Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Chmielnicki)

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Index
The Early Victories
Rising Complications
Foreign Relations
The Pereiaslav Agreement



Excerpt from Ukraine - A History Subtelny, Orest. University of Toronto Press. Toronto: 1988.



Rarely do individuals dominate epochal developments as completely as did Bohdan Kmelnytsky the great Ukrainian uprising of 1648. Because of his great personal impact on events that changed the course of Ukrainian and East European history, scholars consider him to be Ukraine's greatest military and political leader. Yet, his debut as a major actor on the historical stage occurred late in life and was almost accidental. Born in about 1595, Khmelnytsky was the son of a minor Ukrainian nobleman named Mykhailo, who was the servitor of a Polish magnate. For his services Mykhailo obtained an estate in Subotiv; he sent Bohdan to a Jesuit school in Jaroslav where he received a good education by the standards of the time, mastering Polish and Latin. In 1620, tragedy struck. In the great victory over the Poles at Cecora the elder Khmelnytsky was killed and Bohdan taken captive. After two years in captivity, Khmelnytsky returned to Subotiv, entered the ranks of the registered Cossacks, married, and concentrated on expanding his estate. Cautious and well established, he avoided involvement in the uprisings of 1625 and 1638. His good standing with the government led to a brief tenure as chancellor of the Zaporozhian Host and to his participation in a Cossack delegation to the Polish king, Wladyslaw IV, in 1646. By the time Khmelnytsky, now a captain in the Chyhyryn Cossack regiment, had reached the age of 50, it appeared that the bulk of a moderately successful career was already behind him.
But a typical case of magnate acquisitiveness and arrogance completely altered Khmelnytsky's life and with it the course of the country's history. In 1646 during his absence from Subotiv, Daniel Czaplinski, a Polish nobleman backed by local magnates, laid claim to Khmelnytsky's estate, raided it, killed his youngest son, and abducted the woman the recently widowed Cossack captain intended to marry. When numerous appeals to the court brought him no satisfaction, the infuriated Khmelnytsky resolved to lead a revolt against the Poles. This rapid transformation from a respected member of the establishment to raging rebel was not completely out of character. In later years observers often remarked about the Cossack leader's split personality. Swarthy and stocky,"Khmel", as he was popularly called, was usually reserved, unpretentious, courteous, and even somewhat phlegmatic. But he could unexpectedly explode in a torrent of passion, energy, and charismatic appeal. In such moments, his speech became mesmerizing, his ideas at once fascinating and frightening, and his will to have his way unshakable.
The mesmerizing influence Khmelnytsky could exert on the masses became evident when, hounded by the Poles who had caught wind of his plans, he fled to the Zaporozhian Sich with a handful of followers in January 1648. In short order he persuaded the Zaporozhians to support him, expelled the Polish garrison from the Sich, and managed to have himself elected Hetman. At first, the gathering rebellion had all the features of the previous, unsuccessful uprisings: a vengeful Cossack officer, wronged by magnates, making his way to the Sich and persuading the Zaporozhians to stand up for their (and his) rights. But, in Khmelnytsky's case, his exceptional talents as an organizer, military leader, and politician made the crucial difference.
For more than a year before arriving at the Sich, he had plotted an uprising and established a network of supporters. Realizing that the Cossack's great weakness in fighting the Poles was lack of cavalry, Khmelnytsky found an audacious solution to the problem: he approached the Crimean Tatars, the Cossacks' traditional enemies with a proposal for an alliance against the Poles. His timing was perfect. At precisely the same time that his envoys arrived Crimea, the khan's relations with the Poles had become extremely strained and he sent Tuhai-Bey, a noted commander, with 4000 Tatars to the Cossacks' aid. In the spring of 1648, forewarned of Khmelytsky's actions, the Poles moved their army to the south to nip the rebellion in the bud.

The early victories

In mid April 1648, at Zhovti Vody, not far from Sich, a confident Polish advance guard of 6000 men confronted the combined Cossack/Tatar force of about 9000. On 6 May, after prolonged fighting, which resulted in the desertion to the rebels of several thousand registered Cossacks who had been sent to aid the Poles, the Polish advance guard was annihilated. Astounded by the news and convinced by a Cossack prisoner (planted expessedly for this purpose) that the rebels greatly outnumbered them,Marcin Kalinowski and Mikolaj Potocki, the two commanders of the 20,000-man main army abandoned their strong positions near Korsun and retreated through difficult terrain, led by a guide who was a secret agent of the Hetman. Not far from Korsun, on 26 May, the Poles were ambushed by the Cossacks (whose forces had grown to 15,000 not including Tatar cavalry) and, once again, were completely crushed. Both Polish commanders, 80 important noblemen, 127 officers, 8520 soldiers, and forty-one cannons fell into Khmelnytsky's hands. To add to the Poles' misfortunes, only six days before the battle of Korsun, King Wladyslaw IV died. Just as hordes of rebels were gathering in the south, the Commonwealth had suddenly lost its king, its commanders, and its army.
While Khmelnytsky's victories stunned the poles, they electrified the Ukrainians. First on the Right Bank and then on the Left Bank, Cossacks, peasants, and burghers rushed to form regiments and either joined the hetman or, led by numerous local leaders, staged mini-rebellions of their own. Many peasants and Cossacks used the opportunity to vent pent-up hatred against their oppressors. The so-called "Eye Witness Chronicle" paints a frightful picture of these events:"Wherever they found szlachta, royal officials or Jews they killed them all, sparing neither women nor children. They pillaged the estates of Jews and nobles, burned [Catholic] churches and killed theirpriests, leaving nothing whole. It was a rare individual in those days who had not soaked his hands in blood and participated in the pillage" Within a few months, almost all Polish nobles, officials, and priests had been wiped out or driven from Ukraine. Jewish losses were especially heavy because they were the most numerous and accessible representatives of the szlaachta regime. Between 1648 and 1656, tens of thousands of Jews - given the lack of reliable data, it is impossible to establish more accurate figures - were killed by the rebels, and to this day Kmelnytsky's uprising is considered by the Jews to be one of the most traumatic events in their history.
Whenever they had the opportunity, the Polish magnates and nobles responded to the massacres in kind. The most notorious practitioner of szlachta terror tactics was Jeremi Wisniowiecki, the wealthiest magnate in the land. When the rebellion caught him on his estates on the Left Bank, Wisniowiecki mustered his well trained private army of 6000, gathered together as many of the terrified nobles, priests, and Jews as he could, and set off on an epic, roundabout retreat to the west. Everywhere his forces moved, they tortured and killed Cossacks, peasants, women, children, leaving behind then a grisly trail of corpses. Although Wisniowiecki's feats won him adulation in Poland, they so infuriated the Ukrainian masses that they would brook no talk of compromise and vowed to fight him to the death.
During the summer, Khmelnytsky, who was based near Bila Tserkva, concentrated on molding his numerous followers into a disciplined, well-organized army. Its core was made up of sixteen regiments of battle tested Cossacks led by such proven and respected colonels as Filon Dzahali, Maksym Nestorenko and Ivan Hyria. However, experienced and gifted Ukrainian noblemen like Danylo Nechai, Ivan Bohun, and Myhailo Krychevsky, and townsmen like Martyn Nebaba, and Vasyl Zolotarenko, were also awarded colonels maces. A large auxiliary force of light cavalry was led by Wisniowiecki's bitter rival Maksym Krivonis, one of the most popular rebel leaders. As volunteers continued to pour in, new units were created; by the end of the summer, the Ukrainian forces numbered between 80,000 and 100,000. Of these only about 40,000 were regular Cossack troops.
The Poles also made good use of their time. In order to hold off the rebels they engaged Khmelnytsky in desultory negotiations and, at the same time, mobilized 32,000 noblemen and 8000 German mercenaries. As their forces, outfitted in the glittering finery that the szlachta so loved, gathered near Lviv, an observer remarked that the Poles were going to war not with iron but with gold and silver. The new Polish army was lead by three magnates: the indolent, luxury-loving Dominik Zaslwski, the erudite Latinist Mikolaj Ostorog, and the 19-year-old Aleksander Koniecpolski. Khmelnytsky sarcastically referred to them as peryna (the feather down bed), latyna (the Latinist), and dytyna (the child). On 2 September, the opposing armies met at Pylavtsi. During the battle, the Polish commanders lost their nerve and fled and, as the news spread, the rest of the army followed suit. Within hours this once splendid force was completely decimated by the Cossacks and their Tatar allies.
After Pylavtsi, there was nothing to stand in Khmelnytsky's way. As he advanced to the into the West Ukrainian lands of Volhynia and Galacia, the peasants welcomed him and joined the uprising. Even in southern Poland, downtrodden peasants were heard to utter, "If God were only so kind to give us a Khmelnytsky also the we would teach those nobles what they get for oppressing peasants." In early October, the Cossack/peasant armies besieged Lviv and were about to take it when a huge ransom and Khmelnytsky's reluctance to destroy the beautiful city saved it. A month later, while preparing to besiege the Polish fortress a Zamosc, news arrived that the man Khmelnytsky preferred to see on the throne, Jan Casimir, had been elected king and had offered the hetman an armistice.
It has always been a puzzle to historians why Khmelnytsky, who at this point was in a position to destroy the Commonwealth, chose to accept the offer and return to the Dnieper. Apparently, he still hoped to modify the political system of the Commonwealth so that it would accomodate the Cossacks. Moreover, famine and plague were taking their toll of his troops and of the Ukrainian populace as whole. And the hetman's Tatar allies were eager to return home. Under these conditions it seems that he did not wish to conduct a winter campaign. Early in January 1649, at the head of a triumphant army, Khmelnytsky returned to Kiev, where he received a tumulous welcome and was hailed by the assembled Orthodox hierarchy as "the second Moses" who had "liberated his people from Polish slavery."

Rising complications

Even after Khmelnytsky's dramatic victories, the relationship between Poles and Ukrainians remained unclarified. While the hetman had not yet decided to break off all ties with the Commonwealth, he knew that his followers were determined not to return to pre-1648 conditions. For their part, the Poles were willing to make minor concessions to the Cossacks, but they still insisted that Ukraine return to szlachta rule. The impasse produced a recurrent pattern: year after year, the two sides would go to war, but because they were unable to defeat each other decisively, they would conclude their exhausting campaigns with negotiated, unsatisfying settlements, after which they would return home to prepare militarily and diplomatically for yet another war.
In the spring of 1649, it was the Poles who went on the offensive. As their main force of 25,000, led by King Jan Casimir himself, advanced from Volhynia, another force of 15,000 commanded by the notorious Jeremi Wisniowiecki, moved through Galacia. Responding with his usual deceptiveness and speed, Khmelnytsky and his Tatar ally, Khan Islam Girei, blockaded Wisniowiecki in the Zbarazh fortress with a force of 80,000. When the Polish King hastened to Wisniowiecki's aid, Khmelnytsky, in a surprise maneuver, attacked and surrounded Jan Casimir's army near Zboriv. But, just at the point when the Poles were about to go down in defeat at both Zbarazh and Zboriv, the Tatar khan betrayed the hetman. Bribed by the Poles and worried by the growing strength of the Ukrainians, Islam Girei withdrew his forces and demanded that Khmelnytsky reach a negotiated settlement with the Polish king. Under the circumstances, the hetman had no choice but to comply.
On 18 August 1649, the Zboriv treaty was concluded. it set the register at 40,000, banned the Polish army and Jews from the provinces of Kiev, Bratslav, and Chernihiv where only the Cossack starshyna and Orthodox noblemen were allowed to hold public office, and promised the Orthodox metropolitain a seat in the Polish senate. Although amnesty was granted to all who had participated in the uprising, most peasants were required to return to servitude. Polish noblemen, in contrast, were allowed to reclaim their estates. Only Tatar pressure had forced Khmelnytsky to sign this unfavorable agreement, which caused great discontent throughout Ukraine. But as the Poles believed that they had given up too much and the Cossacks were convinced that they had received too little, the treaty was never fully implemented.
The Zboriv agreement highlighted an external problem that Khmelnytsky would have to face. The fact that peasant interests had practically been ignored at Zboriv was no oversight. Although Khmelnytsky, most of his commanders, and many registered Cossacks wished to improve the lot of the peasants, they had no intention of liquidating serfdom altogether. For the Cossack elite, Khmelnytsky included, such an act would have meant undermining the socioeconomic system in which it had a considerable stake. Thus, already at Zboriv, a conflict of interests between the Cossack starshyna elite and the chern, or rank and file. In time, it would prove to be the fatal weakness of the Cossack order that was emerging in Ukraine.
The relationship with the Tatars was the other major problem. Realizing their importance in his recent victories and in the continuing confilct with the Poles, Khmelnytsky wished to maintain alliance with them at all costs. Among the Ukrainian masses, however, the alliance was most unpopular because, as a price for Tatar aid, the hetman had to allow his allies to take iasyr, or captives. While Khmelnytsky hoped to satisfy the Tatars with Polish prisoners, the Crimeans often took what was at hand and this meant that many thousands of Ukrainian peasants were driven off into slavery. Moreover, Tatar policy was not to let any Christian power grow too strong. Therefore although they backed Khmelnytsky against the Poles, the Tatars would not allow him to defeat them completely. Having used Khmelnytsky to weaken Poland, the Crimean Khan also planned to utilize the Ukrainian Cossacks in similar fashion against Moscow. But because Khmelnytsky had great hopes of obtaining aid from the Muscovites, he diverted the Crimean plans to launch joint Tatar/Cossack attack against Moscow by proposing instead a joint campaign in 1650 against Moldavia, which was rich, more vulnerable, and more accessible. For the next few years, Khmelnytsky became intensely involved in Moldavian affairs and even hoped to make his son, Tymish ruler of the land, thereby drawing it into close alliance with Ukraine. However, in 1653, Tymish's death during the defense of Succeava brought the costly Moldavian venture to an unsuccessful end.
Meanwhile in 1651, another round in the Polish-Ukrainian War had begun. Again it was the Poles, led by Jan Casimir, who went on the offensive and again it was in Volhynia, near the town of Berestechko, that the two armies clashed. By the standards of the time, the size of the opposing forces was huge: the Polish army numbered around 150,000 men, including 20,000 experienced German mercenaries, while the Ukrainians mustered over 100,000 men plus about 50,000 Tatar cavalry. On 18 June, an almost two week-long battle began that ended in crushing defeat for Khmelnytsky's forces. A deciding factor in the defeat was the actions of the Tatars who, at a crucial juncture, withdrew from the battle. To make matters worse, when Khmelnytsky entreated them to return to the fighting, they abducted him. He was released only after the battle. Under difficult circumstances, the Cossacks, ably led by Filon Dzahalali, managed to extricate some of the forces from Polish encirclement, but at a decisive moment panic broke out and a part of the Cossack army, numbering an estimated 30,000 men perished under the Polish onslaught. The massive battle was also costly to the victorious Poles and near Bila Tserkva they initiated negotiations.
As might be expected, the Bila Tserkva agreement, signed on 28 September 1651 was much less generous to the Cossacks than the Zboriv treaty had been. The Cossack register was reduced to 20,000; the hetman's authority was limited only to the Kiev province; and he was forbidden to maintain foreign contacts, especially with the Tatars. This time, with the Cossacks in disarray and Khmelnytsky unprepared to offer resistance, it appeared that the conditions of the treaty would be implimented. Backed by Polish troops, the Polish nobility began to return to Ukraine. Except for the relative few who were included in the register, most of the peasants and Cossacks again faced serfdom. In order to avoid their inevitable fate, thousands fled across the border into Muscovite territory, where they were well received and allowed to establish the Cossack system, thus laying the foundation for what came to be called Sloboda Ukraine, with its locus in the present day Kharrkiv region.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Khmelnytsky had no intention of accepting these humiliating conditions and, in April 1652, a secret meeting of the major Cossack leaders was held at his residence in Chyhyryn where it was decided to assemble new forces and to renew hostilities against the Poles. Within weeks, Khmelnytsky's forces attacked a 30,000-man Polish army station at Batih on the border of Podilla and Moldavia, and on 1 May completely demolished it. As revenge for the defeat at Berestechko, the Cossacks killed all their Polish prisoners.
As news of the victory spread, uprisings against the Polish nobility again flared up and Cossack troops occupied much of the territory they had held before Berestechko. However, by now it was evident that the years of tremendous bloodletting and destruction were taking their toll. Both the Poles and Ukrainians were less eager to fight and campaigns dragged on inconclusively as the two sides circled each other like exhausted boxers, unable to administer the decisive blow.

Foreign relations

Khmelnytsky realized that if his uprising was to succeed, it needed foreign support. Therefore, he turned his attention more and more to foreign relations. He scored his first diplomatic victory by drawing the Crimean Tatars into alliance with the Cossacks. But the Tatar alliance proved to be unreliable and transitory. Moreover, it did not resolve Khmelnytsky's key problem of defining Ukraine's relationship to the Commonwealth. At first, the Hetman was not ready for a complete break. His goal in dealing with the Commonwealth, ably represented by the leading Orthodox magnate, Adam Kysil, had been to obtain autonomy for the Cossacks in Ukraine by making it a separate and equal component of the Commonwealth. But the stubborn refusal of the szlachta to accept their former subordinates as political equals precluded the possibility of ever achieving that goal.
To the modern mind, which views national sovereignty as a national condition (although the concept did not gain wide currency until after the French Revolution of 1789), the question arises of why Khmelnytsky did not declare independence for Ukraine. During the uprising there were, in fact, rumours to the effect that he wished to reestablish the "old Rus' principality", and even that he planned to form a separate "Cossack principality". Although such ideas may have been considered, it would have been impossible under the circumstances to realize them. As the interminable wars demonstrated, the Cossacks, although able to administer severe defeats to the Poles, were incapable of permanently preventing theszlachta from launching repeated efforts to regain Ukraine. To assure themselves a lasting victory over the Poles, Khmelnytsky needed the continuing and reliable support of a major foreign power. The usual price of such aid was acceptance of the overlordship of the ruler who provided it. In the vie of the masses, the main thrust of the uprising was to redress socioeconomic ills, and to many in Ukraine the question of whether these problems were to be resolved under their own or under foreign rule was of secondary importance. Finally, in 17th-century Eastern Europe sovereignty rested not in the people but in the person of a legitimate (that is, generally recognized) monarch. Because Khmelnytsky, despite his popularity and power, did not possess such legitimacy, he had to find for Ukraine an overlord who did. At issue was not self-rule for Ukraine, for Ukrainians already had gained it. Their goal was to find a monarch who could provide their newly formed autonomous society with legitimacy and protection.
In Khmelnytsky's opinion a good candidate for the role of Ukraine's patron and protector in the international arena was the Ottoman Sultan. He was powerful enough to discourage the Poles from attacking Ukraine and distant enough not to interfere overly much in its internal affairs. Thus, in 1651, after an exchange of embassies, the Ottoman Porte formally accepted the hetman and the Zaporozhian Host as its vassals on the similar loose conditions that obtained with regard to Crimea, Moldavia, and Wallachia. However, widespread animosity in Ukraine toward an "infidel" overlord, and internal changes in the Ottoman Porte, prevented this arrangement from ever taking effect.
A much more popular candidate for the role of Ukraine's protector was the Orthodox tsar of Moscow. From the start of the uprising, Khmelnytsky had entreated the tsar, in the name of their shared Orthodox faith, to come to his aid. But Moscow's response had been extremely cautious. Badly mauled in the recent war with Poland, the Muscovites preferred to wait for the Cossacks and Poles to exhaust each other and then to take appropriate action. However, by 1653, with the Ukrainians threatening to choose the Ottoman option, the Muscovites could not put off an official decision any longer. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich called a general assembly, which decided that, "for the sake of the Orthodox Faith and God's Holy Church, the Gosudar [monarch] should accept them under His High Hand." In reaching their decision, the Muscovites also expected to regain some of the lands they had lost to Poland, to utilize Ukraine as a buffer zone against the Ottomans, and in general, to expand their influence.

The Pereiaslav Agreement

In the final days of 1653, a Muscovite embassy, led by the boyar Vasilii Buturlin, met with the hetman, colonels, and general staff of the Zaporozhian Host in the town of Pereiaslav, near Kiev. On 18 January 1654, Khmelnytsky called a meeting of the Cossack elite and the final decision was taken to accept the tsar's overlordship of Ukraine. On that day, drummers summoned the populace to the town square where the hetman spoke about Ukraine's need for an overlord, presented the four potential candidates for such a position - the Polish king, the Tatar Khan, the Ottoman Sultan, and the Muscovite tsar- and declared that the Orthodox tsar was best suited for the role. Pleased that the choice had fallen on an Orthodox ruler, the crowd responded favorably to the hetman's speech. Buturlin, Khmelnystky and the assembled Cossack dignitaries then proceeded to the town church to seal the decision with a mutual oath. At this point, an unexpected development created a tense impasse. Under the influence of Polish practice, Khmelnytsky expected the oath to be bilateral, with the Ukrainians swearing loyalty to the tsar and the latter promising to protect them from the Poles and to respect their rights and priviledges. But Buturlin refused to swear in the name of his monarch, arguing thatthe tsar, unlike the Polish king, was an absolute ruler and it was below his dignity to take an oath to his subjects. Upset by Buturlin's refusal, Khmelnytsky stalked out of the church and threatened to cancel the entire agreement. Nonetheless, Buturlin steadfastly held his ground. Finally, Khmelnytsky and his colleagues, fearful of losing the tasr's aid because of what appeared to be a mere formality, glumly agreed to take a unilateral oath of loyalty to the tsar.
Shortly thereafter, Muscovite officials were sent to 117 Ukrainian towns, and 127,000 people took a similar oath of loyalty to Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich and his successors.The significance of the dramatic incident at the Pereiaslav church was that it highlighted the different political values and assumptions with which both parties had entered into the agreement. Yet, these differences notwithstanding, the Pereiaslav agreementwas concluded and it marked a turning point in the history of Ukraine, Russia, and all of Eastern Europe. Previously isloated and backward, Muscovy now took a giant step toward becoming a great power. And, for better or for worse, the fate of Ukraine became inextricably linked with that of Russia. [...] It is difficult to overestimate Khmelnytsky's impact on the course of Ukrainian history. Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian hitorians have compared his achievementsto those of such giants of 17-th century history as Cromwell of England or Wallestein of Bohemia. Studies of the hetman and his age frequently stress his ability to creat so much from so little. Where a Ukrainian political entity had long since ceased to exist, he established a new one; out of hordes or unruly peasants and Cossacks he molded powerful, well-organized armies; from among a people abandoned by their traditional elite he found and united around him new, dynamic leaders. Most important, in a society bereft ot self-confidence and a clear sense of identity, he instilled pride in itself and a will to defend its interests. An example of the momentous change in Ukrainian attitudes brought about by Khmelnytsky is provided by the words of a simple Cossack captain addressed to a high Polish official: "In regard to Your Grace's recent letter stating that we, the common people, should not dare to address such high officials as a [Polish] Wojewoda, it should be known that we are now, thanks be to God, no longer common people but knights of the Zaporozhian Host... and, may God grant the Lord Bohdan Khmelnytsky health, we are now ruled by our colonels and not by your wojewody by our captains and not by your starosty and by our otamany and not by your judges."
Clearly Khmelnytsky had his share of setbacks, mistakes, and miscalculations. There was Berestechko, the disastrous Moldavian venture, the failure of the combined Cossack/Transylvanian campaign into Poland, an, finally the inability to ensure both Ukraine's enemies and allies would recognize its integrity. For these failings historians and writers have been quick to take Khmelnytsky to task. In the mid 19th century, Mykola Kostomarov, the father of modern Ukrainian historiography, praised Khmelnytsky for establishing the link with Russia and chided him for his "underhanded" dealings with the Ottomans.
In contrast, Ukraine's greatest poet, Taras Shevchenko, was critical of the hetman for bringing Ukraine into the Russian sphere. Even more extreme was Paneleimon Kulish, another leading 19th-century Ukrainian intellectual, who blamed Khmelnytsky for initiating an era of death, destruction, anarchy and cultural regression in Ukraine. In the 20th century, Hrushevsky raised doubt of Khmelnytsky's conciousness of well defined goals and argued that it was events that controlled the hetman rather than vice versa. Yet the majority of prominent Ukrainian historians, led by Viacheslav Lypynsky, concluded that the hetman conciously and systematically attempted to build the basis for Ukrainian statehood and that without his efforts, the modern rebirth of a Ukrainian state would have been impossible. Soviet historians are unanimous in their praise of Khmelnytsky, but for different reasons. They emphasize his role in leading an uprising of the oppressed masses and especially his unification (or rather "reunification", as they put it) of Ukraine with Muscovy.
But the fine points of scholarly evaluation have had little effect on the Ukrainian people's instinctive, unbounded admiration for "Batko (father) Bohdan". For the vast majority of Ukrainians, both in his day and up to the present, Khmelnytsky has towered as the great liberator, as the heoric figure who by force of his personality and his intellect roused Ukrainians from a centuries-long miasma of passivity and hopelessness and propelled them toward national and socioeconomic emancipation.