Ukraine history beginning

Ukraine was not widely called by its present name until the 19th century. Different parts of Ukraine were invaded and occupied in the first millennium BC by the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians and in the first millennium of the Christian by the Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Avars, Khazars, Magyars, and Pechenegs.

The most significant development of this entire period, however, was the movement of some Slavic tribes in the 5th and 6th centuries from their primordial homeland north of Carpathian Mountains eastward into forest and forest-steppe region of western and north-central Ukraine. From there the Slavs would eventually expand farther north into territories of the future Russian state around Moscow.

Among Slavs’ earliest settlements was that of Kiev along Dnepr River, which was the capital of Polianian tribe among them. The state known as Kievan Rus arose from the intermixture of Polianians with those Varangians (Norsemen) who controlled Dnepr River trade route connecting Baltic Sea with Byzantium.

The name Rus, which first designated the lands around Kiev, later came to include the entire Kievan domain.

Kievan Rus state reached its zenith in the 10th and 11th centuries under the rulers Vladimir I (St. Vladimir) and his son Yaroslav I (Yaroslav the Wise). Vladimir I adopted Christianity as the official religion of his realm about AD 990, and church hierarchy was formed under the auspices of Byzantines and patriarch at Constantinople.

Christianity gave eastern Slavic people their first written language, called Church Slavonic. Kiev Rus reached the height of its power in the 11th century, and Kiev became eastern Europe’s chief political and cultural center.

Kievan Rus map

Kievan Rus map

Kievan Rus period scenery

Kievan Rus period scenery

Kievan Rus period ships

Kievan Rus period ships

Kievan Rus period field

Kievan Rus period field

The 12th and 13th centuries saw the decline of Kiev owing to internal dissension, struggles with the invading Kipchak, and shifts in trade routes. Mongol conquest in the mid-13th century decisively ended Kiev power, but Slavic principality of Galicia-Volhynia in western Ukraine that had emerged about 1200 continued into the 14th century.

In the 14th century Lithuania annexed most Ukrainian lands except for Galician principality, which passed to kingdom of Poland; and in the meantime southern Ukraine remained under the control of Mongol khanate of Golden Horde.

After the Union of Lublin in 1569, rule over Ukraine was transferred from Lithuania to Poland. The negotiation of Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1596 divided Ukrainians into Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic faithful.

Religious dissent and social strife between Ukrainians and their Polish overlords were augmented by Zaporozhian Cossacks, nominally subjects of Polish king but in fact a class of free warriors.

From their stronghold along the lower Dnepr River, Cossacks in 1648, led by their hetman (military leader) Bohdan Khmelnitsky, rose against Poles and formed a quasi-independent, if short-lived, state.

Kievan Rus period warriors

Kievan Rus period warriors

Kievan Rus period boats

Kievan Rus period boats

Kievan Rus period people

Kievan Rus period people

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