"O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil's kith and kin" - The Treaty of Pereyaslav

18 January 1654, the Treaty of Pereyaslav was concluded between the Zaporozhian Cossacks and Tsar Alexey I, finally separating the territory of Ukraine from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with far reaching consequences for the Cossack’s further independence. 

Ilya Repin’s famous painting “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire“ (1880 – 1891), the legendary letter to answer the High Porte’s demand of submission of the Zaporozhians under Ottoman rule in 1676, quoted above. “During Repin's time, the Cossacks enjoyed great popular sympathy. Repin also admired them: "All that Gogol wrote about them is true! A holy people! No one in the world held so deeply freedom, equality, and fraternity." (wikipedia)

“Sultan Mahmud IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks: As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God Himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians -- I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.

Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan!

O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil's kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can't slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil excretes, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we've no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck your mother. You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig's snout, mare's arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother! So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won't even be herding Christian pigs. Now we'll conclude, for we don't know the date and don't own a calendar; the moon's in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day's the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!”

(Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire)

Józef Brandt (1841 - 1915): "Camp of the Zaporizhian Cossacks" (1880)

At the turn of the 16th century, serfs from Middle and Eastern Europe shed the yoke of their feudal lords, fled to the shores of the Dnieper and called themselves Cossacks, the free people, and founded the Zaporozhian Sich, the abates beyond the rapids, on the river island of Khortytsia. Alas, since the meekest cannot rest in quiet, unless it suits with his ill neighbour’s humour, the expansion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth brought them into a continuous conflict with the neighbouring super power. Bohdan Khmelnytsky, hetman of the Zaporozhian Host, tried to ally with the Russians, Tsar Alexei hesitated to begin another war with the mighty Commonwealth, Khmelnytsky had to form an alliance with the Crimean Tatars, fought, won but had not to means to see off the Poles permanently and finally, the Tsar agreed to take on the sovereignty over his new Orthodox Little Russian subjects, while the Cossacks actually might have had only an alliance in mind. It became the cause for ongoing revolts against Russian overlordship for the next 150 years.

Józef Brandt: "Return of the Cossacks" (1894)

With Polish, Tatar and Turkish interests and incursions in the region, the Tsars had little patience with the Zaporozhian’s compulsion for independence and their attempts of making separate alliances with nearly every power that tried to gain a foothold in what is now Ukraine, even with Russia’s archenemy, the Swedes. Peter the Great destroyed the Zaporozhian Sich after his former friend, Hetman Mazepa, turned against him and fought on the Swedish side at Poltava. The Sich was rebuilt during the following decades, the Zaporozhians still changed sides quite often, became a separate officer caste in the Russian Empire, raided Russian territory until Catherine the Great decided she’d had it with Cossack independence when a buffer territory was no longer necessary after the final annexation of the Crimean Khanate. The Sich was finally destroyed in 1775 and the Zaporozhian Sich dissolved, to become an integral part of Ukrainian self-awareness and identity during the second half of the 19th century.

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