The Gentry of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on the Chernihiv-Siversky Lands (1618–1648)

Petro Kulakovskyi
Doctor of Historical Sciences (Dr. Hab. in History),
Professor of the Regional Studies Department of the National University of Ostroh Academy (Ukraine, Ostroh),
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Reconquered during the wars at the beginning of the XVII century, Chernihiv-Siversky lands joined the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth being devastated and lacking the holistic social structure. Warsaw faced an ambitious task of colonizing the acquired territories. Considering the essence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the key issue that needed to be resolved was the involvement of the gentry in it. Not only were they supposed to be the promoters of the colonial ideology, but they also had to ensure the creation of the effective system of the regional border defence. Thus, the third goal Warsaw aspired to achieve was quite logical – to reward those who participated in the wars with the Muscovite state by giving them the formerly acquired Chernihiv-Siversky lands. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth did not have enough human resources, as there was an excess of the landless and land poor gentry. However, it was spread unevenly throughout the country. The high rates were typical for Masovia. The minor gentry of the Volyn and Kyiv Polissia also hoped to improve their material status. The third centre to supply the Chernihiv-Siversky lands with human resources comprised the palatinates of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which were characterized by a lack of land funds and excess of people from the social strata that was transitional between the peasantry and the nobility, namely the boyars and small gentry. The nobility of the Duchy, which was actively arriving at the vicinities of Chernihiv and Novgorod-Siversky in the period from the conclusion of the Truce of Deulino (1618) to the outbreak of the Smolensk War (1632), can be divided into four groups. The first group was represented by the captains from the times of the Moscow Expeditions, well known and relatively wealthy representatives of the Lithuanian-Belarusian nobility. They joined (or tried to join) the local economic elite of the Chernihiv-Siversky lands. They were allocated more land, given the potential colonization resource. The regional representatives of this group were the families of Pats, Tryzna, and Polubinski. However, only Patsies managed to achieve the set goal. The second group was represented by Chernihiv and Novgorod-Seversky zemstvo officers. They have earned their titles by building long military careers, backed by personal connections to central government (Marshals) or even members of the ruling royal family. If the titles were of the functional nature (chamberian, judge, deputy judge, or notary), the officer needed to possess the corresponding juridical or clerical experience. Among them were those who carried out their activity on the territories adjacent to the Chernihiv-Siversky region (E. Stravinskyi, D. Kerlo) and those who were rooted directly there (S. Ohnytskyi, S. Minvid). The third group of migrants was made up of members of military units led by the influential regional politicians (S. Pats, O. Pisochynskyi, and others). They had the task of developing a basic defence system for the Chernihiv-Siversky lands. Such people were considerably fewer here than in the neighbouring Smolensk palatinate. As a result, the Smolensk War (1632–1634) revealed some of the system`s most fundamental flaws, which the government tried to eliminate after the war was over. This group was sometimes represented by entire military fraternities (Haraburdas). Finally, the fourth group of migrants was comprised of clients, servants, and tenants of the local magnate families. They arrived in the region alongside their patrons and later joined their households (in particular, their economic, military, and clerical units). Their careers were almost completely connected to the Chernihiv-Siversky lands. The representatives of this group constituted the majority of those who stayed in the region after it came under Cossack control.



Migration, gentry, Chernihiv-Siversky lands, feudal estate law, privilege, Muscovite Expedition.



Archiwum Główny Akt Dawnych w Warszawie [The Central Archive of Ancient Documents in Warsaw].
Российский государственный архив древних актов [Russian State Archive of Early Acts].



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