The Cossack Hetmanate: The History and Legacy of the Cossacks and Their Autonomous Republic in the Ukraine
Charles River Editors
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0 hours 52 minutes
“Had I just 10,000 Cossacks, I would have conquered the whole world.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
The history of Ukraine is a fascinating story of how cultures, political systems, religions, and power have met, intersected, morphed, and expanded. The region was relatively sparsely populated for much of ancient history, a wilderness of rivers, forests, and steppes, but that does not detract from the rich historical development of the region. A huge area, Ukraine is wedged between the continents of Asia and Europe, and its position as a crossroads ensured there was fierce competition for influence there. Historians have called the formation of Ukraine the “establishment of a unity among three zones…the ports of Crimea and the coast, the rich steppe heartland, and the forests,” based around the themes of “geography, ecology and culture.”
After various cultures helped develop the region, the legendary Cossacks arrived during the early modern period and dominated the region for several centuries, forming an independent republic that helped forge Ukrainian identity to this day. The modern myth of the Cossack presents striking images of a stern warrior mounted on horseback, with a long woolen coat, papakha (distinctive tall fur cap ) and fur-lined cloak, with bandoliers holding large-caliber bullets crisscrossing his chest. The warrior is armed with a mixture of rifle, lance, daggers and pistols, but he always has his signature weapons: the shashka (a single-edged, guard-less, slightly curved saber originally designed by the Circassian foes) and the nagyka (short, thick whip of braided leather with a heavy weight worked into the end originally designed for fighting off wolves but more commonly used in later years against enemies of the state in the streets of Moscow or Odessa). As enemies conjured up the Cossack as semi-tamed steppe barbarian, a dog of the state, and the fist of the Czar, it’s no surprise they were terrified.
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The Cossack Hetmanate: The Histor...
Charles River Editors
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