Monday, December 17, 2007

Speaking Of Massacres (And The European Enlightenment): The Upcoming 300th Anniversary Of Russia's Massacre Of 14,000 At Baturyn, Ukraine, In 1708

"Since July 2001, Dr. Volodomyr Mezentsev (Slavic Languages and Literatures) and medieval historian Professor Martin Dimnik (PIMS) of the University of Toronto, Canada, have participated in an excavation project in Baturyn, Ukraine.

Located in the Chernihiv region in Eastern Ukraine, Baturyn emerged as a fortress on the steppe border of the Chernihiv principality [Kyivan-Rus']in the 11th century. From the beginning of the 17th century, the significance of this small provincial town grew considerably. In 1648, the Cossacks led by Hetman Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi liberated Baturyn from Polish occupation. In 1654, it obtained a Magdeburg Charter of self-government. Between 1669 and 1708, Baturyn was the official capital of the Hetman state in Left-Bank Ukraine.

The town flourished during the reign of Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1708), growing to approximately 100 hectares with a population of 20,000. Baturyn had 40 churches and a college for diplomats and government officials. The town's development was disrupted in 1708 during the war between Russia and Sweden. After Mazepa and his followers sided with Sweden, Baturyn was seized by Russian troops. The Cossack garrison of 8,000 troops and the bulk of the civilian population were massacred. Ukrainian researchers have estimated the number of casualties at between 13,000 to 15,000.

Baturyn remained deserted for several decades, recovering by the mid-18th century when it briefly regained its status as Hetman capital during the reign of Kyrylo Rozumovs'kyi (1750-64) until the Hetmanate was abolished in 1764. After Rozumovs'kyi's death in 1803, Baturyn went into decline. Now it is a small provincial town with a population of 4,000.

In 1995, an archaeological expedition from the University of Chernihiv began excavating in Baturyn. Over the next two years, archaeologists discovered remnants of two hetman Baroque palaces, urban dwellings, and town fortifications as well as masonry from the St. Nicholas Church at the nearby Krupyts'kyi Monastery. These excavations have uncovered evidence of the destruction from 1708....

Excavations were renewed in 2001 thanks to financial support from the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and the US. Ukrainian and Canadian archaeologists and historians--sponsored by the University of Chernihiv and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto--have continued the field investigations of the hetman palaces, urban dwellings, and town fortifications; they also discovered 16 graves of the Cossack elite, which contain the skeletal remains of children and elderly people slain in 1708....

Continued donor support of the Baturyn project is vital to excavation work and the dissemination of research findings. For information, please contact:

Dr. Volodomyr Mezentsev, Slavic Languages and Literatures or
Prof. Martin Dimnik, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
At the University of Toronto, Canada


Palace of Kyrylo Rozumovsk'kyi, built 1799-1803, by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron -- architect to Catherine the Great of Russia. One of two extant 18th century, severe neo-classical structures at Baturyn, Ukraine, currently awaiting restoration funding. [Earlier, the Russians leveled the Ukrainian Baroque cultural capital city of Baturyn in 1708, in terrorist reprisal for Ivan Mazepa's alliance with the Swedish crown.]

Photo credit: (c) All rights reserved. With thanks.


Mazepa's Palace, a unique work of Ukrainian baroque architecture, was plundered and largely destroyed by the Russians in 1708. Restoration drawing based upon drawing from 1744 in the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

Photo credit: Via [Hungary] With thanks.


Vilnius String Quartet (Lithuania, European Union)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
January 13 at 6:30PM FREE

West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court
Music by Beethoven, Brahms, and Onute Narbutaite


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