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Don Cossacks,Cossack settlers (see CossacksCossacks
, Rus. Kazaki, Ukr. Kozaky, peasant-soldiers in Ukraine and in several regions of Russia who, until 1918, held certain privileges in return for rendering military service. The first Cossack companies were formed in the 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ) who in the 16th cent. founded the virtually independent republic of the Don Cossacks on the fertile steppes along the lower course of the Don River. NovocherkasskNovocherkassk
, city (1989 pop. 188,000), SE European Russia, on the Aksai River (the right tributary of the Don). It manufactures locomotives, machine tools, mining and building equipment, and chemicals.
..... Click the link for more information. was their chief town. The host of the Don Cossacks was governed by a popular council, the Rada, and by an elected chief, called ataman. Their daring raids and exploits attained legendary proportions under Stenka RazinRazin, Stenka
, d. 1671, Don Cossack leader, head of the peasant revolt of 1670. As commander of a band of propertyless Don Cossacks, he raided and pillaged (1667–69) through the lower Volga valley and across the Caspian Sea.
..... Click the link for more information. . Although the Don Cossacks gave allegiance to the czar of Russia in 1614, their self-government was recognized by the czar in 1623 and they continued to govern themselves throughout the 17th cent. Frequent rebellions, however, culminating in that of PugachevPugachev, Emelian Ivanovich
, c.1742–75, Russian peasant leader, head of the peasant rebellion of 1773–74. A Don Cossack, he exploited a widespread peasant belief that Peter III had not actually been murdered.
..... Click the link for more information. , resulted in the loss of many of their privileges. After the suppression of a revolt (1707–8), the Don Cossacks lost the right to elect their ataman. The decree of 1835 made them into a military caste with special privileges in return for military service. After 1886 the czarist government often used the Don Cossacks to suppress revolutionary movements throughout Russia. Following the October Revolution of 1917, the Don Cossacks sought to regain their political autonomy and even strove for independence. They established the Don Military Government and fought the Bolsheviks. Later the Don Cossacks aided the White armies. The Soviet regime abolished Don Cossack army units until World War II, when they were reactivated to fight the Germans. Among prominent Don Cossacks in modern times is Mikhail A. SholokhovSholokhov, Mikhail Aleksandrovich
, 1905–84, Russian novelist. Sholokhov won international fame for an epic novel of his native land, The Silent Don (4 vol., 1928–40; tr. in 2 vol.
..... Click the link for more information. , author of several novels about the Don Cossacks. The Don Cossacks are famous for their songs and choirs.