The Back story of Bogdan Chmielnicki

Excerpt from "The Cossacks" by Philip Longworth

Chapter 4 "Bogdan Chmielnicki and a Cossack struggle for independence"

(Elements of the story, used by Sienkiewicz for the story

"With Fire and Sword"? you decide...)

 

He was born in 1595,  the son of a registered Cossack called Mikhail Chmielnicki, and christened Bogdan—'the gift of God'. By local standards, the father was a rich man, a 'respectable' Cossack in Polish eyes, whose loyalty had been rewarded with the status of Squire and recognition as owner of a small estate.  Like Taras Bulba's sons, Bogdan received a good education-at Kiev, and at the Jesuit College at Lvov-so that, unlike most Cossack boys, he learned Latin, and Polish, and classical legends as well as Cossack tales. But he also learned how to ride a horse and use a musket and saber, and like many another fit young Cossack bachelor he spent some time as an apprentice warrior with the Zaporozhians on the Sich (Seech). So Bogdan was the product of two cultures: he was a Cossack, but something of a Polish gentleman as well. Either strain might have become the dominant.

 

He had some military adventures early in life and was taken prisoner by the Turks, spending two years in captivity before being ransomed in 1622. But henceforth, despite the discontent and the periodic anti-Polish outbursts going on around him, the general current of Bogdan's life ran smooth. He was a 'respectable', a relatively secure Cossack, and he tried to concentrate on his private affairs with some success. He married Anna Somkova, a Cossack girl, fathered five children by her, and reached the high office of Secretary of the registered Cossacks, which brought him local influence and a useful salary. He had an estate; he was prospering; he wanted peace. But, it was difficult to retire from the world in such unstable times.

 

There were few Cossacks who had not been implicated in the anti-Polish rising of 1637, and though Bogdan seemed to have been less involved than most, he was demoted from Secretary of the Host, to centurion of the Chigirin regiment of registered Cossacks. Nevertheless, he retained his estate and, like any Polish gentleman, engaged a Jew to open a liquor shop to swell his income.

One of the tiny group who formed the fortunate but diminishing tip of the Cossack iceberg, he counted his blessings.

 

Yet he was daily made aware of the plight of the Cossack masses, and he, too, was to feel the Polish yoke. It was to change him. The first stage of his metamorphosis began one day in 1646, when Czaplinski, the Starosta, (or, deputy crown bailiff) of Chigirin, seized Bogdan's best horse for 'alleged' tax arrears. Soon afterwards, Koniecpolski, the bailiff, challenged Bogdan's right to own an estate, and demanded proof of his entitlement. This was not unusual in itself. Other registered Cossacks had had similar experiences. But personal motives as well as general policy entered into this case. Bogdan's wife had died, and he had no taste for widower-hood. He had position, prosperity, and a flowing mustache which added much to his attractions. In a word, he was eligible. Yet he did not marry. Instead, he brought a girl called Helen to live with him at Subbotov. Her origins are as mysterious as her hold over men, but whatever her other qualities might have been, fidelity was not one of them, and among those who considered they had a prior claim on Helen's affections was the very same Czaplinski who was pressuring Bogdan.

Next spring, while Bogdan was away trying to establish his rights to his estate, horsemen galloped down the road from Chigirin to Subbotov. Led by the jealous Czaplinski, they burst into Bogdan's homestead and set fire to the mill and to the granary. When Ostap, Bogdan's ten-year old son, protested, they beat the child to death. Leaving a guard upon the house, Czaplinski rode off, carrying Helen away with him. At one stroke, Bogdan, at age fifty-two, was reduced from wealth to ruin, deprived of a son, and of a mistress. He applied for redress, but the authorities seemed indifferent. Czaplinski admitted that his man had beaten Bogdan's son but denied that the child had died as a result. He admitted abducting Helen but alleged that Bogdan had kept her at Subbotov against her will. It was a Pole's word against a Cossack's and Bogdan could get no satisfaction. And yet Czaplinaki was not content: he wanted Bogdan out of the way and sent assassins after him. Warned by his friends, Bogdan managed to elude them, but now he was a fugitive, a middle-aged wanderer, who wore a coat of chain-mail against the killer's knife.

 

The embittered Cossack plotted his revenge. Unable to obtain it by recourse to the law, he thought of force, and since his fellow Cossacks constituted the only available force, he set out to exploit their discontent. Henceforth, his grievance as an individual merged with those of his people. "I have decided to take revenge upon the Polish Gentry", he told some registered Cossack friends, "not only because of the offence done to me personally', but because of the campaign against the Russian Orthodox religion and "the outrages inflicted on the people." His motives were mixed. The mourning father, the ambitious soldier, the jealous lover and the politician, fired the vision of liberating his people from a foreign yoke were all inextricably intertwined. But the call was clear and confident. "As an individual, I am powerless", he said, "but you, my brothers will help me."

In fact, they were reluctant to help at first because, as they claimed, of their oaths of loyalty—and also because they were not inclined to risk losing such favors as they still enjoyed by joining a rebellion which offered doubtful prospects of success.

 

But Bogdan brandished a document before them which would allow them to claim that by fighting the Polish lords (Nobility), they would be serving the (Polish) King's interests. The document, purportedly issued by the King, promised to restore the Cossack privileges, increase the register to 12,000 and to withdraw Polish troops from the south-east Ukraine if the Cossacks would attack the Crimean Tatars. It had been issued in Warsaw, Bogdan told them, in 1646, when two esauls (envoys) of the registered Cossacks, Ivan Barabash and Ilya Karaimovich, had met the King.

He himself had been present, and could assure them of the King's wish to draw the Cossacks into a great Christian alliance directed against the Muslim world. Only the Sejm (Senate), had been opposed to the plan and since the Polish elected King could not act in opposition to them, he had given Barabash, the esaul, (envoy), a copy of the agreement, which was to come into effect at some unspecified date.

How had he obtained the document, then, if Barabash had sworn to keep it secret? Bogdan explained how he got Barabash dead drunk over dinner on night and sent an agent off to hoodwink Barabash's wife into handing it over. It was a tall story, but as Bogdan spoke, he began to take on credence as a leader of a hopeful case, and by the time he had finished many Cossacks wanted to believe him.

Whether genuine or fake, the document was political dynamite. The Poles knew it. They were already hot on Bogdan's trail and soon caught up with him. He was sent to Chigirin under arrest, but old friends there helped him to escape. Together with his son Timofei, he fled to the Sech.   He arrived one night in December to a rather cool reception. With a Polish garrison nearby at Kodak, the Zaporozhians were cautious nowadays. Besides, they remembered his previous loyalty to the Poles. Bogdan eventually convinced them of his change of heart, but as they explained, they lacked sufficient resources to launch a rebellion by themselves. They had tried too many times before and failed. So Bogdan sent messengers to raise the Don Cossacks and went in person to the Crimea to seek the support of the Tatar Khan, Islam Girei III.  Here, he turned the document to advantage in a completely different way. The King, he explained, intended to invade the Crimea with Cossack help. The Tatars would be well advised to strike first with the Cossacks on his side.

 

The Khan was doubtful. Even supposing the document to be genuine, his master, the Turkish Sultan, would have to be convinced. Meanwhile, he had instructions to keep the peace with Poland. On the other hand, mused the Khan, the Crimea was hard hit by famine, and plundering the Polish Pans' (lords'), estates would bring relief to his people. But, how could he do this and avoid the Sultan's anger? Then he thought of one of his feudatories, Tugai Bey of Perekop. Tugai was a powerful, a potential rival. If Tugai were sent to help the Cossacks and things went badly, he could be disowned and so, discredited. If things went well, he, the Khan, could arrive in person, and claim all the credit. Either way he could not lose. The Khan roused himself and sent word to Tugai Bey to ride with 4,000 men to Bogdan's aid.

Meanwhile, emissaries disguised as monks were flitting secretly across the Ukraine with Bogdan's call to arms. "You, whose fathers recognized no laws, who never subjected  themselves to kings, be slaves no longer...".  In village after village Cossacks responded, heading for the Sech singly or in small groups, avoiding the patrols of Polish horsemen. But the fort of Kodak, above the rapids, barred their way. So, towards the end of January, Bogdan led the Zaporozhians out to attack it. Thirty dragoons of the garrison were killed, the rest put to flight and most of the registered Cossacks there, came over to him.  With Kodak neutralized, the Cossacks swarmed south. By the beginning of March some 5,000 had gathered on the Sech. Still, Bogdan waited. Yet more were on the way.

Then, one evening in mid-April 1648, the cannon of the Sech roared out to signal muster. That night and the next morning motley crowds of Cossacks streamed into the central square responding to the call- so many that they overflowed the meeting ground, and the concourse had to be transferred to a great meadow outside the Sech. The somewhat paunchy figure of Bogdan Chmielnicki, accompanied by the Ataman (Captain) of the Sech, emerged into the center of the throng. The crowd fell silent as he began to speak.

 

He told of his sufferings-the murder of his son, the rape of Helen, the confiscation of his property. He described his escape from Czaplinski's assassins. This was the way the Poles rewarded a Cossack for his services! They were anxious enough for them to fight their battles, he roared, but in peace, they treated them worse than dogs. It might be the Ukrainian Cossacks who were suffering now, but the Zaporozhians would also feel the Polish whip, if they did not move now. The crowd was with him. A voice proposed Bogdan as Hetman (Commander), and a great shout of approval went up. The Ataman of the Zaporozhians sent for the horse-tail banner and the drums of war, the cannons roared again and frenzied Cossacks hurled up their caps and fired their guns into the air. Soon, a swarm of men and horses was moving northwards out of the Sech, clusters of flags and horse-tail banners bobbing above the swell, and a huge, red banner, sewn with the image of the Archangel Michael, fluttering at their head. There were 8,000 Cossacks on horse and foot, four guns (cannon), and, in the rear, Tugai Bey's 4,000 swarthy Tatars.

 

The Poles knew they were coming. The Crown Hetman, Potocki, (Poh-tohts-key), had sent his son Stefan south towards them with an army of levies, regular troops (Husaria and dragoons), and, white-coated 'registered' Cossacks. In numbers, the forces were roughly equal; in artillery the Poles had the advantage. But, young Potocki (in a poor military move), divided his army, sending the Cossacks on by water and taking the rest with him by land. And, Bogdan had a secret weapon. His agents had been at work among the registered Cossacks already with the Polish army. The two esauls (envoys) were unshakably loyal, but several colonels were already subverted, and preparing to desert. When they met Bogdan's army near Zolty Wody (Zholty Vohdy-Yellow Waters), half-way between Kodak and Chigirin, they flung their Polish banners in the river and led their men over to the other side. Barabash, a handful of loyalists, and the contingent of German mercenaries were killed or, put to flight.

 

Young Potocki's 6,000 remaining troops (including the Husaria), were now heavily out-numbered, but, too proud to retreat, he drew his men up in a square, and waited. One morning early in May, the Cossacks crossed the stream which separated them from the Polish army square formation, and, in their customary triangular formation, crept towards it spitting fire.  Although the Husaria and Polish cavalry inflicted some stinging losses into the Cossack army, it began to wear down the Polish side. The battles went hard through rain and thunderstorms, until mid-day, when some unenthusiastic Ukrainian peasants, pressed into Polish service, deserted, and young Potocki withdrew the remains of his army behind the cover of some earth-works of an expediant field-fortress.

Although it was a strong position, Bogdan showed himself to be no mean general. The Tatars whom he sent to the Polish rear refused to attack until they could see which side fortune favored, but by the following morning there could be no doubt. With the Cossacks swarming forward, and the Polish baggage train exposed, Tugai Bey brought his Tatars in to seal off the Poles' only road of escape. Potocki's situation was hopeless. Bogdan called on him to surrender but Tugai Bey pressed on with his attack. As Cossacks from within the Polish fort turned on their Polish forces, Tatar arrows whipped into the crowded mass of Poles. One struck the young Potocki thru the neck, and the wound proved mortal. The firing ceased at last.

 

With Potocki's father, stationed with 8,000 men a hundred miles away, he could scarcely believe the news. He retreated, but, at a lumbering pace, and, ten days after his son's defeat at Yellow Waters, Bogdan overtook him near Korsun (second defeat of Polish forces).  The Tatars, this time, galloped straightaway into the attack, and the Cossacks, sabers flashing, followed in behind them. The Poles began frantically to dig themselves in, held out till nightfall, and then withdrew again through the cover of a nearby forest. But Bogdan was determined that they should not escape. While his main force struck out after them, he took his fastest horsemen galloping round to head them off. Sent stumbling back into a muddy ravine, the Poles were trapped. Two thousand cavalrymen (Husaria) made a desperate bid to break out. Only approximately half of them succeeded; the rest were cut down. The peasant levies had already deserted; now the remaining Polish regular troops laid down their arms.  Crown Hetman Potocki and some eighty other lords fell into Bogdan's hands together with thousands of horses, wagonloads of supplies, and forty-one invaluable guns (cannon). The Tatars were rewarded with the possession of the noblemen, who, would fetch a rich ransom, and every Cossack received a handsome share of loot.  That night, the camp went wild with celebration. Barrels of wine were torn open, singing and shouting rent the air as men pranced and tripped, to the accelerating thrum of balalaikas, over the stripped bodies of the Polish dead.

 

The Cossack victory at Korsun let loose all the avenging Furies. Serfs in the Ukraine would no longer obey their masters; estates as far north as White Russia were sacked and burned. Peasants from Galicia and central Poland rampaged their way east to join the Cossack army. Recruits poured in from the Don, Moldavia and Wallachia--gypsies and vagabonds, peasants and Cossacks, the last well armed, the rest with forks, flails, scythes, even the jaw-bones of animals fixed to staves.

As the rabble fanned out over the Ukraine, the long pent-up hatreds, social, ethnic, and religious, overflowed. The have-nots revenged themselves on the haves, slaughtering anyone dressed in Polish style, lynching Catholics, stringing up gentlemen with the heads of their wives and children hung round their necks. Men were flayed  or burned alive, children slit open, women disemboweled and sewn up again with live cats inside them.  The Jews were a major target. At Tulchin the insurgents were prepared to spare the Poles for ransom, 'But  we'll not pardon the Jews', they said. 'They are our sworn enemies. They insulted our religion...we have vowed to destroy all their tribe.' Men, women and children were promptly handed over. The Cossacks 'knocked nails into them, burnt them, hacked off their limbs.'

Cossacks burst into synagogues, wrenched out their sacred Scrolls of Law, and, frenzied with vodka, shoved Jews down upon them and cut them to pieces. Thousands of children were thrown into wells  which the Cossacks then filled in with earth. Tens of thousands were slaughtered in the weeks  which followed the defeat at Korsun, and it was the Jews who suffered most. Many more were massacred as the war progressed, or died of the plague that followed it...

 

However...The terror produced a counter terror. Duke (Prince) Jeremy Wisniowecki (Vish-noh-vee-et-skee), a Ruthenian (Lithuanian) magnate, battle-lord, and convert to Catholicism, thundered south with a crowd of Husaria, regular troops, and dispossessed gentry and their retainers to the rescue of their hard-pressed co-religionists.  They battled into Volhynia and Podolia 8,000 strong, like old crusaders with the name of Jesus on their lips and the blood of children on their swords. When he recaptured Nemirov, whose people had fraternised with the insurgents, Wisniowecki had then tortured in such ways 'that they really feel they're dying'. But militarily, his progress was slowed down by the Cossack colonel Krivonos, or 'crooked-nose', his equal in brutality.  Though he had Krivonos chained to a gun for a few days as a punishment, Bogdan seemed little concerned about the massacres.  He had other preoccupations. Immediately after Korsun, he had gone to Chigirin. There he found Helen, and this time, married her. Bogdan had what he wanted, but this was no time for him to retire from the political scene. The Poles had been defeated, but they would not sue for peace. They had been thrown out of the Ukraine before, only to return. So, Bogdan offered to settle with them. His terms were moderate in the circumstances-distribution of the Cossacks' back pay, freedom for the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine, relief from taxation and ill-treatment, confirmation of Cossack privileges set out in the secret charter, the document which had played so vital a part in launching the revolt in the first place.  He even reaffirmed his loyalty to the crown, though the protestation sounded empty, for the King had died shortly before the battle of Korsun. Since the Polish monarchy was elective and not hereditary, a successor had not yet been chosen. So, for the time being, therefore, power rested with the Sejm (Sey-em-Senate), and the Sejm was implacably hostile to Bogdan and the Cossack cause.

 

But Bogdan was not counting on an agreement, and he made good use of the temporary lull, calling on the Don Cossacks for more help, sounding out the Tsar in hope of support, and solidifying his alliance with the Crimean Tatars. That August a new military oligarchy gained power in Turkey. They relaxed the reins on the Crimean Khan, and encouraged the Cossacks. But no Tatars had yet arrived when, late in the summer of 1648, Bogdan heard that the Poles were gathering a great army together and headed west from Chigirin.  The Polish force, 40,000 strong was commanded by a triumvirate of princes- Dominic Zaslavski , Hetman Koniecpolski, and Nicolai Ostrogski. Immensely rich and cultivated men, they were, some considered, militarily incompetent and, neither the,y nor their underlings would sacrifice one title of their accustomed luxuries on campaign. Vast trains of gilded carriages bore them into the Ukraine. (According to this author), "The gentlemen in armor who formed the famous Polish heavy cavalry (Husaria), would jog along proudly for a mile or two, then stop for the next banquet".  Discipline was lax, and the Dutch, German and Hungarian mercenaries were soon sneering at their disdainful, cavalier commanders. By the time this 'rabble' of aristocrats reached the Pilyavka river and camped confidently on marshy ground, it was almost mid-September. Bogdan was nearly upon them.

Thanks to their foreign mercenaries, the Poles withstood the first Cossack onslaughts. For two days the battle raged, the Cossacks being driven back time and again with heavy losses. Then, on the second night the Poles heard a great commotion in the Cossack lines and prisoners reported  the arrival of a huge Tatar army led by the Khan. In fact they numbered only 4,000, but Bogdan made them seem more numerous, sending them in the next day, with a crowd of Cossacks dressed as Tatars and shouting 'Allah'. The Poles massed to meet the attack, a feigned retreat (called 'the dance of the Tatars'), drew two Polish regiments into an ambush; then Krivonos tore into them from the rear.  That night, Zaslavski decided he had had enough, and led the chastened Poles away towards Lvov, leaving nearly 100 guns (cannon), 120,000 carts and plunder worth ten million zloty (zwoh-tee) behind. When Bogdan advanced through the morning mist he found the Polish camp deserted. He pressed on to Konstantinov, and then to the citadel of Zbarazh.

It was deserted, and, deprived of living victims, the Cossacks took their vengance on the dead, defiling Catholic churches, digging up the corpses of Polish gentlemen and flinging them to the dogs.  Bogdon now had to decide whether to advance on to Warsaw, and belie his claim of fighting for Cossack rights alone, and not against the Polish state, or to mark time and allow the Poles to regather their strength. A meeting of Cossack chiefs decided to go as far as Lvov. Here they met resistance, though the inhabitants were soon persuaded to buy them off at the modest cost of 200,000 zloty.  Rebel forces also surrounded the citadel of Zamostye, but their offensive spirit was on the wane. Cossacks and peasants, willing enough to fight near home, lost much of their offensive spirit when they were away too long. Now it was autumn, time for the harvest, and many of them began to take the road back to their farms. The campaign was petering out in a series of aimless, inconclusive skirmishes.

 

Bogdan was content to hold his own and wait for a new King to be elected, who, so he hoped, would be able to make concessions and reach an honorable compromise. In November 1648, the Sejm chose the late King's brother (Jan Kazimir-Vasa), to succeed him and as a sign of good will, Bogdan raised the siege of Zamostye-though not before he had wrung a payment from its burghers-and withdrew to await consideration of his proposals. These were not extreme. He did not demand Ukrainian independence, only an increase in the register, a broadening of Cossack rights, the establishment of Orthodoxy-in short, a degree of Cossack home rule.  The King soon agreed to most of the demands in principle and promised to send out commissioners to negotiate the details. Bogdan rode east across the snows, as contemporary accounts have it, resplendent in cloth of gold and mounted on a white charger, and entered Kiev just before Christmas, to a tumultuous and triumphant welcome. Bells clashed, guns thundered and the people cheered. Priests and burghers came in procession to greet him; scholars and poets declaimed their eulogies of the man who, in the evening of his life, had suddenly risen through tribulation to the state of hero.  Bogdan spent the holiday in domestic comfort, but with a troubled mind. He was drinking heavily and suffering severe bouts of melancholy. Responsibility was weighing heavily upon him; the future seemed uncertain. The King's commissioners would soon arrive and he must make a settlement with them that would last...There were too many conflicting interests for a reversion to the democratic communism of the ideal age of Cossackdom to be thinkable. Anyway, he was not n a position to demand too much. Poland had been defeated, but she could always rely on powerful Catholic neighbors like Austria if pushed too far. The Ukraine an the other hand, lacked reliable allies and her economy could not withstand a permanent state of war. Bogdan was trying to set the diplomatic scene to his advantage. The Tsar was sympathetic...but sent no military alliance. Moldavia and Transylvania, his neighbors to the south-west, also sent envoys, but they were countries  of little power or consequence. Turkey was strong and disposed to an agreement with him, but Bogdan dared not allow his relations with the Sultan to alienate the Tsar.  By the time the Polish commissioners arrived at Pereyaslev in February 1649 after a long journey through hostile countryside, Bogdan could count on considerable outside sympathy, but not on sufficient military support. At noon, the next day he faced the commissioners in public on the little square of the town. It was obviously a home match. The roofs of the surrounding houses were black with sympathetic onlookers, as he stood, handsomely dressed, at the head of his senior officers. The crowd stirred as Adam Kisel led the Polish delegation forward. He brought gifts-a royal charter confirming Bogdan as Hetman, a sapphire-encrusted Bulawa (Boo-wah-vah- the symbol of a military commander),

a red banner emblazoned with the Polish white eagle. But feelings were running too high to allow the Polish representatives an easy hearing. Almost at once Kisel was interrupted by an angry Cossack colonel, and Bogdan had to roar for silence. Beginning again, Kisel announced that the King 'forgave' the Cossacks for their rebellion; and would grant freedom for the Orthodox religion in the Ukraine, a register expanded to 20,000 and the return of Cossack prisoners. But, Bogdan must lead an attack against the Turks and Tatars. However reasonable Bogdan might privately consider these proposals, the mass of his followers expected much more.

 

Pressed by his extremist followers, he issued a whole stream of new demands in the days that followed. He was in no position, he explained, to make a private deal. A full Cosssack assembly must confirm any terms agreed between them, and it would insist that the Uniat and catholic Churches in the Ukraine be closed, that a recognised border be traced between the Ukraine and Poland, that the Cossack Hetman should decide on the number of Cossacks to be registered, and that the Poles never again give Duke (Prince) Wisniowiecki a command. When the Commissioners protested, Bogdan's demands grew greater and his temper worse. he brought up personal as well as public issues; insisted that his old rival Czaplinski be handed over to him for punishment.

The subtle fox had become a lion. The Poles reported that Bogdan 'flew into rages, shouted with such fury, that we, listening, were turned into wood'. All Kisel's moderation, (and he was an Orthodox Christian himself), was of no avail. At last they agreed to extend the truce until May while Bogdan's latest demands were considered in Warsaw. The truce was never properly observed. Bands of Cossacks and Polish gentry continued to terrorize the land. As expected, the Sejm rejected the Cossack terms outright and, further, put a price of 10,000 zlotys on Bogdan's head. The time for talk had passed. Sending some Cossacks to hold back troops advancing south from Lithuania, Bogdan marched west, making a direct bid for the support of the poor by addressing a proclamation to 'the common people' first and only then to the Cossacks. The appeal raised about 20,000 recruits. And the Crimean Khan came to his support bringing a host of Tatar warriors-Nogais from the Steppes of Astrakhan wearing sheepskins and huge fur hats, swarthy sharp-shooters from the southern Crimea clad in brightly colored blouses, quivers bristling with arrows slung across their backs. Men said that Bogdan's army was the biggest that had trod this ground since the time of the Huns and Tamerlane.

Against it came a Polish army about 10,000 strong under Duke (Prince) Jeremy Wisniowecki. The two sides clashed at Zbarazh towards the end of March. After some heavy fighting Bogdan eventually, forced the Poles back into Zbarazh and then laid siege to them. They were still there in August, hanging on grimly, even though they were reduced to feeding on 'the flesh of dogs and horses'. Then, news came that the King was bringing another army to their relief. Bogdan already knew this. Cossack women, infiltrating deep into enemy (Polish) territory, and runaway serfs had brought reports of Polish movements weeks before. Bogdan knew that the King had gathered some additional 20,000 men by now, that the advance was inexorable, that his own avowals of loyalty must be broken; that he must fight the King.

Leaving the infantry behind at Zbarazh, Bogdan and the Khan moved out with their attendant hordes of mounted men, and swiftly covered the seventy miles which separated them from the unsuspecting King. The Poles were bogged down in the mud, crossing a river near Zborow, when the attack came, and by nightfall, his position hopeless, the King sent a letter to the Khan promising a large and lasting tribute if he would desert the Cossacks. Next day, the Cossacks, some thought, were almost ready to deliver a final blow without the Tatars' aid, when cries of 'truce' sounded down the ranks. Bogdan had called a halt. He claimed that only his loyalty to the King had stopped his pressing home the last attack. This was a political 'lie'. The Khan's attitude, bought by Polish gold, was probably the real persuader. But it was hardly a betrayal. The Khan took care to put the Cossacks' case before the King and insisted that he grant them amnesty. Bogdan may have had little choice but to accede to a settlement, but the terms he obtained were good.

 

The treaty of Zborow, concluded a few days after the battle, allowed a register of 40,000. The eastern Ukrainian provinces of Kiev, Bratslav and Chernigov were to form a distinctively Cossack area from the Jesuits, Jews, Polish soldiers, and Catholic landowners were to be bared. The King's governors were to remain but only deal with external relations and non-Cossack affairs. The Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev was given a seat in the Sejm and, not least, Cossacks were allowed to distil spirits and wine duty-free. Bogdan fell on his knees before the King to ask for pardon, which was granted just as formality, and he was confirmed in office as Hetman, responsible only to the King. The armies dispersed-The tatars plundering their way back to the Crimea, the defenders of Zbarazh arriving to a hero's welcome in Warsaw, Bogdan to create a new order in the Ukraine...

 

There's more, with battles...but, that's another story...To be continued....