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About The Book

Published by Krytyka (Kyiv) in association with the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at the CIUS, this is a Ukrainian translation of Serhii Plokhy's The Cossacks and Religion in Early Modern Ukraine (2001, winner of the 2003 Book Prize of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies), a pioneering study of the Ukrainian Cossacks religious attitudes and policies, recognized as 'the first serious synthetic study of the relationship between the Cossacks and the Orthodox Church.' The Ukrainian Cossacks, often compared in historical literature to the pirates of the Mediterranean and the frontiersmen of the American West, became famous as ferocious warriors, their fighting skills developed in their religious wars against the Tartars, Turks, Poles, and Russians. The Cossack revolts have traditionally been viewed in historiography as a species of peasant rebellion, with little ideological appeal beyond that social stratum. However, religion played a significant role in Cossack life, although it has been overlooked by modern historians. In this pioneering study, Serhii Plokhy examines the confessionalization of religious life in early modern Ukraine and discusses the role of religion in Cossack revolts of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, including the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648-54). By examining the religious discourse of the period and the Cossack attitude toward religion, the book shows that the religious element was no less important in Cossack revolts than the social factor. Without the skillful use of religious ideas, the Cossack uprisings would never have attained their considerable proportions and attracted as many members of the nobility, clergy, and townspeople into the rebel ranks as they actually did. The book breaks significant new ground in several respects. Reinterpreting Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian historical sources, it shows how the confessionalization of religious life affected Cossack attitudes toward religion and how Cossack involvement in the religious struggle between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism contributed to the formation not only of Ukrainian, but also Polish and Russian cultural identity. The discussion of Cossack-Jewish antagonism reveals the fundamental significance of the previously overlooked religious dimension, showing how Counter-Reformation ideas shaped the opposing perspectives of Cossack officers and rank-and-file rebels. Thus the book does not focus narrowly on matters of faith and church history, but treats religion as a 'cultural system' and uses the religious perspective to shed new light on broader social questions of mentality and identity formation.

About The Author

Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy received his doctorate in history from Kyiv University in 1990. He was the chair of the Department of World History at Dnipropetrovsk University and conducted research at the …


  1. Oles Maslak's review in Zaporizka Sich, 10 April 2006 (in Ukrainian)

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