Muscovy and Poland-Lithuania in the Seventeenth Century

Part One

The geopolitical setting. The views of Mackinder, Nałkowski, Romer. Poland-Lithuania at once a country and a border zone. Its situation in relation to the Heartland. The impact of the Drang nach Osten. The libertarian government of Poland-Lithuania. The despotic government of Muscovy. The respective beneficiaries of economic activity. Relations between Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy in the first half of the seventeenth century. The rivalry between Poland, Sweden, and Muscovy over Livonia in the later sixteenth and earlier seventeenth centuries. Sweden's early interest in the Protestant and Orthodox dissenters. The Ukrainian Cossacks. A parallel: the Austrian military frontier. The Swedish invasion of Poland and the war of 1655-1660. The role of Brandenburg-Prussia and the treaties of Welawa and Bydgoszcz (1657). Swedish interest in Ukraine. Swedish plans for the dismemberment of Poland-Lithuania. King John Casimir's fears. Swedish and Prussian intentions concerning the Protestant and Orthodox dissenters. Religious toleration in the Republic. The Act of 1573. The split in the Greek Church and the Union of Brest (1596). The confederacy of Vilno between the Orthodox and the Protestants (1599). The Protestant Consensus Sendomiriensis (1570). The Colloquium charitativum (1645). Toleration and the Reformation in decline from the end of the sixteenth century. The Arians (Socinians). The Orthodox described as dissenters. The initial unpopularity of the Uniate Church. Its critics. The mutual perception of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The Union as a bridge between East and West. The Uniates as second class Catholics. Survival and progress of the Union. The Basilians. The plight of the Orthodox. King Władysław IVs attempt to meet their demands. The official restoration of the Orthodox hierarchy (1632). The regulation of the status of the Orthodox and Uniate Churches. Discord persists. The religious aspect of the war in Ukraine (1648-1654). The martyrs: Andrew Bobola and Afanasyi Fylypovych. The Cossack uprising under Khmel'nyts'kyi (1648-1654). The union of Pereiaslav with Muscovy (1654). The abortive union of Gadiach with Poland- Lithuania (1659). Devastation of Ukraine. Polish losses, Russian gains. Ukrainian aspirations frustrated. Continuation of the Russo- Polish war and the virtual division of Ukraine. (1660-1664). Rapprochement with Turkey through Doroshenko. The Crimean Tatars. Poland-Lithuania as antemurale Christianitatis. The Ottoman peril.

The writings of three eminent historical geographers: Sir Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), Waclaw Nałkowski (1851-1911) and Eugeniusz Romer (1871-1954), will be of help in placing the events which form the subject of this study in their geographical setting. Mackinder's celebrated definition of the strategic conjuncture as he saw it in 1919: 'Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland. Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island. Who rules the World-Island commands the world' may be as obsolete as any unfulfilled prediction. But the concepts which it contains remain relevant to any inquiry into the history of the Russo-Polish conflict if only because historical Poland, being the core of East Europe, constituted a Heartland in miniature.

Mackinder's Heartland, the geographical pivot of the world's politics is that wholly continental region, bounded in the north by the Arctic Ocean and in the south first by an inner marginal crescent, partly continental and partly oceanic, and next by a wholly oceanic outer or insular crescent. The innermost part of Euro-Asia, Mackinder notes, is on the whole a steppe land, well suited to 'horse and camel mobility' of which the natural rival is mobility upon the ocean. Between the fourteenth and the sixteenth century Muscovy wrested from the Tatars their dominion over that central area and 'replaced the Mongol Empire'. While western Europe expanded over the sea, Russian power was in the same Tudor century carried from Muscovy to Siberia. 'Muscovy's pressure on Finland, on Scandinavia, on Poland, on Turkey, on Persia, on India and on China replaced the centrifugal raids of the steppemen'. Muscovy's pressure on Poland, in reaction to the earlier pressure by Lithuania on the western principalities of Muscovy was particularly strong from the reign of Ivan IV who, incidentally, is credited with the pessimistic statement that there can never be peace between his country and Poland. But Mackinder did not concern himself closely with the relations between the Russians and their western neighbours until 1920 when he was bound for south Russia on an official mission to General Denikin who was still holding out in those parts against the Bolsheviks. Mackinder's decision to break his journey in Warsaw and his later speech in a parliamentary debate show clearly enough the importance which he came to attach to the future of Poland in relation to that of the Heartland.

Mackinder offers no comments on the nature of the western periphery of the Heartland, once occupied by historical Poland, but some perceptive remarks on the subject are to be found in two essays by Nałkowski, the first dated 1887, the second 1912. In Naikowski's earlier view Poland is ill-defined as a historico-political and ethnographical entity. It is not only a campania, a land of fields par excellence but, occupying as it does a central position in Europe, it is also a region of transition in two directions, from east to west and from north to south. The flat character of the surface gives no shelter, no geographical point d'appui to the peoples who inhabit it. On this seemingly limitless expanse of land (which was coveted by any conqueror-organizer or mere expansionist marching from the east, the north or the west, be his name Ivan IV, Charles X Gustavus, Charles XII, Frederick the Great, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler or Stalin), the struggle for survival between nations is fought with great ferocity. The area taken as a whole may be seen as a horizontal structure consisting of two portions. The roughly triangular western part stretching from the Oder and its eastern confluents, is European in character. The line of the Niemen, the Bug and the Dniester divides it from the eastern part, rectangular in shape and fused with the continent of Asia. In the north and in the south this eastern area tends towards its natural limits - the shores of the Baltic and of the Black Sea; in the east it is bounded by a historical frontier running along the western Dvina and the Dnieper. Imperfectly protected by the Carpathians in the south, the transitional plain lacks strategic barriers and is open to irruption and pressure from the other directions. The large rivers which run vertically do not impede troop movements, least of all in the winter over the ice. The line of the western Dvina and the Dnieper is not continuous but broken by a gap between Vitebsk and Orsha which gives the trader or the invader convenient access to Moscow by way of Smolensk, a centre of trade and a fortress. This gateway into and out of Russia is barred further to the west by the marshland through which flows the Berezina.

These disadvantages of Poland's geographical situations were well known in Europe when they were summarized by the papal nuncio Germanico Malaspina who wrote about 1598 that the paramount need for Poland to be on good terms with her neighbours could be seen from their inherent hostility: in the north schmismatic Muscovy, the natural enemy of the very name of Poland, on the Baltic Lutheranized Sweden up in arms against her legitimate king (Sigismund III of Poland), in the east the Tatars whose incursions cause much destruction each year, on the same side the perfidious Moldavians and Wallachians, in the south Turkey, adjacent to Poland through Hungary (since the fall of Erlau in 1596) and plotting the destruction of the whole of Christendom and of Poland in particular, in the west the Germans between whom and the Poles there is inveterate ill will. Having in 1887 demonstrated the geographically intermediary and ethnographically variegated character of the territory occupied by historical Poland, Nalkowski declared in 1912, in greatly altered political circumstances, that Poland was not a border zone but an independent geographical unit, a country of transition, the centre of which was the basin of the Vistula. The aim of political unification with Lithuania pursued by the Polish state over the centuries from about 1385, to which at the end of the sixteenth century was added the pol icy of rel igious unificat ion and the desi re for cul tural uni ty on the part of the ruling class - the szlachta - of diverse ethnic origins - Polish, Prussian, Baltic, Lithuanian, Ruthenian - may well have been prompted by the need to give cohesion to the area which Nalkowski described as ill-defined and ill-defended. It was, Nalkowski points out, the need to resist above all the pressures and attacks from the west and from the east that prevented the Poles from gaining access first to the Baltic and next to the Black Sea or at least from keeping in check and fending off the destructive incursions of the inhabitants of those areas.

The consequences of this incapacity, arising to some extent from geographical factors, were fatal. In 1225 or 1226 Prince Conrad of Masovia appealed to the Teutonic Order for help against the pagan and warlike tribes who dwelt amid the lakes, marshes and forests of Prussia. This led to the establishment of the Knights in the region of Culm in the elbow of the Vistula. In the course of time they became a powerful political force in eastern Europe and their extended territorial base under the rule of the Electors of Brandenburg the cradle of modern Brandenburg-Prussia, one of the partners in the partitions of Poland (even though nature, as Mirabeau remarked, had never intended the Electors to climb so high).

In the south the vast expanse of steppe barred the way from Poland and Ukraine to the shores of the Black Sea, occupied first by invaders from the steppes of Central Asia and next by the Tatars and Turks. The Ukrainian Cossacks were first enrolled for the defence of the Republic against these troublesome neighbours in 1572 but were apt to abuse their status by acts of unprovoked aggression. Within three quarters of a century the Cossacks were to turn against their masters: the Cossack and peasant uprising of 1648-54 led by Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi dealt a crippling blow to the ancient Republic. Nałkowski hints at one of the causes of the rebellion: Ukraine, 'the classical wheat belt, was also the classical region of forced peasant labour'. His description of the area lying further to the south is brief but telling:

'As the uplands decline towards the Black Sea they assume the character of a steppe or even, in parts, of a desert. The black earth grows thinner, becomes patchy and finally disappears to be replaced by a sandy soil which is suited only to cattle grazing. In the summer the sun scorches the grass and the bare soil produces clouds of dust and mirages. Only the sea shore and the banks of the rivers provide a livelihood: fishing (one of the resources of the Cossacks) and the extraction of salt.'

Nałkowski calls Kiev the Mainz of the Dnieper since it lies at the entry to the system of the Desna which extends that of the Dnieper northwards over the region of Chernigov-Seversk (formerly the duchy of that name) towards the very centre of the Muscovite plain just as the Main extends the system of the Rhine towards the centre of Germany. The frequent frontier disputes between Muscovy and Lithuania before and after its union with Poland made Chernigov-Seversk a blood-soaked battleground - the Flanders of eastern Europe.

From the northern shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov the tracks made by the Tartars in their forays fan out into Poland, the Ukraine and Muscovy. The rivers that flow into those seas from the opposite direction, the Danube, the Pruth, the Dniester, the southern Bug, the Dnieper and the Don indicate the direction of the seaward advance of the invaders from central and eastern Europe - Imperialists, Poles, Cossacks and Muscovites.

Romer sees things somewhat differently. In his view the geographical contrast between Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy is deeper than it appears to be and accounts both for the internecine expansion of Muscovy and Poland and for the union between Poland and Lithuania. 'Poland', writes Romer, 'limited in the south by the Carpathians, is not a plane gradually sloping from there to the sea: it is a broad depression leading from west to east, into which the rivers flow in a concentric direction and out of which they flow into both the Baltic and the Black Sea. ... The confluents of the Vistula, more numerous from the east than is the case with any of the other river systems to the west would seem to have destined Poland for an eastward expansion on a scale impossible in the west where the lowland belt is narrower'. ... 'No such physical basis for expansion in one direction only exists in Russia. Here the general character of the land favours an altogether different movement'. Romer compares the shape of the Polish region to a shallow bowl and that of Great Russia to a flat-topped dome 'from which the waters of all the great rivers, the Volga, the Oka, the Don, the Desna, the upper Dnieper and the western Dvina - flow outwards, imparting an impulse to the race bred in that cradle to expand in all directions'. The Lithuanians, facing on the one hand 'a physical configuration that threatened them both from the north [the Teutonic Knights] and east and, on the other, open to unobstructed intercourse with unaggressive Poland, tendered a fraternal hand to the Poles and brought about the voluntary union of their two countries'. The emotive tinge of the statement does not diminish its validity. Romer also offers an answer to the pertinent question why it was that Poland rather than Lithuania or Ruthenia became the land-bridge between the Baltic and the Black Sea (failing, however, to become firmly established on either shore). In the early Middle Ages, Romer notes, Ruthenia 'towered culturally' above Poland but lacked the capacity for political and military organization largely because of its geographical character. The greater part of Ruthenia consisted of steppe land which lay open to the invasion of organized hordes. Although potentially very fertile, it was not economically independent and lacked adequate communications. Hence Medieval Ruthenia, though from time to time consolidated by the will of some strong ruler into a single state, repeatedly broke up into many independent principalities. So although Ruthenia brought culture, derived from Byzantium, to Lithuania, it was Lithuania that took the lead in Ruthenia's political organization. What Romer omits to say is that the Lithuanian Jagellons performed a similar function in Poland where they came under the influence of western European culture. In consequence of the geographical situation of the two states their political traditions spring from different sources: those of Poland from the medieval West, those of Muscovy from the Golden Horde and Byzantium.

Mackinder would not have denied that the rulers and military commanders of the two rival powers, Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy sensed from the natural features - plains, rivers, zones of vegetation - of the territories which they sought to master what he himself came later to learn from the study of history and geography and to fear from the observation of current events, namely that in the long run there is no room for two great powers and two sharply different political systems in the area between the western portion of the basin of the Oder and the basin of the Dnieper. Because of the open nature of the terrain neither the rulers of Poland-Lithuania nor those of Muscovy and later Russia could feel secure in the possession of their respective territories without having some degree of political control over the whole area. Hence the persistent tendency to bring the heart of East Europe and the core of the Heartland under a single rule by union or conquest. In 1831 Pushkin with his gift for poeticizing basic historical facts asked a much quoted rhetorical question, using strangely appropriate hydrological imagery:

'The two Slavonic tribes have long been at war and now one now the other was brought low. Who will triumph in the unequal contest - the boastful Pole or the trusty Russ? Will the Slav rivers merge in the Russian sea or will that sea run dry?'

It is somewhat surprising that both Mackinder and Nałkowski who as historical geographers – the one global, the other regional in his perception – might be expected to lean towards determinism, should in fact take a voluntarist view of the political development of human society in its geographical setting. The physical conditions between the Oder and the Dnieper do not favour permanent political frontiers and large tracts of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania may have been battlefields but still the land is not, as in Professor Norman Davies's fatalistic phrase, 'God's Playground' but a scene of human endeavour. Nałkowski, writing in 1912, plainly declared that 'in such circumstances boundaries are marked out only by the energy and the degree of civilization of the people'. Mackinder, writing in 1904, suggested that whilst nature in large measure controls, Man rather than nature ini t iates. Translated by Mackinder himself into political terms this formula means that the balance of political power is the product of geographical conditions, both economic and strategic, combined with the effect of demographic, material and moral factors. It is hard to resist the impression that from the end of the sixteenth century in the non-geographical sphere the 'relative efficiency' - the energy, equipment and organization of the Poles declined to a level far below that of their Russian rivals. The Ruthenian lands of White Russia and Ukraine, formerly under the domination of the Grand Duchy of Kiev, were contested first by Muscovy and Lithuania, next - after the Polish-Lithuanian union of 1569 - by Muscovy and Poland- Lithuania until in the eighteenth century the new Russian Empire created by Peter the Great established its supremacy over that Republic in circumstances which will presently be examined in detail. From as early as the middle of the seventeenth century Poland- Lithuania was seen from Moscow as a gatehouse over which the tenant of the Heartland must from sheer prudence exercise an adequate degree of control lest it fall under an undesirable political influence from the neighbouring Scandinavian, Germanic or the more distant, Atlantic, west. And indeed the occupants of the gatehouse have not always been able to keep the gate shut. It is not hard to recognize in this ambiguity of country-cum-border-zone of the Heartland the essence of the Polish dilemma in the present day.

But, as Mackinder points out, Russia was not the only expansionist power in eastern and east-central Europe. Apart from Austria's penetration of the Balkans, the German Drang nach Osten was assuredly not, as one writer on the subject would have us believe, a mere emotive phrase but an integral part of the programme of German imperialism. The rivalry between the Germanic states - Prussia and Austria - and Russia for the domination of the gateway leading into the Heartland through the western, Polish, portion of its margin may be said to have begun with the first partition of Poland in 1772. It was halted for nearly a century and a half by the equilibrium between Teuton and Eastern Slav achieved at the expense of a dismembered Poland until the conflict between the Germanic powers and Russia in south-eastern Europe brought about the war of 1914-18 in which Germany, by a now a naval power, fought for 'mastery in the world market'. Germany's relevant territorial claims in the First World War make the substance of her objectives in the east quite clear. The areas intended to come under German influence were Courland, Lithuania (also earmarked for eventual annexation) and Poland. Livonia and Estonia were named as 'territories of economic and administrative dependency', Ukraine was seen as 'a territory of closest economic involvement with Germany'. To these areas was to be joined a frontier strip extending into Polish territory beyond East Prussia, West Prussia and Polish Pomerania. Taken together, all these areas correspond roughly to the territories and spheres of influence of the Polish Republic in the second half of the sixteenth century without White Russia and Galicia. These acquisitions, together with other areas in the south marked out as spheres of influence were said by those who planned them to be intended to secure Germany against a Russian invasion but could also have served as a basis for further economic expansion or political penetration. In relation to 'rump Russia' - the core of the Heartland stripped of its outlying western zone - Germany's position was to be one of hegemony at the very least, in the same period and in the same area Russia made two sets of territorial demands, one direct: in the north East Prussia, in the south eastern Galicia, northern Bukovina and Carpathian Ruthenia; the other by proxy on behalf of a future Poland under Russian domination: Poznan (presumably with a part of West Prussia) and western Galicia. Neither Germany nor Russia, in the event of its own victory contemplated the restoration of a fully independent Poland within its historical frontiers. The most they had to offer was vassalage within a small territory inhabited principally by Poles. Whichever power triumphed over the other it would have wished to establish permanent control over the basin of the Vistula, the heart of historic Poland. Only the western allies envisaged the creation in East Central Europe of a buffer zone of smaller independent states in accordance with the principle of self-determination. Because of the key role which he assigned to eastern Europe, Mackinder strongly supported this measure.

Gerardus Mercator, 'Europa, ad magnae Europae', from Atlas Sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura (1595)

The product of the political union concluded between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1569, the Polish Republic was a loosely knit federal state. Its two component parts had separate hierarchies of civil and military officers but shared an elective monarch and a parliament comprising the Sejm (Diet) and the senate. The three estates, as they were called, formed the government of the Republic, for want of a more accurate definition described as hybrid or mixed and also referred to as an aristocratic republic or a democracy of the gentry (szlachta) who constituted the political nation. The members of the szlachta were freeholders of their estates and de facto owners of the peasants living on their land. The only obligation which they owed the Crown in return for this privilege was service in the general expedition (pospolite ruszenie), of the gentry in wartime. The authority of the king, though severely circumscribed by the Sejm, drew considerable strength from his patronage in state and Church but in his dealings with heads of other states his disqualification (since 1588) from sending or receiving envoys without consulting the senators present at court was a serious disadvantage. Prevented by the szlachta from developing a centralized administrative and fiscal system held to be incompatible with free institutions, Poland-Lithuania lacked the cohesion and the clearly discernible centre of authority commonly associated with a sovereign state. The szlachta in turn, within their ranks, were dominated by the richest and the most powerful, the 'magnates', whose power, had it been exercised in concert, would have amounted to that of an oligarchy. Both the supposed brotherhood and equality of the szlachta irrespective of social status were far removed from political reality and even the cherished liberty, the aurea libertas, of the political nation could be seen as self-defeating, since, in the words of a well-informed observer, 'the unlimited and absolute liberty of each member' made 'all the Republic slaves to the whimsy or factious obstinacy of one particular man'. The szlachta, uniform in political but not in social status which depended on wealth, ran the country's agrarian economy, based on the manor and the latifundium, for the benefit of their own class. The bene nati et possessionati did so at the expense of an enserfed peasantry and to the detriment of the townspeople who suffered from the szlachta's direct trading with foreign merchants and the economic activities of the high-born in privileged urban 'liberties' (jurydyki).

As the Sejm normally assembled only every two years for six weeks, the political life of the szlachta was concentrated in the provincial assemblies or dietines (sejmiki) which managed the affairs of the local communities, involving their members in a ceaseless round of debating and electioneering. Both Sejm and sejmiki in their decision making adhered to the principle of unanimity. Thus the negative voice, the liberum veto, pronounced by one captious member could, and from the middle of the seventeenth century often did, not only interrupt the proceedings but annul the work of a particular Diet. In consequence there was 'no assembly in Europe more subject to disorders, more distracted by cabals and factions , more corrupted by bribery and base practices'. At best a classical example of consensus politics in its most extreme form, Polish parliamentary procedure was not a freak of nature but a cultural phenomenon, a national political drama enacted over and over again in accordance with unwritten but well understood rules. Had this not been the case, this pattern of behaviour would not have been so deeply engrained in the Republic's political tradition and proved so difficult to uproot . But even in Poland the abuse of political liberty had its bounds although, characteristically, it was contained only by another form of excess. In a moment of crisis, when ordinary measures failed or were not to hand, representatives of the szlachta entered into a confederacy for the purpose of achieving a particular aim. In the seventeenth century confederacies formed against the Crown were rebellions in all but name but became lawful when acceded to by the Crown. The resolutions of a confederate body, unlike that of the Sejm, were carried by a majority of votes.

The method of raising revenue from the upkeep of the army was a dual one. The bulk of the necessary funds came from taxes voted in the province by the local szlachta and collected by their appointees, the rest from two imposts traditionally approved by the Sejm and collected respectively by the state treasury and the military authorities: the kwarta, a proportion of the incomes of tenants of estates belonging to the royal demesne, and the hiberna, a supplement for the upkeep of the army in the cold season, paid by the royal and ecclesiastical estates. The constant wars demanded a sustained military effort but its high cost and the recurrent war damage accelerated the country's economic decline. As a result the Republic was incapable of maintaining the number of troops that was necessary for the defence of its territory and population. The largest army ever put unto the field by the Republic before the era of the partitions was about 56,000 in the emergency of 1649. In the second half of the century the number of men mustered for the various campaigns fluctuated between 26,000 and 36,000. Muscovy on the other hand had 88,500 men under arms in 1651 and 127,600 in 1680, her army in the war with Poland-Lithuania numbered about 50,400 in 1654 and between 80 and 90,000 in 1663. The difference in costs, in the value of money and in book-keeping methods preclude any meaningful comparison of military expenditure in Poland with that in Muscovy.

It is clear that as internal conditions in the Republic deteriorated and its international prestige declined, the political activities of the szlachta took on a negative and conservative character and were concerned above all with preventing any change in the existing state of affairs. Later generations were to preserve this tradition of protest and resistance but applied it to opposite, revolutionary ends.

'Tabula Russiæ', from Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive Atlas Novus in quo Tabulæ et Descriptiones Omnium Regionum, Editæ a Guiljel et Ioanne Blaeu (1645)

In Muscovy on the same socio-economic foundation of noble landownership and serfdom rested a political system that was wholly different from that of Poland-Lithuania but with one notable exception. Both systems were exposed to the danger of abuse of political power by a single individual - in Poland by any parliamentary deputy, however obscure, who chose to exercise his right of veto, in Muscovy by the tsar, an absolute ruler answerable to God alone.

For the rest Muscovy in the second half of the seventeenth century was a unitary service state and an autocracy in the Byzantine style. In his capacity as Grand Duke of Muscovy the tsar was charged by tradition (or geographical circumstances) with the task of gathering together of all the lands of Rus', that is to say the lands inhabited by peoples who spoke a Ruthenian tongue - Russian, Belorussian or Ukrainian - and were Orthodox Christians. As basileus and autokrator the tsar was champion and defender of the Church. Only the head of the hierarchy, the Patriarch, occupied a position whose power and prestige were comparable to that of the tsar. It was for this very reason that when Patriarch Adrian died in 1700, Peter I left his office vacant. Earlier the reform of the liturgy carried out by Patriarch Nikon had led to the schism which in 1656 divided the Christians of Muscovy into adherents of the official Church and Old Ritualists of Believers. This damaging split, similar to that caused in Poland-Lithuania by the secession of the Uniates in 1596, may have been in some measure compensated by the subordination of the Orthodox eparchies in Poland-Lithuania to the Patriarch of Moscow in 1685. In the secular sphere the only representative institution, the Assembly of the Land (zemskii sobor) ceased to exercise political authority after 1653. The council of boyars (boiarskaia duma) acted in a deliberative capacity until, from the end of the century, Peter I allowed it to fall into disuse.

As a service state (Max Weber's Leiturgiestaat) Muscovy imposed on its population a universal regime of services and exactions under which the activities of most individuals were subjected to physical restrictions, economic constraints and bureaucratic control. The tsar regarded himself, and was by common consent, the ground-landlord, as it were, of all immovable property. The landholders - men of service (sluzhilye liudi, later dvoriane), the urban population and the peasants owed him rent respectively in the form of military or court service, tax and a variety of ancillary duties. The tsar had at his command a standing army composed of musketeers (strel'tsy) and cadre regiments of cavalry and infantry organized on the western European model, as well as a centralized system of government managed by the departments of state (prikazy) in Moscow. One such department was that of foreign affairs, established in all but name in 1540. It did not employ professional diplomats but by reference to recorded precedent and by minute regulation of the conduct of envoys was able to ensure an orderly and consistent conduct of foreign policy. For all its restrictive character the government of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich paid more attention than did its Polish counterpart to the needs of the urban population and improved its lot. The Code (Ulozhenie) of 1649 abolished the 'liberties' inhabited by interlopers who enjoyed an unfair advantage over the rest of the community; the customs duties and tolls charged under the New Trade Regulations (Novyi torgovyi ustav) instituted in 1667 by Afanasii L. Ordyn-Nashchokin (ca 1605-1680), the recently appointed head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (Posol'skii prikaz), favoured the native merchants by deterring their foreign competitors from trading inland. Society at large paid dearly for the oppressiveness of the service state in outbreaks of civil commotion destructive of life and property - the riots of 1648, 1650-51, 1662, and the Cossack-cum-peasant rebellion of 1670-71. Despite its economic backwardness by the 1670s Muscovy had a solid industrial base for its army and defence lines and though internally static it was outwardly acquisitive and expansive. Siberia, conquered out of the sight of western eyes between about 1585 and 1651 was bringing in a handsome profit in tributes of sable pelts and other furs; the annexation of Ukraine and parts of White Russia between 1654 and 1667 furnished further sources of wealth and revenue. In 1601 in the course of negotiations with the Poles, the Russians went out of their way to point out that their numerical strength had recently been increased by the addition of 200,000 'Tatars' in western profiteering by the merchants but preferred this direct relationship to interference by the Crown and the imposition of a royal duty on imports and exports which might strengthen the power of the monarchy. The inflow of silver and gold money into Poland from western Europe was dispersed throughout the economy without significantly increasing the resources of the Crown or of the public treasury. In the second half of the seventeenth century the prosperity which the basin of the Vistula with Gdansk at its head had enjoyed for a hundred years declined as demand for grain in the West diminished and the Prussian ports of Königsberg and Memel began to compete with Gdansk. The articles in greater demand to the west of the Sound were now the naval stores needed for shipbuilding in Holland and in England. As sources of revenue timber, tar, pitch, hemp and flax were the oil wells of the age of the sail. Timber, hemp and flax as well as grain were obtainable from the Grand DUchy of Lithuania by way of the Prussian ports and of Riga but here the Swedish customs duties on imports and exports were high and subject to arbitrary variations; in addition toll was charged on grain transported through Swedish Livonia to Riga. The free harbour which was to have been built in the 1680s at Połąga (Palanga, Polangen) in Samogitia by a company of English merchants under the patronage of John III Sobeiski would have given the szlachta of the Grand Duchy direct access to the Baltic but the execution of the plan was frustrated by Sweden.

In Muscovy the nature of the service state made possible the use of foreign trade as an instrument of policy. The government of the tsars ran a primitive form of command economy practising regrating, the monopolization of the wholesale trade in goods intended for export - hemp, flax, tar, pitch, potash, weidash, tallow, hides and grain - principally by way of Archangel - and the preemption of particularly desirable articles. In a moment of crisis it resorted to compulsory purchase, as in 1662, in order to acquire the silver coins needed to stabilize the currency. This was an operation which the Republic, faced with similar difficulties in the same period, could not have undertaken. Payment for the goods just mentioned was exacted in hard currency - rix-dollars - as was the payment of import and export duty, from 1667 in accordance with the New Trade Regulations. The silver money thus collected was recoined at a profit to the Crown of some 30 % in the 1650s. Strict exchange control and even higher profits followed at the end of the century. But the remote, sub-Arctic location of Archangel was bound to make the Russians wish for direct access to the Baltic where the Swedish ports in Livonia and Estonia lay within easier reach of Muscovy's trading partners in western Europe, the Dutch and the English.

The profits from the most primitive and the most lucrative of rural industries, brewing and distilling, were similarly appropriated in the Republic by the lord of the manor, in Muscovy by the tsar's treasury. Propinacja was the euphemistic definition of the Polish landlord's sole right to produce beer and spirits on his estate and to sell them to the peasants in his tavern. The tax, 'bung money', was paid not by the producer but by the distributor, the publican. In Muscovy kabak, the sale of alcoholic liquor to the public direct or through appointed agents was the preserve of the Crown. The service state may have been corrupt in its essence and its system had many faults - venality, arbitrariness, social rigidity, general backwardness - but it was an effective instrument of government policy at home and abroad.

The Sejm held in Lublin in 1569 which effected the union of the Kingdom of Poland (Korona: the Crown) to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania transferred the regions of Podlachia, Volhynia, Kiev and Bratslav to Poland, thereby making the Kingdom an immediate neighbour of Muscovy. The death in 1572 of Sigismund Augustus, the last of the Jagellons, opened for the first time the question of the Polish-Lithuanian succession in which Muscovy naturally became an interested party. In the period of elective monarchy that followed, the Muscovites took advantage of nearly every interregnum either to promote the candidature of their own nominee - as a rule the tsar or one of his sons - with a view to achieving a personal union between the two countries or, failing that, to support the candidate whom they considered best suited to their purposes. By contrast the opportunity for the Poles to play the same game in Russia was to occur only once, during the Time of the Troubles. Whereas the Russians were the more active party in striving for the practical end of dynastic union, in Poland and in Rome the continuing discord between Muscovy and Poland- Lithuania conjured up in the minds of princes of the Church, missionaries, monarchs, politicians and pamphleteers visions, truly baroque in their grandeur, of salvation and security, to be found in the unification of two kindred Slav peoples and in the restoration of the unity of the Church. The Church in the Republic (where the bishops had seats in the senate) would lead into the papal fold the Orthodox Christians of Muscovy. The union of Poland with Lithuania might be extended by the addition of Muscovy or of Sweden or of both. A royal election or a dynastic marriage or simple conquest might create an East European empire that, united under one monarch and in one faith, would be capable of standing up to the Habsburgs, quelling Square), to all Christians, including the Orthodox, and to use the Church in the Republic to clasp those of Muscovy to the papal bosom, widened the area of conflict between the two countries.

As for a secular union, how was an autocratic tsar to govern a parliamentary monarchy or a Roman Catholic to become tsar? The Polish-Lithuanian union had taken nearly two hundred years to prepare after Jadwiga (Hedwige) of Anjou had been promised in marriage to the still pagan Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiełło (Iogailo). Was it likely that Sigismund III (1588-1632) would, as some boyars expected him to do, marry Xenia, the daughter of Tsar Boris Godunov, a Tatar upstart? The Muscovites and the Poles (less so the Lithuanians) seem to have been singularly ill-informed about one another, though not to the point of utter ignorance. Members of the electorate in the Republic knew well enough that Ivan IV was a cruel tyrant and the Tsarevich Feodor Ivanovich simple-minded but chose, perhaps from tactical motives, to pretend that they could tame the father or accept the son. Tsar Ivan IV was not officially a candidate for the royal elections of 1573 and 1575 but he took a keen interest in developments in Poland- Lithuania and gave the impression that he was willing to be elected king. The prospect of his candidature enjoyed a certain popularity, especially in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, because some voters believed that his election would result in a union with Muscovy in one form or another, would guarantee peace in the east, make the Republic stronger, enable some of the land-hungry szlachta to serve and settle in Muscovy and would curb the power of the magnates. But the conditions on which Ivan would have accepted the offer of the Polish- Lithuanian throne included some that would have been rejected outright by the electorate: hereditary status, coronation by the metropolitan of Moscow, territorial concessions to Muscovy. In 1574-75, in secret, Ivan conducted negotiations with representatives of the Emperor concerning a scheme originally put forward by Maximilian II for the virtual dissolution of the union of Lublin: the archduke Ernest would be elected king of Poland and Prussia, both of which would be incorporated with the Empire, while Ivan would be elected Grand Duke of Lithuania and receive Polish Livonia into the bargain. Had these intentions of Ivan's become known they could not but have brought discredit on his candidature among the szlachta except possibly for a handful of Lithuanian secessionists.

Stephen Báthory (1533–86)

Stephen Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, elected king in 1576, did not live long enough to follow up the advantage gained by the Republic in its war with Ivan IV over Livonia between 1577 and 1582 with a definitive victory over Muscovy which was to have forced her into a league against the Ottoman Empire. Báthory was succeeded in 1587 by Sigismund III Vasa, son of John III of Sweden and Catherine of Jagellon. Brought up a Roman Catholic by Jesuit tutors, a young man of intelligence and ambition, Sigismund looked as if he might be the man to translate into reality the manifold yearnings for unity in eastern Europe. But his attempts to reconcile his obligations to the Republic with those to his native land led to a civil war and caused his virtual deposition from the Swedish throne in 1599. Still , all was not lost. The Time of the Troubles that opened in Muscovy with the extinction of the dynasty of the House of Rurik upon the death in 1598 of Tsar Ivan Feodorovich and was to end only in 1613 with the grounding of the House of Romanov gave some adventurous Poles and eventually Sigismund III himself the chance of interfering in the internal affairs of Muscovy on a scale that had never been dreamt of or thought desirable.

Sigismund III Vasa (1566-1632)

The election to the Russian throne of Boris Godunov, Sigismund III's setback in Sweden, the beginning of hostilities in Livonia between Sweden and the Republic - these were the events that in 1600 called for the despatch of a Polish-Lithuanian embassy to Moscow to discuss the renewal of the truce made in 1590 for a term of twelve years. The instructions drafted for the envoys by the king's closest counsellors went far beyond a mere extension of the truce: the purpose of the mission was to be the conclusion of a treaty, which would enable the two countries to live in a state of peace, charity and union. These noble aims were to be achieved by the twofold means of a military alliance and a political union. A dual crown would eventually lead to a single rule. Foreign policy was to be coordinated, mutual trade was to be free, a common fleet would sail the Baltic and the Black Sea, the ports of Narva (at that point already back in Swedish hands) and its Russian counterpart Ivan-Gorod would be put to joint use, the inhabitants of both countries would enjoy common citizenship. Protestant 'heresy' would be kept out of Muscovy but the Orthodox Church in the Republic and the Church of Rome in Muscovy would have equal rights, including the right to establish church schools and colleges where Latin would be taught. Between the lines may be read with little difficulty the desire to create an opportunity for the colonization of some of the vast empty spaces of Muscovy by the more ambitious and adventurous but impecunious scions of the szlachta and for their advancement in public service. The advantages of the whole scheme were so heavily stacked in favour of the Republic, Latino-Polish culture and the Church of Rome that the invocation of a common Slav ancestry and language and the common membership of a larger community of Christian nations could hardly have dispelled that impression among the Russians. The negotiations ended in 1601 to the disappointment of both sides merely in the conclusion of a new truce which was to run for 20 years from 1602. The instructions for the embassy of 1600 outline the policy of Sigismund III and his entourage towards Muscovy. Where official diplomacy failed, individual intrigue and main force were to come close to success.

Out of the chaos caused by the political crisis and social unrest that came to a head on the death of Boris Godunov in 1605, there emerged, with the help of a conspiracy hatched in the Republic and in Moscow by private interest groups, an impostor who passed himself off as the Tsarevich Dimitrii Ivanovich who had died in 1591. 'The nameless wanderer' of Pushkin's phrase succeeded in 'hoodwinking as if by magic' not only 'two peoples' but also the Pope into whose Church he had been received in 1604 by two Polish Jesuits. In Poland the False Dimitrii's appearance fulfilled the wishes cherished by those politicians close to the king who wanted a friendly eastern neighbour disposed to allow the Republic a free hand in Livonia and to offer scope in Muscovy for Polish political influence and propaganda for reunion with the Church of Rome. But what had begun as a comedy in the style of Terence or Plautus, upon the assassination of the impostor in 1606 at the behest of his opponents led by Vasilii Ivanovich Shuiskii, turned into a long-drawn-out and sanguinary drama.

Polish military intervention provoked by the murder of the impostor was followed by a full-scale war, begun in 1609 by the king contrary to the wishes of the majority of the szlachta but continued with their grudging support. Pope Paul V gave his blessing 'pro felice successu Serenissimi Regis contra schismaticos'. The recipient of the blessing had only two years earlier, admittedly under pressure from the rebellious szlachta and the Sejm, recognized the ancient rights of the Orthodox Church in the Republic. The False Dimitrii was succeeded by another impostor of purely Polish manufacture, also known as 'the bandit of Tushino', who had the modesty to pretend only that he was the first Dimitrii , miraculously saved. The legitimate ruler was Vasilii Shuiskii who had been proclaimed tsar in 1606; in 1610 he in turn was overthrown by a group of boyars. In that year Stanisław Żółkiewski, deputy hetman of Poland, defeated the army of Mikhail Skopin-Shuiskii at Klushino, thereby preventing the Russians from marching to the relief of Smolensk, besieged by the Poles since 1609, and entered Moscow, having refused to negotiate with the impostor who was supported by an army of Polish mercenaries. Instead, the hetman accepted on behalf of Prince Władysław the offer of the Russian throne, extended to him by Prince F.I. Mstislavskii, the head of a boyar septemvirate driven to extremity by the continuing disorder and Swedish intervention in the north. The union with Muscovy, much desired by moderate opinion but not by the king who would have preferred outright incorporation under his own sceptre, would have lain within the Republic's grasp, had not the haughty and brutal behaviour of the Poles antagonized the Russian masses and set off the inevitable patriotic reaction which in 1613 brought to power the first tsar of the future House of Romanov, Mikhail.

But the Poles by now wanted to see their efforts rewarded with the coronation of Prince Władysław in the Kremlin and in 1617 a military expedition led by the Prince set off for Russia with the object of 'forcing that nation to live in peace with us'. The Prince informed Pope Paul V that the circumstances were still favourable: a considerable number of Russians remained faithful to him, Władysław. It had therefore been decided to extend the frontier not only of Poland but of the Christian Commonwealth and the Catholic faith. (Both decisions were contrary to the original agreement between the Russians and Żółkiewski which respected the religion and frontiers of Muscovy). The Prince was eager to obey the call of God and the will of his father. Sigismund III's threefold eastern policy of intervention, subjugation and reunion with Rome is commemorated in the statue by Clemente Molli which in 1644 was erected by Władysław IV in front of Sigismund's place of residence from 1611 until his death, the royal castle in Warsaw. The figure of the king, standing on a tall pillar, holds a sabre in the right hand and with the left supports a tall cross.

The Prince's expedition achieved only a limited military success and this encouraged the Russians to sue for peace at the end of 1618. Under the terms of the truce made at Deúlino in January 1619 for a period of 14 1/2 years Poland-Lithuania regained nearly all the territory that Lithuania had lost in the preceding century - the region of Smolensk and that of Seversk with the towns in the basin of the Seim and the Desna, including Chernigov. The Drang nach Osten had reached its utmost limits, a mere 200 kilometres separated the most extreme point of the Lithuanian frontier from Moscow. In terms of prestige too the outcome of the war with Muscovy was a success. The former tsar, Vasilii Shuiskii and his brothers had been taken prisoner at Smolensk (which surrendered in 1611) and brought in triumph to Warsaw by Żółkiewski.

Tommaso Dolabella, Stanisław Żółkiewski presents the captured tsar Shuisky to King Sigismund III and Price Władysław at the Warsaw Sejm, 1611 (1640s)

The painting by Tommaso Dolabella, above, shows them making obeisance in the chamber of the senate. The Poles turned out to be the only invaders from the west to have stationed a garrison in Moscow before Napoleon. (His army comprised about 82,300 Poles but he took care to keep them out of the Russian capital). The Russians were to remain ever mindful of the danger that threatens the masters of the Heartland from the direction of its western periphery. Considered in perspective, the Dimitriad and its tsar-making sequel were not so much a missed as an illusory opportunity which could never have led to a lasting success; the Muscovites, deeply attached to their religion and nationality would never have submitted to any form of Polish and Catholic rule. The failure of Sigismund Ill's attempt to obtain the cap of Monomakh for himself or his son was due in equal measure to the reluctance of the majority of the szlachta to meddle in Muscovite affairs, let alone their ability to do so in unison, and to the lack of a well prepared plan of military and political action but above all to a profound ignorance of the mores and institutions of Muscovy. In this respect the historian and abbot of Mogiła, Paweł Piasecki (1579-1649) was a notable exception. In a treatise on absolute rule he pointed out that the Muscovites, having been laid low many times by the Poles, had won the day and arisen even stronger than before, not simply because they were united under a sole ruler but from the love of their country which came of their liking for the ways of their people, for their ancestors and from their distaste for foreign ways. But Piasecki's treatise was written about 1629, well after the second war with Muscovy and was published only recently. The Polish invasion left in Russia bitter memories of hurt national pride, a desire for retribution and a deep mistrust of popery.

After the peace of Deúlino it was not so much the close proximity of the border with Poland-Lithuania that gave the Russians cause for concern as the loss of the fortress of Smolensk which the Poles might use as the base for another invasion. A further ground for apprehension was the use of titles. Prince Władysław continued to call himself Tsar of Russia whilst the Republic refused to refer to Mikhail Romanov as tsar. These were sensitive issues, for at that time a royal title was regarded as a legal right to ownership. The Muscovites therefore, in 1632, took advantage of the interregnum between the death of Sigismund III and the election of Prince Władysław to the Polish throne to lay siege to Smolensk before the expiry of the truce of Deúlino. The Poles under their new king succeeded in relieving Smolensk but not in marching into Russia (if that was indeed their intention). The position of the Polish and Lithuanian army was greatly strengthened by the diversionary attacks which the Tatars carried out against southern Russia in 1632 and 1633. But the Poles were unwilling to make further sacrifices and the Russians were running out of money. The tsar requested negotiations which led to the peace concluded in June 1634 in a village on the river Polianovka and hence known as the 'Polianovskii' or 'Polanowski' treaty. The Republic kept Smolensk but ceded the district of Serpeisk, King Władysław renounced the title of tsar. There ensued a period of correct relations and, after 1638, a rapprochement, brought about by a common desire for action against the Turks and the Tatars, the preparations for which were interrupted by the outbreak of Khmel'nyts'kyi's rebellion. The adherence of the Ukrainian Cossacks to Muscovite rule in 1654 decisively tipped the balance of power on the Dnieper in favour of Muscovy.

On the Baltic, in Livonia, the interests of Poland-Lithuania, Russia and Sweden clashed intermittently from the time of the political and territorial disintegration of the state of the eastern branch of the Teutonic Order in the mid-sixteenth century. In 1561 Courland with Semigallia were joined to Poland as a fief under the direct rule of Sigismund Augustus as king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. In 1569, under the terms of the Union of Lublin, Livonia became the joint possession of Poland and Lithuania. The principal attraction of Livonia lay in the revenues from the port of Riga situated at the mouth of the western Dvina. Here the products of the vast Livonian, White Russian, Lithuanian and north-west Russian hinterland - timber, potash, grain, tallow, hides, flax and hemp - were exchanged for imported merchandise or sold for money at great profit to the local merchants. At a time of rising demand for primary commodities in western Europe, the possession of Riga betokened economic and hence political pre-eminence in the eastern Baltic; without Riga neither Poland-Lithuania nor Sweden nor in the long run Russia, could translate into reality their aspirations to the dominium maris Baltici, a high-sounding phrase which obscures some hard economic realities. First, the true masters of the Baltic trade as its carriers through the Sound and distributors from Amsterdam were the Dutch shipowners and merchants. Second, the economic mastery which Sweden was eventually to achieve over Livonia, Estonia and the Pomeranian ports and Wismar was of a primitive, fiscal character; it amounted to little more than the levying of customs duties, harbour dues and transit taxes. Neither of these considerations dimmed the glitter of this valuable prize, and so determined were the three powers engaged in its pursuit that no permanent alliances were formed between the partners in this triangle of rivalry before the Russo-Polish accord of 1667 which was directed against Turkey.

Poland's acquisition of Livonia was fraught with liabilities and risks, it set the Republic at odds with Sweden and sharpened its conflict with Muscovy. The election in 1587 to the Polish-Lithuanian throne of Sigismund Vasa as Sigismund III (1587-1632) also involved Poland in the conflict between the Polish (Roman Catholic) and Swedish (Lutheran) branches of the Vasa dynasty over the royal succession in Sweden. Polish-Lithuanian territorial expansion was thus entwined with the dynastic ambitions of the Polish Vasas which were soon to be aimed at the throne of Muscovy. It was in retaliation for Sigismund Ill's announcement of the incorporation of Estonia with the Republic that Sweden, keeping Estonia, invaded Livonia in 1600. The intermittent war with Sweden which followed was punctuated by the Republic's temporary recovery of Livonia in 1605, the loss of Riga in 1622 and of Dorpat in 1625 and by Sweden's occupation of the ports of Ducal (Brandenburg) and Royal (Polish) Prussia until the truce of Stuhmsdorf in 1635. Under the earlier and even less favourable truce of Altmark in 1629 Poland had kept Courland with Semigallia south of the Dvina but beyond that river only the districts of Daugavpils (Dyneburg, Dünaburg), Ludza (Lucyn, Ludsen), Rossitten (Rzezyca) - 'Polish Livonia'. The conflict with Sweden did not end in 1635 but, as will be seen, revived and reached its peak in the contemporaneous reigns of Charles X Gustavus and John Casimir (1648-68).

The Russians in their relations with the Swedes fared little better than the Poles. The Swedish intervention in Muscovy in the years 1609-15 ran parallel to and to some extent rivalled that undertaken by the Republic and was rewarded with the annexation of Ingria and eastern Karelia under the terms of the peace made at Stolbovo in 1619. Even two years before its conclusion Gustavus II Adolphus was able to state with some satisfaction that not only were the Russians prevented from using any ships of their own for war or trade without Sweden's permission but the Swedes stood to profit from the duty levied on the transit trade to and from Narva. In the event it was neither of the two Slav powers, each one of which was bent on overpowering the other at vain and enormous expense, but a Scandinavian nation numbering a mere 1,225,500 inhabitants in 1650, opportunely conquered most of Livonia at the starting point of its upward progress. Endowed by an energetic monarch with an effective system of government, pursuing clearly defined strategic aims and a predatory mercantilistic policy, making skilful use of its natural resources - iron, copper, timber, tar, flax and hemp - for the waging of war by land and sea, Sweden outstripped its Slav rivals and by 1660 had established its ascendancy in the North.

The two wars between Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy over Livonia (1563-70 and 1579-82) were waged in the adjacent area of White Russia. In the first Ivan IV took Polotsk which the Poles under Báthory regained in the second. It is worth noting that the king, with characteristic even-handedness, confirmed the privilege of the local Orthodox cathedral and at the same time founded for the Society of Jesus a church and a college of which Fr Piotr Skarga, S.J. (1536-1612) was appointed rector. The truce made in 1582 at Iam Zapol'skii under the mediation of Fr Antonio Possevino, S.J. acting on behalf of Pope Gregory XIII, left the Republic in possession of Polotsk, Velizh and Livonia up to the confines of Estonia. The appearance of a papal representative on the diplomatic scene was the first sign of the hopes entertained in Rome of establishing relations with Muscovy, relations that might lead to joint action against the Turks and eventually to the reunion of the Churches of East and West. By 1660, the year in which the peace of Oliva was concluded between Sweden on the one hand and Poland-Lithuania, Brandenburg- Prussia and the Emperor on the other, Sweden had wrested from Denmark-Norway portions of land which gave her territorial unity within the Scandinavian peninsula and extended her coastline on the North Sea to the north and to the south of Gothenburg. In full control of the Gulf of Bothnia and of the Gulf of Finland, established on the Gulf of Riga as far as and including the mouth of the Dvina, Sweden gripped the northern half of the Baltic lake in a gigantic hoop spanning a fairway leading to the basins of the Oder, the Vistula, the Niemen and the Dvina as well as to her oversea possessions. These were on the southern shore of the Baltic Stettin, Stralsund with the island of Rügen (Western Pomerania) and Wismar in Mecklenburg, held since 1648 as Imperial fiefs, and on the coast of the North Sea the bishoprics of Bremen and Verden. Although triumphant, Sweden was nevertheless still confronted by Denmark, Poland-Lithuania and Russia who, given the opportunity, might wish to take their revenge and recoup their losses.

The possibility of exploiting for political ends the resentment felt by the Orthodox and the Protestants in Poland-Lithuania at their ill-treatment by the Catholics became apparent for the first time in the latter part of the Swedish war of 1617-1629 and was connected with the conflict between the Protestant powers and Austria and the prospect of a vacancy on the Polish throne upon the death of Sigismund III. In 1623 it was thought in Sweden that the Orthodox and the Protestants would rise in revolt against their Catholic king. Other parties too were interested in mobilizing a religious fifth column in the Republic: Cyril (Lukaris, 1572-1638), Patriarch of Constantinople, from 1620, Filaret (Romanov), Patriarch of Moscow, the Ottomans, Gabor Bethlen (1580-1629) , Prince of Transylvania, but only Sweden had the necessary contacts in Muscovy, Lithuania, Ukraine, Turkey and Transylvania and the means of maintaining them. The importance of these machinations must not be exaggerated and has to be judged by their practical results which were nil in the immediate term. What is significant is that as ear ly as this the rel igious conflict in the Republic was judged to be acute enough to warrant foreign intervention and that the Ukrainian Cossacks were seen as ready to be detached from the Republic and placed under the protection of some other power which at that time could only be Turkey. The Swedes continued to reconnoitre Ukraine even after the truce of 1629. They described their king as the powerful protector of the 'Greeks' and the Protestants, spoke vaguely of an alliance and good pay but had as yet nothing concrete to offer the Cossacks.

The antipode of Swedish and Polish Livonia was Ukraine. Ukrainian Cossackdom was brought into being by the conditions prevailing in and around the wilderness to the south of a line running roughly from Kamenets Podolskii through Bratslav to Kanev on the right bank of the Dnieper and on the left bank to the south of the river Desna. On the southern confines of this area lay the Zaporozhe, the area straddling the Dnieper rapids (porohy), roughly to the east of the river Ingulets and to the south of the Samara. A frontierless zone open to all comers, the wilderness and the Zaporozhe attracted all manner of voluntary outlaws in search of personal freedomrecalcitrant peasants, discontented plebeians and vagrants native and foreign - willing to subsist by hunting, fishing, cattle grazing and occasional acts of banditry. The Cossacks, obliged to unite in self-defence against the Tatars who would brook no challenge to their supremacy in the steppe, became a military force in its own right,* a highly individualistic way of life turned into, and gave its name to, a community which nevertheless preserved the initial spirit of non-conformity to the rules of organized society and of resistance to exploitation by its upper classes.

From the beginning of the sixteenth century the Cossacks were by degrees drawn into the defence system of Poland-Lithuania, at first as mercenary auxiliaries recruited by local military commanders and, after the union of 1569, as a semi-regular military frontier corps at the disposal of the king and the Republic. Without the military aid given by the Cossacks and their own participation in the ploughing up of the steppe the colonization of Ukraine which reached its peak in the years 1638-48 would have been less rapid and less extensive. The Cossacks way of life - and hence described as 'disobedient' - and their membership of the Eastern Orthodox Church which had skilfully shepherded them into its fold. The strategic position occupied by the Cossacks in the south in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was similar to that held by the Teutonic Knights in the north between 1228 and 1466 and had its origins in the long delayed ability of the masters of the basin of the Dnieper and the inhabitants of that of the Vistula to gain control of the lower reaches of those rivers and gain access to the sea.

The partial identity of interests between the Cossacks and the Republic came to an end before the century was out. The Cossacks, although dispersed over a wide area, continued to regard themselves as a self-governing force, answerable only to their superiors and through them to the hetmans (military commanders) of the Republic and to the king, entitled to an existence independent of the despotic local administrators and rapacious magnates and free to strike in piratical raids at Turkish possessions on the Black Sea coast and either to ally themselves with the Tatars or attack them in the Crimea. The king and the Republic on the other hand wished only a select minority of Cossacks to act as a well disciplined and obedient frontier corps, restricted in number to those inscribed in the official register whilst expecting the rest to accept the feudal constraints of the existent social system. In 1590 the Republic had stipulated that the commanders of the Cossacks should be of szlachta stock; soon afterwards the Crown began to make gifts of vast tracts of land, mostly on the left bank of the Dnieper, to deserving members of the szlachta. These latifundia laid the economic foundations of the power of the Ukrainian magnates who made every effort to turn the local Cossacks into peasants. The connivance of the authorities at this practice caused by the shortage of labour contributed richly to the alienation of the Cossacks from the Republic. Their treatment at the hands of the authorities ranged from cajolery and unkept promises to the savage suppression of the rebellions and protests which occurred in 1592-93, 1595, 1630 and 1637-38. The complaints put forward by the Cossacks at various times concerned the low total - 6000 - allowed to be inscribed in the official register, the exclusion of townsmen, arrears of pay, the limitation of land-holdings, restrictions on residence, religious persecution, exploitation by rural landlords. Their chief and most ambitious demand was for privileges equal to those of the szlachta who were unwilling to pay this or any other realistic price for the defence of the Republic's south-eastern marches but allowed a permanently discontented and therefore dangerous frontier force eventually to threaten the existence of the very state whose border it was intended to protect.

Cossackdom was neither the only nor the best method of protecting a frontier from an aggressive Islamic neighbour. The Austrian Militärgrenze in Croatia provided a more effective and more reliable human barrier. The Grenzer were colonists, hereditary smallholders living in family communities, organized by Imperial statute and subject only to the conditions of military tenure, free to profess their Greek Orthodox faith. Generally satisfied with their lot, they performed their duties without inclination to secession or revolt. But the comparison is not entirely fair. The Croatian and Slavonian border country being hilly, well defined and covering a comparatively small area, was better suited to organization and control than the limitless Ukrainian steppe.

Even before taking the Ukrainian Cossacks under their protection in 1654, the Russians, having learned of the political and military weakness of the Republic, decided to attack her with a view to recovering Smolensk (thereby closing the gateway to Moscow) and securing Ukraine against a possible Polish attack from the north, by occupying the area between the upper Dnieper and the river Seim and seizing as much territory in White Russia and Lithuania as proved possible. Once the Russians had invaded Poland in the spring of 1654, the Swedes felt obliged to do likewise in order to protect their interests in Livonia and to secure a share in the spoils in case of the disintegration of the Republic which their action could be expected to bring about.

Janusz Radziwiłł (1612–55)

The war with Sweden (1655-60) marked the lowest point in the fortunes of Poland-Lithuania in the seventeenth century. The country was divided against itself. The general expedition of Greater Poland surrendered, the grand hetman of Lithuania, Janusz Radziwiłł, undertook to unite the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Sweden, many of the szlachta and magnates swore loyalty to Charles X Gustavus. Warsaw and Cracow fell to the Swedes in quick succession, John Casimir fled across the Imperial border to Silesia. But already in the autumn of 1655 and the subsequent winter the tide of popular feeling began to rise against the invader. The defence of the monastery and shrine of Jasna Gora at Czestochowa dedicated to the Virgin Mary helped to restore the morale of the Poles who rallied to the king and began to roll back the Swedish tide - potop - which had threatened to engulf them.

John Casimir (1609–72)

In April 1656 John Casimir proclaimed the Virgin [Mary] Queen of the Kingdom (Korona) of Poland and swore to alleviate the lot of peasants. This act of religious and patriotic piety intensified the ardour of Roman Catholics for their faith among all classes of the population. For members of the ruling class which held sway in the Church as well as in the state, adherence to the Church of Rome had by then come to be regarded as in equal measure advantageous and good form. The peasantry, the townspeople and the szlachta may have been equally devout but by common consent God was 'the supreme szlachcic in Heaven who had delivered his son up to martyrdom and made him a Jew'.

Brandenburg-Prussia played a prominent part in the northern war, at first in alliance with Sweden. It was the assistance of a Prussian force under the Great Elector, Frederick William, that enabled the Swedes to win in 1656 the three-day battle of Warsaw and re-enter the city after having been forced out by the Poles. The place of this début on the stage of world history which had been credited with laying the foundations of a unitary Prussian state, did not augur well for the future of Poland's relations with that country. When a swift and complete Swedish victory no longer seemed assured, Frederick William changed sides and by the treaties of Welawa (Wehlau) and Bydgoszcz in 1657 obtained from the Republic sovereignty in Ducal Prussia for himself and his successors with the addition of the towns of Lebork (Lauenburg) and Bytów (Bütow) on the border between Poland and Brandenburg as fiefs. From a feudatory the Elector now became an ally of the Republic in the war with Sweden which entered another critical phase with the invasion of Poland by Sweden's ally, George II Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania.

The secession of Ukraine had called in question the cohesion of the multinational and multireligious state of the Jagellons sealed by the union of 1569. The ideal of union which had been made a reality by the joining together of Poland, Lithuania, parts of Livonia, East (Ducal) and West (Royal) Prussia, was crumbling under the blows delivered by the Cossacks and Swedes and its survival was threatened from without by a sinister and specious stratagem. Poland- Lithuania seemed to have reached a state of disintegration so far advanced that it called for a dismemberment of a territory which was too vast for Sweden to occupy and hold single-handed. The initiative came from Charles X Gustavus who in 1655 made vicarious offers of Polish-Lithuanian territory to both the Elector of Brandenburg and the tsar, making sure that all the options put before Aleksei Mikhailovich denied Muscovy access to the Baltic. The tsar rejected the proposal no doubt for that very reason but possibly also because he already regarded the whole of the Republic as his potential sphere of influence.

Another Swedish plan laid at the end of 1655 or at the beginning of 1656 provided for the outright annexation by Sweden of the northern portions of the Republic as far as the rivers Notec, Warta, Bug and Niemen. Swedish and German military colonists were to be settled on the new border. Further to the south a number of hereditary ducal fiefs were to be created under the sovereignty of the king of Sweden. The portions to be assigned to Brandenburg and Transylvania were not defined. Ukraine was to remain in the hands of the Cossacks. The proposal may be seen as the first stage of a plan of action directed against Muscovy and intended to debar her from the Baltic coast, Lithuania and White Russia and to oust her from the Ukraine. Towards the end of 1656 the plan was worked out in greater detail. Sweden was to seize Royal Prussia, Cuiavia, a part of Masovia, Podlachia, Samogitia, a further part of Lithuania and Courland. The turncoat Prince Boguslaw Radziwill was to be placed in the palatinate of Nowogrpdek as a sovereign ruler, the Elector of Brandenburg was to receive Warmia and the province of Greater Poland. The remainder of the Republic's territories was to be given to Rakoczi, the Cossacks were to be masters in Ukraine. The treaty signed by Charles X Gustavus and Rákóczi at Radnot in Hungary in December 1656 followed these lines. The Swedes had been watching the relations between the Cossacks and their successive suzerains, the King of Poland and the Tsar of Russia since 1648 but it was Khmel'nyts'kyi who in 1651 approached Queen Christina with a proposal for joint action against the Republic.

Charles X Gustavus (1622–60)

He renewed his offer in 1654, the first year of the reign of Charles X Gustavus, and soon afterwards the king's agents were sounding out the hetman as a possible ally in Sweden's relations not only with the Republic but also with Muscovy. Before setting out for the invasion of Poland in July 1655 the king instructed his envoy to the tsar to ensure that the interests of the Cossacks and their independent status were protected in any peace settlement. After Charles Gustavus had begun military operations in Poland Khmel'nys'kyi adjusted his troop movements to those of the Swedes.

Ivan Vygovs'kyi (1608–64)

After his death a military alliance was made between Sweden and the Cossacks at Korsun' in October 1657 but the Cossacks were not comprised in the truce agreed at Valliesaari between Sweden and Russia in November of the following year. The alliance remained a dead letter. Having begun by inciting the Cossacks against the Muscovites, Charles Gustavus ended up by advising the new hetman, Ivan Vygovs'kyi (d.1664), to unite with the Poles on terms to be guaranteed by Sweden. Most of the diplomatic activity just described in its bare bones belongs to the category of ineffective side-shows whose importance tends to be magnified in retrospect. Nevertheless the interest taken by Sweden in the concerns of the Cossacks in consequence of its involvement in the affairs of Poland-Lithuania did create something of a bond between the far-flung kingdom of Swedes, Goths and Vandals and the leaders of an emergent nation on the banks of the Dnieper and set a precedent for future co-operation. In order to prepare public opinion in the Empire for drastic action by Sweden against the Republic, the polyhistor and political writer Hermann Conring writing under a pseudonym put forward the view that, the Poles being capable neither of governing themselves nor of protecting the Germanic world from Muscovite tyranny and Tatar rapine, their country should be annexed by Sweden and reformed by force. Notwithstanding the distance between the two countries and the differences in their political institutions, religion, laws, customs and habits, they would grow into a single body. Besides, it was to be recalled that the ancient Goths had conquered all the peoples dwelling between the Baltic and the Black Sea and the Danube.

However fanciful the plans for the partition of Poland-Lithuania may have seemed with regard to the participation of an adventurer such as Rákóczi or the vastness of the territory to be governed by Sweden, they nevertheless reflected a grim reality and a genuine danger which did not recede when the northern war came to an end. A year later John Casimir expressed the fear that without a pre-election of his successor the Republic would fall 'in direptionem gentium': 'The Muscovites assisted by the Ruthenians will claim the lands where their language is spoken and detach the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Brandenburger will enter Greater Poland which lies open before him and will either come to an understanding with Sweden over Royal Prussia or contest it by force of arms. The House of Austria, even with the most pious intentions, will not miss the opportunity of taking Cracow. For everyone would rather have a part of Poland acquired by force than to keep it intact, protected from foreign princes by its ancient liberties'.

The publicists active on behalf of Charles X Gustavus succeeded in giving the impression that the king of Sweden had taken up arms against the kingdom of Poland 'for no other cause than to propagate the Protestant Religion and to unite the Lutheran and Reformed Churches'. But when in 1656 the Polish Protestants petitioned the Swedish king to guarantee their traditional rights he gave an evasive reply, no doubt for fear of offending his Roman Catholic supporters. Perhaps for the same reason he did not carry out his intention to appeal not only to the Protestants but also to the 'people of the Greek religion' to join him in his campaign against the papists, a step which may have been advised by his chancellor, Erik Oxenstierna. Oxenstierna was well aware that in order to win the support of the Cossacks, it was necessary to promise to restore the former freedom of the Greek religion in the whole Republic. Sweden was thus the first power hostile to the Republic to consider the possibility of using the disaffection of the whole of its Christian religious majority as a weapon against the Republic which it wanted also to partition. But Brandenburg-Prussia was not far behind. The Great Elector, Frederick William, wanted Aleksei Mikhailovich to intercede with the Poles on behalf of the Protestant as well as of the Orthodox community. Had these velleities become widely known they would only have hastened the coalescence of the Polish national consciousness with the Roman Catholic faith. The Protestant and Orthodox dissenters and their influent ial protectors, whether nat ive or foreign, consistent ly demanded the restoration of the ancient rights of their communities but the passage of time and the hardening of the Catholic attitude in the aftermath of war and invasion weakened the force of their case, founded on the Confederacy of Warsaw of 1573.

That confederacy was formed by the szlachta during the interregnum that followed the death of the last Jagellon, Sigismund Augustus, in January 1573 and was confirmed in May of that year at the election of Henri de Valois who left Poland a year later to become Henri III of France. The Act of Confederacy determined the principles though not the modalities of religious toleration in Poland-Lithuania. The signatories resolved to oblige the future king to swear inter alia to keep the peace among the members of the electorate who were divided and at variance in matters of faith and worship. The often quoted third paragraph of the Act states that in view of considerable religious differences in the Republic, so as to prevent any harmful breach of public order of a kind clearly to be seen in other realms, 'we who are dissidentes de religione' promise and swear to one another to keep the peace among ourselves and not to do injury or harm to one another or in any way to assist any public authority in such action, indeed to prevent it. The subsequent paragraph is loosely worded but does make it clear that the Act did not detract from the authority of the landlords over the peasants and that any breach of the law committed under the pretext of religion was punishable. Because of its obscurity the paragraph could be construed in relation to the whole peasant population, Roman Catholic and Orthodox alike, as an injunction to conform to the religion of its landlords, lay or secular.

Probably because no open conflict could be seen to exist between the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox among the szlachta, the Act does not specifically include the Orthodox among the dissidentes. But the rivalry between the Church of Rome and the Greek Church over benefices was evidently obvious enough for the Act to impose the maintenance of the existing state of affairs by reserving the benefices of each Church for its clergy. The split in the Greek Church introduced a third party, the Uniate Church into the competition for benefices. Reunion with Rome was decided upon by the Orthodox bishops in the Republic, with the full support of Sigismund III, as the only possible means of bringing about the regeneration of their Church. Accomplished in Rome at the end of 1595 and proclaimed in October 1596 at the synod of Brest, it preserved for the Uniates the Byzantine ritual and the Slavonic liturgy, Communion under both kinds, baptism by immersion and marriage of the clergy. After the Union of Brest the authorities found it convenient to recognize as legitimate claims laid by the Uniate Church to Orthodox benefices. The first king to swear to observe the terms of the Confederacy of Warsaw was Stephen Báthory who did so in 1576, thus giving it constitutional validity. Being a declaration of intent rather than an act of toleration armed with sanctions, the Confederacy did not protect the dissenters from the onslaught of the Counter-Reformation.

Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski (1526–1608)

It was Prince Konstany Ostrogski (Ostrozhs'kyi) (ca 1526-1608) who, in order the more effectively to protect the interests of the Orthodox first put out feelers towards the Protestants at their synod held in 1595 and next gave his patronage to a joint meeting of representatives of the Protestant Churches (Bohemian Brethren, Calvinists, Lutherans) and the Orthodox community in Vilno in 1599. The participants entered into a confederacy in support of the confederacy of Warsaw of 1573 with the object of preserving the rights and privileges of both the Protestant and the Orthodox religion. The Act of Confederacy complains that many adherents of the Church of Rome, lay and clerical, having repudiated the Act of 1573, commit deeds contrary to its provisions. Some churches, monasteries and chapels have been attacked and wantonly destroyed, others have been seized by the secular authorities under the pretext of carrying out decrees passed by ecclesiastical tribunals. Services, funerals and other Christian rites are disrupted, members of the clergy are harassed, flocks compelled to follow shepherds 'whom we consider to be apostates from the Oriental patriarchs', lay people are attacked, especially in towns simply because they are non-conformists. The szlachta suffer discrimination by being debarred from seats in the senate, dignities and offices. The signatories undertook to protect the freedom of worship and denominational teaching of their co-religionists, to defend the physical safety of their churches, chapels and clergy and the possession of their benefices. The Orthodox delegates, however, did not sign the Act and its legal validity was therefore open to question.

Acting to some extent under the influence of a general inclination towards unification, religious as well as political , prevalent during the debates and negotiations that led up to the Union of Lublin (1569) but principally in self-defence against the rising tide of the Catholic reaction, the Polish Protestants endeavoured to find a common ground. The Consensus Sendomiriensis or Agreement of Sandomierz concluded in 1570 between the Bohemian Brethren, the Calvinists and the Lutherans of Poland and Lithuania put a temporary end to the quarrels and divisions between the three denominations whose representatives now undertook to work together in the common cause of Protestantism. Their aims were set out in a formula published under the title of Consensus sive concordia. The theological differences between the three parties were never settled but subsequent joint synods, the last of which was held at Thorn in 1595, confirmed the original agreement though without the participation of the Lutherans. No further tripartite synods were held thereafter but an understanding between the Bohemian Brethren and the Calvinists reached in a joint synod held in 1634 at Włodawa prepared some of the ground for the Colloquium charitativum between Catholics and Protestants which took place at Thorn in 1645 on the initiative of King Władysław IV. Its purpose - to establish what the several denominations had in common, to examine that which was doubtful and to discuss the things that were controversial - was not achieved, the talks ended in deadlock and earned the colloquium the epithet of irritativum.

By the beginning of the seventeenth century toleration in Poland- Lithuania, although still substantial by comparison to most countries in eastern and western Europe, was nevertheless wearing thin. The Act of 1573 was not rendered effective by further legislation despite efforts made by the Protestants to that end and therefore did not obligate the executive or the judiciary. Stephen Báthory acted scrupulously in the spirit of the Act but Sigismund III and his chancellery did not. The law gave no protection to Protestants or their churches against attacks by urban crowds which occurred repeatedly in the larger towns and were directed at first against churches, as in Cracow in 1574, and from the end of the century against private persons and houses, funeral processions and cemeteries. On occasion the tumult was provoked by the insulting behaviour of a member of the Protestant community. In Cracow the was destroyed in 1591, that in Wilno in 1639 and the one in Lublin in 1649. By that time there were no Calvinist churches left within the major cities except in Royal Prussia where the majority of the population was Protestant. In Wilno the Lutheran church remained in its place but the Calvinist one, as elsewhere, was now located outside the city walls. The 'convocation' Diet which preceded the election of Władysław IV in 1632, passed acts for the preservation of the religious peace and the suppression of tumults and allowed the freedom of worship in private houses and existent (that is surviving) churches but forbade the building of new ones (and by implication the rebuilding of old churches).

Generally speaking the Reformation was in decline and the Polish-speaking Protestants - Calvinists, Lutherans, and Bohemian Brethren - though not systematically persecuted, were under fire, largely from the Jesuits, and living in an increasingly hostile environment. The Arians or Socinians (also known as Polish Brethren or Unitarians), as well as being shunned by reason of their extremism by their fellow- Protestants, were in particularly bad odour with the Roman Catholics. To the zealots of the Counter-Reformation the flourishing condition of the Arians' place of worship, school and printing house at Rakow (near Kielce, the birthplace of the Racovian Catechism twice burnt in public in England) may have looked like a challenge and the Arians suffered the consequence of their defiance. In 1639 in reprisal for an act of desecration committed - whether deliberately or accidentally is not known to this day - by a handful of students and their teachers, and treated as a breach of the religious peace, a parliamentary resolution ordered the closure of the centre at Rakow and the expulsion of its ministers and teachers. Undaunted, the Brethren migrated to the palatinates of Volhynia and of Kiev where they found sanctuary on private estates.

In sum, although religious peace was preserved, it was no longer a peace inter dissidentes, among the like-minded equals who agreed to differ in their beliefs, but between Roman Catholics and non-conformists. The Greek Orthodox, although not included in the Act of Confederacy of 1573, were implicitly recognized as equal in standing to the two other communities but in the Act of 1632 'the people of the Greek religion' are described as dissenters in the sense of being divided into those who had accepted the Union of 1596 and those who remained outside it. It is here that the Polish calque dysydenci of the Latin term occurs, perhaps for the first time in an official document. The Orthodox came later to be known as Disuniates - dyzunici - an ugly but significant term much resented by those to whom it was applied.

In 1648 the Primate, eight bishops and nineteen lay senators protested in a written declaration against the newly agreed confirmation of the Act of 1573 lest the term dissidentes be interpreted as applying to the Arians. The declaration formally denied them the name of Christians and, by implication, the protection of the law. The towns of Royal Prussia did not participate in any of these Acts. The peace treaty signed at Oliva in 1660 confirmed and renewed the former rights, liberties and privileges of these towns, including the free exercise of the Catholic and the Protestant religion .

The Protestant dissenters were not to know what historians were to discover later, that their tribulations, measured by the standards of the period in which they lived were mild. It may be doubted whether such knowledge would have brought the sufferers much comfort; their feeling of injury was deep and bore bitter fruit. In the war with Sweden many Protestants greeted Charles X Gustavus as a saviour, went over to his side and, after the Swedes had left, were charged with treason, collaboration and disloyalty. But amid the prevailing confusion many Catholics too had supported the Swedes from opportunism or sheer desperation. Even more numerous were the Catholics who saw behind the invasion of Poland by George II Rákóczi a conspiracy hatched by Protestants and who condemned the Arians wholesale for siding with the Swedes. These charges, made public by clerical propaganda, were by no means groundless. The obdurate Arian leaders cared more for their religion than for their country which had treated them well in the past but had of late grown less tolerant. The Brethren were treated with especial severity. The Diets of 1658 and 1659 condemned the members of the Arian sect and any persons who might harbour them to infamy, confiscation of property and banishment unless by 10 July 1660 they joined the Church of Rome. Some Unitarians conformed, some left for Transylvania, others for Holland. The poet Wespazjan Kochowski (1633-1700) bade them adieu with the words 'Be off with you oh Arians, grandsons of Beelzebub who set a low price on God's honour and glory in reviling His name; obdurate Moors, traitors rather than sons, wend your way out of Poland beyond this world and the next.' Thus the Republic destroyed the one milieu within its borders which in the seventeenth century enriched with its thought the mainstream of European culture. After the banishment of the Polish Brethren from the Republic which had given them their very name, the embers of rational thought, humanitarian ethics and secular learning died out in the thickening darkness of obscurantism and bigotry.

The Union of Brest did not bring about the religious unity under a single shepherd so fervently desired by Skarga but rather caused the reverse, the division of the Eastern Christians in White Russia and Ruthenia into two rival camps, one owing allegiance to Rome, the other to the Eastern Patriarchs. Of the two, the Uniates initially came off worse, incurring the contempt of the Orthodox as apostates and the suspicion of the Roman Catholics as neophytes. By 1620, because of the disappointingly slow progress of the process of reunification, some Catholic prelates saw the Union as an artificial and unnecessary creation, a forced growth lacking in popular support and unlikely to survive the energetic Uniate metropolitan (1614-37) Joseph (Veliamin Rutski). The Uniate Church did not even for long enjoy the loyalty of all its original members, many of whom in the upper strata of society were going over to the Latin Church. In response to Rutski's request to stem this outflow Urban VIII in 1624 confirmed the rule that Uniates were not allowed to leave the Greek rite for the Latin but neither this decision nor the subsequent decree which forbade Uniate priests to cross the borderline without papal permission was made public in Poland.

The Polish clergy contemptuously referred to Uniate churches as 'synagogues', a term which Roman missionaries preferred to apply to schismatic places of worship. To the Roman Catholic clergy and laity alike, the Uniates – except for their recognition of the Pope as the Vicar of Christ – were no less alien than the Orthodox with their priests burdened with a wife and children, conducting divine service behind the ikonostasis and not before a visible altar, offering prayers in a different manner and in a different tongue in churches without an organ and using unleavened bread for Holy Communion (given under both kinds). These external differences were compounded by divergences on points of dogma such as the procession of the Holy Spirit, purgatory and the intercession of the saints. In all, they deepened the linguistic, national and social divisions between the Poles and their eastern neighbours. The most frequently quoted critics of the Union among the Catholics were Lew Sapieha, formerly a Calvinist, grand chancellor of Lithuania (1577-1633), assuming that he was indeed the author of the letter addressed to archbishop Josephat (Kuntsevich) in 1622, and a less prominent figure, Jan Feliks Herburt (1567-1616) who registered his disapproval in 1611 or 1613. (This 'Opinion' has also been attributed to Krzysztof Zbaraski, 1580-1627, and dated 1623).

The degree to which these men expressed or affected contemporary public opinion cannot be gauged but it may be inferred from the subsequent developments in favour of the Orthodox that others were of like mind. Seen by Sapieha and Herburt from a political standpoint, the Union was a disruptive force, detrimental to the internal as well as the external security of the state. The 'querulous consort' of the Church of Rome was a constant threat to public order and to the unity of the nations which made up the Republic; it also marred its relations with Muscovy and the Cossacks. The king's involvement in the Union was patent and no good could come of secular interference in spiritual matters. Judged in moral terms the Union was a denial of the traditional spirit of toleration in the Republic; the Orthodox (Herburt calls them Ruś, deliberately identifying religion with nationality) might not have any privileges written on paper or parchment but they had the best rights of all, those which are preserved in ancient custom. In Sapieha's words the ideal of 'one fold, one shepherd' was praiseworthy as an ultimate goal but it was as inadmissible to prescribe compulsory entry into the Church of Rome as it was to keep the faithful out of their churches or to seize such places by force. The suspicion was inescapable that the new Uniate bishops were seeking their personal gain.

Two decades before the conclusion of the Union Skarga had admitted that the prestige of the Russian Church under a metropolitan who could be seen to be more active than his counterpart of Kiev and Halich resident in Lithuania, combined with that of a Grand Duke of Muscovy as successful as Ivan IV might appeal to the Orthodox in Poland who spoke the same language and used the same liturgy as the Muscovites but went on to castigate the Russian Church for its decadence and penury, its semi-idolatrous practices, the coarseness and ignorance of its clergy and, even before the creation of the patriarchate of Moscow which was to take place in 1589, its subservience to the secular power. The Grand Duke, writes Skarga, appoints the metropolitan as he pleases but the power of a man so appointed, like that of his ruler, is merely secular. From the point of view of Báthory and Skarga, the Orthodox inhabitants of White Russia and Muscovy were, in their ignorance of things divine, to be compared to the savage natives of South America or the Indies and equally in need of evangelization.

In this way, for good or ill, the ancient schism between Rome and Constantinople was to prevent the creation of a dynastic union between Muscovy and Poland-Lithuania in 1658 just as it had done in 1610-1613. in the Republic, the 'Greek faith', like its opposite, the Union, was a living political reality, close to many extraneous interests. It was defended, within the narrow limits of their ability, by the Eastern Patriachs and individual monks of Athos, protected with increasing vigour and from ulterior motives by Muscovy, condemned by Rome. All-pervasive, it distorted and obscured the aims of the Republic's foreign and domestic policy. Was the order of the day to be expansion, accompanied by enforced religious conformity within, or toleration and consolidation? Were the Cossacks - the least likely converts to the Union - to be humbled or placated? The clash between schism and anti-schism mixed politics with religion, strengthened the weakening ties between religion and culture, divided political loyalties, raised doubts about religious, cultural and national identity in the minds of the inhabitants of White and Red Ruthenia and especially among the Cossacks. Were they Ruthenians or Poles? Who was their sovereign? The tsar? The King of Poland? Who was their supreme pastor? The Patriarch of Constantinople? The Patriarch of Moscow? The Pope? Heart-searchings such as these no doubt accompany the birth of many nationalities but when they arise they cause much confusion and instability in the older societies from which they emerge. One such was the ancient Republic.

The Orthodox perception of Roman Catholicism, whether in Ruthenia or in Muscovy, was no less narrow and hostile as well as being coloured by the fear of a threat to the very existence of Orthodox culture. A few months before the proclamation of the Union of Brest in 1596, Stefan Zizanii (ca 1570 - ca 1605) put forward the view that the Pope who had arrogated to himself the authority of a secular ruler and the title of head of the church was none other than antichrist. Ivan Vyshens'kyi (of Wisznia, south-west of Lvov, monk of Athos 'ca 1550 - ca 1625) , another adversary of the Union, accused the Popes of having entangled themsleves in a tissue of lies and deception, perverted the Christian religion and, together with the dignitaries of Church and state, having yielded to the temptations of the Prince of this world, vainglory, licence and riches. In Muscovy the metropolitan Afanasii (1564-66) branded the Lithuanians as godless, the Poles as abominable in the eyes of God and (presumably) the Calvinists of both nations as evil iconoclasts.

Urban VIII (1568–1644)

The Holy See had long regarded the Uniates - in Pierling's phrase - as a trait d'union between East and West. Under the pontificate of Urban VIII (1623-44) the Papacy subscribed to the view expressed in 1624 by Rutski: there was no other practical possibility of converting the Muscovites - 'scismatici in sommo grado' according to Cardinal Bellarmine - than by the agency of the Ruthenians. The utterance attributed to that Pope himself: 'Per vos, mei Rutheni, Orientum convertendum spero', is no less apt for being apocryphal. When in 1617, during the second Polish expedition to Moscow the coronation of Prince Władysław, the eldest son of Sigismund III, as tsar of all the Russians seemed imminent, the Union was expected to play a highly useful political purpose. As the Muscovites would not wish to use the Latin, any more than the Prince would wish to follow the Orthodox rite, the Holy See agreed that the coronation ceremony might be performed according to that rite by a Uniate bishop.

The Uniates greatly resented being treated by their Roman Catholic brethren as second class Catholics. The cri de coeur uttered in 1643 by Mefodii (Terlets'kyi), bishop of Chelm (Kholm), voiced their principal demands: recognition of the Uniate bishops and their rights by their Latin counterparts, the right, in extreme circumstances, to seek the protection of the papal nuncio, permission for Roman Catholics to worship in Uniate churches, exemption from paying the tithe to the Latin clergy. Another cause for complaint was the pressure brought to bear by Roman Catholic landlords or employers on the Uniate laity to observe Latin practices in complete disregard of the terms of the Union.

Contrary to the pessimistic predictions of the ill-wishers of the Union, thanks to the vigorous leadership of such spiritual leaders as Rutski and the archbishop of Polotsk (1618-23), Josaphat (Kuntsevich), it survived the perils of the early years of its existence and took root in many parts of the western marches of the Republic, with consequences that outlived the ancient Republic. As archbishop Josaphat at first won success by converting to the Union nearly the whole of the population of his diocese but was equally quickly driven from the field by his Orthodox rival, Meletii (Smotryts'kyi, ca 1587 - ca 1633). In 1620 the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophanes, consecrated Meletii without royal or parliamentary approval alongside the metropolitan of Kiev and his five other suffragans. Public opinion, especially among the townspeople turned against Kuntsevich. In 1623, while on a visitation at Vitebsk, after an incident involving the detention of an Orthodox monk who had insulted the archbishop, he was assaulted by an angry mob and killed by two shots fired from the crowd. The circumstances of his death and the memory of his saintly life now gave rise to a cult of Josaphat and caused the authorities of state and Church to adopt a more positive attitude towards the Union which Meletii himself embraced in secret in 1628. Josaphat was beatified in 1643 and canonised in 1867.

Rutski also rescued from a state of moral and material decay the Basilians, the monks who followed the rule of St Basil the Great. Under a new centralized organization and a new constitution their task was defined as that of a seminary of the servants and defendants of the Greek Church who preach, convert, propagate the faith in missions and teach. In Rutski's lifetime the Basilians were still a small force, numbering only about one hundred in 1622, but an influential one: in Lithuania, White Russia and in Ukraine they were the Uniate equivalent of the Society of Jesus. Both in the period leading up to his election in November 1632 and thereafter as king, Władysław IV responded to the demands of the Orthodox for the official restoration and maintenance of their ancient rights with as much sympathy as circumstances allowed or required.

The Orthodox, having by 1620 lost all but one of their bishops, clung to traditional ways but, living in constant fear of forced conversion, looked with increasing frequency to the tsar of Muscovy for alms, sanctuary and official protection. On their home ground the Orthodox peasants and townspeople found influential protectors among the diminishing numbers of Orthodox and Protestant magnates and with the commanders of the Cossacks. Under skilful leadership a congeries of rough-hewn and unruly border mercenaries could, by raising the banner of resistance to religious oppression, play the reputable part of a Christian host. The first Cossack hetman to adopt the role of defender of the Orthodox faith was Petro Konashevych, also known as Sahaidachnyi (d.1622). By acting thus the hetman gained prestige among the common people in Ukraine and political leverage in Warsaw and in Moscow although the unofficial restoration of the Orthodox hierarchy in 1620 by Theophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was probably directed from the Russian capital by the Patriarch Filaret (Romanov).

At the outset of the 'convocation' Sejm which, as was now the custom, preceded the one that elected the king, the Orthodox and the Protestants presented their demands for freedom in the exercise of their respective religions in a joint petition. The demands of the Protestants were met separately by a confirmation of the Warsaw confederacy of 1573. The news received at the end of October of the Russian advance against Smolensk made it imperative for the king to secure the support of the Cossacks who declared that they would not take part in the war unless the demands of the Orthodox were met. The complex ingenious constitutional devices which had now to be adopted to deal with the position of the 'Greek religion' are a measure as much of the strength of the Roman Catholic and Uniate opposition to any accommodation with the Orthodox as of the pugnacity of the parliamentary deputies of that persuasion who in 1633 threatened to break up the Sejm unless they received satisfaction. The Articles of Pacification put forward in 1632 by the then Prince Władysław were followed in 1633 by a royal diploma granted by Władysław IV as king and approved by the Sejm of that year pending the enactment of the necessary legislation by the Sejm to be held in 1635. Meanwhile in 1633 on the strength of the Articles of Pacification Władysław IV as king, ignoring the de facto restoration of 1620, officially restored the Orthodox hierarchy by naming Peter (Mogila or Mohyla, 1597-1646), archimandrite of the laura of the Caves in Kiev, as a metropolitan and appointing two bishops. High-born and educated partly in western Europe, Mogila was persona grata with the Polish authorities and acceptable as an instrument of state policy but not as one of its makers: neither he nor any of the Orthodox bishops were allowed seats in the senate. (Nor, for that matter, were the Uniates).

The final regulation of the status of the Orthodox and Uniate Churches is so riddled with reservations and contradictions that historians have not found it easy to convey its gist. The Uniates received the metropolis of Kiev, the archbishoprics of Polotsk and Smolensk, the bishoprics of Vladimir-Volynski, Chelm (Kholm) and Pinsk and, for the lifetime of their incumbents, the dioceses of Lutsk and Przemysl. Originally the king had awarded the bishopric of Lutsk with its endowment to an Orthodox notable, Aleksander Puzyna, who had been chosen by the local community, but had obviously been prevailed upon to modify his decision. The diocese of Przemysl was to be divided so as to provide for the establishment also of a Uniate diocese. The Uniates were further put in exclusive possession of places of worship in Vitebsk, Polotsk and Novgorod Severskii. Smolensk was added to this list in 1634 when Władysław IV confirmed his father's order prohibiting the non-Catholics there from founding or building places of worship and the holding of services except in private houses.

The Orthodox or rather Mogila received the metropolis of Kiev but only in name, without any endowment except for the cathedral of St Sophia and the monastery of St Nicholas (which was to be reincorporated with the laura of the Caves) for the lifetime of the metropolitan only. The Orthodox received also the eparchy of Lvov, the eparchies of Lutsk and (partly) Przemyśl in reversion and the newly established eparchy of Mstislav and Orsha or White Russia. Orthodox pupils were allowed to receive instruction in Greek and in Latin in Kiev and in Vilno but the humanities were not to be taught beyond the trivium, no doubt in order not to enter into competition with the Jesuit colleges. In the towns the churches were to be allocated by royal commissioners to the Orthodox and Uniate inhabitants in proportion to their numbers. It is clear that so fuzzy a compromise could lead only to confusion and further controversy. In general, although parliamentary debates on the condition of the Greek religion were held almost annually between 1637 and 1647 in a comparatively favourable atmosphere, the wrongs of the Orthodox were far from fully redressed and their plight continued to give cause for further complaints. The hopes, aroused by the conciliatory stance of Władysław IV, of putting an end to the discord between the Orthodox and the Uniates by a reunification of the two Eastern Churches, if not <...> and Nikon Patriarch of Moscow, of Great, Little (Red) and White Russia. In the same year Nikon, acting in defiance of canon law, revived the Orthodox eparchies of Smolensk and Polotsk, placed them under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow and filled the vacancies thus created with his nominees, the bishops Filaret (1658-71) and Kallist (Dorofeevich-Rytorais'kyi, 1657-61).

Such arbitrary action created among the clergy divisions as deep as those that existed among the Cossack leaders. The metropolitan of Kiev (1658-63) Dionisii (Balaban) took refuge on the right bank of the Dnieper as did the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev, designate from 1655, Gavriil (Kolenda, Kalenda, Koloda, 1665-1674). On the Left Bank Mefodii (Fylymonovych), bishop of Mstislav and Orsha, an unscrupulous and self-seeking but clumsy intriguer, unlawfully consecrated by the metropolitan of Moscow Pitirim, acted between 1661 and 1668 as administ rator of the see of Kiev. Iosif (Neliubovych-Tukal's'kyi , d.1675) was elected metropolitan in 1663 but had the confidence neither of the Poles who interned him at Malbork (Marienburg) between 1665 and 1667 nor of the Russians who refused to admit him to Kiev even though the Patriarch of Constantinople confirmed him in his office in 1668. For sanctuary and political backing Iosif relied to the end on the right-bank hetman, Doroshenko.

The Cossacks in their onslaught spared no one who in their eyes belonged to the system of Polish domination in Red or White Ruthenia. Fr Andrew Bobola, S.J. was from 1652 a preacher and missionary in the region of Pinsk. The ground was well chosen because here many of the inhabitants, including the szlachta, still clung to the Orthodox faith. Fr Bobola was well versed in the writings of the Greek Fathers and his many conversions from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism had earned him the by-names of 'soul-catcher' and 'apostle' of the region. In 1657, possibly under pressure from the Cossacks who had sent a raiding party into the region from Brest, the szlachta of the district of Pinsk declared their loyalty to Khmel'nyts'kyi. Bobola and another priest took refuge in the countryside; both were captured by a Cossack patrol and put to death, two more victims of a brutal reaction to gratuitous proselytism. Fr Bobola, having suffered many hours of cruel torture, refused to the last to abjure Catholicism in favour of Orthodoxy. He was named a martyr in 1755, beatified in 1853 and canonized in 1938.

The Orthodox and Ruthenian counterpart of St Andrew Bobola was Afanasii (Fylypovych, 1597-1648). A monk from 1627, later archimandrite of the monastery St Simeon at Brest, Afanasii was a passionate critic of the Jesuits, whom he accused of enticing the young and the ignorant, but above all a sworn enemy of the Union of Brest. In his opinion uncanonical and therefore accursed, it was bound by reason of its divisive nature to bring nothing but misfortune to all concerned. His tireless campaign against the Union took him to both Tsar Fedor Mikhailovich in Moscow and King Władysław and the senate in Warsaw. In 1648, after the death of Władysław, at the outset of Khmel'nyts'kyi's uprising, Afanasii was arrested on a charge of incitement to rebellion, summarily tried and, having refused under torture to embrace the Union, executed. He was beatified at an unknown date. The parallel is plain enough: the martyr prefers death to conversion.

Bogdan Khmel'nyts'kyi (1595–1657)

The uprising led by Khmel'nyts'kyi, elected hetman of the Cossack armies in 1648, was a combination of personal vendetta, military rebellion, jacquerie, holy war and national insurrection so powerful that it carried all before it and inflicted on the Republic a series of humiliating defeats. Two Polish counter-strokes were followed by agreements which in some respects foreshadowed the terms of the agreement of Gadiach of 1658 but were not put into effect. After making some tactical overtures to the sultan, Khmel'nyts'kyi asked Tsar Aleksei Milhailovich for his protection which the tsar granted. A general council of the Cossacks held at Pereiaslav in January 1654 gave its approval to the agreement between the tsar and the hetman of the 'Zaporozhian Host', that is of all the Ukrainian Cossacks, 60,000 men, in accordance with which tsar placed them with their towns and lands under his protection, undertook to defend them, to preserve their rights and privileges and confirmed the ownership of all property. The Cossacks for their part swore loyalty to the tsar.

The relationship between tsar and hetman was not clearly defined at Pereiaslav or in the subsequent negotiations between the two sides in Moscow in terms that bore any relation to national or international law. The union of Pereiaslav was preceded by the decision of the Assembly of the Land (zemskii sobor) held in Moscow in 1651 to accept the request which Khmel'nyts'kyi had addressed to the tsar, to receive the fealty of the Ukrainian Cossacks. In the light of this fact the union takes on the aspect of an act of homage or an investiture as distinct from an agreement between equals, especially as after that event the tsar added to his titles that of sole ruler (samoderzhets) of Little Russia (or Ukraine). The meaning conveyed by Aleksei Mikhailovich's gift to Khmel'nyts'kyi of a banner, a mace, a cloak and a boyar's tall cap was unmistakable: the hetman was to be the tsar's liegeman. In addition Khmel'nyts'kyi and his eldest son Tymish (1632-53) received generous gifts of sable pelts. The secretary general of the Cossack army, Ivan Vyhovs'kyi (1664) was similarly rewarded for his labours but in secret, probably in order to avoid the impression of bribery. Khmel'nyts'kyi's death in 1657 gave rise to a prolonged struggle for authority over the Cossacks between hetmans elected by rival parties on both banks of the Dnieper. It was Vyhovs'kyi who was elected hetman for the term of the minority of Khmel'nyts'kyi's only surviving son, Iurii (1640 - ca 1681). Although he had been a co-author of the agreement of Pereiaslav, Vyhovs'kyi now made a stand against any further extension of Muscovy's interference in the political, economic and military affairs of Ukraine. While his opponent on the Left Bank, Martyn Pushkar (d.1658) , remained obedient to the tsar, Vyhovs'kyi entered into negotiations with the Poles who were at long last willing to recognize the Cossacks and their territory as worthy of a distinct status.

The part played in the mediatization of Ukraine by the leaders of the Orthodox Church - the Patriarch Nikon and the eastern Patriarchs Paisios I of Constantinople and Paisios of Jerusalem - was more active than is generally recognized. The hierarchs calculated that a Muscovy strengthened by the annexation of all of Ukraine would clash with Turkey, gain the upper hand and in due course liberate the five million or so Orthodox Christians in the Balkans from the Islamic yoke. It is not clear whether at this stage the eastern Patriarchs gave any thought to the possibility that their brother of Moscow might wish to seize from the Patriarch of Constantinople his jurisdiction over the Orthodox eparchies of Ukraine.

The Polish answer to the agreement of Pereiaslav was that signed with the Cossacks at Gadiach (Hadiach) in September 1658 but later amended to meet the objections of the senators before being sworn by the Sejm and a Cossack delegation in May 1659. Had the treaty of Gadiach been implemeneted its constitutional implications would have been similar to those of the Union of Lublin of 1569, for it would have transformed Poland-Lithuania into a tripartite state of Poland (Korona), Lithuania and Ruś or Ruthenia which was to consist of the palatinates of Kiev, Chernigov and Bratslav. The three components were to share an elective king, a parliament and a foreign policy. The Duchy of Ruthenia was to have its own army of 30,000 Cossacks and 10,000 mercenaries under the command of a hetman who would also hold the office of palatine of Ruthenia. In the palatinate of Kiev members of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches would be appointed senators by turns. The metropolitan of Kiev and the Orthodox bishops would receive seats in the senate. The Uniate Church would not be allowed to build new churches or monasteries or to increase its endowment. The duchy would have its own court of appeal (trybunał). Of the two new academies to be founded the one to displace the existent academy at Kiev was to exclude all 'Protestant sects'. The local szlachta would keep their status and privileges, the Cossacks - who were to swear loyalty to the king and the Republic for all time - would retain their ancient customs and liberties, including the exemption from all forms of tax. Up to one hundred Cossacks from each regiment would be presented by the hetman for ennoblement. Dispossessed owners of estates, whether ecclesiastical - Orthodox as well as Roman Catholic - or secular, would recover their property. The Act of Parliament embodying the treaty of union conferred numerous rewards and distinctions on Vyhovs'kyi and his closest associates.

Even these diluted terms, being more clear-cut and more favourable than those agreed at Pereiaslav, were attractive to the rising and covertly Polonphile Cossack gentry. But the attitude adopted by the rank and file of the Cossacks and their leaders of lowlier condition towards the agreement of Gadiach was one of hostility and suspicion which the Muscovites knew how to exploit for their own ends. In October 1659 Vyhovs'kyi was forced to resign his office in favour of Iurii Khmel'nyts'kyi who swore obedience to the tsar. As has been rightly said, the union of Gadiach - one of the stillborn glories of the ancient Republic - came fifty years too late or a year too early to have had any effect. In the first eventuality it might have satisfied both parties and created a harmonious tripartite federation even though it did invite Polish, Lithuanian and Ruthenian separatism. In the second it might have been enforced for a period of uncertain duration. The scheme itself, bold, imaginative and, unlike so many schemes produced in the same century, rational, was in all probability the work of Jerzy Niemirycz (1612-59), a Ruthenian of noble birth, good education, great wealth and high standing in the Republic. The motives from which he acted appear to have been a blend of conviction, ambition and opportunism, his conversion from Socinianism to Orthodoxy was calculated to enable him to hold the highest civil office in the new duchy.

Neither the agreement of Pereiaslav nor that of Gadiach offered a satisfactory prospect for the future of the Ukrainian people. But both pale into insignificance beside the wars and invasions of the 1650s and 60s which laid waste and turned into a wilderness large tracts of a land only recently famed for the abundance of its produce. In the words of a contemporary the devastation of Ukraine deprived the Republic of the robur patriae, its prime source of troops, taxes and people. The loss suffered by the state in revenue and by the szlachta in income has more often been described than calculated. One source speaks of taxes worth between 10,000,000 and 20,000,000 złotys a year and annual incomes from family latifundia of between 100,000 and 300,000. By itself a loss of this magnitude was probably sustainable but added to the damage caused between 1648 and 1657 over large areas of Poland-Lithuania by the Swedish, Prussian, Russian, Transylvanian and Tatar invasions, it was crippling. A population decimated by war, famine, the plague and abduction into slavery was soon to be depleted even further by more losses of territory to Muscovy and to Turkey and renewed invasions by the Turks and Tatars. The estimated fall from 10 million inhabitants before 1648 to 5 million by about 1675 is no exaggeration. The calculation of the diminution in the various areas of the Republic range from 27 % for Little Poland (the basin of the upper and middle Vistula up to and somewhat beyond the river Wieprz) to 60 % for Royal Prussia. Difficult as it may be to obtain absolutely reliable statistics it is certain that the combined effect of depopulation and material destruction was harmful enough to rule out any prolonged and unaided military effort on the part of the Republic. The harm done to the morale and prestige of the political nation was equally grave. By contrast Muscovy was building a base of manpower which was to make possible her continuous expansion. The population of Russia rose from 7 million in 1646 to 10.5 million in 1678 (including 1.4 million in Left-bank Ukraine) and was to reach 15.5 million in 1719.

The eventual loss of Left-bank Ukraine was hardly nemesis for the infamous ill-treatment by the Poles of the Cossacks and the Ruthenian peasants (who in the end fared no better under the Muscovite) but rather a consequence of the unwillingness of post- Jagellonian Poland-Lithuania to meet the greater expense of organizing the defence of its south-eastern frontier on the principle of a standing army or to integrate the Cossacks with the szlachta. The Cossacks occupied a fairly well defined territory of some 180,000 square kilometres inhabited by about 6,000,000 people, their military function was well understood, they had a measure of cohesion deriving from a common religion and a common language (though Ruthenian was losing ground to Polish) and they shared with the Ruthenian szlachta an incipient sense of national identity. Driven by a common impulse which was resentment at oppression at the hands of the Republic of the Polish gentry, they lacked the experience of self-government but had a taste for mob rule and faction. Their leaders were unreliable. Their divergent leanings in the direction of the powers - Poland, Russia, Turkey - from among which they were obliged to choose their chief ally and protector were affected by the social standing of particular groups as well as by the configuration of their habitat, at once fragmented and open to the invader. In retrospect, therefore, it looks as if the only lasting achievement of Khmel'nyts'kyi's uprising had been the claim to Ukrainian independence laid well in advance of the age of nationalities.

Between 1660 and 1664, amid the resumption of hostilities with Muscovy and dissension among the Cossacks over their leadership and allegiance, the Poles made some earnest though belated efforts to regain control over the whole of Ukraine. With the support of some of the Cossacks on the right bank of the Dnieper they succeeded in recovering lost ground to the extent of obtaining a confirmation of those sections of the treaty of Gadiach which did not provide for the creation of a Ruthenian duchy. But King John Casimir's unsuccessful invasion of the Left Bank in 1663-64 extinguished Polish hopes of its reconquest. Ukraine was now practically divided by the Dnieper into the Right Bank, the Left Bank and the Zaporozhe with its permanent Cossack encampment known as the Sich (the fourth in succession), a fortified island off the Chertomlyk, a right-bank tributary of the Dnieper. The election in 1666 of the Turkophile Petro Doroshenko (1627-98) as hetman of the Right Bank opened a new chapter in its history. Doroshenko is known to have made light of his allegiance to the sultan and to have regarded the king of Sweden as a more desirable protector. This notion had been entertained some ten years earlier by Khmel'nyts'kyi and was not extravagant. So long as the succession to John Casimir remained undecided, the Cossacks were able to offer their support to a possible Swedish claimant.

As the Ukrainian Cossacks had been to Poland-Lithuania before 1648 so, to some extent, were the Crimean Tatars to the Ottoman Empire. The sultans exercised political suzerainty over the khans from about 1477, shortly after the time when the Ottomans had occupied the southern shore of the Crimean peninsula the rest of which, together with an area of similar size on the mainland, belonged to the Tatars. Eventually the coastal strip under direct Ottoman rule was to stretch in a broken line from Ochakov in the west as far as Azov in the east, forming two eyalets. The authority of the khan also extended over the Nogay Tatars, a nomadic and warlike people who after the annexation of the khanate of Astrakhan by Muscovy in the second half of the sixteenth century, had migrated to the steppe to the north of the Crimea and split into several groups which formed an outer arch over the khanate. To the west, between the Danube and the Dniester were to be found the Buçak Nogays, between the Dniester and the southern Bug the Yedisan Nogays, between the Bug and the mouth of the Dnieper the Camboluk Nogays, to the north of the Crimean khanate dwelt the Cedişkul Nogays and to the east the Kuban or Little Nogays. In their forward position on the edge of the Black Sea steppe the Tatars were as conveniently placed for guarding the Ottoman territories against inroads by the Cossacks from Ukraine and the Don as they were for making forays into south-eastern Poland, the Polish Ukraine and southern Russia. The khan was elected by the Tatar notables from among members of the Giray dynasty for a term of seven years subject to the approval of the sultan who also had the right to depose him.

As kinsman and ally in perpetuity the khan owed military assistance to the sultan in return for financial rewards. Another source of regular income for the khanate was the annual tribute paid by Muscovy. The khans maintained their own political relations with the tsar, Poland- Lithuania and the Cossacks. In all the status of the Tatars in relation to the Ottomans was one of semi-dependence and as such may well have been the envy of some of the Cossack leaders after 1648. It is understandable therefore that Khmel'nyts'kyi should twice have considered opting for Turkish suzerainty over Ukraine. The khan could muster a striking force of between 20 and 22,000 poorly armed but hardy Islamic warriors determined to deny supremacy in the steppe to any infidel intruder from the north and always ready, with the advantage of initiative and surprise on their side, to strike deep into the Slav territories between points as far apart as Lvov and Tambov and return laden with booty. Historians are at a loss to account for the ease and frequency of the Tatar raids and do not seem to know whether to attribute their success to the skill of the raiders and the sturdiness of their mounts or the lack of effective defence on the part of their victims, especially the Poles. The fact remains that the ancient Republic owed its decline in some measure to this inability to hold its outlying territories without putting an enormous strain on its adequate but underused economic resources, let alone gaining mastery of the steppe and advancing towards the Black Sea. Where Poland-Lithuania failed, Muscovy was eventually to succeed. For the moment, having a shorter front to defend, the Muscovites were able gradually to push forward their south-eastern border under the protection of long lines of fortifications and strong points without repeatedly confronting the Tatars in battle in the Polish manner.

The havoc wreaked by the Tatars, the countless crimes of murder, plunder of possessions and livestock, arson and abduction into slavery committed by them in the course of their raids are today conveniently overlooked while their trade in slaves is coolly qualified as a natural economic activity needed to support the flourishing culture of an early modern state. In Poland the constant despoliation suffered at the hands of the Tatars stirred up deeper emotions. In 1574 the poet Jan Kochanowski cried eternal shame on his fellow-countrymen for remaining idle while the unclean paynims shared out their spoils but characteristically advised warlike preparations rather than action. The khans were not implacable enemies of the Polish-Lithuanian state. They made incursions into Muscovy in 1632 and 1633 at the height of the Russo-Polish war. During his second rule (1654-66) khan Mehmed Giray IV, uneasy at the aggrandizement of Muscovy by the annexation of Ukraine judged it politic to side with the Poles and the Polonophile Cossacks against Muscovy. In 1654 he made an alliance with the Republic. After a preliminary show of force late in 1655 and early in 1656, from July of that year until the winter of 1663-64 the Tatars gave the Poles effective military aid successively against the Swedes, the Brandenburgers, Rákóczi and the Muscovites. After the Chudnov campaign of 1660 the two Polish hetmans, Stanislas Potocki and Jerzy Lubomirski handed over to the Tatars the Russian commander Vasilii B. Sheremetev in place of the sum of 200,000 rix-dollars which was due to them for coming into the war. It was a bad bargain for the captors and a cruel lot for the captive as Sheremetev was not ransomed by his countrymen until 1681 for a mere 60,000 rix-dollars and died a year later.

In the last phase of this period of cooperation the Poles in 1664 presented to the khan a plan for a tripartite alliance between the Republic, the Tatars and Sweden. Originally devised in Stockholm as a tactical manoeuvre calculated to disturb Muscovy, it had not been seriously meant and found no response at Bakhchisaray. Nevertheless the possibility of concerted action by these unlikely partners had been adumbrated. Thereafter the Tatars assured King John Casimir of their enduring friendship but were shortly to act in Ukraine against the Republic. The unnatural alliance between the Cross and the Crescent was as reprehensible on religious, as it was justifiable on strategic grounds since it temporarily turned the predatory raiders into auxiliaries. But even as allies against the Swedes, the Hungarians and the Muscovites, the Tatars continued to extort from the Republic gifts and protection money so that their amity, although necessarily less expensive than their hostility, was still costly. The amount of cash paid to them between 1654 and 1666 - 1,846,235 złotys - was equivalent to about one third of the cost of the upkeep of the army of the Kingdom of Poland during any one of those years. But equivocal political partners though they were, the Tatars rendered to the Republic a service of indisputable value. As Poland-Lithuania had no resident diplomatic representative at the Porte it was the khan who acted as intermediary between Istanbul and Warsaw.

Into the commonplace description of Poland-Lithuania as antemurale Christianitatis (also applied to other countries menaced by the Ottoman Empire) a variety of meanings has been read by historians of culture, of ideas and ideologies, of politics national and international and of the Roman Catholic Church. The strict interpretation of the phrase as denoting a purely defensive posture would make it irrelevant to any plans such as those of Stephen Báthory or Władysław IV for the creation of a league of Christian rulers with the aim of driving the Turk out of Europe. But it is still not clear whether from the sixteenth century onwards the role of antemurale or propugnaculum was wished on the Republic by the Papacy and advocated by the Church by playing on the double theme of Islamic peril and Christian crusade or whether it was finally entered into more or less willingly under the pressure of external events which did not occur until the 60s of the seventeenth century. Until that time the Poles were harassed by the Tatars far more severely that they were menaced by the Turks.

In the sixteenth century Poland and Turkey had lived in peace with one another; in the first half of the seventeenth they were at war twice. The war of 1620-21 was caused by Polish political interference in the principality of Moldavia (which was under Turkish suzerainty) and by attacks on Turkish ports on the Black Sea coast by raiding parties of Ukrainian Cossacks. The Poles suffered a humiliating defeat at Ţuţora. In the following year a Polish army (nearly half of it consisting of Cossacks under their hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi) checked a Turkish offensive in a fortified camp at Khotin. The subsequent truce, ratified in 1622, declared the Dniester to be the frontier between the two countries. In 1633 the Poles repelled a Turkish invasion of Podolia. The costly and narrow escape from disaster in 1620-21 may well have given rise to the formation of a frontier or siege mentality which was passed on to future generations. As a promising young colonel, John Sobieski, a great-grandson of hetman Stanisław Zółkiewski who had perished at Ţuţora, considered it a part of his professional training to spend a month in Istanbul observing the scene incognito.

The terms of the capitulations agreed between the Turks and the Republic in 1623, 1640, 1668 and even in 1678 suggest that the parties were able to reach a fair degree of mutual understanding with regard to trade and the disruptive sallies of the Cossacks. On the other hand the constant presence in Turkey of captives from Poland who had been sold into slavery by the Tatars must have enhanced Polish ill feeling towards the Turks. By 1680 ten years of intermittent war between the Republic and Turkey had introduced the concept of antemurale into the political vocabulary of Louis XIV: Poland was 'le principal boulevard de la Chrétienté'.

The Turk was a deadly enemy of the Pole but in one important respect he was less dangerous than the Swede or the Austrian or the Muscovite: he would conquer as much Polish or Ukrainian territory as he could but he had no interest whatever in interfering in the Republic's internal affairs. The Republic fought off the Turks and Tatars between 1672 and 1676 under the brilliant generalship of the grand hetman of Poland, John Sobieski, elected king of Poland in 1674, but in 1672 lost Podolia with the fortress of Kamenets and part of right-bank Ukraine. The Muscovites in turn were at war with Turkey between 1677 and 1681. The war in Podolia and in Ukraine cost the participants dear. In Poland the crown jewels were mortgaged in 1674; in Muscovy the new and more efficacious system of assessment for tax by household (dvor), rather than by the standard areas of inhabited land, introduced in 1679 may well have been made necessary by a substantial increase in military expenditure. In the Ottoman Empire the cost of the war in Ukraine combined with internal unrest caused similar financial difficulties which were reflected in a steep rise of the Venetian ducat in relation to the asper between 1672 and 1678.

In 1675 Tsar Feodor Alekseevich accused the Turks - with good reason - of wanting to annex the whole of Ukraine and thereby to open the gate - the back gate - of the whole of Christendom. His apprehension had been anticipated with regard to provinces as distant as Pomerania and Livonia by ex-Queen Christina of Sweden, then resident in Rome and, under her influence, by Pope Clement X. These fears were not wholly without foundation in geography and strategy. The Muscovites were as yet only completing their conquest of the northern portion of the Heartland. The exploration of Siberia had continued throughout the first half of the seventeenth century. The way to the basin of the river Amur had been opened at the end of that period although by the treaty to be concluded with China at Nerchinsk in 1689 the Russians were temporarily to renounce all claims to the basin of the Amur. If the Turks maintained the momentum of their northward progress, they had a chance of gaining mastery of the entire Heartland by turning its flank. In the short term, however, the Turkish advance was to be directed not against Kiev but against Vienna and eventually, it has been suggested, to crown the ambition of Kara Mustafa Pasha, grand vizier from 1676, against the main gate of Christendom, Rome. The success of such an expedition - an unlikely event - would have reversed the advance of late Imperial Rome, the Mediterranean power, to the northern shore of the Black Sea. Once the Turks had occupied Upper Hungary, southern Poland with Cracow would have been in danger and this was one of the reasons for which John III Sobieski marched at the head of a Polish contingent to the relief of Vienna from the army of Kara Mustafa in 1683.

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