as the holders of the starosties consistently declared incomes therefrom below their true value so that in the first quarter of the eighteenth century 91 per cent of the total revenue from the benefices on Crown lands went to the tenants, 6.5% to the Crown and only 2.5% to the kwarta chest. According to the standards of 1771 - the date of the fullest table available - an annual payment of 10,000 złotys (said to have kept its value since the earlier part of the century) was the minimum for a benefice to be regarded as highly desirable. Most of those situated in Ukraine paid (in 1771) kwarta well in excess of that amount.

Kanev (Kaniów), on the Dnieper, comprised a small fortified town of that name, some urban settlements and over twenty villages, some of which were situated on the Left Bank. It paid 22,999 złotys in kwarta and was held by the Potockis, in the early years of the eighteenth century by Stefan (d. 1726 or 1727), strażnik wielki koronny (praefectus vigiliarum Regni generalis), a senior staff officer, later palatine of Bełz; Cherkassy (Czerkasy), also on the Dnieper, a fortified town with adjacent land paid 19,982 złotys in kwarta and was likewise held at the relevant time by a Potocki-Piotr (d. 1726). Chigirin (Czehryn), which had been an important fortress until its destruction by the Turks in 1678, was held with the adjacent land by the Jabłonowskis, successively by Stanisław Jan (d. 1702), grand hetman of Poland and Jan Stanisław (1669-1731), palatine of Ruthenia. It paid 17,192 złotys in kwarta. Korsun', on the river Ros' was also held by the Jabłonowskis, successively by Stanisław Jan and Aleksander Jan (ca. 1670-1733). The amount of kwarta paid by this starosty does not appear to be known. Boguslav (Bogusław), also on the Ros', a fortified town with farmland, passed in 1702 from the Jabłonowskis to the Lubomirskis, beginning with the grand hetman of Poland Hieronim (d. 1706) and after him to Jerzy Dominik (ca. 1665-1727), podkomorzy koronny (succamerarius Regni or Chamberlain of Poland), a major dignitary. It paid 33,395 złotys in kwarta. The starosty of Bela Tserkov (Biała Cerkiew), named after the town on the river Ros' consisted of three urban settlements and 144 villages. The most profitable starosty in Poland (as opposed to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania), it paid 63,506 złotys in kwarta. The fortress of Bela Tserkov was regarded, after the loss of Kiev, as the antemurale patriae and propugnaculum Ucrainae. After 1682 it was held by the Jabłonowskis, Stanisław Jan, followed by Jan Stanisław. Yet another preserve of the Jabłonowskis was Zvenigorod (Zwinogródka) with Lysianka. These former Crown lands, though some 15 miles apart were in 1681 reincorporated by royal privilege as a benefice for Aleksander Jan Jabłonowski, chorazy wielki koronny (vexillifer Regni supremus or grand ensign of Poland), a major dignitary who married in 1698 Teofila Sieniawska, a sister of Adam Mikołaj, successively deputy hetman and grand hetman of Poland. The amount of kwarta paid by this starosty does not appear to be known. The starosty of Vinnitsa (Winnica) in western Ukraine on the southern Bug, consisting of a town with a castle and farmland was an executive one; its holder exercised administrative and judicial authority. It paid 15,723 złotys in kwarta; its holder in the early part of the reign of Augustus II was Kazimierz Ignacy Leszczyński (d. 1730), a distant relation of Stanisław. On his appointment as castellan of Lvov in 1724 he became a senator. The starosty of Khmel'nik (Chmielnik) in northern Podolia was held until 1705 by Jakub Potocki (d. 1715); it comprised a castle, a small town and no doubt agricultural land as it paid 24,050 złotys in kwarta. The 'general' or amalgamated starosty of Podolia consisted of the strategically important fortress of Kamenets and the town of Letichev (Latyczów) where the starosta or his deputy dispensed justice in the castle. The starosty paid 11,168 złotys in kwarta and at the beginning of the eighteenth century was held by Marcin Kazimierz Kątski (1636-1710), master of the ordnance of Poland, a homo novus who was succeeded by his son Jan Stanisław (1685-1727). To the south of Letichev lay the town and stronghold of Bar, a starosty granted in 1697 to Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski on whose death in 1702 it passed to Jerzy Dominik Lubomirski. It paid 33,082 złotys in kwarta.

The members of these prominent families, as well as accumulating benefices and holding high office virtually for life, owned hereditary estates, many of which were situated in the south-east. The fortified town and landed estate of Polonnoe (Polonne) in Volhynia belonged to Hieronim Lubomirski, grand hetman of Poland and after him to Jerzy Dominik; the town of Starokonstantinov (Stary Konstantynów), also in Volhynia, to Teofila Lubomirska (d. 1709), widow of Jan, grand marshal of Poland. The town and estate of Uman' (Human) in the palatinate of Bratslav were the property successively of the Potockis, Feliks (d. 1702), deputy hetman of Poland and Stanisław (d. 1732), a minor dignitary. The estate of Illintsi (Illince) which included a small town, again in the palatinate of Bratslav, was the property of the above-mentioned K. I. Leszczyński. The grand hetman of Poland, Adam Sieniawski, who did not hold any starosties in the south-east, owned in Podolia the vast latifundia of Granovshchina (Granowszczyzna) which included Staraia and Novaia Siniava (Stara and Nowa Sieniawa) and Medzhibozh (Miedzybóz). Moszny to the north-west of Cherkassy belonged to the Princes Wiśniowiecki. With so high and permanent a concentration of political and economic power in their hands the magnates could and often did, when it suited them to do so, in the exercise of their official duties put their private interests before loyalty to the King and Republic.

During the revolt associated with the name of Palii and the later disturbances and troop movements most of the places enumerated above saw fighting, some of it heavy, or came under military occupation, or both, suffering renewed damage after they had scarcely recovered from the ravages of the war with the Turks in the 1670s and 80s.

If it is true that the shape of Poland-Lithuania resembled that of a carelessly flung purse with the gold gathered at the bottom of its right-hand corner, this was not so in the era on which Palii and later Mazepa left their mark. The impression created by the list of profitable benefices is misleading. When the damage caused by civil commotion and depopulation in that period is added to the destruction caused by the wars between Russia, Poland-Lithuania, Turkey, the Tatars and the Cossacks in the latter part of the seventeenth century it becomes obvious that the figures for the kwarta cited above could not apply to the first quarter of the eighteenth century, all the more so as the palatinates of Kiev, Bratslav and Podolia were by degrees exempted from the kwarta after 1667 on the grounds of war damage and remained thus until 1764. On the other hand, as land was being brought back under cultivation the profitability of the estates must have increased and the exemption became a hidden subsidy. The three starosties on the Dnieper - Kanev, Cherkassy and Chigirin as well as the private estate of Moshny, being situated in the prohibited zone determined by the treaty of 1686 and known as 'the barrier', were out of the picture altogether until about 1720.

The inaccessibility of the Right Bank and the unrest in Ukraine, for both of which it was natural to blame Russia, inevitably coloured the attitude of the landed interest in the south-east towards the Republic's eastern neighbour. In March 1704 an additional instruction was drawn up for Tomasz Działyński, palatine of Culm, the envoy plenipotentiary charged with negotiating a treaty of alliance with the tsar against Sweden. The addition stated that whilst the estate of Moshny belonging to the Princes Wiśniowiecki was covered by point 1 of the original instruction which enjoined the envoy to demand the Republic's right to occupy and settle places close to the Dnieper such as Kanev, Cherkassy and Chigirin, it was the wish of King Augustus that the envoy should endeavour by all the means at his disposal to obtain the removal of the restriction on cultivation and colonization. The Russians rejected the demand, the chancellor (or foreign secretary) G.A. Golovin pointedly commenting that the request was made on behalf of individuals and not for the benefit of the state. He may or may not have known that Palii's Cossacks had occupied Moshny early in 1704.

For some time now the chief task facing the big landholders of the south-east had been the rehabilitation of their benefices. This could only be done by attracting the hands that were needed to reclaim the land, to plough and sow, to rear the cattle, to tend the apiaries, to put up the farm buildings. Thus very soon after the conclusion of the treaty of Andrusovo in 1686 Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski, starosta of Korsun' (and Boguslav) announced his intention of rescuing his starosty from ruin and declared a complete exemption from all imposts, contributions, taxes and obligatory services for all settlers. As colonizer (osadźca) he appointed the Cossack colonel Samus' (Samiil Ivanovych), from 1693 hetman by royal appointment of the right-bank Cossacks.


The choice was not as strange as might appear. In the last ten years or so of the reign of Sobieski it seemed as if the revival of Cossackdom in the form of regiments settled on unoccupied Crown land would provide a convenient way of meeting three urgent needs of the Republic: the defence of the south-east from the incursions of the Tatars, its use as a base for operations against Turkey and the rehabilitation of right-bank Ukraine. In reality the method chosen by the King and a Republic chronically incapable of paying its troops was a short-term device which recoiled on its originators. The military aim was achieved, the colonels covered themselves with glory in many successful expeditions and encounters but the process of colonization assumed unwieldy proportions and eventually slipped out of the control of the authorities. The colonizers - Andrii Abazyn (d. 1702) around Bratslav, Zakhar Iskra at Korsun', Palii around Fastov (Chwastów), a small town belonging to the Roman Catholic bishops of Kiev, and Samus' at Boguslav - attracted settlers from far and wide, including the Left Bank (where the treatment of peasants had grown harsher of late) and the Zaporozhe. Many of the colonists were drawn by the pretence that the migrants had the king's permission to leave their masters to become free Cossacks. The landowners, deprived of the free services of their peasants, were left to fend for themselves. The king allowed Palii in his capacity as a latter-day crusader to use Fastov as his headquarters. As well as colonizing the surrounding area, from the late 1680s onwards he repeatedly quartered his men on the estates of the szlachta in the northern part of the palatinate of Kiev ((Polesie, Polissia), raising vast quantities of oats, hay, flour, meat, fish, tar, linen, boots, carts and tobacco, as well as cash, on the grounds that the Cossacks, having no other source of sustenance, must live off the land. Palii also used his powers to subject the szlachta to a reign of coercion mitigated only by protection and the dispensation of summary justice. Quite a few landlords who had bones to pick with their neighbours or lived in fear of them were willing to avail themselves of these services. In the south the Cossacks were quartered on Crown lands but this led to disputes over revenue from the benefices between the legal holders and the Cossacks. Before long here too the Cossacks were encroaching on the estates of the local szlachta, overburdening their estates with quartering and victualling and usurping authority over their land as if they had conquered it. The estates would then be settled on Cossack principles, not for profit but for self-sustenance. The peasants who were not registered as Cossacks paid rent into the regimental chest and performed occasional services for the officers but did not owe fixed labour dues. There were no restrictions on the use of land: 'This is Cossackdom, now anyone may sow where he wants, we should not pay any tithe and we don't', ran the saying. No takings from mills or apiaries were handed over. Palii's socio-economic system of anarchic collectivism powered by terror had the appearance of Cossackdom in its pure state and was therefore supposed to be egalitarian but Palii himself held on to his considerable starosty of Romanivka (Romanówka) and granted to one of his officers two corn mills together with the obedience of the local peasantry. Nor was he above piling up a private fortune consisting of a large amount of gold and silver coins and over 80 kg of silver ware.

This was about the only aspect of Palii's conduct that would have commended itself to the intensely acquisitive Ivan Mazepa (ca 1639-1709), hetman on the Left Bank. A votary, with regard to the organization of the Cossacks, of exclusiveness, hierarchy and strict discipline, he was determined to keep Palii on the other side of the water and advised the Russian authorities accordingly. In 1688 Palii had asked the Russians to take Fastov under their protection. The Russians demurred: to do so would be contrary to the terms of the recent Russo-Polish treaty - and suggested by way of compromise that Palii and his men should move to the Zaporozhian Sich and thence to the Left Bank. This remained the Russian position for years although between 1690 and 1694 whenever Palii was squeezed by the Poles, he requested permission to cross with his men to the Left Bank direct. Mazepa proposed instead that he should be allowed to settle in the abandoned area of Tripol'e in the Russian triangle on the Right Bank. This the Russians refused to sanction for fear of upsetting the Poles but they kept Palii well disposed towards themselves by means of gratifications and military supplies sent in secret. The Poles, having long been suspicious of Palii's dealings with Mazepa and the Russians, had him arrested in 1689 but released him after a year. Between 1691 and 1694 Palii's ill-treatment of the szlachta in the areas occupied by his troops brought him into open conflict with the Republic; in 1692 a representative of the szlachta complained that he was pretending to territory right up to the river Sluch. Nevertheless Palii continued intermittently to fight the Tatars, often in cooperation with Mazepa.

In 1694 Mazepa once more stated his view: Palii should be accommodated on Russian territory, otherwise he will summon the Tatars to his aid and harry first the Poles and next the Left Bank. Beware of another Khmel'nyts'kyi. For the first time Mazepa asked the leading question: how was Palii to be handled? - and gave the oblique answer: it was easier to stamp on a small spark than to have to put out a blaze. Mazepa feared Palii as both a trouble-maker and a potential rival. In the same year, however, Palii reached an understanding with the Republic as to pay for his regiment, its quarters at Fastov and his continued possession of the starosty of Romanivka. Thereafter he fought successfully against the Turks in cooperation, as before, with the Cossacks under the command of Mazepa.

Mazepa's own position was insecure and in constant need of underpinning. He was to some extent the creature of the favourite of the then regent the Tsarevna Sophia Alekseevna, Prince Vasilii Vasilievich Golitsyn, to whom he had paid ten thousand roubles for having supported his election to the office of hetman in 1687. In article 7 of the act of election Mazepa swore not to meddle in the affairs of the areas recently ceded to Poland and not to cause any infringement of the peace treaty. After the overthrow of Sophia and Golitsyn by the young Tsar Peter, Mazepa explained himself by making out that Golitsyn had extorted the money from him and assured the tsar of his utmost loyalty. The tsar accepted the explanation together with Mazepa's presents: a gold cross studded with precious stones and a sabre in an ornamental scabbard for himself, ten arshins (about seven metres) of gold brocade for his mother, the Tsaritsa Nataliia Kirillovna and a gold necklace with diamonds for his wife, Evdokiia Feodorovna. During his stay in Moscow on the same occasion Mazepa succeeded in persuading the Russians to regulate the procedure for the granting of land on the Left Bank. From now on this was to be done by the tsar only on the strength of letters patent previously issued by the hetman. Estates granted earlier by Mazepa to some senior Cossacks were now declared hereditary and more names were added to the list of recipients. In this way the foundations were laid for private landownership and the nucleus of a nobility was formed. Mazepa's position was greatly strengthened by this form of patronage. For this Ruthenian szlachcic the contrasting ethea, in Kostomarov's parlance, of shliakhetstvo and kozachestvo, were just as compatible as they had been to the makers of the abortive union of Hadiach (1658). In accordance with their recommendation the Sejm of 1659 approved the granting of arms to several hundred Cossacks nominated by the hetman. The resolution appears to have remained a dead letter, like the rest of the agreement of Hadiach but at least seven prominent Cossacks were admitted to the szlachta to the same Sejm. More such admissions followed. But in 1682 the szlachta of the palatinate of Kiev demanded that all nobles thus created be degraded because they had not been elevated on grounds of merit.

In earlier days Mazepa had changed sides ahead of events. The former page of King John Casimir had abandoned the Poles for their sworn enemy, the Cossack hetman Doroshenko, only to leave him as soon as his position became shaky and left his next patron, Samoilovych, in order to replace him. Mazepa may have managed to win the confidence of the tsar but some members of the Golitsyn family were eager to compromise him. Letters forged to their order in 1689 and followed by others from the pen of the original forger were addressed to King John III and to the Orthodox bishop of Lvov, Galich and Kamenets (but a crypto-Uniate), Iosyf (Shumlians'kyi). The letter to the king complained of the Cossacks being under the heel of the Russians, expressed Mazepa's desire for the reunification of the left-bank Ukraine with the Republic, undertook to put the Cossacks in the same frame of mind, requested the king's protection and declared that the support of the Tatars was assured. There is an element of truth in the latter assertion because according to Mazepa's own testimony of October 1705 he did at the time receive from the khan of the Crimean Tatars, Selim Giray, a proposal for joint action against Muscovy which he rejected. It is not out of the question that Mazepa, disappointed by the failure of the recent expedition against the Tatars, may have indulged in some wishful thinking aloud along those lines but it is most unlikely that he would have been careless enough to put in writing proposals which, if acted upon, would have committed the Republic to a separate peace or a truce with Turkey and war with Russia. The plot of 1689 was uncovered in 1692 but as it had been preceded in 1688 by a delation and followed in 1691 by a rumour, both accusing Mazepa of secret intelligence with the Poles. The aura of suspicion clung to him and was not dispelled by his loyal conduct, the delations continued. In 1697 Mazepa was again branded by an informer as being not a Russian but a Liakh, more strongly inclined towards Poland than towards Russia and scheming for the return of the Left Bank to Polish rule. In 1699 one Danylo Zabela, a Cossack, was punished with a long term of imprisonment for having accused the hetman behind his back of associating with the Poles and intending to abandon the tsar.

In the latter part of the war with Turkey Mazepa and his men deserved well of the tsar. In 1695, during Peter I's first expedition against Azov, Mazepa attacked Turkish strongholds on the lower Dnieper, in 1696 the Cossacks (without Mazepa who was engaged in keeping the Tatars out of the Left Bank) took part in the siege and capture of Azov, in 1697 he helped to repulse the Turko-Tatar assault on the island stronghold of Tavansk (Mustrit-Kermen) on the Dnieper; in 1698 an unsuccessful joint Russian and Cossack expedition undertaken with the aim of capturing Ochakov ended in a withdrawal to Tavansk. Except for the last occasion the Cossacks were each time generously rewarded by the tsar with presents of money, fine fabrics and sable pelts. But Mazepa was not satisfied. In 1698 he counted the cost of the Cossack participation in the war over the past twelve years - eleven summer and ten winter campaigns - and arrived at a negative balance: it was not difficult to judge what hardships, losses and damage the Cossacks and the whole of Little Russia had suffered in consequence. The tsar's rewards to Palii and his men who were fighting in the same cause (when they were not colonizing or victualling) were more modest. Between 1688 and 1703 a mere 8000 roubles' worth of money, fine fabrics and sable pelts were conveyed, possibly at the instance of Mazepa, certainly not without his knowledge, and distributed in secret so as not to expose the tsar to a charge of incitement to sedition.

So formidable was Palii's military strength and so great his prestige that his support was sought by the various interest groups operating in the Republic in the interregnum between the death of Sobieski and the election of Augustus II. But Tsar Peter, at the request of the adherents of Augustus, instructed Mazepa to prevent Palii from interfering in the political intrigues of the Poles. In 1697 Palii's renewed encroachments on the estates of the szlachta provoked a resolution of the Sejm that the palatinates of Kiev and Bratslav no longer remain in oppressione by the Cossacks; the Sejm of 1699 ordered the disbandment and winding up of the Cossack militia. Palii, however, had no intention of giving up Fastov and was said to have declared that he had settled in 'a free Cossack Ukraine which was no concern of the Republic's but only his, Palii's, as a true Cossack and hetman of his people'.

At the turn of the century Palii continued to benefit from the political confusion in Poland-Lithuania. Intending to use him for their own and mutually opposed ends both Augustus II and the grand hetman of Poland, Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski, wanted Palii's regiment to be reprieved. But finally, yielding to the demands of the Sejm of 1701, the king in January 1702 ordered Palii to discharge his men. Next it was the turn of Samus', the hetman by royal appointment. In July, Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski having died, Stanisław Karol, the new starosta of Boguslav who was also a high military office-holder of the Republic (obozny koronny, castrorum Regni praefectus generalis or quartermaster general) until his death in the same year, ordered him to hand over the insignia of his office and some artillery pieces. Samus' refused and from this moment the sporadic rioting which had broken out in June began to assume the proportions of an insurrection. A contemporary source perceptively named as the occasion for the outbreak of the revolt the [persecution of the] schismatic i.e. the Orthodox religion and the heavy exactions piled by the lords on their subjects: poll-taxes, imposts on apiaries, etc., and collected more rigorously after peace had been made with the Porte, even, according to Samus', from newly arrived colonists of whom labour services were not demanded. Samus' also complained that the Cossacks had been ordered to leave the quarters previously assigned to them. Later, in an address to the community of Bela Tserkov, he specifically mentioned the demands made by the Jabłonowskis, two thalers per ox and a higher impost on apiaries. Samus' may well have known that that energetic colonizer, the late Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski, who had commissioned him on the conclusion of the peace with Russia in 1686 to colonize the starosty of Boguslav, had also, early in 1699, very soon after the conclusion of the peace with Turkey, set out to recolonize the starosty of Chigirin but had been obliged to call off the action in compliance with a protest from Moscow: Chigirin lay in the prohibited zone.

Samus' had spoken earlier and in a different context of the despair of the common people and of their readiness to die for the Christian faith in the service and under the mighty rule of the Tsar. Soon afterwards he reported that all the Ukrainian communities had taken an oath accordingly and were preparing to serve His Most Serene Majesty. The Liakh officials, the lords and the Jews had been driven out to a man. In a message sent to a group of senior Cossacks Samus' spoke of his intention to 'defend the Cossacks' liberties and the entire Ukrainian people from the Poles, as was done in the past, so that now the contemptible Liakhs shall withdraw from our Ukrainian patrimony and never again infest Ukraine'. Utterances in the same vein were recorded in official documents at various times during the whole period of unrest connected with the name of Palii. Thus: 'I and my men are old hands at killing and drowning Liakhs, as you will soon see' (the mayor of Ovruch, 1684); 'Drive out the Liakhs', 'Send them across the Vistula' (Anon., somewhat later); 'Bash the Liakhs, don't let them come here to judge us, we have our Cossack courts (Anon., the interregnum 1696-1697); 'I am accustomed to shedding Catholic, szlachta blood' (Anon., 1703). The key note had been struck in a duma composed to celebrate the early victories of Khmel'nyts'kyi about the middle of the seventeenth century: no place was better, none more beautiful, than 'our Ukraine' without the Polish lords and the Jews and soon too to be rid of the [ecclesiastical] Union. These scattered utterances, when added to the declaration made by Samus', amount to a fairly coherent socio-political programme and make it clear that the long-standing struggle between the szlachta, headed by the magnates, and the Cossacks was one for the control over, and the utilization of, land and labour in Ukraine. The political wish to submit the Right Bank to the rule of the tsar is clearly to be seen throughout this study, the repercussions of the religious sentiments require separate treatment.

The outbreak of the rising in the summer of 1702 was well timed. Charles XII had just entered Warsaw, the Sapiehas, still the most powerful family of magnates in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania declared for the Swedish king and many Poles were inclined to do likewise. After the storming of Boguslav by Samus' and Iskra the unrest spread to the palatinates of Kiev, Bratslav, Podolia and Volhynia. Skirmishes, pitched battles, sieges and raids on private estates occurred at various times and in many places in a quadrangular area marked in the north-west by Ianov (now Dolyna, due south of Terebovlia), in the south-west by Iagorlyk, in the north-east by Korostyshev, in the south-east by Korsun', and bisected by the southern Bug. The highest number of insurgents is put at 12,000, the strength of the Polish punitive expedition at 7000. The army assembled at the end of 1702 by the then hetman deputy of Poland, Adam Sieniawski, for the defence of the vested interests of its commanders included units sent by the grand hetman, Hieronim Lubomirski and was joined by contingents from the private militias of Jan Stanisław Jabłonowski, Jerzy Aleksander and Jerzy Dominik Lubomirski, Józef Potocki, palatine of Kiev, Jakub Potocki, starosta of Khmel'nik, and Jan Kazimierz Wielhorski, castellan of Volhynia and therefore a minor senator. Wielhorski does not appear to have held any starosties in the south-east but his estate of Choroszkowice (Khoroshkovychi) had been attacked by the rebels and he contributed some troops of his own. The Lithuanians were not directly affected by the revolt but as it had created a national emergency the grand hetman of Lithuania sent some units under the command of the castellan of Vilno, Janusz Antoni Wiśniowiecki who also brought 120 horse of his own for the upkeep of which he imposed a special tax on his peasant subjects in Volhynia. Further units were sent by the deputy hetman of Lithuania, Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki and by the grand chancellor of Lithuania, Karol Stanisław Radziwiłł. The Wiśniowieckis, it will be remembered, had a claim to a family estate in Ukraine, Moshny near Chigirin.

The ring-leaders of the movement were: Palii (between September 1702 and August 1704), his stepson Semashko and the erstwhile colonizers: Abazyn, Iskra and Samus'. Prevented by illness and inhibited by caution from openly leading the Cossack insurrection from the beginning, Palii caught up with it in September and laid siege to Bela Tserkov which surrendered on 21 November 1702. A massacre of the local szlachta and Jews followed. Palii requested the Russians to make Bela Tserkov their protectorate. This they refused to do, no doubt for fear of offending Mazepa as well as the Poles.

The movement, essentially one of Cossacks and peasants, also attracted other aggrieved social groups and individuals - townspeople, members of the petty szlachta, a scattering of Orthodox monks and clergy. The Greek faith and Ruthenian nationality were common to the vast majority of the insurgents. Their guiding intellect may have been Daniel Bratkowski (Danylo Bratkows'kyi), poet, public servant and defender of the religious rights of the Orthodox community. He was executed for his participation in the rebellion in 1702. Partially suppressed by the Poles with wanton cruelty by means of their operations in the palatinates of Podolia and Bratslav in the early months of 1703, the uprising flared up again in 1705 in the shape of popular riots. In 1711 there was a mass occupation by roving bands of Cossacks of private estates of the szlachta in the palatinate of Kiev and in 1712 there were sporadic Cossack uprisings. The total movement caused untold damage, misery and loss of life; in its early stages, when Palii was its driving force, it helped Russia to press the Republic into a formal alliance against Sweden.

As a condition for coming into the war the Poles were demanding small territorial concessions on both banks of the Dnieper and the removal of the prohibition from colonizing the 'barrier' on the Right Bank. Mazepa's views on the advisability of meeting these demands or making promises which need not later be kept were sought through Boris Mikhailov, a d'iak (secretary) in the department of foreign affairs. In March and April 1702 he held two meetings with the hetman. To Mikhailov's questions Mazepa replied that Tripol'e, Staiki and Trakhtemyriv (the last-named actually did not form part of the Russian territorial triangle on the Right Bank) could be retroceded but that in the territory held by the Cossack regiment of Starodub on the Left Bank no concessions should be made. With regard to the 'barrier' Mazepa's oblique reply implied that he regarded recolonization as being tantamount to restitution. This was unacceptable because Kiev would then be 'in great danger', the Right Bank would be repopulated by migrants from the Left Bank; the Zaporozhian Cossacks too would gravitate towards the Right Bank where an alternative Cossack régime would be established, giving rise to unrest and difficulties on the Left Bank. It became clear soon afterwards that Mazepa did not want to see the establishment of such a régime in any circumstances for fear that it would weaken his authority on the Left Bank. At the next meeting Mazepa took the opportunity offered by the subject of the proposed conditions for an alliance with Poland to say what he thought of the Poles and to show his knowledge of Polish (and Lithuanian) affairs. The Poles had failed to ratify the treaty of 1686, had in breach [of article 9] of that treaty, taken many churches away from the Orthodox and given them to the Uniates; King Augustus (in his capacity as Elector) had sent the Russians to besiege Narva but had himself abandoned the siege of Riga. The Poles were dangerous partners and must be treated as such, the 'chroniclers' had said that 'as long as the world lasts, Pole and Russ will never be brothers' and had been proved right every time. The places on the Dnieper should not be ceded until the Republic had ratified the treaty of permanent peace and published the act of ratification. As it was necessary to be friends with the Poles the appropriate treaty should be made with the chief Polish senators, the primate (Michał Radziejowski), the grand hetman of Poland (S. J. Jabłonowski) and with the Lubomirskis 'who govern the Republic, hold the important offices of state and own land on the Right Bank, including the places in question' (which was not the case). Mikhailov assured Mazepa that nothing would be done without his approval, the hetman for his part declared that he put his faith in the graciousness of the tsar and thought of only one thing: how to carry our his orders with the utmost zeal.

According to the pseudo-Otwinowski, Mazepa's secret thinking ran along different lines. While Stanisław Jabłonowski was advising the Republic not to enter the war against Sweden on the side of the tsar but rather to mediate between the two parties or offer a guarantee of security to Sweden, the khan of the Crimean Tatars and Mazepa 'who as a Polish szlachcic was adictissimus to us' had entered into secret cointelligence and practices against Muscovy. The khan, Devlet Giray, was deposed at the end of the year for intriguing against the Russians and there no doubt the conspiracy, if ever there was one, ended.

Earlier in the year, on hearing of the uprising of Samus', Mazepa expressed the view that it was not contrary to the tsar's interests because the Poles, on seeing that the people of Little Russia would not live under their yoke, would give up their claim to Kiev and the Left Bank. He accordingly, in secret, sent Samus' some supplies. Mazepa also wondered whether Samus', being a man of no education, would have undertaken such a task single-handed. Perhaps Augustus II had prompted him to rise against the Jabłonowskis who were the king's enemies? Mazepa then asked Palii in a letter whether Samus' had acted on Palii's advice or with his knowledge? Palii replied that only the latter was the case which Mazepa took to mean that Palii was the instigator. Some sections of Polish opinion went further and accused the king or the tsar or both monarchs of having incited Palii to rebellion but there is neither proof nor genuine justification for such charges. As regards the tsar, the circumstantial evidence suggests that he connived at the seditious conduct of his secret subsidiary. He did not after the end of the war with Turkey stop Palii's annual allowance and presents or later forbid him and his associates to sign themselves 'Colonel of His Tsarish Majesty'.

It was not until February 1703 that at the request of Augustus II the tsar addressed a note to Palii in which he instructed him and Samus' to refrain from committing hostile acts against 'Our ally, His Royal Majesty' but rather to act against the common enemy, the Swede. So delicate was the subject of the formidable Palii that the two monarchs exchanged views about him by messenger rather than in writing. The annual consignment of allowances and presents from the tsar which was despatched nevertheless in the spring of 1703 after the abortive suppression of the rising by the Poles, was stopped by Mazepa.

The tsar's double dealing with Palii as well as with the Poles at this stage is perhaps best explained by his desire to keep Palii and his men in reserve for the war with Sweden and to be seen to be observing the terms of the treaty of 1686. In the long term Peter I wanted Bela Tserkov for Russia, in the short term he yielded to Mazepa's importunities, sacrificed Palii and made Mazepa his catspaw on the Right Bank.

In February 1703, rather than allow his rival, Palii, to hand over Bela Tserkov to the grand hetman of Poland (since 22 May 1702), Hieronim Lubomirski, while keeping Fastov for himself, as he seemed at one point inclined to do, Mazepa was proposing to the Russians to arrest Palii (as well as Samus' and Iskra) for if Palii was allowed to stay in Bela Tserkov he might be able to manipulate the Poles for his own ends and carry the war into the Left Bank. At the same time an agitator named Stefan, placed by Mazepa in Bela Tserkov, was stirring up Palii and the Cossacks against the Poles and making their conduct increasingly invidious. In October or thereabouts Mazepa was summoned to the Kremlin for consultations on the subject of Bela Tserkov. Before leaving Moscow he made a prolix and tortuous statement about the situation in Ukraine. The Poles, he suggested, might elect Prince Alexander Sobieski (a son of John III), to be their king in place of Augustus II and thereafter attack the tsar in Ukraine. The Zaporozhians, a free but stupid and inconstant people, might yield to the blandishments of the Poles and join them. But even in the regimental Cossack communities on the Left Bank he could not discern any genuine fidelity and sincere good will towards the tsar and hinted at the possibility of a rebellion of an untamed and simple people, a movement which it would be difficult to quell by the sheer use of force. As for the Poles, they were a rabid and insincere lot, full of hatred and malice, constantly denigrating him and accusing him of complicity with the Sapieha family (in Lithuania) who were partisans of the Swedes. The Poles would ask the tsar for Mazepa's head on account of the revolt of Palii and Samus' with which he had had nothing to do. His Tsarish Majesty should pay no attention to informers but rather instruct Mazepa how to deal with Palii and Samus' - gently or otherwise?

Early in 1704 it was reported that during Mazepa's absence some 10,000 Cossacks had crossed the Dnieper and pitched camp not far from Kiev. This was the first sign of the help against the Swedes and their Polish adherents that the Polish commanders had requested of Mazepa early in 1703 and that he agreed to give, provided he received a formal request from the King and Republic approved by the tsar. It must have been on his return from Moscow that Mazepa refused a request from Samus' and Iskra to pass under his command and declined to accept from Samus' the insignia of his office as hetman on the Right Bank as this, Mazepa argued, would contravene the treaty of permanent peace with the Republic. He advised the Cossack leaders to keep the peace and not to provoke the Poles. Soon afterwards he informed Golovin in three successive reports that Palii, suborned by the Lubomirskis, Hieronim and Jerzy Dominik, with presents and promised of high office, intended to submit himself to the Poles. Palii was no longer loyal to Russia and had also told Mazepa's emissary that he would rather be dragged out by his feet than hand over Bela Tserkov to anyone. This colourful phrase was preceded by a cry of protest: how could he, Mazepa, be expected not to be on friendly terms with the Liakhs and lean towards them when the tsar and the hetman were instructing him to live in peace with the Liakhs and to hand Bela Tserkov over to them? But Palii was consorting with the wrong Poles; at the critical time, between March and October 1704 Hieronim and Jerzy Dominik Lubomirski had, albeit temporarily, abandoned Augustus II for Leszczyński.

In April 1704 Golovin allowed Mazepa either to induce Palii to go to Moscow or, if proof of his disloyalty could be obtained, to have him arrested and replace him with someone who would be no less opposed to the Poles. Mazepa overlooked this last point and after an interval asked whether, having taken the fortress from Palii, he should hand it over to the King of Poland or hold on to it pending further instructions from the tsar? Meanwhile Palii had not changed his ways. Bands of his followers were still engaged in plunder and bloodshed and, according to a statement made by Samus', Palii had put himself under the protection of the Lubomirskis: only they were able to give the necessary help to the Cossacks as the tsar was far away, the King of Poland without resources and the Swedes would soon be before Kiev. By that time Mazepa and his troops (as well as a Russian corps under Prince Dmitrii M. Golitsyn) had crossed over to the Right Bank but only Mazepa was under orders to act against the Polish adherents of the Swedes. Palii had joined Mazepa in his camp but was drinking heavily day and night and inventing excuses for not acting against the Lubomirskis. Samus' had in the end handed over the insignia of his office as hetman to Mazepa, thus investing him with full authority over the Cossacks on the Right Bank. Having discovered or trumped up the evidence for Palii's complicity with the Lubomirskis, Mazepa had him put under arrest on 11 August and later sent to Baturyn. From there he was transported to Moscow and thence, in the following year by order of the tsar, to Siberia. The winner of the first round of the contest for Ukraine was Mazepa but, as will be seen, he was not his own master.


The connexion which had recently developed between the events in Ukraine and those in the North did not result from any logic inherent in the progress of the northern war but was due to the renewed activities of the Livonian patriot-rebel and diplomatic 'projector', J. R. Patkul who, in the words of J. S. Jabłonowski, had, in 1700, 'set the whole of the North ablaze'. Patkul had entered the service of the tsar in 1702 and from 1703 had been labouring to complete his plan for the destruction of Sweden by bringing about an alliance between the Republic under the sceptre of King Augustus and the tsar. By the agency of Patkul, in July 1703, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania made a treaty of alliance with Russia and accepted the protection of Tsar Peter. On his way from Vienna to Moscow early in 1703 Patkul had stopped at Bela Tserkov and, acting without authority from the tsar, improvised a démarche which caused Sieniawski to give up his intention of attacking Bela Tserkov in the belief that Palii would give it up voluntarily and take part in the war with Sweden. Still acting on his own initiative, having elicited from Sieniawski a declaration apparently recommending mediation by the tsar between Palii and the Poles, he made the return of the fortress to the Republic a consideration for the conclusion of an alliance against Sweden. Hieronim Lubomirski, on hearing of Sieniawski's declaration (the text of which is not extant), accused the tsar of extortion and saw any settlement with the Cossacks guaranteed by him as an impairment of Polish suzerainty over right-bank Ukraine.

Under the terms of the alliance between the Republic and Russia, also prepared by Patkul and made at Narva on 30 August 1704, the Poles obtained the tsar's undertaking, in view of their acknowledged inability to bring Palii to heel, to prevail on him to restore to the Republic the fortresses and places occupied during the recent troubles in Ukraine. Article 4 of the treaty of alliance referred to him as a disobedient subject of the Republic and provided the legal ground for his removal from Bela Tserkov. But Golovin had authorized Mazepa to have Palii detained long before the treaty was signed so that the Russian plenipotentiaries must have been negotiating in the knowledge that action had been taken which would enable them to leave the Poles empty-handed. In May some of the auxiliary Russian troops which had been sent to reinforce Augustus II entered Bela Tserkov. The tsar rewarded Patkul with 10,000 rix-dollars for his work behind the scenes. A Polish contemporary, looking back on the events in Ukraine somewhat later, when the Right Bank was under Russian military government, observed bitterly that 'Patkul who deprived us of peace with Sweden has also deprived us of Ukraine'.

As Charles XII marched eastwards towards Lithuania, his armies coerced the szlachta into declaring for his protégé, Stanisław Leszczyński. The Swedish soldiery's ruthless recourse to fire and rapine, added to the imposition of contributions, the king of Sweden's temporary mastery over Poland from the middle of 1706 and the abdication of Augustus II in favour of Leszczyński later in the year, prompted a number of notables to rally to the cause of Leszczyński as a means of protecting their property as well as gaining promotion to high office. The landed interest in the south-east was represented by some familiar figures: two Jabłonowskis - Leszczyński's uncle Jan Stanisław palatine of Ruthenia and, intermittently, Aleksander Jan; two Lubomirskis - Jerzy Aleksander and Jerzy Dominik; two Potockis: Józef (whom Stanisław appointed grand hetman of Poland in 1707) and Michał, later palatine of Volhynia, both tenants of substantial benefices in Podolia; Janusz Antoni Wiśniowiecki (1678-1741), castellan of Vilno and starosta of Kremenets in Volhynia and Michał Serwacy, grand hetman of Lithuania and lord of Wiśniowiec (Vishnivets) and Zbarazh who ended up as a prisoner of the tsar. But the confederacy of Sandomierz held together and the expectations of the turncoats were disappointed. With Charles XII and Leszczyński in Saxony and the Russians still in the Republic, Ukraine was oppressed not by Swedish but by Russian troops and the estates of the partisans of Stanisław were laid waste by Mazepa's Cossacks. These changed circumstances, however, did not necessarily dispose the magnates well towards the Russians: a victorious tsar might detach some south-eastern provinces from the Republic for good, whereas Charles XII, if he defeated the tsar, might reward the Poles for their support with the restitution of Kiev and Smolensk. In September 1707 he struck tents in Saxony and set out for Poland.

In 1704, before his coronation, Leszczyński had suggested to Charles XII that, having conquered Kiev and Smolensk (with the surrounding territories), he should make a gift of these provinces to the Republic on the understanding that the recipient would hand them over to Leszczyński for life. In return Sweden would receive the Polish segment of Livonia and also Courland. Provision for this transaction would be made in the secret articles of the treaty to be concluded between Charles XII and the confederates of Warsaw. A private and personal alliance of this kind (having become a public secret?) would greatly enhance Leszczyński's credit and form the basis of other advantageous associations with neighbouring rulers and also calm the minds of the inhabitants of 'this country', Mazepa and others, who still seemed to have doubts about the support which the king had deigned to give Stanisław. The king ignored these suggestions but later, in putting out feelers towards Mazepa, the sanguine Stanisław would act as if Charles had nodded agreement.

After Russian troops had entered Bela Tserkov in May 1704 Mazepa made it his headquarters whereupon began the prolonged wrangle between the Russians and the Poles over the restitution of the fortress. Mazepa had no great difficulty in convincing Tsar Peter that it was both undesirable and impracticable to hand over Bela Tserkov or the strong points in the 'barrier' - Kanev, Cherkassy, Chigirin - which the Russians had occupied. Repeated Polish demands for the return of Bela Tserkov were ignored or evaded and by the beginning of 1707 prevarication on the part of the Russians had turned to naked deception. In September in a letter to Mazepa the tsar stated the reasons for which he now insisted on not yielding to the demands of the Poles (including the withdrawal of Russian troops from Polonnoe, the fortified place and landed estate belonging to J. D. Lubomirski): all communication with Russia's friends in Moldavia and Wallachia would be broken off; after the end of the war with Sweden the tsar would wish to resume the war with Turkey but the Poles would not allow his troops to cross Ukraine towards Wallachia; the Poles might conspire [against him] with the Turks and the Tatars. If necessary Mazepa was to disavow the validity of a letter from the tsar ordering him to return Bela Tserkov. In October Peter I himself put an end to the charade of giving empty assurances to the Poles who, he wrote, 'for all their foolishness knew perfectly well that they were being deceived'. About the middle of 1707 Prince Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki, grand hetman of Lithuania, whom the tsar had for some time suspected of intelligence with the Swedes, changed sides and in a manifesto denounced Peter I as an expansionist oppressor. The desertion of Wiśniowiecki provided the tsar with a plausible excuse for going back on his word. Only in the middle of 1708, as the Swedish invasion was in the offing, did the tsar agree to Mazepa's handing over Bela Tserkov with the surrounding district without which the fortress had no strategic value. But by that time the hetman himself was about to desert Peter I and soon to vanish from the Ukrainian political scene.

The Cossack regiments had been on active service against the Swedes from the end of 1700. Skilled and experienced in fighting the Tatars and the Turks or the Poles, the Cossacks were out of their element in the northern climate and terrain and also suffered from a shortage of supplies. Low morale led to desertions. In 1701 they fought successfully in Livonia but complained of being snubbed by the Russians and deprived of their share of the booty. Neither in these operations nor again in Lithuania in the summer of 1702 did Mazepa personally lead his troops but as supreme commander of the Cossacks he was persona gratissima in Moscow. During his stay there in the winter of 1702-3 he received a large grant of land and valuable presents. In Warsaw he was highly regarded. In the autumn of 1703 Augustus II had conferred on him the order of the White Eagle two years before it was officially instituted (Tsar Peter had decorated him with the order of St Andrew in 1700). The motto of the Polish order, 'Pro Rege, Fide et Lege', was directed against the king's enemies in Leszczyński's camp - allies of the heretical Swedes and guilty of lèse-majesté. In crossing over to the Right Bank in the summer of 1704 to strike at King Augustus's enemies, Mazepa did what had been expected of him for some time and in 1705 he did his benefactors the same service. But the discontent of the Cossacks did not abate. In the autumn of 1704 a Cossack regiment which had been sent to fight the Swedes in Poland alongside of the Russians turned back without having obtained the hetman's permission. The principal reason for this breach of discipline, apart from the effects of cold and hunger, was ill-treatment of the Cossacks by Patkul as general officer commanding the Russian auxiliary corps. Patkul took away the Cossacks' horses and had the pedestrianized warriors drilled as foot soldiers in German; those who disobeyed were beaten with cudgels. In 1705 Cossacks were used as hands in the building of St Petersburg; they suffered severe hardship which many did not survive. On 12 July 1704, a few weeks after Mazepa's appearance on the Right Bank, Leszczyński was elected counter-king by his supporters acting under orders from Charles XII. On 3 October 1705 Stanisław and his wife, Katarzyna Opalinska, were crowned; it was only natural that the newly anointed king should try to placate or, better still, to win over, the perplexed Mazepa. Later in the same month the hetman had occasion to unburden himself to his liege lord. In a letter addressed to Tsar Peter, Mazepa complained that he had been four times tempted, not so much by the devil as by hostile ill-wishers, intent on subverting his loyalty to His Majesty and wresting him from Russian suzerainty; first by the late John III Sobieski through 'seductive' letters transmitted by a certain Domaradzki [in 1689], next by the khan of the Crimean Tatars, Selim Giray, when the Russians and the Cossacks were returning from their ill-fated expedition against the Crimea in 1689, and after that at an unspecified date by a group of sectarian ('Old Ritualist') Don Cossacks in collusion with the Tatar khan. It is clear that these 'temptations' do not tally with the delations mentioned earlier. Apart from that the letter or letters brought by Domaradzki purported to come not from the king but from the bishop of Lvov, Iosyf (Shumlians'kyi). On the fourth and very recent occasion which prompted Mazepa to put pen to paper, one Franciszek Wolski, a szlachcic, had been sent by Stanisław Leszczyński and Charles XII's chancellor, Count Carl Piper, to incline Mazepa towards themselves with their intrigues and perfidious promises. Mazepa concluded his confession by declaring his humble devotion to His Majesty which the cunning endeavours of the tsar's enemies could do nothing to weaken.

Stanisław's instructions of September 1705 for Wolski make it clear that from the outset the Polish anti-king promised to obtain from Charles XII a guarantee to the effect that the agreement to be made between Stanisław and Mazepa would be included in a future peace treaty between Sweden and Muscovy. It is doubtful whether historical precedent played any part in the conclusion of the subsequent treaties between Charles XII and Mazepa which were dictated by the strategic circumstances prevailing at the time. But later, in one of his manifestoes, Mazepa in justifying his decision to seek the protection of Charles XII, pointed out that Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi of precious memory, after he had freed himself from Polish domination did not only hurl against the Poles the Ottoman infidels (i.e. the Tatars) in making them his allies, but also sought help from His Majesty, the King of Sweden, the ancestor of the present king, and was always his ally. Mazepa liked to believe that by making a compact with the Swedes he was stepping outside the fatal circle formed by Muscovy, Poland-Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire. Charles XII for his part in his 'public diploma' of protection for Filip Orlik and the Cossacks under his command (of May 1710) declared that his wish for the well-being and freedom of the illustrious Ruthenian people was as strong as that of his royal predecessor had been.

If Mazepa expected to gain some credit with Peter I for his openness and fulsome protestations of pillar-like uprightness and adamantine loyalty, he was mistaken. The tsar told the hetman tetchily (in writing) not to confuse diabolical temptation with criminal fabrications and to attend to his military duties. In November 1705 the marquis de Dangeau noted in his diary some news from Poland: 'General Mazepa who commands the Cossacks has pulled out; there can be no doubt that he has come to an understanding with the King of Sweden.' This entry may well have been an echo of an earlier report to the effect that Leszczyński had sent to Mazepa a Dominican monk who was to dangle before him the offer of a large sum of money and the next vacant office of palatine. But Leszczyński's later assertion that he had been 'working with Mazepa' since 1703 looks like a lapse of memory.

In the spring of 1706, in the defensive operations against the Swedes in Lithuania and White Russia, the Cossacks were defeated with heavy losses at Nesvizh and Liakhovichi. The hetman described the state of his fragmented army as lamentable-weary, short of horses, hungry and ragged. In the summer the Cossacks were used, to their great annoyance, as labourers in the construction of fortifications at Kiev and their hetman was temporarily placed under the command of the generalissimo in the region and the tsar's favourite, Prince Aleksandr D. Menshikov. Probably about this time the hetman was heard (admittedly by a personal enemy, Vasyl' Kochubei) to say that the hetmans (1654-1659) Vyhovs'kyi and (1663-1668) Ivan Briukhovets'kyi had done well to abandon the Muscovites but had been let down by their own side.

After the abdication of Augustus II in favour of Leszczyński in September 1706 the relations between Mazepa and the tsar appeared to be as cordial as ever but the hetman was growing suspicious even of Peter's favours. He believed that the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire which the tsar was endeavouring to secure for him in Vienna was only a way of buying his consent to a change in the form of government in Ukraine. The Emperor Joseph I complied with the tsar's request in the summer of 1707 but it would appear that the appropriate diploma was never sent out. By that time, however, the tsar and the hetman were no longer on good terms. In April, at the council of war held at Zholkva, the two men had exchanged angry words. When the prospect was discussed of an advance by Stanisław into Ukraine (in parallel with a march on Moscow led by Charles XII) the tsar told Mazepa that he could not spare even ten men to defend the Right Bank. Soon afterwards Mazepa, to his dismay, received an order from the tsar which, if carried out, would have resulted in turning a fixed proportion of Cossacks into regular infantrymen and dragoons. The senior Cossacks in Kiev took great exception to any such regimentation; so much so that they discreetly scrutinized the text of the agreement made with the Republic in 1658 at Hadiach, no doubt to see whether it could serve as a model for a more advantageous relationship than that determined by the pact of 1687 which bound the left-bank Cossacks to Muscovy in a firm and indivisible union and dismissed any notion that the land of Little Russia was under the regiment of the hetman.

The defection of Prince M.S. Wiśniowiecki, in a general sense Mazepa's counterpart in the Republic, must have caused him to reflect on the perilousness of his own position as supporter of the Polish opponents of Charles XII and Leszczyński. One of the intermediaries through whom Stanisław had put out feelers in the direction of Mazepa was Wiśniowiecki's mother, Anna Dolska, née Chodorowska (d. 1711), the widow of Jan Karol Dolski (1637-1695), grand marshal of Lithuania, previously married to Prince Konstanty Krzysztof Wiśniowiecki (1633-1686). In 1705 Mazepa had stood as sponsor at the baptism of Wiśniowiecki's daughter, Urszula, at Bila Krynitsia near Kremenets. It would be hard to believe that political questions were not discussed at that family gathering. After continuing to resist Leszczyński's overtures, by the spring of 1707 Mazepa had finally entered into secret negotiations with Stanisław, principally through Fr Tomasz Załeski, S.J., a military chaplain. In September 1707 he received a message from Stanisław dated 15 August, warning him of the impending Swedish offensive and urging him and the Cossacks to change sides. Mazepa told Filip Orlik, the secretary-general of the 'host' that he was sending the note to Tsar Peter and would only break faith with him in case of absolute necessity. Having thus allayed Orlik's suspicions, Mazepa held on to the note. This approach by Stanisław fitted in with the presence about that time in Istanbul of an unknown emissary of his who was trying to persuade the Porte to give the Tatars the permission which they were seeking to attack Russia. Also in 1707, according to Kochubei, not a wholly reliable source, Sieniawski, ostensibly loyal to the tsar and his potential nominee for the vacant Polish throne, conveyed to Mazepa something of a hint: if the Cossacks wanted to fare well, they should also wish the confederates of Sandomierz well because they knew that the tsar could not stand up to the Swedes and that the Cossacks would perish. The hetman reportedly replied: 'God is my witness that I wish their Polish lordships well, I should not be a szlachcic and a true son of the Crown of Poland, if I did not wish it well. I can see myself how His Tsarish Majesty has injured Poland, and he has also overburdened Ukraine.' He did not know, he said, what he should do with himself when it came to the point; if the Cossacks wanted to change sides he would not be able to stop them. In the end events were to take the opposite course and it was Mazepa who changed sides. But meanwhile he was truly in a quandary: the future of the entire Ukraine could not be predicted but even if the tsar were to win the war, it was most unlikely that the Right Bank would be added to the hetmanate.

Somewhat earlier in Mazepa's life, in the years 1704-1705, passion had impinged on politics, bringing about a personal tragedy which was later to furnish Pushkin with the sub-plot of his historical poem, 'Poltava'. Mazepa, a widower and notorious lecher, had seduced and temporarily abducted Motrona, the young daughter of Vasyl' Kochubei, the advocate general of the Cossacks, and wanted to marry her. Kochubei and his wife, Liubov, refused their consent, for Mazepa as well as being disreputable and many decades older than Motrona, was also her godfather and a marriage between them would have been contrary to canon law. The young woman returned to the paternal home. Three years later the affronted Kochubeis, who also had earlier accounts to square with Mazepa, got wind of his dealings with the Poles and denounced him to the Russian authorities. In this they were seconded by Ivan Iskra, a former colonel of the Poltava regiment of Cossacks, dismissed by Mazepa from his post in 1704. Tsar Peter, though by nature suspicious rather than gullible, refused to give credence to the reports of the informers dispatched to him by Kochubei and Iskra and in order to reassure Mazepa, wrote to him graciously in this sense in March 1708. Iskra and Kochubei withdrew their accusations under torture and were handed over to Mazepa who had them executed in July 1708. He continued to wear the mask of unswerving loyalty and had, in May, sent two regiments of Cossacks to check the advance into left-bank Ukraine of the leader of the rebellious Don Cossacks, Kondratii Bulavin. Mazepa's officers received the customary rewards of sable pelts and fine fabrics.

Another intermediary between Mazepa and Leszczyński was Adam Tarło, palatine of Lublin. In a letter which he wrote to Mazepa (supposedly in June 1708), he urged the hetman to join King Stanisław and Charles XII, assuring him that in that event the Cossacks would retain their ancient rights and liberties and receive new ones, provided that Mazepa, having freed himself from Muscovite tyranny, submitted himself to the authority of his rightful ruler, Stanisław, and their common mother the Republic. Having forwarded the letter to Gavriil I. Golovkin (the head of the tsar's department of foreign affairs) and received permission to reply as he saw fit, Mazepa, in a plausible rebuff, informed Tarło (and, in a copy of his reply, the tsar), that he would never abandon his sovereign and that the Ukrainian people would never join the Poles whose rule had brought them so much misery. He himself could not forget the atrocities recently committed at the order of Józef Potocki (remembered as an impaler) in the course of quelling Palii's revolt on the Right Bank or overlook the inveterate hatred felt by the Cossacks towards the Poles, their use of force to impose the [ecclesiastical] Union which 'divides instead of bringing together' or the interference with Orthodox religious rites by Jewish leaseholders of church premises. The political outlook was equally uninviting. The vaunted 'golden freedom' of the Poles was in practice iron wilfulness and Stanisław, being no more than a slave of the Swedish king's, was in no position to offer freedom to the people of Little Russia. (It may be said in parenthesis that in 1707, having penetrated under Russian command as far as the palatinate of Cracow, the Cossacks, in attacking the partisans of the Swedes, repaid the Poles with a vengeance, wreaking wanton destruction and killing anyone who stood in their way.)

Whether the dating of Tarło's letter to 8 June 1708 is correct and whether Mazepa's reply to that letter was ever sent is open to question because early in 1708 Mazepa, acting through intermediaries, had already made two agreements; one political, with Leszczyński and the other military, with Charles XII. The former agreement assumed that the Republic would recover from Muscovy Kiev and the left-bank Ukraine; i.e. the regions of Seversk, Chernigov and Smolensk. The Cossacks would receive all of Ukraine, presumably under the hetmanship of Mazepa; in addition Mazepa himself would be rewarded with the huge prize of a duchy consisting of the palatinates of Vitebsk and Polotsk to be held in fief of the Crown of Poland. This assumption followed from the pious hope that Charles XII would restore to the Republic the regions of Kiev and Smolensk while keeping for Sweden Courland and Polish Livonia (to the south of the river Aiviekste). Within this design Mazepa's duchy would have formed a land-bridge between Sweden and Ukraine over which the Swedes might march to protect the Cossacks. Mazepa must have calculated that Leszczyński would not found a dynasty but be succeeded by another elective monarch, whereas he himself would lay plans to be followed by his nephew, Andrii Stanyslav Voinarovs'kyi (Andrzej Stanisław Wojnarowski). All these schemes improvised by a veteran intriguer, a headstrong warrior-king and his cardboard Polish protégé in the midst of their ill coordinated military operations were no more firmly grounded in reality than the vertiginous projects invented by Flemming or Goertz for the respective benefit of their monarchs.

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