Golota, Ilia

Golota, Il’ia


Date of birth unknown; died June 1649. One of the leaders of the war of liberation waged by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peoples in the middle of the 17th century.

In early 1649 he was sent by Bogdan Khmel’nitskü, with a 10,000-man detachment, to the aid of the Byelorussian people. In the spring of 1649, Golota crossed the Pripiat’ River and defeated the Lithuanian troops, who had to pass through southern Byelorussia to deliver a blow to the Ukrainian troops of Khmel’nitskü; thus, he frustrated the plans of the Polish high command. Masses of Byelorussian peasants joined Golota’s forces, and his detachment reached a strength of 30,000 men. Golota was unable to secure provisions for his people in the ravaged surrounding countryside; he therefore divided them into small detachments. The Polish command took advantage of this and began to annihilate Golota’s insurgents, one section at a time. Surrounded near Zagal’e by the superior forces of the Lithuanian hetman J. Radziwill, Golota fought a heroic struggle for three months with his detachment. He succeeded in leading 7,000 rebels out of the encirclement, but on June 17 he was again surrounded and driven back to the marshes. After a fierce struggle. Golota and the majority of his detachment were killed. Golota’s memory is preserved in Ukrainian and Byelorussian folk legends and songs.