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Treaty of Pereiaslav

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Title: Treaty of Pereiaslav  
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Subject: Khmelnytsky Uprising, Oleksander Ohloblyn, Aleksey Trubetskoy, The Ruin (Ukrainian history), Ivan Krypiakevych
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Treaty of Pereiaslav

This article is about the 1654 treaty. You may also be looking for the Treaty of Pereyaslav (1630) and Treaty of Pereyaslav (1659).

Pereyaslav meeting and the autonomous Cossack state

The Treaty of Pereyaslav (Pereiaslav) was concluded in January 1654 in the Ukrainian city of Pereyaslav (now Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi), at a meeting between the council of Zaporozhian Cossacks and Vasiliy Buturlin, representative of Tsar Alexey I of the Tsardom of Russia, during the Khmelnytsky Uprising. The "Pereyaslav Council" (Pereyaslavs'ka Rada in Ukrainian) of Ukrainians took place on January 18; it was meant to act as the supreme Cossack council and demonstrate the unity and determination of the "Rus' nation". Military leaders and representatives of regiments, nobles and townspeople listened to the speech by the Cossack hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who expounded the necessity of seeking the Russian protection. The audience responded with applause and consent. The treaty, initiated with Buturlin later on the same day, invoked only protection of the Cossack state by the Tsar and was intended as an act of official separation of Ukraine from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Ukrainian independence had been informally declared earlier in the course of the Uprising by Khmelnytsky). Participants in the preparation of the treaty at Pereyaslav included, besides Khmelnytsky, Chief Scribe Ivan Vyhovsky and numerous other Cossack elders, as well as a large visiting contingent from Russia and their translators.[1]

In Pereyaslav in January there was no written treaty and the text of the speech that Buturlin was authorized to give was lost, so it was not delivered. Only an act of acknowledgement of the overlordship of the Russian monarch took place, based on vague promises conveyed by his representative. He was authorized to recognize officially the Cossack Hetmanate and present Khmelnytsky with the Tsardom-provided insignia of power. The Hetman wanted a military alliance, not permanent subjection to the Russian state. The exact nature of the relationship stipulated by this agreement between Ukraine and Russia is a matter of scholarly controversy.[1]

The Cossack leaders tried in vain to exact from Buturlin some binding declarations; the envoy refused claiming lack of authority and deferred resolution of specific issues to future rulings by the Tsar, which he expected to be favorable to the Cossacks. Khmelnytsky and many Ukrainians (127,000 total including 64,000 Cossacks, according to the Russian reckoning) ended up swearing allegiance to the Tsar nevertheless, while numerous other leaders, Cossacks and private individuals objected or refused. The actual details of the agreement were negotiated the following March and April in Moscow by Cossack emissaries and the Tsardom. The Russians agreed to the majority of the Ukrainian demands, granting the Cossack state broad autonomy, large Cossack register and preservation of the status of the Kiev Orthodox Patriarch, who would keep reporting to the Patriarch of Constantinople (rather than Moscow). The Cossack hetman was prohibited from conducting independent foreign policy, especially in respect to the Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire, as the Tsardom pledged now to provide the Hetmanate's defense. The status of Ukraine, seen by the negotiators as being now in union with the Russian state (rather than Poland), was thus settled. The erroneous but stubborn policies of the Commonwealth are widely seen as the cause of the Cossacks' changed direction, which gave rise to a new and lasting configuration of power in central, eastern and southern Europe.[1]

The seemingly generous provisions of the Pereyaslav-Moscow pact were soon undermined by practical politics, Moscow's imperial policies and Khmelnytsky's own maneuvering. Disappointed by the Truce of Vilna (1656) and other Russian moves, he attempted to extricate the Hetmanate from the dependency. The Pereyaslav treaty led to the outbreak of the Russo-Polish War (1654-1667) and in 1667 to the Truce of Andrusovo, in which eastern Ukraine was ceded by Poland to Russia (in reality it meant a limited recovery of western Ukraine by the Commonwealth). The Cossack Hetmanate, the autonomous Ukrainian state established by Khmelnytsky, was later restricted to left-bank Ukraine and existed under the Russian Empire until it was destroyed by Russia in 1764-1775.[1]

The contemporary written records of the Pereyaslav-Moscow transactions do exist and are kept in the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts in Moscow.

Historical consequences

The outcome of the treaty differed from Khmelnytsky's intentions; originally a political manoeuvre intended only to secure the support of powerful allies, it revealed the full extent of its far-reaching consequences over time.[2] Major results of the treaty included the separation of Ukraine from formerly dominant Catholic Poland, re-strengthening of Orthodoxy in the historic center of Ukraine, and the eventual domination of Ukraine by Russia.

In the long run, the consequences for Ukraine were pivotal. Polish colonization and Polonization of the upper class became replaced by a systematic process of Russification, culminating in the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted printing of books in the Ukrainian language. Further consequences included the disbandment of the Zaporizhian Host and reinstatement of serfdom in Ukraine.

For Russia, the treaty eventually led to the acquisition of Ukraine, providing a justification for the ambitious title of Russian tsars and emperors, The Ruler of All Rus’. Russia, being at that time the only part of the former Kievan Rus' which was not dominated by a foreign power, considered itself the successor of Kievan Rus' and the reunificator of all Rus' lands.

For Poland, the treaty provided one of the early signs of its gradual decline and eventual demise by the end of the 18th century.

This treaty is seen by Ukrainian nationalists as a sad occasion and lost chance for Ukrainian independence. The "Rainbow" monument in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, colloquially referred to as the "Yoke of the Peoples", further demonstrates the controversial nature of the treaty. Pro-Russian Ukrainian parties, on the other hand, celebrate the date of this event and renew calls for re-unification of the three East Slavic nations: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

In 2004, after the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the event, the administration of President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine established January 18 as the official date to commemorate the event, a move which created controversy. In 1954, the anniversary celebrations included the transfer of Crimea from the Russian Republic to the Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union, a decision now bemoaned by many Russians.

See also



  • Basarab, J. Pereiaslav 1654: A Historiographical Study (Edmonton 1982) [1]
  • Braichevsky, M. Annexation or Unification?: Critical Notes on One Conception, ed and trans G. Kulchycky (Munich 1974)
  • Hrushevs’kyi, M. Istoriia Ukraïny-Rusy, vol 9, bk 1 (Kiev 1928; New York 1957)
  • Iakovliv, A. Ukraïns’ko-moskovs’ki dohovory v XVII–XVIII vikakh (Warsaw 1934)
  • Dohovir het’mana Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho z moskovs’kym tsarem Oleksiiem Mykhailovychem (New York 1954)
  • Ohloblyn, A. Treaty of Pereyaslav 1654 (Toronto and New York 1954)
  • Prokopovych, V. ‘The Problem of the Juridical Nature of the Ukraine's Union with Muscovy,’ AUA, 4 (Winter–Spring 1955)
  • O'Brien, C.B. Muscovy and the Ukraine: From the Pereiaslavl Agreement to the Truce of Andrusovo, 1654–1667 (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1963)
  • Pereiaslavs'ka rada 1654 roku. Istoriohrafiia ta doslidzhennia (Kiev 2003) [2]


  • To the History of the Treaty of Pereyaslav, in Ukrainian.
  • Encyclopedia of Ukraine entry on the subject
  • Ukrainian World Congress' Statement Press Release - On Observance of the Pereyaslav Treaty
  • The Treaty of Pereyaslav
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