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The Consequences of the Year 1648 in Westphalia and in the Ukraine : iwo cyprian pogonowski

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Consequences of the Year 1648 in Westphalia and in the Ukraine


Peace of Westphalia represented a series of peace treaties signed between May and October 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the independence of the Dutch Republic. It was the end of disgraceful religious wars in Western Europe and a proclamation guarantying by international law the inviolability of the existence of all Europe states.

The Peace of Westphalia treaties involved the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III, of the House of Habsburg, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of France, the Swedish Empire, the Dutch Republic, the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and sovereigns of the free imperial cities and can be denoted by two major events.

A. The signing of the Peace of Münster between the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of Spain on 30 January 1648, officially ratified in Münster on 15 May 1648.

B. The signing of two complementary treaties on 24 October 1648, namely:

The Treaty of Münster (Instrumentum Pacis Monasteriensis, IPM), concerning the Holy Roman Emperor and France and their respective allies. The Treaty of Osnabrück (Instrumentum Pacis Osnabrugensis, IPO), concerning the Holy Roman Emperor, the Empire and Sweden and their respective allies

The European wars of religion were a series of bloody wars waged in Europe from ca. 1524 to 1648, following the onset of the Protestant Reformation in Western and Northern Europe. Although sometimes unconnected, all of these wars were strongly influenced by the religious change of the period, and the bloody conflict and rivalry that it produced. The year 1648 coincided with the end of the Golden Decade of the Jewish merciless exploitation of the Ukraine based on Arenda type yearly pre-paid leases.

The Chmielnicki Uprising, was a Cossack and peasant rebellion in Ukraine between the years 1648–1657 which turned into a Ukrainian war of liberation from Poland leading to the enslavement of the Ukraine by Russia. Under the command of Hetman Bohdan Abdank Chmielnicki, rebellious Polish nobleman, the Zaporozhian Cossacks allied with the Crimean Tatars, and the local peasantry, fought several battles against the armies and paramilitary forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The result was an eradication of the control of the Polish nobles, mainly polonized local boyars, and their Jewish intermediaries, and the end of ecclesiastical jurisdiction for the Latin Rite Catholics (as well as Karaites, and other arendators) over the country.

The Uprising has taken on a symbolic meaning in the story of Ukraine’s relationship with Russia. It resulted in the incorporation of Ukraine into the Tsardom of Muscovy at the Pereieslav Agreement, where the Cossacks swore an oath of allegiance to the tsar. This, according to the poet and artist, Taras Shevchenko, the agreement brought about his people’s ‘enslavement’ under Russia.

H. Kozłowski described well the beginning of these events in 2003 atlas with maps in a school atlas by A. Andersen illustrating the preparation of a Christian Crusade against the “Hornet’s Nest of the Crimean Tartars, Turkish vassals who turned southern Ukraine into “Wild Fields” raided for plunder and for capturing slaves for sale in the Ottoman Empire in which the banks were operated by Jewish bankers often in contact with Jews who controlled banks in Poland.   

In the second part of the 40s King Władisław IV begun preparations for the great war against Turks, in which Zaporozye Cossacks were to be the King’s important allies. The political machines of the Ukrainin latifundia allied with Jewish bankers blocked the King’s plans in the Seym of 1647 and ordered to disperse the army. Cossacks awoke and eventually failed hopes resulted in mutiny and they gained a new-distinguished leader – Bohdan Abdank Chmielnicki, rebellious noble citizen of the Commonwealth of the Polish Nobles Republic which was established in 1569 in the Union of Lublin as democracy of the masses of Polish nobles called “szlachta.”

Chmielnicki signed an alliance with khan of Crimean Tatars Islam Girej. Cossacks-Tatars joint forces ravaged the crown army in 2 battles: at Yellow Waters (16 V 1648) and at Korsuñ (26 V 1648). Two crown hetmans were enslaved and uprising spread across Ukraine. Situation got complicated with the death of the King Władysław IV (20 V 1648). The only organized resistance was of private squads of prince Jeremi Wisniowiecki – a formidable Ukrainian magnate. Both sides acted with unprecedented cruelty. Commonwealth have organized a new army and charged commands with three inefficient leaders (with the exception of Jeremi Wisniowiecki) and when 2 armies got into fighting at Pilawce (23 IX 1648) new soldiers and Polish nobility insurrection dispersed upon threat of Tatar’s attack. That helped Chmielnicki to proceed towards Lwów and Zamość (both cities held out siege during which Chmielnicki offered to lift the siege in exchange of delivering local Jews to the Cossaks – Poles refused to comply).

The uprising spread over to Wolyn and Bialorus. Military activity was suspended for the time of new royal election, Chmielnicki supported candidacy of King Władisław’s younger brother – Jan Kazimierz – who presented amicable position with regards to uprising. After unsuccessful negotiations with newly elected King Jan Kazimierz, Chmielnicki beleaguered Zbaraż, which was strongly defended by small army of Jeremi Wisniowiecki. King Jan Kazimierz have arrived with relief, and after stalemate battle at Zborów (15-16 VIII 1649) (Tatars have retreat after receiving bribery from the Poles), so called Zborow agreement was signed in which Cossacks gained many concessions. 

The uprising erupted again in 1651. On 28-30 VI 1652 Chmielnicki was defeated at Beresteczko (130 000 Cossack and Tatars against Polish forces of about 70 000 soldiers and nobles “pospolite ruszenie) and started looking for assistance from Russia. On Januray 18 – 1654 he broke off relations with Poland and accepted superiority of Russia at Perejesław. Tzar temporarily granted Cossacks the right to elect hetman; he accepted 60.000 registers and guaranteed property of estates. Hitherto existing Cossacks-Polish conflict evolved into the war between Poland and Russia. (1654-1657).

The Uprising started not only as the rebellion of the Cossacks, but also as other Orthodox Christian classes (peasants, burghers, even petty nobility). The Ukrainian palatinates joined them, the ultimate aim became a creation of Ukrainian autonomous state. The Uprising succeeded in ending the Polish influence over those Cossack lands that were eventually taken by the Tsardom of Russia . These events, along with internal conflicts and hostilities with Sweden and Russia, resulted in severely diminished Polish power during this period referred to in Polish history as The Deluge.

History of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1648) covers a period in the history of Poland and Lithuania, before their joint state was subjected to devastating wars in the middle of the 17th century. The Union of Lublin of 1569 established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a more closely unified federal state, replacing the previously existing personal union of the two countries. The Union was largely run by the Polish and Polonized Lithuanian and Ruthenian nobility, through the system of the central parliament and local assemblies, but from 1573 the Commonweath was led by elected kings who acted as a chief executive and a head of state of the Polish Nobles Republic,which was the first democracy in modern Europe and  by 1631 had one million free citizens of which every grown up male had the right to offer his candidacy in a general election for the head of state, and every man and woman had equal rights to inherit property.

The formal rule of the proportionally more numerous than in other European countries Polish nobility constituted a sophisticated early democratic system, in contrast to the absolute monarchies prevalent at that time in the rest of Europe. Thus, Poland was the first democracy in modern Europe. Looking back the beginning of the Commonwealth of the masses of Polish nobility coincided with the period of Poland’s great power, civilizational advancement and prosperity. The Polish–Lithuanian Union had become an influential player in Europe and a vital cultural entity, spreading the Western culture eastward.

In the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a huge state in central-eastern Europe, with an area approaching one million square kilometers. An important contribution to international law of the Kingdom of Poland occurred already in 1463 when Poland endorsed the first plan similar to the United Nations but some five hundred years earlier. It differed from the UN because it defined an “agressor” any country according to the location of its fighting force.

Following the Reformation the Warsaw Confederation of 1573 was the culmination of the unique in Europe religious toleration processes. The Catholic Church embarked on an ideological counter-offensive or Counter-Reformation because of many converts from Protestant circles. The disagreements over and the difficulties with the assimilation of the eastern Ruthenian populations of the Commonwealth had become clearly discernible.

At an earlier stage (from the late 16th century), they manifested themselves in the religious Union of Brest by the Synod of Brest of 1595-1506 of the Catholic and Greek Churches. The Greek Uniates adhered to the Eastern rite and discipline, but submitted to papal authority. Creation of the Uniate Church was an attempt to heal the schism and bring equality to the Orthodox citizens of the Nobles Republic. Instead it split the Eastern Christians of the Commonwealth, and on the military front, it produced a series of Cossack uprisings.

The Commonwealth, assertive militarily under King Stephen Báthory, suffered from dynastic problems during the following reigns of the Vasa kings Sigismund III and Władysław IV who claimed the Swedish crown for themselves. Polish Kingdom had also become a playground of internal conflicts, in which the kings, powerful magnates and factions of nobility were the main actors. The Commonwealth fought wars with Russia, Sweden and the Ottoman Empire.

At the Commonwealth’s height, some of its powerful neighbors experienced difficulties of their own and the Polish-Lithuanian state sought domination in Eastern Europe, in particular over Russia. Allied with the Habsburg Monarchy, it did not directly participate in the Thirty Years’ War. Two crowned Polish Kings of the second Polish dynasty, the Jagiellonians, were killied in battle against the Turks, the first King Władysław III (1424-1444) at Warna, and the second Ludwik II Jagiełło (1506-1526) at Mochacz, where the victor was Sulejman the Magnificent (c.1496-1566), whose wife Roxana was kidnapped in southern Poland by the Crimean Tartars for sale in Turky, where she became the wife of Sulejman the Magnificen and the mother of the next Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Tsar Ivan IV of Russia undertook in 1577 hostilities in the Livonian region, which resulted in his takeover of most of the area and caused the Polish-Lithuanian involvement in the Livonian War. The successful counter-offensive led by King Báthory and Jan Zamoyski resulted in the peace of 1582 and the retaking of much of the territory contested with Russia, with the Swedish forces establishing themselves in the far north (Estonia). Estonia was declared a part of the Polish Commonwealth by Sigismund III in 1600, which gave rise to a war against Sweden over Livonia; the war lasted until 1611 without producing a definite outcome.

In 1600, when Russia was entering a period of instability, the Commonwealth proposed a union with the Russian state. The failed move was followed by many other similarly unsuccessful, often adventurous attempts, some involving military invasions, other dynastic and diplomatic manipulations and scheming. While the differences between the two societies and empires proved in the end too formidable to overcome, the Polish-Lithuanian state ended up in 1619, after the Truce of Deulino, with the greatest ever expansion of its territory to one million square kilometers. At the same time it was weakened by the huge military effort it had to make.

In 1620 the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Osman II declared a war against the Commonwealth. At the disastrous Battle of Ţuţora-Cecora  Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski was killed and the Commonwealth’s situation in respect to the Turkish-Tatar invasion forces became very precarious. A mobilization in Poland-Lithuania followed and when Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz’s army withstood fierce enemy assaults at the Battle of Chocim-Khotyn (1621), the situation improved on the southeastern front. More warfare with the Ottomans followed in 1633–1634 and vast expanses of the Commonwealth had been subjected to Tatar incursions and slave-taking expeditions mentioned earlier. High hopes of the liberation from the Moslem yoke of the Balkan Slavs by the Poles were expressed in a Croatian national poem of 10,000 verses, written by the president of Dubrovnik (Ragusa) Ivo Franow Gundolić under title of “Osman” dedicated to the glory of Poland as a liberator of of the Southern Slavs. (My father Jerzy Pogonowski translated “Osman” from old Croatian into Polish in 1920’s and was decorated with the order of St. Sawa by the King of Jugoslavia.)

War with Sweden, now under Gustavus Adolphus, resumed in 1621 with his attack on Riga, followed by the Swedish occupation of much of Livonia, control of Baltic Sea coast up to Puck and the blockade of Gdańsk. The Commonwealth, exhausted by the warfare that had taken place elsewhere, in 1626–1627 mustered a response, utilizing the military talents of Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski and some help from Austria. Under pressure from several European powers, the campaign was stopped and ended in the Truce of Altmark, leaving in Swedish hands much of what Gustavus Adolphus had conquered.

Another war with Russia followed in 1632 and was concluded without much change in the status quo. King Władysław IV then proceeded to recover the lands lost to Sweden. At the conclusion of the hostilities, Sweden evacuated the cities and ports of Royal Prussia – a fief of Poland-  but kept most of Livonia. Courland, which had remained with the Polish Commonwealth, assumed the servicing of Lithuania’s Baltic trade. After the last of thirty Prussian homages (1525-1641) was paid on his knees before Polish king in 1641 by Frederick William von Hohenzollern, the Commonwealth’s position in regard to the Polish fief of Prussia kept getting weaker as the role of the Hohenzollern sa vassals of Poland was nearing an end.

Arenda system of pre-paid yearly leases served as the main method for building of huge estates which played similarly destructive role in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as was the role of latifundia in the Roman Republic of antiquity. Arenda could include only the production and sale of seasonal crops but sometimes the lease of whole estates was involved. All these types of leases were linked with the agricultural Arenda (see below). Until the middle of the 16th century, Jews were among the chief lessees of the customs in the stations in Lithuania and White Russia. Some moved there from Poland for this purpose.

In 1569 the Lithuanian Sejm accorded the nobility the monopoly on leases in Lithuania, which also included Belorussia as well as the Ukraine, which was under Polish administration since 1569 Union of Lublin. The economic consequences of the monopoly of the nobles would have been disastrous for Lithuanian Jewry, which felt strong enough to defy it openly. The Va’ad Medinat Lita (Lithuanian Council) therefore twice passed a resolution supporting the lease of customs and taxes by Jews, stating: “We have openly seen the great danger deriving from the operation of customs in Gentile hands; for the customs to be in Jewish hands is a pivot on which everything (in commerce) turns, since thereby Jews may exert control” (S. Dubnow, Pinkas… Lita (1925), 29, no. 123). In Lithuania, Jews openly held concessions for the great Arenda, with the exception of the mint, until late in the 17th century.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Jews in Red Russia (Eastern Galicia and Lodomeria) also occupied a not insignificant place in the lease of customs, salt mines, taxes from drinks, etc. The lessees of these large economic undertakings often contracted them out to sub-lessees, mainly to other Jews, as well. That Jews actually operated customs stations is attested by customs registers of 1580, written in mixed Hebrew and Yiddish, even where and when the prohibition on Jewish customs leasing formally remained in force. Jewish expertise and financial ability in this field were in demand especially in huge estates. Jews are later found as silent partners of the nominal Christian lessees, often Armenians living in Poland.

The term Agricultural Arenda refers to the lease of landed estates or of specific branches (in agriculture, forestry, and processing), in which Jews gradually became predominant in eastern Poland during the 16th and 17th centuries. There were several reasons for this development. The increasing exports of agricultural products to Western Europe and the development of processing industries (especially of alcoholic beverages) led to the progressive commercialization of the landed estates, but the majority of the nobility had little interest in the actual administration of their vast (and remote) latifundia, as well as insufficient capital and commercial skills. Thus they turned to the capital, enterprise, and expertise of Jewish lessees. These, on the other hand, showed growing interest in this activity as a result of increasing competition and discrimination against Jews in the towns as usurious lenders of money. Many a lease originated in a loan to the estate owner, who mortgaged the general or certain specific revenues from his land as security (“zastaw” in Polish,)

In Lithuania and Red Russia in this period Jews leased from the magnates not only single estates but also whole demesnes (klucze) and private towns. In 1598 Israel of Złoczów leased the land owned by the Złoczów gentry, together with all the taxes, the monopoly on the taverns, and the corvée, for 4,500 zloty yearly. Jewish operators of the taverns often sold vodka on credit to local peasants. About three quarters of the Jewish population of the Polish Nobles Republic lived in the area of Arenda activity which at times included complete jurisdiction over the exploited Christian rural population which inhabited the leased property. Jewish Arendazh “was in power to punish by fines or by death ”the peasants in the leased estates.” Arendazh had the right to impose and collect taxes as well as church fees for baptisms, weddings, funerals etc. and to control the very access to churches.

In 1581 in Lublin the “Congressus Judaicus” or the only Jewish autonomous parliament in the history of Jewish Diaspora operated in Poland and forbade all Jews under the penalty of anathema, to take  Arenda leases in Polish Catholic areas. Jewish self-government assisted the lease holders in establishing procedures to renew their contracts with the estate owners and not to be subject of underbidding by other Jews. Within the area of Arenda activity Jewish population was increasing very rapidly.

Jewish lessees played a central role in the colonization of the Ukraine. The Jewish lessee frequently became the economic adviser and factotum of the Polish magnate. The Jewish sublessee could also exert considerable economic leverage and social influence from his position in the tavern, but his financial situation was not necessarily good and safe. Because of the importance of agricultural Arenda in Jewish economic life, problems concerning this institution were often the subject of resolutions of the Jewish Councils of the Lands.

One of the most far-reaching takkanot (“regulations”) introduced by the Council was that of an order to prevent under-cutting among Jews in this field. The regulation interdicted a Jew from attempting by any means to acquire a lease already held by another Jew for three consecutive years. Other “takkanot” dealt with problems of Sabbath observance or halakhic points arising in the course of management of estates owned by Christians.

In southeastern Poland, Jewish lessees found themselves between the hammer and the anvil, under pressure from the magnates for whom they were agents, and hatred of the peasantry. The attitude of the Jews themselves toward the peasants was often much more cautious than that of the landlords. A council of rabbis and communal leaders of Volhynia, a central district of the agricultural Arenda, urged Jewish lessees in 1602 to forgo the work due from peasants on the Sabbath: “If the villagers are obliged to do the work on weekdays [i.e., Monday through Saturday]… let them forgo the Sabbath and [Jewish] holidays altogether. Living in exile and under the Egyptian yoke, our forefathers chose the Sabbath day for resting… Therefore also where Gentiles are under their hand [the Jews] are obliged to keep the Law… Let them not be ungrateful to the Giver of bounty, the very bounty given; let the name of the Lord be glorified through them” (Ben-Sasson, in: Zion, 21 (1956), 205). However, the Jews were frequently maligned. They were accused falsely of interfering in the affairs of Greek Orthodox (Prawosławne) churches in villages leased by them. All the Jews living in the southeastern parts of Poland were attacked and thousands massacred in the Cossack and peasant uprisings in the 17th century during the Chmielnicki uprising described above.

The last years of the Polish “republic of the nobility” (1648–c. 1772) were a period of economic and cultural decline accompanied by growing negative Catholic reaction to the Reformation. The central administrative authority progressively weakened and the nobility felt itself free to act outside of the law. The conditions, character, and role of Jewish leaseholding changed for the worse in this situation. At that time in certain districts village Jews formed a third of the total Jewish population in the entire region.

The 1764 census shows that around 2% of the Jews in Poland were lessees (generally tavern keepers) in towns; in rural areas, while only a few were large-scale lessees on the magnates’ estates, the number of Jewish lessees of taverns and inns had increased. In the district of Lublin at this date, 89% of the village Jews engaged in lease-holding operations were inn or tavern keepers. An insignificant number of larger-scale lessees held more than one inn or tavern. The rest, nearly 11%, leased mills and dairy processes. Petty lessees often combined trade with a craft, such as hatters, tailors, and pitch burners.

Solomon Maimon, in the late 18th century, depicts in his autobiography the poverty of the Jewish innkeeper who plied his trade in a smoky hut with peasants sitting on the floor and drinking vodka, while the Jewish teacher taught the half-naked children of the proprietor. The Polish poet Ignacy Krasicki describes an inn as a barn where the Jewish innkeeper had not even a bundle of straw to serve as a bed for his guests. Arbitrary arrests and humiliation were part of the lot of the Jews in these occupations. In the 18th century the petty squires and the general public demanded the expulsion of the Jews from the villages, especially the lessees of the taverns. During the period of the Partitions of Poland, the limitation which had been imposed on the lease of revenues and real property owned by Jews remained in force until the formal political emancipation of the Jews in the land of each partition.

The weight and importance of lease-holding in the occupational structure of Eastern European Jewry decreased in the 19th century with urbanization and industrialization and the process of Jewish migration to the cities and industrial and commercial centers. Formerly, the system of agricultural Arenda had brought Jews to the villages and incorporated them in village life. It provided a broad area of settlement and sources of livelihood enabling the growth of the Jewish population in Poland-Lithuania. Even during its decline, and despite the tarnishing of its image from the 18th century, the Arenda system for a considerable time played an important and negative role in both Jewish and Polish economic and social life.

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