History of Ukraine-Rus'
Volume 4. Political Relations in the Fourteenth to Sixteenth Centuries
Translated by Andrij Kudla Wynnyckyj
With volume 4, Mykhailo Hrushevsky begins the second, 'Lithuanian-Polish,' cycle of his History of Ukraine-Rus', which extends from the fourteenth-century collapse of Ukrainian statehood to the recovery of the late sixteenth century. Volume 4 covers political life, while volumes 5 and 6 deal with society and culture.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland were the dominant powers in the Ukrainian lands during this period. Having attained statehood in the thirteenth century, Lithuania faced strong opposition from the Teutonic Knights in the northwest and Muscovy in the east. Accordingly, it expanded southward into the Belarusian and Ukrainian lands. Its rule was accepted with little opposition because the Lithuanian ruling stratum was rapidly assimilated by the demographically dominant Ruthenians, and the cultural legacy of Old Rus' reigned supreme. Ruthenian was the main language of the Lithuanian court, common and criminal law was adopted from that of Rus', and Ruthenian craftsmen shaped artistic tastes. Many Lithuanian rulers converted to Orthodoxy. Thus, as Hrushevsky points out, Lithuanian annexation of Ukrainian lands passed relatively unnoticed and left no deep traces in local tradition.
Poland contrasts sharply with Lithuania in Hrushevsky's account: a strong state bent on eastward expansion, it was determined to assert its political and cultural dominance. The key to that expansion was the incorporation of Lithuania into a full union with Poland—a process that began with the Union of Krėva (1385) and culminated in the Union of Lublin (1569), which established the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and brought the Ukrainian lands under Polish rule. Hrushevsky explains the intricate politics of the period in detail. A separate chapter chronicles the rise of the Crimean Tatars and their devastating raids, which gave the Ruthenians a compelling incentive to accept union with Poland.
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Other Titles by Mykhailo Hrushevsky
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