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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine Features: the Historical Region of Volhynia in Northwestern Ukraine

Marko R. Stech (Toronto)

September 2014

The name of Volhynia (Volyn), a historical region in northwestern Ukraine, probably comes from a fortified town from before the 10th century, located at the confluence of the Buh River and the Huchva River. The first historical name of the people of Volhynia was Dulibians. In the 10th century that name was replaced by Buzhanians and Volhynians. In 981 and 993 Prince Volodymyr the Great of Kyiv secured the lands along the Sian River and beyond the Buh River and built Volodymyr-Volynskyi (988), which he gave to his son, Vsevolod. In the 990s a Volhynian eparchy was established. From 1015 to 1030 Volhynia was the battleground of Polish-Rus’ wars. In the late 12th century Prince Roman Mstyslavych established a large state encompassing Volhynia, Galicia, and Kyiv and known as the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. In 1349 this state was partitioned, and Volhynia fell under the control of Prince Liubartas and became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 15th and 16th centuries the Orthodox princely and noble families (most notably, the Ostrozky princes) consolidated their privileged positions in Volhynia. After the Union of Lublin (1569) Volhynia became a Polish crown voivodeship without losing its internal autonomy and Ukrainian character. The union, however, accelerated the Polonization of the administration and the upper estates of Volhynia. The struggle against Roman Catholicism and the Ukrainian national-cultural movement at the beginning of the 17th century was expressed in the writings of the opponents and the supporters of the Church Union of Berestia (1596). During Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s uprising some of the battles of the Cossack-Polish War of 1648-57 took place in Volhynia. Nevertheless Volhynia never became part of the Hetman state but remained a province of Poland. After Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s death heavy Polish oppression and Tatar raids forced much of the Ukrainian population to emigrate to Left-Bank Ukraine. The Ukrainian nobility in Volhynia lost its political significance. After the partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, and 1795) Volhynia, with the exception of the southern part of Kremianets county, became part of the Russian Empire. The process of the Ukrainian national rebirth began in Volhynia only during the Ukrainian struggle for independence in 1917-21, but in 1921 the region was partitioned according to the Peace Treaty of Riga: the eastern part was annexed by the Ukrainian SSR, the western part by Poland. After 1945 practically the entire region of Volhynia was united within the borders of the Ukrainian SSR…

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VOLHYNIA. A historical region of northwestern Ukraine, located north of Podilia, south of Polisia, east of the Buh River, and west of the upper parts of the Teteriv River and the Uzh River. Its area is approximately 70,000 sq km, and its population exceeds 4 million. Volhynia’s borders have changed considerably over the centuries, shifting consistently from west to east. In the 12th century the Volhynia principality was larger than the present region. It extended to the Wieprz River in the west and to the Narev River and the Yaselda River in the northwest and thus encompassed the present Kholm region and Podlachia. Until 1170 it also encompassed the Belz land in the south. Under Poland the smaller Volhynia voivodeship (1569-1793) did not reach west beyond the Buh River, but included new territory to the east and southeast. Within the Russian Empire Volhynia gubernia consisted approximately of the same territory, except for the Zbarazh region, but expanded east to the upper Teteriv and the Uzh rivers. Even its capital, Zhytomyr, belonged once to Kyiv principality, not Volhynia principality. Today Volhynia encompasses most of Volhynia oblast, Rivne oblast, and Zhytomyr oblast, and parts of the former Volhynia gubernia belong to other oblasts–the Kremianets region, to Ternopil oblast, and the Iziaslav (Zaslav) and the Starokostiantyniv regions, to Khmelnytskyi oblast…

pic-S-V-Svitiaz Lake in Volhynia

LUTSK. A city (2013 pop 215,624) on the Styr River and the center of Volhynia oblast. It is first mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle under the year 1085, but it was probably a tribal center of the Luchanians as early as the 10th century. There is evidence that the area was settled in the Neolithic Period. Lutsk was the capital of an independent principality from 1154. In 1225 it belonged to Volodymyr principality and later to Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. In 1340 it was annexed by Liubartas, who built a castle there and established Lutsk as the capital of an appanage principality within the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state. After the Union of Lublin in 1569, the city came under Polish rule and served as a center of Volhynia voivodeship. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was one of the main trade centers in Ukraine because of its location at the crossroads of major trade routes. The city was also an important Ukrainian religious and cultural center. In 1617 the Lutsk Brotherhood of the Elevation of the Cross was founded, and in 1621 it set up a school. Later in the 17th century Lutsk declined. It was annexed by Russia in 1795, and became a county center. Today the city’s most important historic monument is Liubartas’s castle, the baroque Roman Catholic church built in 1619-20, the Church of the Holy Protectress, reconstructed from its 15th-century ruins, and the Church of the Elevation of the Cross, rebuilt in 1890 from the remains of the brotherhood’s church (1619-20)…

Lutsk city center

Lutsk city center

RIVNE. A city (2013 pop 250,333) on the Ustia River and the administrative center of Rivne oblast. The town developed out of a settlement around a fortress in the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. It is first mentioned in historical documents in 1282. In the second half of the 14th century it became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and by the end of the century it had been granted the rights of Magdeburg law. Because of its convenient location on the Kyiv–Volodymyr-Volynskyi trade route the town prospered as a commercial center. In 1518-1621 it was owned by the Ostrozky princes. With the Union of Lublin (1569) Rivne became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. With the partitioning of Poland in 1793 it was annexed by Russia. Toward the end of the 19th century Rivne developed from a small administrative and trading town into a major railway junction. Its population jumped from 6,300 in 1870 to 24,600 in 1897 and 33,700 in 1911. From the 1890s over half the population was Jewish. In 1941 the city was captured by the Germans and turned into the administrative center for Reichskommissariat Ukraine. In 1941 and 1942 the Germans killed the majority of local Jews. Soviet troops reoccupied Rivne in 1944. Since the 1950s Rivne has developed rapidly as an industrial center and the city remains an important railway junction. Its chief architectural monuments are the Dormition Church and belfry (1756), the gymnasium building (1839), and the Resurrection Cathedral (1890)…

Rivne Resurrection Cathedral

Rivne Resurrection Cathedral

VOLODYMYR-VOLYNSKYI. A city (2013 pop 38,894) on the Luha River and a raion center in Volhynia oblast. One of Ukraine’s oldest cities, it is first mentioned in the chronicles under the year 988, as the fortified trading town of Volodymyr and the seat of an eparchy. In the 12th century it was the center of Volodymyr principality, and in 1199 it became part of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Frequent Tatar attacks (1240, 1260, 1491, and 1500) brought about its decline. In the late 14th century it came under Lithuanian rule, and in 1431 it obtained the rights of Magdeburg law. From 1569 the town belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky set up a school there in 1577, and a Basilian college operated there in the 18th century. In 1795 the town was annexed by the Russian Empire. It was renamed Volodymyr-Volynskyi, and served as a county center in Volhynia gubernia. During the First World War the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen opened the first Ukrainian school there, in 1916. In the interwar period Volodymyr-Volynskyi was a county center under Polish rule. Today the city is an industrial and communications center. Its chief architectural monuments are the remains of the 12th- to 13th-century fortifications, the foundations of 10th- to 14th-century residential buildings, the Dormition Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi (1160), Saint Basil’s Church (13th-14th century), and the Renaissance bishops’ palace (16th century)…

pic-V-O-VolodymyrVolynskyi_Dormition_Cathedral

OSTROH or OSTRIH. A city (2013 pop 16,658) at the junction of the Viliia River and the Horyn River and a raion center in Rivne oblast. It is first mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle under the year 1100. In the second half of the 14th century it came under Lithuanian rule. From 1386 Ostroh belonged to the Ostrozky family, who built a castle and the Church of the Epiphany and established Ostroh as an important cultural, religious, and economic center. Until 1630 the town was a leading center of Ukrainian Orthodoxy: in the 1570s an academy and a printing press were set up, and in 1581 an improved translation of the Bible was published there. As the Roman Catholic movement and the state’s policy of Polonization increased in strength, Ostroh lost its cultural and religious role. It was captured by Bohdan Khmelnytsky in 1648, and the castle and church were destroyed in the process. In the second half of the 17th century Ostroh became the property of the Zaslawski family, the Wisniowiecki family (in 1673), and finally the Sanguszko family (in 1700). In 1793, with the partition of Poland, it was transferred to Russia, and became a county center in Volhynia gubernia. Today the town’s architectural monuments include the remains of the castle (14th-16th century), the 15th-century Church of the Epiphany, a 17th-century synagogue, and a 19th-century academy complex. In 1994, the Ostroh Academy was reestablished and in 2000 it was renamed the Ostroh Academy National University…

Ostrih castle view

Ostrih castle view

DUBNO. City (2013 pop 38,035) on the Ikva River in western Volhynia; raion center in Rivne oblast. It was first mentioned in 1100 as the village of Duben. In 1498 Dubno received Magdeburg law and came under the control of the Ostrozky princes. In the 15th century a fortress was built there that played an important role during the Cossack-Polish War in mid 17th century and survived until the First World War. The Dubno Monastery was founded by Prince Kostiantyn Ostrozky in the late 16th century. Yov Zalizo was the monastery’s first hegumen (from 1584 to 1597). Originally an Orthodox monastery, it was taken over by the Catholic church in 1700, but reverted to Orthodox control in the 19th century. Because of its fairs Dubno was a trade center, particularly from 1774 to 1797 when the famous Lviv contract fair was transferred to Dubno. Under Polish and Russian rule the town was a county center known for its trade in hops and cultural activities. Today it has some small industry: a food industry, a woolen-cloth industry, a furniture factory, and a foundry-machinery plant. It has a regional studies museum. Among its architectural monuments are the castle of the Ostrozky princes (16th century), the Lutsk Gate (15th and 16th centuries), the Transfiguration Church (16th century), Saint Nicholas’s Church (17th century), Saint George’s Church (1700), Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos (17th century)…

Dubno castle on the Ikva River

Dubno castle on the Ikva River

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The preparation, editing, and display of the IEU entries about the historical region of Volhynia in northwestern Ukraine were made possible by the financial support of the PETER SALYGA ENDOWMENT FUND at the CANADIAN INSTITUTE OF UKRAINIAN STUDIES (Edmonton, AB, Canada).

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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine Features: the Historical Region of Volhynia in Northwestern Ukraine Reviewed by on . Marko R. Stech (Toronto) September 2014 The name of Volhynia (Volyn), a historical region in northwestern Ukraine, probably comes from a fortified town from bef Marko R. Stech (Toronto) September 2014 The name of Volhynia (Volyn), a historical region in northwestern Ukraine, probably comes from a fortified town from bef Rating: 0
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