Bogdan Khmelnitskii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khmel’nitskii, Bogdan Mikhailovich


(also Zinovii M. Khmel’nitskii). Born circa 1595, probably in Chigirin; died Aug. 6 (16), 1657, in Chigirin. Ukrainian state and military figure; hetmán of the Ukraine (1648).

Khmel’nitskii’s father, who was of Ukrainian descent, was a minor member of the Polish szlachta (nobility). Although he was educated at a Jesuit school in L’vov, Khmel’nitskii remained Orthodox. He took part in the Polish-Turkish War of 1620–21; captured by the Turks in 1620, he spent two years in prison. After his return to the Ukraine, Khmel’nitskii joined a registered-cossack host. He took part in the popular uprisings of 1637 and 1638. Khmel’nitskii held the position of host pisar’ (clerk) and later became sotnik (leader) of Chigirin.

In the mid-1640’s, Khmel’nitskii began preparing for an uprising against Polish supremacy in the Ukraine. He was arrested in 1647, but he was freed shortly thereafter and fled to the Zaporozhye Sech’. Khmel’nitskii headed the Ukrainian forces in the War of Liberation of the Ukrainian People (1648–54). During the war he functioned as both commander and diplomat, and he helped organize a Ukrainian national state system. He led the Ukrainian forces to victory in the battle of Korsun’ (1648) and at Zheltye Vody and Piliavtsy.

In 1648, Khmel’nitskii sent a letter to Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich requesting that Russian rule be extended to the Ukraine. In early 1640 he repeated the request. After the resumption of fighting with Poland, the Ukrainian forces under Khmel’nitskii were victorious in the battle of Zborov (1649); because of the treachery of his ally the Crimean khan, however, Khmel’nitskii was forced to conclude the Treaty of Zborov (1649) with Poland. After the defeat of the cossack troops at Berestechko, the onerous Belaia Tserkov’ Treaty was concluded. Nevertheless, the armed struggle of the Ukrainian people continued and, under Khmel’nitskii’s leadership, led to the defeat of the Polish Army at Batog in 1652.

After the decision of the Russian government to reunite the Ukraine with Russia, Khmel’nitskii headed the Pereiaslav Rada of 1654, which confirmed the unification. Khmel’nitskii headed the hetmán administration until his death.


Dokumenty Bogdana Khmel’nitskogo, 1648–1657. Kiev, 1961.
Golobutskii, V. A. Diplomaticheskaia istoriia osvoboditel’ noi voiny ukrainskogo naroda, 1648–1654. Kiev, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.