The Absent Rus' Land and Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi


  • Charles J. Halperin



After the Mongol conquest of the 13th century, the Kyivan myth of the “Rus' Land” played a less important role in the east Slavic lands that came under the control of Poland or Lithuania than in the northeastern territory that came to constitute Muscovy. Galicia, which belonged to Poland, became known administratively as the Rus' Land. The Belarusian-Lithuanian Chronicles revived the concept in the Ruthenian lands incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In these chronicles, Rus' Land referred to all of Kyivan Rus' historically, but could denote all the Ruthenian territories in the Grand Duchy, or only those in Belarusian regions, or only those in Ukrainian regions in the post-Kyivan period. In addition, the Belarusian-Lithuanian Chronicles borrowed passages from northeastern Rus' chronicles in which the Rus' Land meant northeastern Rus' or Muscovy. In the text of the Union of Lublin, the Rus' Land connoted the four borderland palatinates annexed by Poland after the Union of Lublin. The Rus' Land also occasionally appeared in other sources. However, Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi and the mid-seventeenth century Cossacks did not invoke the term to legitimize their new polity, thus discarding an element of the Kyivan inheritance. In Ukraine, this discontinuity of the Rus' Land myth has not been appreciated and remains unexplained.


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Author Biography

Charles J. Halperin

Independent scholar.