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Ukrainian and Byelorussian national and religious social organizations of the 15-18th centuries. They were established under the auspices of Orthodox churches in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and part of Lithuania in order to struggle against national oppression and the forcible conversion to Catholicism of Russians, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians of the Orthodox faith.

The brotherhoods developed as early as the 15th century (the oldest were in L’vov and Vilnius); they arose in Kamenets-Podolsk and Rogatin in 1589, Mogilev in 1590, Brest in 1591, Peremyshl’ in 1592, and elsewhere. They were based on democratic principles; anyone who paid dues toward the common expenditures could be a member. The bulk of the members were townspeople; however, the brotherhoods also included representatives of the clergy, gentry, and peasantry. In 1620 the entire Zaporozh’e Host, led by Hetman Sagaidachnyi, joined the Kiev-Bogoiav-lenskoe brotherhood.

The organizational forms of the brotherhoods were remniscent of the medieval city guilds. They had their own regulations. They fought for the right of stauropegion—that is, for independence from local clerical authorities and direct subordination to the patriarch. The brotherhoods opposed Jesuit propaganda and the propagation of Catholicism and the Uniate religion in the Ukraine and Byelorussia. They fought for the national and cultural independence of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peoples and maintained ties with Russia, Moldavia, and the southern Slavs. They conducted extensive work in the area of culture and education, opening up brotherhood schools and printing presses. Cultural forces gathered around the schools. The Kiev Mogila Collegium (later, Academy) was established in 1632 on the base of the school of the Kievan brotherhood. A number of the writers, scholars, political figures, and figures in the areas of education, printing, and the arts who aided the consolidation of ties between the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peoples and the Russian people came from the brotherhood schools (for example, Iov Boretskii, Lavrentii Zizanii, Pamva Berynda, Zakharii Kopystenskii, and Epifanii Slavinetskii).

In the second half of the 17th and the 18th centuries, as feudal relations became further strengthened, the role of the brotherhoods in social and political life diminished. In Galicia—the right bank of the Dnieper—they fell under the influence of the clergy; on the left bank, the functions they carried out were primarily religious and social. Brotherhoods existed under the auspices of certain rural and city churches in the 19th century; by this time, they no longer engaged in socio-political and cultural activity, although they did retain some of the rites and customs characteristic of the previous brotherhoods. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries some figures of the Orthodox Church established clerical organizations that had nothing but the name in common with the earlier brotherhoods, although they did allude to the tradition of the brotherhoods.


Huslystyi, K. Narysy z istorii Ukrainy, issue 3. Vyzvol’ na borot’ba ukrains’ koho narodu proty shliakhets’ koi Pol’ shchi v drugii polovyni XVI i v pershii polovyni XVII st. Kiev, 1941.
Isaevych, Ia. D. Bratstva ta ix rol’v rozvytku ukrains’koi kul’tury XVI-XVIII st. Kiev, 1966.
Emfimenko, A. “Iuzhno-russkie bratstva.” In her book: Iuzhnaia Rus’, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1905.




associations of city craftsmen (sometimes of peasants) in medieval Europe. They set themselves religious and philanthropic aims; they were organizations of mutual assistance. Usually their center was the chapel of a “saint,” the patron of the brotherhood. They brought together craftsmen of the same trade from one or several guilds (there were also nonguild brotherhoods). Initially, the brotherhoods included both masters and apprentices. Later, independent brotherhoods of apprentices developed as well (unions of apprentices, French compagnonnages), and during the 15th and 16th centuries these turned into organizations for the struggle of the apprentices against increased exploitation by the masters. The frères—brotherhoods of peasants in the French countryside during the Middle Ages—were associations of peasant households for joint farming. They often became organizations of peasants in the struggle against the seigneurs.

References in classic literature ?
Brotherhood of the Temple, which occur in the Works of
Don Quixote did so, reining in Rocinante until his weary squire came up, who on reaching him said, "It seems to me, senor, it would be prudent in us to go and take refuge in some church, for, seeing how mauled he with whom you fought has been left, it will be no wonder if they give information of the affair to the Holy Brotherhood and arrest us, and, faith, if they do, before we come out of gaol we shall have to sweat for it.
A brotherhood of penitents, clothed from head to foot in robes of gray sackcloth, with holes for the eyes, and holding in their hands lighted tapers, appeared first; the chief marched at the head.
He felt the subtle battle brotherhood more potent even than the cause for which they were fighting.
All through life that piece of crape had hung between him and the world: it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and woman's love, and kept him in that saddest of all prisons, his own heart; and still it lay upon his face, as if to deepen the gloom of his darksome chamber, and shade him from the sunshine of eternity.
Perhaps their feelings of brotherhood were the stronger because different nations had formed settlements to the north and to the south.
Fixing our attention on such outside shows of similarity or difference, we lose sight of those realities by which nature, fortune, fate, or Providence has constituted for every man a brotherhood, wherein it is one great office of human wisdom to classify him.
It gave me an intimate sense of being a member of some mystic brotherhood.
In the centre of this crowd, the grand officers of the Brotherhood of Fools bore on their shoulders a litter more loaded down with candles than the reliquary of Sainte-Geneviève in time of pest; and on this litter shone resplendent, with crosier, cope, and mitre, the new Pope of the Fools, the bellringer of Notre-Dame, Quasimodo the hunchback.
Yes, I belong to the Brotherhood of the Freemasons," said the stranger, looking deeper and deeper into Pierre's eyes.
Out of the decay of self-seeking capitalism, it was held, would arise that flower of the ages, the Brotherhood of Man.
It is in stories like these that we find the keen sense of what is beautiful in nature, the sense of "man's brotherhood with bird and beast, star and flower," which has become the mark of "Celtic" literature.
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