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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine features: The Quintessentially Ukrainian Poltava Region

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Marko Robert Stech (Toronto)

June 2013

A historical-geographic territory in Left-Bank Ukraine, the Poltava region played a crucial role in the history of the Ukrainian nation in its modern formative period of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The former land of the Cossack Hetman state, from 1825 the Poltava region took the lead in Ukrainian civic affairs away from the Chernihiv region, which had been the culturally and politically dominant region in the 18th century. The economic security and estate privileges enjoyed by the local landowners and the presence of a number of Cossack officer families afforded them the independence to preserve Ukrainian traditions in ideology and everyday life and to preserve the Ukrainian character of the people who lived on their estates. Among other prominent cultural leaders, Ivan Kotliarevsky, the founder of modern Ukrainian literature, was born and worked in Poltava.

In addition to Poltava itself the regional cultural and political centers included cities such as Hadiach, Lubny, Myrhorod, and Pryluky, as well as the estates of such nobles as Dmytro Troshchynsky, Vasyl Kapnist, the Galagans, the Tarnovskys, and others. The society of these families proved to be receptive to the ideas of Taras Shevchenko and the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood. It also helped to establish the Ukrainophile nature of the region’s zemstvo administration, which until 1917 was perhaps the most nationally conscious and active body in community and cultural life in central and eastern Ukraine. The Poltava region was also vitally important to the new Ukrainian state during Ukraine’s struggle for independence in 1917–20. Many of the state’s governmental leaders (Symon Petliura, Andrii Livytsky, Borys Martos, Mykola Porsh) were born there and became active there…

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POLTAVA. A city (2013 pop 296,760) on the right bank of the Vorskla River and the administrative center of Poltava oblast. The archeological evidence shows that the city site was inhabited as early as the 7th century BC. The city is first mentioned, as Ltava, in the Hypatian Chronicle under the year 1174. In 1240 it was captured by the Mongols, and from the second half of the 14th century it belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the Hetman state set up by Bohdan Khmelnytsky Poltava served as a regimental center (1648-1775) and flourished as a trading town. It obtained the rights of Magdeburg law in the 17th century. During the Russian-Swedish War (1708-9) it withstood a siege by Swedish and Ukrainian forces led by King Charles XII and Hetman Ivan Mazepa and witnessed the allies’ defeat by Peter I on 8 July 1709 at the Battle of Poltava. In the 19th century Poltava was completely rebuilt. The old fortifications were leveled, and the new town was designed around Kruhla Square. The founding of Poltava eparchy in 1803 contributed to the town’s importance, although the bishop’s seat was not transferred to Poltava until 1847…

The Battle of Poltava by Denis Martens the Younger, painted 1726

POLTAVA REGION. At one time the Poltava region and Chernihiv region were the territory of the Siverianians. After the reign of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise of Kyiv, the Poltava region became part of Pereiaslav principality, which came under the control of the Golden Horde in 1240. In 1360 Lithuania established its hegemony over the area, and then Poland (after the Union of Lublin). Waves of attacks by Cumans and then by Tatars depopulated the region. Resettlement began in the 15th century and reached the Sula River before it halted again in the 16th century. It resumed during the Cossack period in the early 17th century, at which time it reached the Vorskla and Orel rivers. Under the Cossack Hetman state the territory was divided into Poltava, Pereiaslav, Myrhorod, Lubny, Pryluky, and (partially) Kyiv regiments. Throughout the 19th century and until 1914 the population of the region increased steadily. In 1857 it stood at 2,778,000, and in 1914, it was 3,790,000. Almost 90% of the population was rural and the region had the highest proportion (93 percent) of Ukrainians of all Ukrainian territories…

MYRHOROD. A city (2012 pop 41,267) on the Khorol River and a raion center in Poltava oblast. It was founded in the mid-16th century, and in 1575 was granted town status and selected as a Cossack regimental center. Myrhorod played an important role in the Cossack-Polish War of 1648-57. In 1650 Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky conducted negotiations with Russian envoys there. In 1690-1 the Myrhorod regiment revolted against Hetman Ivan Mazepa. Under Russian rule Myrhorod became a county center in Poltava gubernia in 1802 and a prosperous trade center. Its economic development was strongly affected by the founding of a health resort in 1912-14 and the extraction of oil and natural gas in the 1950s. For centuries Myrhorod has been famous for its handicrafts, particularly its ceramics, embroideries, and folk dress. In 1896 the Gogol Handicrafts School and in 1912 the first Ukrainian ceramics manufacturing association were set up in Myrhorod. Nikolai Gogol (Mykola Hohol) immortalized the town by naming his second volume of Ukrainian stories Mirgorod (Myrhorod, 1835)…

LUBNY. A city (2012 pop 47,827) and raion center in Poltava oblast. It was founded as a fortified frontier town in 988 by Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great of Kyiv. In 1107 the Rus’ princes defeated the Cumans in battle there. Lubny was destroyed by the Mongols in 1239. Rebuilt in the latter half of the 16th century, Lubny was granted the rights of Magdeburg law. In May 1596 the Polish army crushed the Cossack-peasant rebellion led by Severyn Nalyvaiko and Hryhorii Loboda in the Battle of Solonytsia near Lubny. In 1637-8 the town was a center of Cossack-peasant unrest. In the Hetman state it was a regimental capital and then a county town in Poltava gubernia in the Russian Empire. A botanical garden with medicinal plants and the first field apothecary in Ukraine were established there in the early 18th century. Today Lubny is an industrial city with machine building and metalworking as its chief industries. Among the city’s educational institution is the Lubny Vocational Lyceum. The city has an art gallery and a regional studies museum (est 1897). The Mhar Transfiguration Monastery is located nearby…

HADIACH. City (2011 pop 24,132) on the Psol River and raion center in Poltava oblast. Founded in the 15th century, it was granted a city status in 1634. A castle was built here in the 17th century and later expanded into a fortress. Under the Hetman state Hadiach was a fortified regimental center. There Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky concluded the Treaty of Hadiach with Poland in 1658. In 1663-68 it was a residence of Hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky and the main center of Left-Bank Ukraine. Under Russian rule it was a county town in Poltava gubernia. The scholar and civic leader Mykhailo Drahomanov was born there in 1841. In the early 20th century Drahomanov’s sister, Olena Pchilka, published in Hadiach the journal Ridnyi krai. Today Hadiach’s industries include petroleum industry, natural gas industry, machine-building, and food-processing. The Petro Prokopovych National Research Centre of Apiculture and the Drahomanov Family Memorial Museum are located there. As a burial place of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, Hadiach is also an important pilgrimage center for Hasidic Jews…

KREMENCHUK. City (2013 pop 225,865), raion center, and river port in Poltava oblast, situated on both banks of the Kremenchuk Reservoir on the Dnieper River. Kremenchuk was founded in 1571. A Polish castle was built there in 1596. In the Hetman state the town was a Cossack company center in Chyhyryn and Myrhorod regiments, and briefly the capital of a separate Kremenchuk regiment (1661-3). Under Russian rule it was the capital of New Russia gubernia in 1765-83. In the second half of the 19th century, Kremenchuk became an important manufacturing and trade center. In 1913 it had a population of 88,400 and 95 enterprises, which employed almost half (6,000) of the industrial workers in Poltava gubernia. After the Revolution of 1917 its economy declined, and in 1926 its population was only 58,800 (40.6 percent Ukrainian, 49.2 percent Jewish, and 8.4 percent Russian). During the Second World War the city was devastated, and much of its Jewish population perished in the Nazi Holocaust. After the war the city was extensively reconstructed. Today Kremenchuk is an important center of heavy industry…

Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine features: The Quintessentially Ukrainian Poltava Region Reviewed by on . Marko Robert Stech (Toronto) June 2013 A historical-geographic territory in Left-Bank Ukraine, the Poltava region played a crucial role in the history of the Uk Marko Robert Stech (Toronto) June 2013 A historical-geographic territory in Left-Bank Ukraine, the Poltava region played a crucial role in the history of the Uk Rating: 0
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