Autonomy Lost and Regained: The Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolia of Kyiv, 1633-2019


The word "Cossack" (in Ukrainian, "Kozak") has referred to a wide variety of people and groups over the centuries, and is laden with far more historical baggage than we can possibly deal with here. In the context of this exhibition, "Cossack" refers to Ruthenians/Ukrainians who settled in the borderland regions in what is now central and southern Ukraine in the 15th and 16th centuries in order to escape taxation and serfdom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. They developed a military sub-culture and later, as "registered Cossacks", fought for the Polish Crown. Many of them saw themselves as "defenders of the Orthodox faith" from incursions by Catholicism.

For a gentle introduction to this very complex topic, we recommend chapter 8 of The Gates of Europe by the historian Serhii Plokhy.

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