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POLES, UNIATES AND GALICIA

I find it quite surprising that the censor, apparently, had no problems with Haidamaky in 1842, or indeed with Gogol's Taras Bulba in 1835. Since 1815, when they took control of the 'Kingdom of Poland' (Napoleon's 'Grand Duchy of Warsaw'), the Russians had responsibility for a large Polish Catholic population - in addition to the Poles already taken through the partitions. There had already been a major unsuccessful Polish revolt in 1830 and, to quote the historian James T. Flynn (Russia's Polish problem, p.213):

'If Poland could not be permitted independence, what policies could be devised to offer Poles an acceptable way of life within the empire? This was the horn of the dilemma which faced government officials. Historians and publicists could analyse, with varying degrees of heat and light, the roots and dimensions of the problem. It fell to government officials to try, with varying degrees of courage and responsibility, to find ways to promote the integration of a Polish population into the life of the Russian empire.'

Flynn is also a specialist in the history of the Uniates and has written a comparison between the policies of the Uniate Bishop Lisovskii, trying to establish an independent Uniate seminary in Polock, Belarus, in 1806, and Archbishop Troy of Dublin, establishing Maynooth in Ireland in 1795. (24) Despite Catherine II's promise of freedom to practice their religion at the time of the partitions, the Uniate church was suppressed in 1839, against a great deal of opposition, everywhere in the Russian domains except the Kingdom of Poland, where it was suppressed in 1875. This concerns more the history of Belarus than Ukraine but it is interesting to see that, while a distinct Ukrainian national consciousness was developing in the Dnieper area, celebrating Cossack hostility to Catholics, with Uniates regarded as traitors to the Orthodox cause, it was on the basis of the Uniate 'Greek Catholic' Church that a distinct Ruthenian national consciousness was developing in Galicia, in the Austrian Empire.

(24) James T. Flynn: 'Contrasting Similarities: Bishops Troy and Lisovskii in Ireland and Belorussia in the Age of the French Revolution', The Catholic Historical Review, Vol.87, No.2 (April 2001), pp. 214- 228.

This became obvious in the revolutionary year 1848. As a result of the failure of the 1830 revolt in the Kingdom of Poland, large numbers of Polish refugees arrived in Austrian Galicia. There was an attempt at revolution in 1846, fostered by the Polish Democratic Society, inspired by the French revolutionary ideals that had been established in the Duchy of Warsaw. According to the account by Antony Polonsky, specialist in Polish-Jewish history:

'Wild rumors circulated that the nobility intended to slaughter the peasants. Uncertain of the ability of the Austrian government to protect them, peasants began to form themselves into bands for the purpose of self-defence ... Thus when the noble revolutionaries in Galicia proclaimed their insurrection, the peasants in the areas of Tarnów, Rzeszów, Wadowice, Nowy Sacz, and Sanok turned on them savagely, killing some and handing others over to the Austrian authorities. Everywhere they proclaimed their intention of acting on behalf of the emperor and that their action was directed solely against the landlords and their agents. There seems to have been very little anti-Jewish activity ... The rising was almost entirely confined to the Polish-speaking western areas of Galicia. Some peasants in mountainous areas, where labor services were not a source of conflict, did in fact support the insurrection. In all, perhaps 1,100 people were killed, 3,000 were arrested, and 430 manor houses were burnt.' (p.451)  (25)

(25) Antony Polonsky: 'The Revolutionary Crisis of 1846-1849 and Its Place in the Development of Nineteenth Century Galicia', Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol.22, Cultures and Nations of Central and Eastern Europe (1998), p.451.

As a result, when 1848 came along:

'the revolutionaries in Galicia lacked any real faith that they could achieve their objectives on their own, and the progress of the revolution there was almost entirely dependent on events elsewhere in the monarchy, above all in Vienna. In March, following Metternich's flight from Vienna, Polish liberals and revolutionaries, including some members of the Democratic Society, met in Lviv and on 14th April set up a Central National Council (Rada Narodowa Centralna), which was to be both a representative and an executive body. Its members agreed on a common program, which was notable in that it only called for the autonomy of Galicia and did not mention Polish independence. In addition, they demanded the abolition of Labor services [the 'corvée' associated with serfdom - PB]

'The relative weakness of the revolutionary upsurge, partly the result of the widespread fear among landowners of a new 1846, left the initiative in the hands of the new Austrian governor Franz von Stadion. He displayed unusual political skill, appealing for support to the now increasingly nationally conscious Ukrainian (26) majority in the eastern part of the province. This policy had been initiated already in February 1847, when the Austrian government proposed to divide Galicia into its eastern and western parts. In February of the following year, Stadion gave permission for the publication of a Ukrainian newspaper. He also attempted to secure Jewish support by calling on the Austrian authorities in April 1848 to abolish all special taxes paid by Jews. In addition, and most importantly, he did what had not been done in the aftermath of the 1846 jacquerie: he managed to persuade the imperial government on 23 April to abolish labor dues, which effectively pacified the countryside in the Austrian interest. As a result, he was able to reestablish Austrian control in Cracow in April and in Lviv in November.'  (p.454)

(26) See my earlier footnote (5) complaining against the use of the word 'Ukrainian' for this period in the history of Galicia

Among the Ruthenians:

'The strongest force at this time was Austro-Slavism, which was supported by the Greek Catholic hierarchy, including the Greek Catholic bishop-coadjutor of Lviv, Hryhorii [presumably Ukrainian for Gregory - PB] Iakhymovych, and the Metropolitan Mykhailo Levyts'kyi. It was organised in the Supreme Ruthenian Council [Holovna Rus'ka Rada), which was established in 2 May to act as a counterweight to the Polish National Council. Its organization was encouraged by Stadion and it undertook widespread political agitation, collecting thousands of signatures in support of its objectives, the most important of which was the division of Galicia along the San River into two administrative entities. The degree of political mobilization was considerable. Nearly 200,000 people signed a petition advocating such a division. In addition, 25 Ukrainian deputies sat in the lower house of the parliament established on 25 April. In a resolution of 10 May published in Zoria halyts'ka, one of the Ukrainian newspapers established in 1848, the Supreme Ruthenian Council asserted:

'"We Galician Ruthenians belong to the great Ruthenian nation, which speaks the same language and numbers fifteen million. of whom two and a half million live on the land of Galicia. This nation was once independent, it had its own literary language, its own laws, its own princes, in a word, it lived in prosperity, was wealthy and powerful."'  (p.456)

John Paul Himka takes up the story, (27) saying that 'After the defeat of the revolution, during the decade of neo-absolutism, political life came to a standstill. Such Ruthenian political representation as existed in the 1850s was limited to the higher clergy of the Greek Catholic Church in Lviv.'

(27) John-Paul Himka: 'The Greek Catholic Church in Galicia, 1848-1914', Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol.26, No.1/4, Ukrainian Church History (2002-2003), pp.246-7.   

But they were not inactive. 'During the 1850s, the Greek Catholic clergy also established hundreds of Ruthenian parish schools, where cantors provided peasants with a primary education.' Politics revived in 1860, when 'the Habsburg monarchy sought to reform itself in the wake of defeat in the Italian war of 1859.' In the reform programme of 1861 a bicameral central parliament was established with provincial diets, including a Polish dominated Galicia. The Ukraine Encyclopedia (entry for 'Galicia') complains that 'Even though the Ukrainians constituted half the population of Austrian Galicia, their share in the diet was never more than a third and often much less, owing to Polish control of the provincial administration and to electoral manipulation.' But to continue with Himka's account:

'One symptom of the new order was a revival of the Ruthenian press in Galicia. The newspaper Slovo began to appear in January 1861. At first it enjoyed the moral and financial suport of Metropolitan Iakhymovych, but his attitude cooled to the paper when it began to criticize the Greek Catholic higher clergy. Electoral politics was also revived, and a number of Greek Catholic priests acquired seats in the Galician diet ... The great issue of the 1860s was the restructuring of the monarchy. The Ruthenian leadership, which was concentrated in the Lviv consistory, submitted a series of (ultimately fruitless) memoranda to the emperor and his ministers reiterating the Ruthenians' desire to see Galicia partitioned, stressing their loyalty to the central government, and importuning the government not to favor the Poles. 

'The early 1860s also saw the beginnings of a sharp political cleavage within the Ruthenian movement between Russophiles and Ukrainian national populists (narodovtsi). The higher Greek Catholic clergy considered both movements extremist, the Russophiles because they gravitated toward Russian Orthodoxy, and the national populists because they flirted with liberalism and admired the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in spite of anti-Catholic passages in his writings.' 

With the end of the rule of Nicholas I in Russia and the arrival of the reforming Tsar, Alexander II, on the eve of the emancipation of the serfs in 1860, Shevchenko himself had returned from exile in 1857. Somewhat oddly he came to St Petersburg, where he died, broken in health, in 1861. He was still writing poetry and, despite the prohibition, had written several stories (in Russian) while in exile but it is still in the poems written in the 1840s that his importance for Ukrainian nationalism is mostly based.

Neither in Galicia nor in Little Russia was there as yet much evidence of a substantial tendency towards national separatism. But in Galicia, a distinct people with its own church, its own education system and its own language was in the process of formation. The distinct quasi-national culture that had existed in Little Russia under the Cossacks was by now little more than a romantic memory. In particular, the intellectual life of the Polish oriented Kiev-Moghila Academy was, it seems, despite the continued existence of the institution, entirely forgotten. Even those who could be called Ukrainophiles, with the large exception of Shevchenko, could be said to be engaged in the great project of creating an essentially new all-Russian culture.

But both in Austria and in Russia this was about to change ...