Mazepa's dilemma: whose interests did the Ukrainian hetman actually fight for?


Mazepa's dilemma: whose interests did the Ukrainian hetman actually fight for?

Ivan Mazepa was the first Ukrainian to be severely criticized by Russia. Fearing what the hetman could offer to the enslaved people, the Moscow Patriarchate imposed an anathema on him, and the Russian authorities systematically destroyed the good memory of his name.

In the new issue of the special project KOBLEVO. Your storyChannel 24 tells who Ivan Mazepa was and whose interests he defended both at the negotiating table and on the battlefield.

While the Armed Forces of Ukraine courageously resist the enemy on the battlefield, we hold the defense on the educational and information fronts so that Russia does not have a chance to distort our past. The KOBLEVO brand will help in this! The Ukrainian brand has not only a rich history, but also a wide range, so you will certainly find a drink for yourself.

A man who could find a common language with everyone: what is known about the pre-Hetman activities of Ivan Mazepa

The figure of Mazepa is unique and many historical novels can be written about his life. Ivan Mazepa received an excellent education (first at the Kiev-Mohyla Collegium, later in Europe), knew several languages, and was introduced at the court of the French King Louis XIV. Also, the Ukrainian gentry served at the court of the Polish king Jan II Casimir and was a member of numerous diplomatic missions.

Despite a busy life, in the late 1660s Mazepa decided to leave the royal service and return to Ukraine. More precisely – in one of its parts. The fact is that by that time the Ukrainian lands were divided into the Left Bank, which was under the rule of Muscovy and the Right Bank, which was under Poland and partly the Ottoman Empire.

Even before hetmanship, Ivan Mazepa was a respected diplomat / Shutterstock photo

It is known that already in 1669 Mazepa inherited from his late father the position of the Chernigov subchastor. However, court service did not interest him too much at that time, so he arrives at the Chigirinsky hetman's court, where in a short time he becomes an associate of the hetman of the Right Bank, Petro Doroshenko.

In 1674, the hetman instructed Mazepa to deliver several captured Cossacks from the Left Bank to the Khan of the Ottoman Empire. The Cossacks, who sided with the Polish-Lithuanian royal army under the leadership of the crown hetman Jan Sobisky, were supposed to be a valuable gift from Doroshenko, show his devotion to the Turkish side, strengthen ties with the Ottoman dynasty and ensure the protection of the Right Bank.

However, the thoughtful mission was interrupted by the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks, who sought to free their brethren. Mazepa himself was taken prisoner. In the end, he was lucky – here he was recognized by the ataman Ivan Sirko, who handed over the diplomat to the hetman of the Left-Bank Ukraine, Ivan Samoylovich. Seeing considerable potential in Mazepa, the head of the Hetmanate makes him his confidant and sends him on diplomatic missions to Moscow.

These trips significantly brought Mazepa closer to the then Moscow authorities and eventually led to the change of the Left Bank hetman.

How Mazepa Became the Sovereign Master of Ukraine

While Mazepa strengthens diplomatic ties, Samoilovich gets into conflict with Muscovy. After an unsuccessful campaign against the Crimea in 1687, the hetman was accused of “treason”, removed from his post and exiled to Moscow's dependent territories of Western Siberia. So, this practice has much deeper roots than we might think.

After such a turn, it became obvious that Ivan Mazepa was the new contender for the hetman's seat. Its purpose was lobbied, in particular, by the influential leader of the then ruler of Muscovy, Princess Sophia, Prince Vasily Golitsyn. He naively hoped that he would be able to control Mazepa, but in practice everything turned out differently.

Golitsyn's plans were crossed out by a coup d'état in Muscovy, which took place two years after Mazepa's appointment, in 1689. Then the young Tsarevich Peter came to power.

Peter I came to power as a result of a coup / Photo by Shutterstock

The hetman of that time was in Moscow and probably played an important role in the accession of Peter. For this, Mazepa received from the king the status of the sovereign master of Ukraine.

Peter respected Mazepa, in letters he addressed the hetman with special respect, unlike his other subordinates, whom the tsar mocked with the zeal of a maniac.

Renaissance of Ukraine

The reign of Mazepa in Ukraine is rightly called a renaissance. In practice, he managed to create a kind of oase in the Hetmanate – a territory autonomous from Muscovy and a particle of Western civilization.

After the “Ruins” Ukrainian lands received several decades of peaceful life and chances for development. Then what is now called “Great Construction” began on the Left Bank. Maecena himself acted as a philanthropist. At the cost of the hetman, dozens of churches, monasteries, cathedrals and bell towers were built or rebuilt. They have become vivid examples of the unique architectural style of the Cossack, and in fact, the Mazepa Baroque.

Thanks to Mazepa, the ancient capital of Rus' and the modern capital of Ukraine – Kyiv, which was part of the Left Bank, were revived. Through the efforts of Mazepa, the Kiev-Mohyla Collegium received the status of a higher educational institution. Interestingly, during the time of the hetman, it was called the Kiev Grave-Mazepinskaya Academy. It became a forge of personnel for the new elite, not only in Ukrainian lands, but also in Russia, which at that time had no higher educational institutions at all.

During the reign of Mazepa, educational institutions were actively developing / Photo by Shutterstock

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